Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's Vacation Time For The Tattler

As the world descends into chaos, I figured it was as good a time as any to put The Tattler on vacation. Once a year is enough, and that time is now. Should be back up and running around August 7. Try and stay cool and I will see you then.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Can Watch Last Night's City Council Meeting Here!

Link here and you can be viewer no. 18!

People have been asking what happened at last night's City Council meeting, so here you go. Two precious hours of scintillating viewing, available on The Tattler way before it will be on the City of Sierra Madre website. So you know, the July 12th City Council meeting video is not yet available there either (link), but never you fear. If you have a hankering to live dangerously near the cusp of an unthinkable cosmic reality as it looked two weeks back, you can click here for that as well. 

Which leads us to the topic of community communication. While we just did here for free something that the City of Sierra Madre would likely need $10s of thousands of dollars to achieve (repost a video already available on YouTube), that doesn't mean they cannot communicate. The City Council did so last night, and they didn't spend a lot of money doing it. 

Talk is still cheap, even at City Hall.

The big question last night was about spending a couple ten grand to stick two poles into the ground somewhere near Lima so that informational banners can be stretched across Sierra Madre Boulevard. These banners would then inform concerned Sierra Madre residents driving by of the latest exciting events in town. 

Or at least those events City Hall wants you to know about. I remember last spring Earl Richey wanted to pay the city to put up a banner on the two poles located near Kersting Court. The intent being to inform the residents that many of the claims being made for Measure UUT were vast crocks of municipal merde. Naturally he was turned down. 

Which might bring up the question of a government monopoly on information in town. Something that could be the real motive here. The city does not enjoy competition when it comes to news and whatnot, and the search for ways to control all of that is apparently an endless one. 

But they really shouldn't worry. Chances are that case of Civility Paralysis (a condition also known as CP) many share will not allow them to think too much about that sort of thing anyway. And we won't bring up anything like that here. Far be it from The Tattler to cross that psychological chasm with you today. Or at any time for that matter. We are hardly psychological miracle workers here.

Long story longer, that two poles for $25,000 community communication gambit was turned down. Too embarrassing even for this City Council seeing how it wasn't all that long ago they were postcard pimping for a utility tax increase. And with that new more robust parcel tax they're going to start trotting out this fall, public perception is everything. 

The two year tax increase cycle must always be properly nurtured and maintained. It is a process, after all.

That $95,000 a year new City Hall hire to run the two poles in the ground initiative didn't happen, either. No poles, no job apparently. Mercifully it didn't even come up.

Other things happened last night as well. They filled the empty slot on the Planning Commission. One of the big house boys got it. They also selected someone to assume a seat somewhere in the vast library volunteer bureaucracy. Somebody with fund raising experience we were told. 

But you can watch all that on the video we have so thoughtfully provided above.

Me? I am going to sleep. I have work in the morning. As always, it is later than you think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Banner Poles At Lima: Doesn't This Look A Bit Familiar?

The city that howled about its financial woes before Measure UUT was passed now wants to spend a whole lot of money on something called banner poles. Kind of in the vein of the generic saccharine nonsense being concocted for Kersting Court Park, it apparently is part of the current move to turn Sierra Madre's delightfully organic downtown into something that looks just like everywhere else. Which makes sense since the people responsible for this come from everywhere else.

There is an item to be discussed this evening that deals with City Hall's need to communicate with a community that often ignores them. And rather than trying to get folks attention by producing information that is relevant or entertaining, they instead are focusing on the hardware of communication. Which, as we should all know, can be futile. It is never the paper or the billboard, but rather the words that each contain. If people don't find your content to be interesting or relevant to them, it really won't matter where you put it.

Here is how a portion of this agenda item for tonight's City Council meeting reads (link). The following details all of the ways the city communicates with its residents.

You would think that would all be enough. But apparently not. Here is the paragraph dealing with the storied history of banner poles, and why spending $26,000 to get them would be fine and dandy.

The reason these banner poles were not accepted by the City Council way back when is they were a part of the 2006 Downtown Specific Plan. The very same sopping bucket of architectural processed cheese so unceremoniously dumped by the voters when they passed Measure V. That sort of thing was very unpopular back then.

Like I said, it was a suggestion that came with the DSP. Part of the make-downtown-extend-to-Lima idea, enlivening that side of town. So “downtown” would not be just Kersting Court and Baldwin, but instead lasts a few blocks longer. More businesses, more money.

That has now already happened, of course. Subway and all those little shops that opened in the block east of Memorial Park are part of it, with the Kensington further extending this theme. The successful bakery on the corner of Lima and the Boulevard, which is always crowded at meal times, the Mexican fast food joint that is also always busy, all of that.

Here is something interesting. Like I said, those banner poles were part of the 2006 DSP. And I still have the maps. Look for the purple arch on the left side of the following graphic.

I am not sure that a city that was so recently screaming poverty in order to get itself a utility tax increase should be spending $26,000 on banner poles. And those are 2006 prices. Who knows what they would cost today.

Of course, those poles wouldn't just take care of themselves. You would need to hire someone to maximize their potential, along with the rest of the communication network.

Good money if you can get it. However, don't get your hopes up too high. It is unlikely that a Sierra Madre resident would be hired.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Letter: Resident Concerns About No. Michillinda Water Main Repairs

Mod: The following is on the schedule for tomorrow night's City Council meeting (link).

Mod: Bruce Inman's rush to judgement contracting predilections are apparently at play here once again, and this has raised concerns for at least one Sierra Madre resident. The following email went out to the City Council over the weekend.

Date: Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 3:14 PM
Subject: Concerns about work by Stephen Doreck Equipment Rentals

Dear Mayor Goss, Mayor Pro Tem Arizmendi and City Council Members Capoccia, Delmar and Harabedian,

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Staff will be asking you to approve an “emergency” contract with Stephen Doreck Equipment Rentals (“Doreck”) for a quarter of a million dollars to replace a water main, bypassing the normal bidding process.  The report notes that Doreck has worked for the City previously and states “Staff has had no problem with the firm’s work quality or scheduling.”  This statement by City Staff is extremely troubling.

Our property, and our neighbors’ property, were significantly damaged by Doreck during the company’s September 2014 installation of the Mountain Trail water main.  Doreck personnel failed to exercise due care in re-connecting the new water main and their error created a huge water pressure surge, more than a normal household system could tolerate. 

Doreck’s error destroyed our garden irrigation system and damaged our neighbors’ shower systems and hot water heaters.  Again, this was an incredibly basic mistake by so-called professionals. 

At that time, City Staff were well aware of what happened, and also aware of the fact that, adding insult to injury, Doreck refused to reimburse us for the damage done until we filed a case against them in Small Claims Court.   Only then did Doreck did reimburse us for our repairs and for all the wasted water.

How can the City’s Staff tell you they have “no problem” with a company that has previously done significant damage to Sierra Madre homeowners, let alone recommend the company receive a no-bid $250,000 contract?

Mod: So what is the rush? This water main has been around since the Roosevelt era. The extra month required to properly bid this out for repair is suddenly the end of the world?

This from the Mountain Views News

A couple of things that we can take away here. The first being Chief Giannone is having a hard time finding people willing to take the job. So much so that he is actually asking Sierra Madre residents if they would be willing to sign on. Has that ever been done before? 

The second? It appears that the LA County Sheriffs are going to be in Sierra Madre for a lot longer than anyone at City Hall has been willing to admit. Including the elected ones. Meaning that $100,000 a month hit will go on for quite a while. 

Of course, the cost of maintaining separate day and night police forces is not cheap. About $1.4 million a year in additional expense is my guess. 

Propping up a sacred cow Sierra Madre Police Department could end up being one of the most expensive things the city has ever done. Not exactly what the city was supposed to be doing with that utility tax hike.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Connecting Donald Trump To Vladimir Putin - Selling Out America One Golf Course At A Time

Mod: The timing is certainly interesting. There wasn't very much attention paid to the rumored Putin/Trump connection before the Republican convention. But now? Now articles are hitting the Internet at the rate of around one an hour. It's like somebody saved all of this stuff until after the nomination. Perfectly amazing. The people whose job it is to protect this country from its worst enemies have decided it is time to get rid of this bum. Real power at work. Here is a selection of the latest news reports on Putin's apparent control over the Republican Party's candidate for President of the United States, and why that is a very bad thing for everyone who loves this country.

Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin (The Washington Post - link): Trump’s relationship with Putin and his warm views toward Russia, which began in the 1980s when the country was still part of the Soviet Union, have emerged as one of the more curious aspects of his presidential campaign.

The overwhelming consensus among American political and national security leaders has held that Putin is a pariah who disregards human rights and has violated international norms in seeking to regain influence and territory in the former Soviet bloc. In 2012, one year before Trump brought his beauty pageant to Moscow, then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called Russia the United States’ top geopolitical threat — an assessment that has only gained currency since then.

Trump has conveyed a different view, informed in part through his business ambitions. Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Does Donald Trump Have A Subversive Partnership With Vladimir Putin's Propaganda Machine? (Newsweek - link) The opponent wields a “firehose of falsehood” with “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.” He “entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience” with exaggerations and unfounded rumors. His technique is entirely new, confounding decades of conventional wisdom that says effective political messages should stay close to the truth.

Donald Trump? No, Vladimir Putin, who has piloted “a remarkable evolution in Russia's approach to propaganda,” according to a new study from RAND, a think tank based in Santa Monica, California, which has been supplying the Pentagon and CIA with ideas since 1948. Despite ignoring past principles of propaganda, RAND says, Putin has “enjoyed some success” in his main goal: undermining Western unity, and specifically its military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

His success stories: The rise of Moscow-backed right-wing “populist” movements in Europe, along with Western disunity over Ukraine, Turkey, Syria and how to deal with Syrian refugees. And now Donald Trump?

Traitor Trump?
Donald Trump Invites Putin to Invade Melania’s Hometown (The Daily Beast - link): Donald Trump is now on the record saying he wouldn’t necessarily back NATO members if Vladimir Putin decided to invade. That’s a bit ironic since one of the countries most threatened by NATO’s collapse is Slovenia, where his wife, Melania, was born.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump said the U.S. would not provide military aid to NATO members unless they put 2 percent of their GDP toward the alliance. “Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes,” Trump said.

Trump’s comments drew the ire of both U.S. defense officials and of NATO. Officially, the Pentagon refused to chime in, desperate to keep the wall between politics and the troops. But around the proverbial Pentagon water cooler, the talk among some is quite different. Officials noted that many member nations are trying to meet their financial obligation, which is aspirational, not a condition of the alliance. Such rhetoric, some fear, could encourage Putin to seek additional territory from nations like Poland and the Baltic states.

“Let’s just move forward with plans to hand Eastern Europe to Russia,” one U.S. defense official scoffed.

Why Russia is rejoicing over Trump (Politico - link): MOSCOW — Excited by Donald Trump’s pledge to promote “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia,” the Kremlin establishment earlier this month invited Trump adviser Carter Page to speak before graduating students of Russian School of Economics. Page did not disappoint. In his remarks, Page condemned current American policy for its “often-hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.” When a Russian student asked Page whether he really believed that American society was liberal and democratic, Trump’s adviser grinned and delivered a line that might have come from Vladimir Putin himself. “I surround the word ‘liberal’ with quotes,” he said. ”I tend to agree with you that it’s not always as liberal as it may seem,” he said. “I’m with you.”

It was thus perfectly in keeping with Trump campaign’s entente with the Kremlin that last week Trump aides reportedly watered down the new Republican platform on Russia, removing language that called for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces. Page, an energy expert, has close ties to Russian business and relationships with executives at Gazprom, the giant state-run gas company. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has worked as a lobbyist for former Ukraine’s former Russia-aligned president, Viktor Yanukovych.

For Putin, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. Shunned and sanctioned by western leaders for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Putin now sees a future ally riding into view. The Kremlin and its right-wing supporters also enthusiastically applaud the isolationist they see in Trump, who has suggested he might curtail U.S. involvement in NATO and European affairs, and who derides the same political “mainstream” that has deemed Putin a pariah.

It's Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin (The Atlantic - link): The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is employed by Putin—though his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was for many years on the payroll of the Putin-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. I am arguing that Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests; that his critique of American democracy is in accord with the Kremlin’s critique of American democracy; and that he shares numerous ideological and dispositional proclivities with Putin—for one thing, an obsession with the sort of “strength” often associated with dictators.

Trump is making it clear that, as president, he would allow Russia to advance its hegemonic interests across Europe and the Middle East. His election would immediately trigger a wave of global instability—much worse than anything we are seeing today—because America’s allies understand that Trump would likely dismantle the post-World War II U.S.-created international order. Many of these countries, feeling abandoned, would likely pursue nuclear weapons programs on their own, leading to a nightmare of proliferation.

Putin’s wager on Trump is paying off already (The Salt Lake Tribune - link): The secret plot to control America, launched from abroad, is an old theme in American pop culture. "The Manchurian Candidate," a film made in 1962, imagined a Chinese scheme to engineer a coup d'etat. Aficionados of paranoid thrillers may also recall "Lucky Bastard," a 1998 Charles McCarry novel, which featured a U.S. president controlled by a Soviet case officer who happens to be his wife.

But now it is 2016, truth is stranger than fiction, and we finally have a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, with direct and indirect links to a foreign dictator, Vladimir Putin, whose policies he promotes. And yet it is not secret, it is not a plot, there is no conspiracy. No one has been hypnotized or recruited by foreign intelligence. Just as Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, openly accepts Russian money, the Trump campaign advertises its Russian links and pays no real political price.

He has also surrounded himself with people whose deep links to the corrupt world of Russian business would normally disqualify them from U.S. politics. He brought in a foreign policy aide, Carter Page, who has long-standing connections to Russian companies, including Gazprom, and has supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, worked for many years in Ukraine on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president ousted in 2014. While living in Kiev, Manafort had plenty of time to absorb the disinformation tactics perfected by the Kremlin, all of which are now being put to use: the thugs at meetings, the appeal to extreme emotions — those bereaved mothers at the convention — and, of course, fake websites and Internet trolls.

Russia is clearly participating in the Trump campaign. The theft of material from the Democratic National Committee a few weeks ago was the work of Russian hackers. Russian state media and social media, together with a host of fake websites and Twitter accounts with Russian origins, actively support Trump and are contributing to some of the hysteria on the Internet. I'm not arguing that any of this has been decisive. But whatever resources Putin wagered on Trump, they are paying off.

Donnie! Come give Vlad a big kiss!

The Real Winner of the RNC: Vladimir Putin
(Slate - link): Donald Trump’s convention has been marked by gross incompetence in all areas save one: He’s been highly effective in moving the Republican Party toward Vladimir Putin. The deftness of this reversal of policy is so anomalous that we need to consider its causes, as well as its consequences.

To recap: The Trump campaign showed little interest in the writing of the Republican Party platform, even as the document evolved to undermine the nominee’s political strategy and took stances at odds with his own. But his aides did intervene aggressively in one committee meeting. They pushed hard to soften the platform’s stance on providing military assistance to Ukraine. When pressed about this change, Trump aides literally ran in the other direction.

Then, on Wednesday, Trump told the New York Times that he would abandon our nearly seven decades–old commitment to collective security in Europe. If Putin rolled tanks into Eastern Europe, Trump would have to check whether those countries paid their fair share to NATO before fulfilling our obligations to protect them.

For his part, Putin has recognized the opportunity that the Trump campaign presents. He has thrown Russian propaganda behind it; his intelligence services have purloined documents from Democratic Party servers, and they have begun publishing them on the internet.

And why not? Trump is Putin’s geo-strategic dream. NATO has been effective at curbing Putin’s military adventurism. Russia may mess around in eastern Ukraine, but it won’t set foot in Estonia or Poland. That’s because it has little interest in fighting a war with an alliance obligated to protect those countries. Rather than facing a resolute, unified West, he prefers conducting a negotiation with a fragmented one and has sought to destabilize Europe through support of Trump-like figures in France, Italy, and elsewhere. Nobody believes in the art of the deal more than Vladimir Putin—and in Trump, he sees a naïve, egomaniac whom he can roll.

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin’s enabler: Understanding the Republican frontrunner's fondness for Russia's strongman (New York Daily News - link): It’s too easy to imagine the horror with which statesmen like Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan would view Donald Trump’s rampage through the GOP. I’d like to hear instead from the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the founding father of the Red Scare in the 1950s, or from his fellow redbaiter Richard Nixon.

I can imagine them waving a stack of papers and shouting, “I hold here in my hand a list of names of people at the highest levels of the Trump campaign who have worked for the Russian government under the direction of a former agent of the KGB!”

This charge would be entirely accurate, although it’s always been dubious that there is anything former at all about Vladimir Putin’s KGB status. It’s well-established that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and two of Trump’s top advisers, Carter Page and Michael Flynn, have ties to Russia and the Kremlin.

Manafort worked for years as the chief political fixer for Viktor Yanukovych, Putin’s puppet ruler of Ukraine. Page used to work for Russian energy giant Gazprom and was recently in Moscow on Trump’s behalf to explain that America shouldn’t interfere in global affairs (especially Putin’s), talking points that come straight from Russian state-controlled TV. Trump himself has frequently praised Putin’s “strength” while suggesting that the two of them would get along very well.

Meanwhile, Putin’s giant global propaganda machine promoted Trump through the GOP primary and makes it quite apparent that Moscow would much prefer him to Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s replacement. What had been lacking until now was any tangible return on the Kremlin’s investment.

That changed last week when members of the Trump campaign worked with pro-Trump delegates to change a GOP platform amendment on American aid to Ukraine, which was invaded by Putin in 2014 and where Russian forces maintain a destabilizing conflict. The amendment originally followed the recommendation of nearly every top U.S. military and security official to “provide lethal defensive weapons” that would help Ukraine’s fragile democracy defend itself.

The Trump staff got the language changed to “appropriate assistance,” a meaningfully meaningless phrase that no doubt pleased Putin very much.

Mod: Perhaps the most devastating article of all is next. Spend some time with this one. The payoff is big.

Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing (Talking Points Memo - link)

Mod: There are plenty more stories just like the above available on the Internet. Just go to Google News and tap in "Trump + Putin." Literally pages of articles will pop up. This is one of the truly great political scandals of our time. Donald "Treason" Trump could very well be a traitor to the United States of America.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Does Donald Trump Love Ivanka Just A Little Too Much?

View video by clicking here.

Here is a video making the Internet rounds right now. It is taken from the just concluded Republican National Convention, and I thought I'd post it here for you to check out. What you need to remember is Ivanka Trump is not this guy's wife. It is his daughter.

In an article just published on the Us Magazine website (link), body language expert Patti Wood describes the above action this way:

When it comes to Donald’s hug with Ivanka, who introduced the real-estate tycoon turned politician at Thursday night’s gathering, Wood tells Us that his hand placement was inappropriate. As viewers witnessed, the business mogul showed his appreciation for his daughter’s glowing statements by kissing her cheeks and then placing his hands on her lower hips.

“He patted her in a sexually dismissive way. That repetitive pat with open hands on that location is usually a set of body language cues to say, ‘The sex with you, it was good,’ or, ‘That was fun sexual play,’” Wood says. “I want to be clear that is not even a pat you would give to a child under the age of 5. You would pat them higher up on the back.”

Since Donald’s strange hugs with his wife and daughter (whom he shares with ex-wife Ivana Trump) aired on national television, many have taken to social media to share their opinions about the physical contact.

“Daddy Donald was more (inappropriately) affectionate to Ivanka than to Melania,” one viewer tweeted, while another sniped, “Donald grabs Ivanka's ass gave [Melania a] weird friend zone hug.”

Here is another video that explores this awkward Trump father/daughter dynamic. The generational viewpoint is interesting as well.

Video clip here.

Also this. Donald Trump speculating about a potential Playboy Magazine pictorial of his daughter on The View. Does he really say he would have sex with her?

Video click here.
Pretty much. Here is the quote. 

Perhaps that is all just a little unfortunate?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lo-Cal Shocker: Is Joe Mosca Making A Run For An Encinitas City Council Seat?

Joe learning the secret hand sign.
We have been monitoring the situation in Encinitas for a while now, and it appears that some news about our twice used carpetbag's latest political ambitions is starting to leak out.

Encinitas Undercover, which functions as a kind of Tattler for that now at-risk city (their opinion might differ), yesterday listed Joe Mosca as one of the potential City Council candidates there. Yes, it really does seem like it is deja vu all over again down suburban San Diego way, as we shall soon explain.

So where and when did this story first begin? It was first revealed as part of an article published last year in a weekly newspaper there called the Encinitas Advocate (link), and we were fortunate enough to pick up on it fairly quickly. Here is how they first announced the emergence of Joe Mosca on the Encinitas political scene back in September of 2015.

Former Sierra Madre mayor appointed to Parks and Rec CommissionThe Encinitas City Council on Sept. 9 appointed Joe Mosca, the former mayor of Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County, to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“I know how to get things done, and I know how to get things done with limited city funding,” said Mosca, an Olivenhain resident, in explaining his qualifications to the council. He also cited his experience on various regional boards.

As a commissioner, Mosca said he’d like to focus on maintaining and highlighting city hiking trails.

Of course. Hiking trails.

Those who are familiar with Joe's political activities in Sierra Madre immediately picked up on an obvious pattern (link). The carpetbagger who almost immediately jumped into local politics shortly after arriving, in a traditional small California city in severe risk of falling prey to predatory and destructive development, all while claiming to be a staunch defender of community traditions he did not even know existed a year earlier.

Did I get it all?

As we saw in this town, the Joe Mosca who ran for a City Council seat as a slow growth preservationist quickly became the willing attack dog for developers once he was elected to office. So is he now going to try that one all over again? Why? Is it now a career choice?

Here is how Encinitas Undercover broke the news yesterday (link).

We'll keep an eye out to see if this one goes anywhere. Hopefully it was all just speculation.

Bill Maher compares Donald Trump to Mussolini

Mod: I know it isn't a very flattering comparison. Then again, why anyone in Sierra Madre would want to make a developer president is beyond me.

Bill Maher on Trump’s Scary RNC Speech: ‘He Looked a Lot Like Mussolini’ - The host of ‘Real Time’ railed against the Republican presidential nominee’s speech at the Republican National Convention: ‘It was just really about death.’

“He looked a lot like Mussolini tonight,” said Bill Maher. “Did you see that? He would say something and then [shake his finger].”

The outspoken political satirist had, like many Americans, just witnessed the Republican National Convention’s closing speech delivered by their nominee, Donald J. Trump. And boy, was it a grim affair.

Terrorism. Immigrants. Joblessness. More terrorism. In Trump’s mind, America is a country on the brink of total and utter collapse, where people are drinking their own urine, knifing each other for bread and water, and making themselves shiny and chrome before hurling their emaciated bodies at oncoming traffic.

“He convinced a lot of people that he could look like a president—for the Hair Club for Men,” joked Maher. “If you were watching this speech, this was pretty remarkable how bleak this speech was. It was just really about death. Crime is going to kill you, immigrants are going to kill you, terrorists are going to kill you. He has a new hat: ‘Make America Goth Again.’ It was so depressing, Melania started plagiarizing a suicide note.”

“And of course the people in the hall loved it,” Maher added. “They were like, ‘Finally! A candidate who can bring this country apart!’”

Mod: I would have included selling out NATO for the benefit of Vlad "The Impaler" Putin, but maybe that is just me. Free Estonia. For the rest click here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Politico: Cruz Snubs Trump

Mod: I know we don't do national politics on this blog. Or we didn't up until recently. But this country is well into one of the most bizarre elections in its history, so I figure The Tattler might as well get on board and talk about it. After all, everybody else is. And last night at the GOP convention we all got to see something that I thought was truly remarkable. A former candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, an individual who took an extraordinary amount of ugly abuse from the eventual nominee, including gratuitous insults regarding his wife's appearance along with lunatic accusations that his father was in on the JFK assassination, paid him back and then some. No matter what you think of Ted Cruz, this was an extraordinary moment in American political history. Here is how describes what went down.

CLEVELANDTed Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump in daring and dramatic fashion on Wednesday, telling delegates to “vote your conscience” in a 20-minute snub that played out in slow-motion on national television.

“We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love,” Cruz said. “That is the standard we should expect from everybody.”

It was a standard that Cruz determined Trump did not meet. The Texas senator, who is widely believed to already be planning to run for president again in 2020, paused dramatically toward the end of his speech as the delegates shouted for him to endorse Trump.

“Don’t stay home in November,” Cruz told the audience. “Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

It was a shocking rebuke coming from the same stage where Trump had become the nominee only 24 hours earlier and where he will address the nation on Thursday. And Cruz slowed to take in the scene. "Do it baby!" came one shout from the crowd. But Cruz would not.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” Cruz said, as boos rained down from Trump’s home state, who were seated front and center, and throughout the hall.

To add to the high drama, Trump arrived inside the arena just as Cruz was wrapping up. Cameras cut to Trump, who wore a tight smile and gave a thumbs up to the crowd.

The Utah delegation, a bastion of Cruz supporters, loudly chanted "Ted! Ted! Ted." The Arizona delegation, a Trump stronghold, counter-chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!"

Cruz’s advisers, past and present, cheered him on online. “Tough decisions are easy to criticize. Incredible leadership from Cruz tonight,” wrote Brian Philips, who worked on Cruz’s campaign. “Friends, we can put this Party back together.”

“This is the speech of Cruz's life,” said Amanda Carpenter, his former communications director.

For the rest of this article click here.

Poll: Libertarian Johnson beating Trump, Clinton among active troops

Mod: Being Libertarian means opposing US overseas military interventions except under the most dire circumstances. A viewpoint that I personally support. After all, what did we accomplish by going into Iraq outside of getting close to 5,000 American military killed? With that in mind, here is a surprising report from The (link) about who the members of our military could be voting for this coming November.

Military troops favor Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to a new survey.

Johnson garnered 38.7 percent of the active duty vote, versus 30.9 for Trump, and 14.1 for Clinton, according to the survey, which was conducted via the popular military personality Doctrine Man.

Although the survey was not a scientific poll with a margin of error, it provides a snapshot of the preferences of about 3,500 active duty, reservists, retired and former members of the military and their family members, 95.7 percent of which were registered voters.

Among all services except for the Navy, Johnson performed better than Trump and Clinton.

Current, reserve and former members of the Army preferred Johnson at 35.4 percent. Trump, the Republican nominee, came in second at 31.4 percent, and Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, at 15.3 percent.

Among the Marine community, an overwhelming 44.1 percent chose Johnson, while 27.1 percent chose Trump, and 12.7 percent chose Clinton.

The majority of the Air Force respondents chose Johnson at 39 percent, but Trump next at 29.9 percent and Clinton at 12.9 percent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

(Total SCAG-Fail) SGV Tribune: Southern California gets a big, fat $0 from Feds for freight, road improvements

Hasan Bombs
Mod: SCAG is aghast. Or so they are saying. But why is it that this part of the world has been completely shut out on Fed transportation cash? Didn't the Feds read any of SCAG's hundreds of transportation plans? How could they have failed to be impressed?

Southern California gets a big, fat $0 from Feds for freight, road improvements: Southern California transportation agencies were shocked Monday to learn they were getting zero dollars from the federal Department of Transportation in the first round of a newly approved freight-movement grant program.

Instead, the DOT gave out $759 million for 18 projects from Seattle to Louisiana but nothing for projects located within the six Southern California counties.

Locally, grant applications from the port of Long Beach and the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority were denied, several sources confirmed. The Port of LA had one project denied, a $35 million zero-emissions cranes project.

“I think it is a shock because this is an area where you would expect a lot of that money to come in,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments. SCAG’s 2015 regional transportation plan identified $75 billion in projects, including adding truck lanes to the 60 Freeway, improving the interchange at the 57/60 freeways in Diamond Bar and building grade separations allowing trains to travel freely on bridges over cars and trucks.

The Port of Long Beach applied for two rail extension projects, one an intermodal rail yard in the new harbor terminal and the other, called the Terminal Island Wye, in a different part of the port. Both were denied, said Lee Peterson, spokesman. These would have allowed more direct container-to-rail processing, cutting back on truck trips and reducing air pollution. “We’ll try again next year,” he said.

A proposed $142 million railroad underpass in Montebello was denied $35 million in federal funding, while a $78.4 million Durfee Avenue Grade Separation project in Pico Rivera lost out on $25 million in funding, explained Paul Hubler, director of government and community relations at ACE. The two projects have local funding but need federal dollars to start construction, he said.

SCAG said it was working with various agencies in Southern California to submit new applications for the 2017 funding allocation of the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program, which will distribute about $5 billion for freight-related projects over five years.

Southern California’s twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles carried 117 million metric tons of goods in 2014 for a value of $396 billion, according to SCAG. Most of the goods from the ports are transported by trucks along congested freeways. SCAG estimated Southern California has 70,000 lane miles or roadways with the 710, 605, 60, and 91 freeways carrying the highest volumes of truck traffic in the region, averaging about 25,000 trucks per day in 2013.

To not move forward with projects that cut back on truck trips carrying goods from the ports seems like a mistake, SCAG officials said.

“This shows a huge need for freight infrastructure here,” said Sharon Neely, a transportation consultant for SCAG. “We are certainly surprised and disappointed that Southern California did not receive a grant.” 

Mod: For a regional planning organization it is failure written in red. Getting government money is the reason they exist. Being completely shut out like this is just about as bad as it gets. Maybe the Feds would prefer that rather than using trains, all of that port freight should go through a certain tunnel? To read the rest click here.

Maybe SCAG Boss Hasan Ikhrata isn't being paid enough?

Then again, maybe he is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Low Recidivism Rate Claims for Child Molesters Identified, Questioned and Debunked

We get a lot of comments on this blog, most of them great. However, I have long ago stopped being amazed by some of the statements certain people leave here. Especially when they are saying particularly awful things that are not at all true, and then repeat them every chance they get. It is as if they believe that repetition improves veracity, and even their most egregious lies somehow become less untrue if they are repeated often.

You should probably also consider why there are people in this community willing to defend such abhorrent behaviors as child molesting, and are happy to spend their time inventing completely untrue nonsense to defend those who have committed this crime. Yes, they are out there. And some of them are hardly shy about it.

Probably one of the ugliest of these canards goes something along the lines of this following unholy whopper, which was deposited here on the blog once again yesterday. With follow ups from others.

"Most people who have long ago committed a sex offense (and have not repeated since) will likely not repeat; this is a statistic empirically proven, but ignored somehow ignored by our police, judges, politicians, and the media. Awknowledging this fact does not help their excessive salaries and pensions or need for emotionally-charged publicity. We have seen the effect harsh penalties have had on our nephew who made a mistake when he was 23 years old. He is a good person who deserves to move on long after he paid his sentence, as he is now 28 years old."

I am not sure where this individual got his "statistic empirically proven" because he didn't say. But the gist of the claim seems to be that sex offenders, and in particular child molesters, once punished, are unlikely to ever again repeat that crime. Therefore they should be happily welcomed back into the community where their atrocious acts were committed and allowed the same freedoms as everyone else.

So is any of that true? Apparently not. In the hopes of clearing some of this egregious nonsense up, I thought I'd post here today a few passages from a study called, "Recidivism of Adult Sexual Offenders." It comes to us from the U.S. Department of Justice, and can be accessed in its entirety by clicking here.

As you can see, the recidivism rates of child molesters are hardly low. And those recidivism rates do not improve with the passage of time. Despite what the author of the blog comment I cited here today claims. 

Which leads to another important point that needs to be shared.

I hope that clears things up a little.

Another article you might want to check out

It is called "Stalking the Bogeyman" and comes to us from the publication Westword. It is a pretty powerful account, and you can read it by clicking here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Do Bad People Win So Often In Sierra Madre?

We are stepping back to the Kersting Court Park / Christmas Crèche question today. Based on the huge response we have seen on this blog, there are quite a few people out there who are very concerned about this issue. Last week we had over 100 comments.

Then there are others who are unhappy about City Hall's passive-aggressive response to what is a severe challenge to yet another longstanding community tradition. One that is under a greater assault than many are aware. As I also hope to show, this is not at all unique to Sierra Madre.

Not that any of this is completely the city's fault, either. Instead it is the result of forces that are far larger than anything City Hall can muster. Small city governments have been significantly weakened over the last quarter century, and outside of overpaying the help there really isn't a whole lot that they can do any more. About much of anything. In many ways they're quickly becoming obsolete.

Here is a comment that was left yesterday to a post from last Thursday called "Kersting Court Art Attack: Taking The Creche Out Of Christmas?" (link).

Lucien Greaves
The author of this irksome bit of grimness refers to someone named "Lucient Greaves." The guy actually spells his assumed first name "Lucien," and he is a leader of something called "The Satanic Temple." Here is a brief description of this guy from Wikipedia (link).

Doug Mesner, known professionally as Lucien Greaves, is the spokesman for, and co-founder of, The Satanic Temple. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and prior to the founding of the Satanic Temple in 2012, studied neuroscience at Harvard Extension School.

In 2012, Florida governor Rick Scott promoted a bill to allow student-led prayer at school assemblies, and Mesner responded by holding a mock rally outside the Florida State Capitol expressing how "Satanic children could pray to Satan in school."

You wouldn't ordinarily expect a resident here to be devoted to a fellow such as Lucien, or cheer him on should he decide to sue the City of Sierra Madre if it does fight to keep the Christmas Creche situated in Kersting Court Park. Apparently this disturbing character has successfully sued cities in other parts of the country over similar issues, and won. In the process changing the way the courts decide on such questions.

So if the City of Sierra Madre is now reacting to these kinds of courtroom decisions, done out of a desire to avoid being sued by the likes of Lucien Greaves, or even perhaps the fan person whose comment I reproduced above, are you really pleased to know that these are the kinds of people who are robbing this community of an important decades old Christmas tradition?

Are you also happy that City Hall cannot stand up to this in any way, and instead cooked up a park renovation strategy designed to hide the depth of their capitulation to such people?

Let me ask you this. How different is the legal strategy employed by Lucien Greaves from that of Janice Bellucci, the ACLU funded attorney who sued and won for Sierra Madre's various convicted sex offenders the right to hang around kiddy parks, or live in a house situated right next to an elementary school (link)?

What about the government and judicial forces that made it impossible for the City Council to do anything about controlling the ongoing Sober House expansion into this community?

Here is perhaps a bigger question. Why is it the forces of big government have enabled such things, and in the process taken away the ability of small cities to fend for themselves?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sylvia Plummer: Lots of SR710 activities and events

Sylvia Plummer: This somewhat long post will bring you up to date on recent developments.  It is divided into four sections so that you can take your time reading each separately, and included are links to relevant documents and video.  The SR710 Tunnel project is complicated, is tied to the proposed ballot Measure R2 and also related to actions being taken by our Cities and School Districts. We need to remain vigilant until we kill the tunnels!

1. Metro Board of Directors expected to vote in favor of placing proposed ballot sales tax measure on November ballot
At its Thursday, June 23rd meeting, the Metro Board of Directors is expected to consider whether to put a ballot measure before voters.

A revised spending plan for a potential November sales tax ballot measure was released Friday by Metro and would accelerate more projects, allow more transit projects to become rail, include more overall projects and increase funding that goes to local cities and unincorporated areas for their own transportation improvements.  The potential ballot measure — previously referred to as Measure R2 but now called the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan — would ask voters to consider a new half-cent sales tax in Los Angeles County and continuation of the existing Measure R half-cent sales tax in perpetuity or until voters decide to end the taxes. The idea is to create a sustained funding stream for mobility projects crucial to the region’s mobility, economy and quality of life.

UPDATE:  Measure R2 will appear on November ballot.
Updated 6/23/16: At today’s Metro Board meeting, the Directors voted to place the ordinance on the ballot in November.

2. No 710 Action Committee and Alliance cities succeed in inserting language in Measure R2 ordinance to prevent use of Measure R2 revenue for SR 710 tunnels
Some of you may have read coverage touting the fact that the SR 710 tunnel alternative was NOT contained in the expenditure plan for Metro’s potential ballot measure, R2. Metro would use a balance of approximately $700 million from 2008 Measure R and a public private partnership (PPP) as the primary funding source for the $6 - $10 billion needed to build the SR 710 tunnel alternative should it emerge as the locally-preferred alternative when the Final EIR is released (expected in 2017). There is little doubt that this was a strategic move on the part of Metro to avoid risking passage of Measure R2 due to inclusion of the highly controversial and divisive tunnel alternative.

However, last Fall, during the early stages of development of Metro’s potential ballot measure and expenditure plan, No 710 Action Committee member and attorney, Richard Helgeson, uncovered language in the proposed measure that would permit tax revenue collected from Measure R2 for projects, such as the SR 710 tunnel alternative, originally contained in 2008’s Measure R.

From December through February, the No 710 Action Committee brought this to the attention of the Metro Board on multiple occasions and submitted a letter detailing this provision. During a meeting of No 710 Action Committee representatives with Metro CEO Phillip Washington, we discussed this issue further and it was suggested by the CEO’s staff that we submit specific language for the Measure R2 ordinance that would eliminate the loophole and preclude use of R2 funds for the SR 710 tunnel alternative.

Mr. Helgeson drafted language and submitted it to Metro. In addition, the Cities of South Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge suggested similar language. We are very happy to report that language has been inserted in Measure R2 ordinance that states:

No Net Revenues generated from the Sales Tax shall be expended on the State Route 710 North Gap Closure Project

This language does not prevent the tunnels from being built. There is still the very real possibility that the tunnels will be named as the locally-referred alternative in the Final EIR. The inclusion of the language simply means that voters who wish to support Measure R2 and the worthwhile projects it contains can be confident that no revenue from that Measure will be used to fund the SR 710 tunnels.

3. Pasadena Unified School District changes its position on anti-tunnel resolution
The Five Star Coalition is comprised of 5 school districts – Burbank, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena and South Pasadena. In March, the Pasadena Unified School District abstained from voting to approve a Five Star Coalition Joint Resolution opposing the tunnel.  The Joint Resolution can be viewed here (link).

The other four school districts in the coalition all voted in favor.  Because the bylaws of the Coalition require unanimity, the Coalition was unable to use the proposed Joint Resolution as planned (link).

Recently, the West Pasadena Residents Association submitted a letter requesting that the PUSD Board put the issue on their agenda again for further discussion and reconsideration. The Board agreed, and that meeting was held last Thursday, June 16th.

The No 710 Action Committee and the WPRA worked very hard to bring speakers to the meeting.  In all, we had 13 people there to address the Board, including:  Dr. Ed Avol (USC Keck Environmental Health), Sarah Gavit (Pasadena resident and WPRA Board member), Kenyon Harbison (new president of WPRA), Claire Bogaard (No 710), Mic Hansen (No 710), Joe Cano (No 710), Andrew Blumenfeld (former president of LCF Governing Board), Jill Fosselman (Pasadena resident), Kendis Heffley (Westridge School), Jon Primuth (South Pasadena School Board), a  PTA officer from Blair, Elena Phleger (Sequoyah School) and Jan SooHoo (No 710).
Video of the June 16th meeting, including the comments of our speakers, can be viewed at (relevant section begins at 1:39 - link).

Our group made very articulate and convincing statements that convinced 5 of 7 Board members to decide that they DO want to support the Joint Resolution. Their representative to the Coalition will notify the Five Star Coalition at its next meeting that PUSD is now on board (link).

Perhaps it seems like a small step, but our cities can also use this Joint Resolution of School Districts representing over 70,000 students in their campaigns to stop the tunnel, and the adoption of the Joint Resolution aligns and solidifies the position of the School Districts with that of their cities.

UPDATE:  5-Star Coalition Unanimously Passes Resolution Against 710 Freeway Tunnel after Pasadena Unified changes its mind. On June 23, 2016 the Five-Star Education Coalition (5SC) comprised of representatives from the school boards of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada, Pasadena and South Pasadena unanimously voted to pass a resolution which opposes any construction of a 710 Freeway tunnel extension:

"The 5SC does hereby oppose any of the Tunnel Alternative variations: single-bore or dual-bore, toll or no toll, truck or no truck, express bus or no express bus, to extend the SR-710 freeway from Valley Boulevard in the City of Los Angeles to the 210 freeway in the City of Pasadena, and instead supports the development of a fiscally and environmentally responsible alternative."

4. Pasadena City Council deliberates Mayor Tornek’s recommendation to vote to repeal Measure A 
At the Pasadena City Council meeting on June 13th, no vote was taken, but in this case, it was a good thing. Several very positive things emerged. All members of the Council expressed their opposition to the tunnel. There is no longer any ambiguity about unanimity of Pasadena’s City Council in opposing the SR 710 tunnel alternative. There did seem to be some confusion and disagreement about the legal ramifications of Measure A. Some Councilmembers firmly believed that they are already free to do whatever it takes to fight the tunnel, but others feel their hands are still tied by Measure A. Because there are newer Councilmembers who are not as well versed on Measure A’s legal ramifications, and to clear up the ambiguities, they decided to hold consultations with their legal advisors before moving on this issue any further.

The second issue discussed was the timing of a vote on the repeal and the need to carry out a public education campaign.   Several Councilmembers thought that putting the repeal vote on the November ballot was too risky.  Some thought that it would not leave sufficient time for public education and that people will be preoccupied with the Presidential race and would not give a down ballot item serious thought and consideration. After discussion about timing and costs, it was decided that it may be better to take the repeal to voters in March during their Municipal election, or even to hold a special election.  They will continue to explore these options, and then bring the issue back at a future City Council meeting.

Video of the Monday, June 13th City Council meeting can be viewed at - beginning at 2:25 - (link):

The move to repeal Measure A, called Restore Our Rights, now has a Facebook page and a website where you can follow developments in this issue.

You can view the website at:
The Facebook page is at:

UPDATE:  Pasadena City Council Tables Discussion of Measure A Repeal, Issue Won't Be on November Ballot
A Special election is tabled for more discussion at undetermined time. Read more at (link).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Should Sierra Madre Sell the Naming Rights to the Library?

Mod: I confiscated the following missive from one of my favorite small city blogs, Encinitas Undercover (link here). This letter comes to us from a rather wealthy family down there who wants to cut loose with large amounts of cash and get the town Library named after one of their own. Which set me to thinking. Since it appears that most of the Measure UUT haul is going towards salvaging the Police Department, along with paying down Sierra Madre's $9 million dollar CalPERS exposure, we could be soon hearing again about how at risk the library might be. So here is my solution. How about putting naming rights for the Library up for grabs and selling them to the highest bidder? It could be an individual, a company, or anything else that has some cash to burn. Just as long as their check doesn't bounce. My bet is there could be some strong interest in town. If you are intrigued, here is that Encinitas letter.

Dear (Arts Organization):

We are proud of the fact that the Mizel Family Foundation has worked tirelessly through our community activism and philanthropy to make Encinitas a better place. And now I’m asking for your assistance.

Several months ago, we proposed that the city rename its library to the Patricia Mizel Encinitas Library. In exchange the city would receive $2 million, $500,000.00 of which will go to the Friends of the Encinitas Library.

I believe this to be a good deal for our city, as our local government is always in need of funding for infrastructure, parks, public safety, or other basic services.

Previously, the City Council supported the concept 4-0, with those voting expressing clear support for the idea. But now, we hear that some Councilmembers may have changed their mind – and it’s not entirely clear why.

That’s where you come in. Please join me in urging the Encinitas City Council to adhere to their original position in support of accepting this deal. It’s in the best interest of the city and our residents.

Please click here to download a sample letter of support for you to send to the Encinitas City Council. I would greatly appreciate it if your organization would be willing to send a letter as well as encourage your members to send in letters as individuals.

Click here to download a cover letter you can send to your members encouraging them to join our effort.

Please send this letter to our City Council no later than August 12th. Please also feel free to e-mail your letter to

In addition, here is a link to this effort’s website, which contains other ways you can take action.

Thank you for your support.
Steve Mikel
Mizel Family Foundation

Mod: If this works in Sierra Madre there are a number of other naming rights that people might want to buy. The Police Station, the Fire Station, City Hall, various parks, water facilities, parking lots. The list is sure to be a long one.

Here is a list of public buildings that went on to enjoy the benefits of private sponsorship.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Watchdog: Another tough year for CalPERS as retirement fund loses billions

Mod: As you probably know, when CalPERS doesn't hit its numbers, there is only one place they can go to make up the shortfall. And that is you. Just in case you're wondering where much of that Measure UUT money is really going. This despite what much of this city's so-called leadership told you last April. As noted CalPERS critic Stephen Frank puts it, "...the Stock Market lost 2.2% of its value in 2015. So, CalPERS losing 2% looks good—except to the taxpayers that will have to make up the difference between the 7.5% return on investment and the 2% loss. The 9.5% difference adds to the unfunded liability of CalPERS-which is already over $600 billion, when using Federal criteria—or under $200 billion when you use the CalPERS money counting system." Right now Sierra Madre is already $9 million dollars in the hole to CalPERS. That hole has just gotten another couple of miles deeper. Start digging.

Watchdog: Another tough year for CalPERS as retirement fund loses billions - Public workers are pumping more money into retirement funds. Public agencies are pumping more money into retirement funds. Yet the market seems distinctly unimpressed.

The California Public Employees Retirement System – the nation’s largest – lost about 2 percent of its market value in the fiscal year that just ended, according to unofficial numbers published last week on the CalPERS website. This came despite doubled-down efforts to beef up its bottom line.

The value of CalPERS investments was $293.7 billion on June 30, down from $301.9 billion one year earlier, according to CalPERS’ daily valuation report. That number accounts for daily movement of some assets but not others, which are updated quarterly.

Challenges are expected to continue for years, even as the wave of graying baby boomers heads into retirement.

CalPERS is slated to release its official 2015-16 numbers next week, and declined to discuss details with the Register beforehand (though officials noted that the fund’s July 7 value was nearly $295.7 billion.) But last month, Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS’ chief investment officer, tried to prepare officials for a bumpy ride going forward.

“Last fiscal year, our return was 2.4 percent,” Eliopoulos said during a committee meeting. “And this fiscal year, as we head into July, we’re likely to be flat, which is a nice way of saying zero.”

The next three to five years are shaping up to be “a challenging market environment, not just for CalPERS, but for all investors,” Eliopoulos added. “It’s going to test us.”

Projections from independent third parties are “materially lower” than what CalPERS forecast just two years ago, he said. With its current mix of investments, CalPERS can expect a total return of just 6.4 percent over the next decade.

It has assumed a return of 7.5 percent.

That difference is of great import, because investment income is the bulk of public pension payments. And since pension payments are guaranteed, any shortfall would have to be made up by taxpayers.

For the rest of this O.C. Register article click here.

Gem Coins Update!
(Mod: The always informative Behind MLM site has an update on how the prosecution of Arcadia's GemCoins crime gang is going. Apparently the folks investigating these characters just keep uncovering more money, and there is more being found all of the time. Here's some of the details.

USFIA Ponzi fraud balloons out to $164 million - On July 7th the USFIA Receiver filed his third report and recommendations. Spanning the first quarter of 2016, the Receiver’s report covers the scope of USFIA’s business operations, the legitimacy of USFIA, seized real-estate, Steve Chen’s lawyer funds, USFIA investor funds spent on Chen’s family and a Mercedes S550 belonging to Chen.

The scope of USFIA’s business operations
Unfortunately the precise scope of the USFIA Ponzi scheme has yet to be determined.

Owing to ‘the volume of electronic data and disorganized manner in which it was kept by‘ USFIA, the Receiver has yet to put together a complete picture of the business.

This includes the total number of investors and funds invested into USFIA.

What we do know is so far is that the Receiver has ‘identified approximately 65,000 unique email addresses‘ in the USFIA investor database.

No doubt many of them belong to the same investor, with the Receiver set to send an email out to each of the addresses to establish ownership of the accounts they are attached to.

The SEC’s initially estimated USFIA to be a $32 million dollar Ponzi scheme back in October 2015. This figure appears to have been vastly understated, with the Receiver now estimating some $164 million was deposited into the scheme.

"The accounting is ongoing and the Receiver’s goal for completion is September 30, 2016."

The Receivership had $26.9 million held as of March 31st, 2016.

No legitimate business in USFIA
In his second filed report, the Receiver established that he couldn’t find any legitimate business within USFIA. This included GemCoin and USFIA’s fabled amber mine operations.

Three months later that is still the case.

"At this point, there is no indication there was any legitimate Gemcoin or other viable business operated by the Receivership Entities.

Aside from some income generated by the hotel and rental properties, the Receivership Entities had no significant source of income other than money raised from investors."

As to USFIA’s infamous amber mines;

"The Receiver has verified that virtually none of the assets described in online and written marketing materials actually exist.

Instead of mines located around the world, millions of dollars in precious gems, and houses and cars available to be awarded to investors, the Receiver has found only costume jewelry, boxes of rocks, and bins filled with tens of thousands of little rings of nominal value.

As for the amber mine in the Dominican Republic the Defendant professed to own, no mine has been discovered.

The Receiver has learned that the address of the purported mine is a residential address of a house purchased by Ammine, S.R.L.

The house is located in a residential area and there are no mines adjacent to it.

Moreover, the Receiver has learned that Ammine, S.R.L. is not registered to operate a mine."

What little assets there are to seize in the Dominican Republic, the Receiver is in the process of obtaining through a domesticated preliminary injunction order.

Mod: To date there has been little information available about the legal fate of John Wuo, the former Arcadia Mayor who advocated loudly for investing in GemCoins. We will be keeping an eye out. For the rest of the above story click here.