Friday, September 30, 2016

USA Today Has Never Taken Sides In A Presidential Race ... Until Now

Mod: Even the newspaper they give away in hotel lobbies is breaking all of the rules this year. We are living in interesting times.

In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. Instead, we’ve expressed opinions about the major issues and haven’t presumed to tell our readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them. Because every presidential race is different, we revisit our no-endorsement policy every four years. We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now.

This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.

From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.

Whether through indifference or ignorance, Trump has betrayed fundamental commitments made by all presidents since the end of World War II. These commitments include unwavering support for NATO allies, steadfast opposition to Russian aggression, and the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts. He has expressed troubling admiration for authoritarian leaders and scant regard for constitutional protections.

We’ve been highly critical of the GOP nominee in a number of previous editorials. With early voting already underway in several states and polls showing a close race, now is the time to spell out, in one place, the reasons Trump should not be president:

He is erratic. Trump has been on so many sides of so many issues that attempting to assess his policy positions is like shooting at a moving target. A list prepared by NBC details 124 shifts by Trump on 20 major issues since shortly before he entered the race. He simply spouts slogans and outcomes (he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific”) without any credible explanations of how he’d achieve them.

He is ill-equipped to be commander in chief. Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements typically range from uninformed to incoherent. It’s not just Democrats who say this. Scores of Republican national security leaders have signed an extraordinary open letter calling Trump’s foreign policy vision “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.” In a Wall Street Journal column this month, Robert Gates, the highly respected former Defense secretary who served presidents of both parties over a half-century, described Trump as “beyond repair.”

He traffics in prejudice. From the very beginning, Trump has built his campaign on appeals to bigotry and xenophobia, whipping up resentment against Mexicans, Muslims and migrants. His proposals for mass deportations and religious tests are unworkable and contrary to America’s ideals.

Trump has stirred racist sentiments in ways that can’t be erased by his belated and clumsy outreach to African Americans. His attacks on an Indiana-born federal judge of Mexican heritage fit “the textbook definition of a racist comment,” according to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected official in the Republican Party. And for five years, Trump fanned the absurd “birther” movement that falsely questioned the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.

His business career is checkered. Trump has built his candidacy on his achievements as a real estate developer and entrepreneur. It’s a shaky scaffold, starting with a 1973 Justice Department suit against Trump and his father for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals. (The Trumps fought the suit but later settled on terms that were viewed as a government victory.) Trump’s companies have had some spectacular financial successes, but this track record is marred by six bankruptcy filings, apparent misuse of the family’s charitable foundation, and allegations by Trump University customers of fraud. A series of investigative articles published by the USA TODAY Network found that Trump has been involved in thousands of lawsuits over the past three decades, including at least 60 that involved small businesses and contract employees who said they were stiffed. So much for being a champion of the little guy.

He isn’t leveling with the American people. Is Trump as rich as he says? No one knows, in part because, alone among major party presidential candidates for the past four decades, he refuses to release his tax returns. Nor do we know whether he has paid his fair share of taxes, or the extent of his foreign financial entanglements.

He speaks recklessly. In the days after the Republican convention, Trump invited Russian hackers to interfere with an American election by releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails, and he raised the prospect of “Second Amendment people” preventing the Democratic nominee from appointing liberal justices. It’s hard to imagine two more irresponsible statements from one presidential candidate.

He has coarsened the national dialogue. Did you ever imagine that a presidential candidate would discuss the size of his genitalia during a nationally televised Republican debate? Neither did we. Did you ever imagine a presidential candidate, one who avoided service in the military, would criticize Gold Star parents who lost a son in Iraq? Neither did we. Did you ever imagine you’d see a presidential candidate mock a disabled reporter? Neither did we. Trump’s inability or unwillingness to ignore criticism raises the specter of a president who, like Richard Nixon, would create enemies’ lists and be consumed with getting even with his critics.

He’s a serial liar. Although polls show that Clinton is considered less honest and trustworthy than Trump, it’s not even a close contest. Trump is in a league of his own when it comes to the quality and quantity of his misstatements. When confronted with a falsehood, such as his assertion that he was always against the Iraq War, Trump’s reaction is to use the Big Lie technique of repeating it so often that people begin to believe it.

Mod: You can read the rest by clicking here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sierra Madre's 3 Big Retirements - Completely Voluntary?

Mod: A recent Pasadena Star News article makes the claim that the timing of the retirements of three senior level Sierra Madre officials was coincidental. The assumption being that these departures were completely voluntary and based on age. Others have said that all three were quietly forced out as the City Council recognizes the critical need for new and more creative leadership during challenging times. A perspective that was not recognized in the PSN article, or anywhere else. So what is your take here? Voluntary retirements or forced exits?

Sierra Madre’s leadership takes a hit with several simultaneous retirements Sierra Madre’s city manager, police chief and public works director have announced plans to retire from the city in December, according to city staff.

The exits, combined with an assistant city manager who left in July, leaves little of the city’s leadership intact. But officials say they’re hopeful a new city manager will start by January.

“We anticipated some of those retirements,” said Councilwoman Rachelle Arizmendi. “If our timing is right — we are already expediting the process to ensure we have a city manager within the next month or so — it’ll allow for some training and transition to happen.”

The three-months notice gave the city some time to find replacements, Arizmendi said. The City Council is already working with an executive recruitment firm to find its next city manager.

Sierra Madre intends to assign staff to interim leadership roles until the new city manager can hire replacements for the police chief and public works director.

Assistant City Manager Elisa Cox kicked off the resignations and retirements when she left for a job in Rancho Cucamonga in July. Then earlier this month, City Manager Elaine Aguilar announced she would retire in December. Public Safety Director and Police Chief Larry Giannone, a 9-year employee, and Public Works Director Bruce Inman, a 19-year employee, followed with similar announcements on Wednesday.

Inman is one of the city’s longest serving employees, officials said.

Aguilar said the timing is coincidental and does not indicate any turmoil in city hall. All three have individually worked in the public sector for decades.

“We’re all baby boomers and there’s a lot of folks like me, and the directors, who have been in their positions for a long time and have reached retirement age all at the same time,” she said.

Mod: The rest of the article is available here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dedicato Treatment Center’s Dr. Keith Marshall Smacks Down Sierra Madre

Dr. Keith thinks Sierra Madre is mean.
Mod: This article originally ran in a wee Pasadena publication called The Foothill Advocate back in July (link to the original here). There Dr. Marshall cusses out the good people of Sierra Madre fairly well, which is fine. That said, due to the lack of specifics, along with its emotionally charged appeal to a targeted out-of-town audience, the Foothill Advocate piece doesn't really go anywhere useful, and none of the questions being asked here in Sierra Madre about the Dedicato Treatment Center are actually answered. Or even recognized as being legitimate. Then again, Sierra Madre was obviously not the intended audience for this article, but rather its gratuitously selected target. 

Dedicato Treatment Center’s Dr. Marshall speaks out against skeptics - Dr. Keith Marshall chose to open a sober-living home in Sierra Madre because of the community’s natural beauty and tranquility.

He said he soon encountered an ugliness in online comments that belied that tranquility of Sierra Madre’s Mayberry-like feel.  The subsequent scrutiny of city officials felt like the sort of intimidation one might find in a less-enlightened community.

“I was hurt by the meanness,” Marshall said. “I dare anyone to judge me without first meeting me,” he said. I have a dissertation … I’m legit!.”

During a recent tour of the facility, Marshall, 53, a doctor of psychology, explained how he would clear the air. First of all, Dedicato Treatment Center is not a rehabilitation clinic, and despite the name, provides no medical treatment for drug addiction.  If anything the facility, which opened in the fall provides a support system and living space for men and women being treated elsewhere.

Despite his assurances, over the past few months Marshall and Dedicato have come under intense scrutiny. Sierra Madre’s city council demanded explanations from his Operations Director during meetings in May, and he’s been visited by police in what he describes as an attempt at intimidation.

Marshall also said it’s a red herring when he’s compared to competitors like Chris Bethum, founder and owner of Community Recovery Los Angeles. Bethum was arrested in Lost Hills on suspicion of drug dealing, according to reports in LA Weekly.

If the allegations about Bethum are true, Marshall believes, “Guys like him need to be thrown in jail,” Marshall said. “He’s using his influence to sell drugs to people who are suffering.”

It’s hard not to take things personally, especially given  Marshall’s own history.

Despite growing up in a middle-class neighborhood,and having attended Temple University in Pennsylvania, Marshall found himself in the grip of addiction after his first introduction to drug abuse in college at 19.

During his long road to recovery nearly 10 years after his first experimentation with drugs, he’s seen everything from luxurious and private rehab facilities, to nightmarish conditions on Skid Row. He often uses those experiences to connect with those seeking his help.

After his recovery, Marshall put himself through ten years of schooling, attending Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Now he hopes to convert unbelievers and critics of all kinds, and return the favor to those who need his help the most.

A tour around the sober living home reveals how seriously Marshall takes his mission. Every wall hosts a positive and uplifting image, or a gentle reminder of a life beyond drug abuse. Marshall spent thousands of dollars — most of it his own — to provide comfortable and safe amenities for his clients. A koi pond, a private gym, and other sites for reflection and relaxation help complete the environment necessary for a total shift in thinking. Although some might find the facilities too luxurious for those recovering from addiction,   Marshall says he understands the need for both safety and structure.

“Would you rather they be on Skid Row?” he asks his detractors. “That environment isn’t conducive to change.”

Marshall keeps a close eye on his critics, and understands the arguments laid out against him. He believes that people have a vision of addicts as dirty criminals — but that’s a simplistic picture, he argues. Most of his clients have six-figure incomes and seek the privacy and accountability a sober living home can provide.

No one enters Dedicato without extensive screening. They are tested regularly, and must not have outstanding legal cases or criminal records. They’re kept to a strict curfew, and even their visitors must submit to a background check.

“This is my life. This is my passion,” Marshall says. “I want to see people get clean.”

Mod: The notion that an addict with a six figure income is going to end up on skid row seems logically challenged to me. And if Dr. Marshall is as concerned about getting people clean as he claims, why does he apparently only treat the financially well off? Is the purpose of that "extensive screening" to keep the underprivileged out? If true, that would certainly detract from much of the social concern that he has claimed here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Debate: Socrates Sums It Up

For an interesting debate recap video, Click Here.

Donald Trump’s first presidential debate confirmed he has no idea what he’s talking about (Vox)
Try to imagine yourself as a modern-day Rip Van Winkle awakening after a few years of hibernation. You weren’t following the election news, but you knew it was a big story, and so you tuned in to tonight’s first presidential debate to see what the hubbub was all about.

You’d be confused.

You’d quickly see that Hillary Clinton represents a familiar archetype. She’s been in American politics for a long time. She served as the nation’s top diplomat and as a United States senator. She sponsored bills and was part of diplomatic agreements. She spoke fluently about her ideas on a range of issues. She took some jabs at her opponents, and she was sometimes a little boring and in the weeds.

You would see, in other words, that the Democrats had nominated an experienced politician — it’s what you do.

The other party, by contrast, seems to have done something weird. Their nominee, Donald Trump, seems erratic — peevish, visibly annoyed at being referred to by his first name, lashing out at Rosie O’Donnell for some reason — and mired in controversy. 

Accused of practicing racial discrimination in his businesses, he says being sued by the federal government is “one of those things” and even though he paid up, there was “no admission of guilt.” Pressed to release his federal income tax returns, he said he can’t because he’s being audited, which really just seems like a confirmation that his returns would be interesting and worth seeing.

But beyond the personal controversies, he rather clearly has no idea what he’s talking about.

Mod: The rest of this article here.

The weekend America's newspapers called Donald Trump a liar (CNN Money)
On the weekend leading up to 2016's first presidential debate, four news organizations came to a similar and sweeping conclusion: Donald Trump lies more often than Hillary Clinton.

In a normal election year this would be extraordinary. On Sunday editors and reporters at the newsrooms used another word: necessary.

The New York Times story — "A Week of Whoppers" — came out first on Saturday. Politico, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all followed within hours.

Several of the editors who were involved said the timing was a coincidence. But there was clearly a desire to publish stories before Monday's debate, when Trump and Clinton's truthfulness will surely be at issue.

"Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has," the L.A. Times declared on page one of Sunday's paper.

Politico Magazine's team analyzed every statement made by both Trump and Clinton for five days and said "the conclusion is inescapable: Trump's mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton's as to make the comparison almost ludicrous."

The words "almost ludicrous" ricocheted around Twitter.

Politico found that Trump averaged "one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks" while Clinton averaged one falsehood every twelve minutes.

Overall, the news outlet counted 87 "misstatements, exaggerations, falsehoods" from Trump and eight from Clinton.

The Times counted only Trump's "biggest whoppers," 31 of them, while skipping "dozens more."
All four of the newsrooms distinguished between the kind of misstatements Clinton makes and the kind Trump makes.

"Clinton has made her share of questionable claims," the Post said, but Trump "at times seems uniquely undeterred by facts."

The Post said Trump "continues to rely heavily on thinly sourced or entirely unsubstantiated claims."

Mod: More at the link.

Is this a death threat?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Los Angeles Times - Scope of Trump's falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate

He even lies about his weight.
Mod: A little reading to help you get up to speed for tonight's Presidential debate. Remember, if Donald Trump's lips are moving, he's probably lying.

Scope of Trump's falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate (Los Angeles Times): Donald Trump says that taxes in the United States are higher than almost anywhere else on earth. They’re not. He says he opposed the Iraq war from the start. He didn’t.

Now, after years of spreading the lie that President Obama was born in Africa, Trump says that Hillary Clinton did it first (untrue) and that he’s the one who put the controversy to rest (also untrue).

Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has. Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth — but “pants on fire” (PolitiFact) or “four Pinocchios” (Washington Post Fact Checker).

Trump’s candidacy was premised on upending a dishonest establishment that has rigged American political and economic life, so many of his loyalists are willing to overlook his lies, as long as he rankles the powerful, said Republican strategist Rob Stutzman.

“It gives him not only license, but incentive to spin fantasy, because no one expects him to tell the truth,” said Stutzman, who worked against Trump during the primaries. “They believe they’re getting lied to constantly, so if their hero tells lies in order to strike back, they don’t care.”

Still, Trump’s pattern of saying things that are provably false has no doubt contributed to his high unfavorable ratings. It also has forced journalists to grapple with how aggressive they should be in correcting candidates’ inaccurate statements, particularly in the presidential debates that start Monday.

Nonetheless, the scope of Trump’s falsehoods is unprecedented, and he is dogged in refusing to stop saying things once they are proved untrue.

BuzzFeed unearthed an audio recording showing that Trump backed the Iraq invasion and a 2011 video in which he called for swift military action against Moammar Kadafi, then the leader of Libya. In the months since those disclosures, Trump has lied dozens of times on both issues, saying he opposed the use of force in Iraq and Libya.

Trump campaign spokesmen Hope Hicks and Jason Miller did not respond to an email requesting comment on Trump’s history of falsehoods.

Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, said Trump appears to recognize that a faction of the Republican Party has lost respect for facts, evidence and science — presuming, for example, that anything negative said about Obama is probably true.

Mod: For the rest of this article click here.


$100s of Millions of Dollars Paid to Donald Trump by Russian Oligarchs (ABC News): Donald Trump and his children have for years promoted themselves and their real estate opportunities in Russia and other former Soviet states, and ethics experts say if he is elected President the get-tough U.S. sanctions against Russia could be in direct conflict with his business interests.

Trump has said he will not participate in decisions about his business if he is elected to the White House and that those decisions will be left to his children in what they have called a “blind trust.” But Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as ethics advisor to Republican President George W. Bush, said the arrangement would not fit his definition of a blind trust, and appeared ripe for potential conflicts.

“I don’t see how you have a blind trust when you know what’s in the blind trust,” Painter told ABC News. “The appearance is that a foreign government or other foreign organization has influence over the president of the United States through financial dealings with his family and that would be unacceptable.”

As questions have been raised about Trump’s business interests with Russians, the candidate has sought to distance himself from Moscow.

“For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he wrote on Twitter in July.

He later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “Will I sell condos to Russians on occasion? Probably. I mean I do that. I have a lot of condos. I do that. But I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever."

But an ABC News investigation found he has numerous connections to Russian interests both in the U.S. and abroad.

“The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars -- what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,” said Sergei Millian, who heads a U.S.-Russia business group and who says he once helped market Trump’s U.S. condos in Russia and the former Soviet states.

“They were happy to invest with him, and they were happy to work with Donald Trump. And they were happy to associate—[and] be associated with Donald Trump.”

Mod: Yes, Lyin' Donald Trump's sedition will be discussed at tonight's debates. For the rest of this ABC News article click here.

Feds investigating Trump advisor’s meeting with Russian officials seeking to influence U.S. election (Think Progress): U.S. law enforcement is looking into Donald Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page’s meetings with high-ranking Russian officials this summer, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reports.

Page, who Trump said was one of his five foreign policy advisors last March, is suspected of communicating with “senior Russian officials” about “the possible lifting of economic sanctions” if Trump becomes president, Yahoo reports, citing “multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.”

One of the officials Page allegedly met with, Igor Diveykin, is “believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.” Russia is widely believed to be behind high-profile computer hacks that appear timed to influence the presidential election.

Mod: Find the rest here. Remember, real patriots don't vote for traitors.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Should Sierra Madre's New City Manager Be Required To Live In Town?

The answer to that question is don't even bother asking. The state, in its infinite venal stupidity, has made it illegal for cities such as Sierra Madre to require its administrative officers to actually live here. Despite all of the advantages such an arrangement would bring to this town.

Having a City Manager with an actual stake in the success of the community would seem like it would be the way to go. But apparently Sacramento wasn't into any arrangements like that. And in order to please a few of their union financed benefactors (police and fire is what I have heard), they legislated any such opportunities completely out of existence.

At one time the City of Sierra Madre did recognize that this is how things ought to be. Currently it actually is city law that the City Manager must live in town. However, this has been unenforceable ever since state law declared a few decades back that carpetbaggers must be considered for such a position, and once hired cannot be required to actually live in the city they are paid by the residents to run.

A condition that could go a long ways in explaining Sierra Madre's current $9 million dollars in CalPERS debt. It is doubtful that a city resident would have ever allowed such an awful thing to happen to this community. But if you aren't from here, why would you ever care?

Councilmember Capoccia, in his infinite wisdom, has decided that the time has come to bring city law into line with the state requirements in this matter. The point is moot of course, because what the city has on the books cannot in any way be enforced. But I suppose this at least allows the Councilmember to believe he has actually done something of real importance.

It is the last item on Tuesday evening's City Council meeting agenda. Here is how this largely unnecessary action reads:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Sierra Madre Trump Tattler

Mod: It's been awhile since we did one of these. And it is a good time for this. The Donald had a disastrous week as his previous increases in the polls just melted away. Apparently the word has gotten around that Trump is just a habitually bigoted lying so and so who has vigorously peddled his butt to hostile foreign economic powers so he can keep up his cheesy gold plated appearances here. But don't let me tell you all that, you should just read the news for yourself.  There is just so much of it!

Poll: Nearly half of voters think Trump will detonate a nuke (The Hill link):  A majority of voters say Donald Trump would allow the U.S. to default on its debt and that he would misuse the power of the presidency to punish his political opponents. And nearly half of voters — 46 percent — say the GOP nominee would use a nuclear weapon to attack ISIS or another foreign enemy.

Those are the findings of a new poll conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of the Lincoln Leadership Initiative, a new group helmed by prominent Republican critics of the New York billionaire who are advocating for the Republican Party to dump Trump and return to its “foundational values.”

The poll also found that a majority of voters believe that as president, Trump would create a database to track Muslims and order military strikes against the families of terrorists.

Sixty-five percent said that there would be race riots in major cities during a Trump administration, and 44 percent believe Trump would authorize internment camps for illegal immigrants.

AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans Fear Trump Presidency (ABC News link): More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK Poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries to overtake Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman's campaign. They are more likely to trust Clinton to handle a variety of issues facing the country, and Trump has no advantage on the national security topics also at the forefront of his bid.

Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of support, seen clearly among the thousands of backers who fill the stands at his signature rallies. But most people don't share that fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November. Only one in four voters find him even somewhat civil or compassionate, and just a third say he's not at all racist.

Trump Rape Accuser to Refile Suit in New York (Courthouse News link): A lawsuit filed by an anonymous plaintiff accusing Donald Trump of raping a teenager in the 1990's and threatening to kill her family, will be re-filed with an additional witness on board, the woman's attorney revealed Thursday.

Thomas Meagher, attorney for the Jane Doe plaintiff said they plan to re-file the complaint, accompanied by a new witness afidavit, as soon as the end of next week. The original lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed on September 16th.

The June 20, 2016, complaint accused the Republican presidential nominee and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein of rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress, duress, false imprisonment, and defamation.
It also included two declarations of support of the Jane Doe plaintiff's request for protective order. The first declaration, signed by Jane Doe herself, detailed Trump's alleged "savage sexual attack" on the then-13-year-old plaintiff.
The plaintiff claims she was raped by Trump during a 1994 summer party thrown by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein at an Upper East Side mansion on East 71st St.

The Jane Doe plaintiff claims Trump ignored her loud pleas to stop, struck her with an open hand and threatened to harm, if not kill her and her entire family if she ever revealed details of the assault.

Trump’s Kremlin connection: the other shoe(s) drop (TRBC link): Mike Isikoff is about as far from being a Clinton-lover as it’s possible to be on an outpatient basis: he was last seen chasing down a semen-stained dress. But today he broke a blockbuster story: tracing the activities in Moscow of Carter Page, an otherwise utterly obscure person who was nonetheless one of the five people Donald Trump listed as “foreign policy advisers” to his campaign.

It appears that, after Trump named him as an adviser and just before the Republican convention, Page met in Moscow not only with an oligarch on the sanctions list but also with the official apparently in charge of Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections, including both the activities of the RT and Sputnik News and the hackers who broke into the DNC emails and released the results to WikiLeaks timed to create maximum heartache for Clinton.

Also today, ABC blew a major hole in Trump’s denial of major economic ties to Russia: his estimated take was in the “hundreds of millions of dollars,” some of it from the Russian mafia. His proposal to put his assets in a “blind trust” run by his children doesn’t pass the giggle test:  that trust wouldn’t even need glasses.

Add these to the list: Trump’s threat to renege on our NATO treaty commitments and not support our allies in the face of Russian aggression; Trump’s expressed admiration for Putin as “a stronger leader” than Obama;  hiring Paul Manafort, who worked to elect Putin’s puppet Yanukovych as President of Ukraine; his having foreign policy advisers like Gen. Michael Flynn, who takes money to go on Russian propaganda channel RT and compares it to CNN; Trump’s invitation to Putin to hack Clinton’s emails; and Trump’s astounding assurance that Putin wasn’t “going into Ukraine” two years after Russia had annexed Crimea and while Russian troops (under thin disguise as “volunteers”) were still shooting up the Donbass; and Trump’s promise to “look at” lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea.

Since the United States is not at war with Russia, what Trump is up to does not meet the Constitutional definition of “treason.” But since U.S. and Russian interests directly conflict, and since the Russian military has engaged in risky provocations such as buzzing U.S. Navy vessels in the Baltic, there is no reason not to call what Trump is doing – most of all, his invitation to an adversary to intervene on his behalf in our elections – disloyal.

That’s the first time in U.S. history (unless you want to count George McClellan in 1864) that such a word could be  accurately used about a major-party candidate for President of the United States.

George H.W. Bush to vote for Hillary Clinton (Politico link): Former President George H.W. Bush is bucking his party's presidential nominee and plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, according to a member of another famous political family, the Kennedys.

Bush, 92, had intended to stay silent on the White House race between Clinton and Donald Trump, a sign in and of itself of his distaste for the GOP nominee. But his preference for the wife of his own successor, President Bill Clinton, nonetheless became known to a wider audience thanks to Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.

On Monday, Townsend posted a picture on her Facebook page shaking hands next to the former president and this caption: "The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!

Report: Trump proposals would add $5.3 trillion to debt (AP-Yahoo Finance link): A new analysis from a nonpartisan group finds that Donald Trump's latest tax proposals would increase the federal debt by $5.3 trillion over the next decade, compared with $200 billion if Hillary Clinton's ideas were enacted. The Trump campaign disputed the findings.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget looked at Trump's newly revised tax plan as well as other proposals. However, it says its analysis can't be certain of the actual size of Trump's tax plan because his campaign won't spell out how it will treat certain businesses' tax liabilities. The committee took a "mid-range guess" between two estimates provided by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

When Trump introduced his economic plan last week, he vowed that his tax cuts would be paid for partly by triggering record economic growth. The committee was skeptical and presumed these steps would generate no new growth. Several economists have projected that Trump's economic agenda — especially his restrictions on immigration and trade — would slow economic growth and possibly cause a recession.

Trump has also proposed a sharp increase in spending on the military and veterans. He has proposed some spending cuts, but the committee calculated they wouldn't come close to balancing the budget.

Trump refused to pay winner of a 2010 golf contest his $1M prize — and when the mogul was sued, he doled out settlement using money from his charity (New York Daily News link): It was a million dollar shot until it wasn’t. Donald Trump once refused to pay a winner of a hole-in-one contest $1 million during a 2010 golf tournament, prompting the competition’s angry winner to sue the mogul, recently unearthed documents from the lawsuit show.

And when the GOP nominee finally settled the suit for $158,000, he did so with money from his charitable foundation, which is illegal.

The claims add to mounting allegations surrounding Trump’s ethics as a businessman as well as the legal and ethical questions surrounding his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

The GOP’s Jewish Donors Are Abandoning Trump (FiveThirtyEight link): In recent years, Republicans have made inroads into the overwhelmingly Democratic constituency of American Jews. But this year, Republican Jews — or Jewish donors to the Republican party, at least — are abandoning their party’s nominee at a stunningly high rate.

In 2012, 71 percent of the $160 million that Jewish donors gave to the two major-party nominees went to President Obama’s re-election campaign; 29 percent went to Mitt Romney’s campaign, according to our analysis of campaign contributors, which used a predictive model to estimate which donors are Jewish based on their names and other characteristics. This ratio of support mirrors how Jewish voters cast their ballots in 2012.

So far in 2016, of all the money given to major-party candidates by donors who appear to be Jewish, 95 percent has gone to Hillary Clinton and just 5 percent has gone to Donald Trump.

Meet the Horde of Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and Other Extremist Leaders Endorsing Donald Trump (Mother Jones link): With his many appeals to nativism, bigotry, and bitter discontent, Donald Trump has enthralled far-right extremists with his campaign for president. According to an investigation by Mother Jones and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, since Trump officially announced his bid in June 2015 he has drawn effusive praise and formal backing from some of the country's most virulent neo-Nazis, white supremacists, militia supporters, and other extremist leaders.

They include the head of the American Nazi Party, three former Ku Klux Klansmen, four people involved in a recent armed standoff against federal authorities at an Oregon wildlife refuge, and at least 15 individuals affiliated with organizations described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.

Trump has disavowed none of them.

"We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks, that may never come again," wrote Rocky J. Suhayda, the head of the American Nazi Party, last fall. "Donald Trump's campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that 'our views' are NOT so 'unpopular' as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!"

During the Republican National Convention in July, Trump endorser Andrew Anglin, who runs a neo-Nazi website called the Daily Stormer, wrote: "The biggest story in the filthy kike media has been a few lines from Melania's speech which these Jews claim she stole from Monkey Michelle."

Responding to questions about his views by email, Anglin echoed Trump's statements about the 2016 election being "rigged," warning: "If he loses, it is by fraud, and all of these people who are currently supporting him are going to be radicalized." Trump, he said, "will order a putsch."

Others among Trump's extremist endorsers have advocated a violent overthrow of the US government, expressed hatred for blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jews, and threatened to "level and demolish every mosque across this country."

(Mod: That's probably enough for today. We'll have more of this sort of thing should people prove interested. Or as long as certain people keep dropping Trump nonsense into the comments section of Tattler articles having nothing to do with crazy Tangerine Top.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Reports: Victor A. Randall of Sierra Madre Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

Mod: Two reports have now appeared covering the arrest of this loser. The first comes to us from the Sierra Madre Weekly (link):

Sierra Madre Man Arrested For Possession Of Child Pornography - On September 20, 2016, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit (ICAC), assigned to the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (LAICAC) Task Force, arrested a resident of the City of Sierra Madre, identified as Victor A. Randall, 38 years of age, for violation of 311.11(a) Penal Code, a Felony, Possession of Child Pornography.

Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Randall was booked at the LAPD, 77th Street Jail on the aforementioned charge, and was subsequently released on $20,000 bail. Randall was given a Notice to Appear at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Court Building, Division 30 on October 14, 2016.

The LAPD is the principal agency for the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with 69 Federal, State and Local affiliate Law Enforcement agencies that detect and investigate child predators that use the Internet as a means to contact children for the purposes of sexual exploitation or deal in child pornography.

Mod: This second report comes to us from the Pasadena Star News (link):

Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography - Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.

“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.

After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.

Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.

He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's Now Official - Aguilar, Giannone & Inman Are All Out

Mod: Perhaps the biggest city government power shift in the history of Sierra Madre is going down now, and all we got is the following soggy press release. Well, OK, it's still better than the alternatives. Think of how bad things could have become had these folks been allowed to stay. Oh, and this does fit a very distinct pattern.

As was shown during Elaine Aguilar's recent fall from grace, first we break the news here on The Tattler, and two days later a rather cloying City Hall presser magically appears. Here is their official version of these events, the one that today you are all being asked to believe.

That, of course, is the Xanax variant. Cooked up for those easily prone to panic attacks caused by too much change and unfiltered anxiety inducing reality. The actual reason behind all of this is none of these city executives were getting the job done, and just had to go. Plain and simple.

Larry Giannone ran a police department that lost half of its sworn officers for reasons never fully explained, and even after spending a fortune in taxpayer dollars could only replace them with untested recruits fresh out of some lower tier police academy. And then only after city residents had paid for their tuition.

Bruce Inman oversaw a municipal water company that over the last few years was just one small banana step short of becoming a health crisis. Huge amounts of money were spent on foolish solutions that led absolutely nowhere. Dr. Hélène Baribeau anyone? It is now widely acknowledged that it will take many millions of dollars to repair the mess Inman dithered over, money that will have to be raised through new parcel taxes and other revenue increases. Expect to hear all about that during the long run up to the 2018 citywide elections.

Elaine Aguilar oversaw a ponzi scheme of a city government whose greatest and perhaps only priority was financing employee benefit and retirement accounts. No stone was left unturned in her relentless search for more revenue. Even the Huck Finn Fishing Derby was targeted. Elaine will leave behind somewhere around $30 million dollars in combined CalPERS and water bond debt. For a small town of 11,000 people that is an immense amount.

Sierra Madre is desperate for new City Hall leadership. Thankfully that day has now arrived and such change can actually happen.

Today's edition of the Sierra Madre Weekly has a big revelation for you

The article is called "What on Earth Is Going on Sierra Madre?" and can be read in its entirety by clicking here. What follows is one of the meatier parts. Apparently the Sheriffs are about to saddle up and head off into the sunset.

Talk about Brexit … now the world’s (well, at least local) attention is focusing on “SMexit” (aka Sierra Madre exit).

First, the city decides to contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) to cover evening and weekend shifts. Then, the Sierra Madre Police (SMPD) Chief says the department will be back in full swing by September – and now, there is a rumor that Chief Giannone is about to exit, stage left … along with embattled Public Works Director Bruce Inman and possibly more.

We also just learned Wednesday morning, from Council Member John Cappocia, that SMPD will resume nighttime patrols on Nov 1.

In an email asking all the council members for clarification on the latest rumors, Cappocia (the only one who responded to our requests) said, “We will be resuming patrols on Nov. 1. We will be giving the sheriffs a 30-day notice at the end of the month.”

SMexit indeed! More information just as soon as it comes our way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sierra Madre Weekly (May 6, 2016): Sierra Madre Police Chief Says Department Will Be Back In Full Swing By September

(Mod: Given his near-rumored departure from this community, plus the continued and apparently unending presence of the LASD on the streets of Sierra Madre each evening, can we now say with confidence that Chief Giannone's bold predictions in the following article are today no longer operative? Link to the original here.) 

Sierra Madre Police Chief Says Department Will Be Back In Full Swing By September

SMPD Takes on Bold New Look: Starting May 1, the officers and dispatchers from the Sierra Madre Police Department (SMPD) were sporting a new look with redesigned badges and patches. “This will be the new fresh look as we continue to rebuild the police department and add new officers and dispatchers to the SMPD family, Chief Larry Giannone said in a Facebook post.

“We want to thank the community for your support while we transitioned from some tough times to a newer, brighter department. Very soon you will see some new faces out in the community. Recruitment is going well and we are focused with embedding the officers, both new and old back into the community so we may continue to provide the high level service that not only keeps our small town safe, but allows the citizens to know their police department and for the police department to know the members of our community,” said SMPD Chief Giannone.

The recruiting process is going “very well,” according to Giannone, “We have three new officers graduating from the police academy on Wednesday, May 4. Once they are done with the orientation phase, they will start their field training at the end of May or first week of June. Additionally we have two more officers in backgrounds and are looking at sending two more officers to the police academy in July. In addition we just promoted one of our officers to sergeant, opening up a potential spot for another anxious recruit. For the first time in years, with the hard work of Lieutenant Donna Cayson who is assigned to the recruiting process, we actually have a fairly long list of potential employees that we can hire,” Giannone told the Sierra Madre Weekly.

While the department has been under considerable fire from many directions due to the mass exodus and the perceived take-over by LASD, Giannone maintains confidence the department will be up and running by September, “Providing the background checks and other procedural requirements go well were are hoping to be back up to full staff by the end of the year. We will however be able to start patrolling the community again full time by September, providing everything goes well with the hiring and training process.

Regarding the new badges [some questions arose about the building on the badge] the building matches our patches, which is the old city hall. This fresh look and fresh start has reinvigorated our officers and everyone is excited about rebuilding the department, training the new officers, and getting them back into the community as soon as possible,” Gianonne stressed.

In conclusion the chief said, “We have great community support, continued support from our city councilmembers, and the city staff has been wonderful helping us get through the past several months. We are excited about the future and know that the community is excited to get us back as well.”

(Mod: Of course, the Chief didn't say which September. There are many more of that special month to come, I'm sure. We'll be certain to keep you up to date with any further developments just as soon as that information becomes available.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The House Cleaning At Sierra Madre City Hall Continues

Tales of Sierra Madre glory 

It all started in the last week or so with the story we broke here about the "retirement" of City Manager Elaine Aguilar. But surprisingly that was hardly the end of it. We can also finally confirm that Director Bruce Inman is now on his way out as well.

And we can now share with you another piece of big news. Are you ready for this? Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone is also apparently heading out through the permanent door. A rumor at this point, but all of the pieces fit.

So what is the reason for so much sudden radical change? In the not too distant past the City Council in Sierra Madre seemed endlessly tolerant of the failures and inadequacies of its senior personnel.

Why such radical change now?

Apparently the City Council has been actually holding employees accountable for their work, and some aren't adjusting to that kind of pressure very well. Producing actual positive results being too onerous a burden for some to carry. And rather than continuing to be called out on their various screw ups and inadequacies, they're taking the money and running.

It really is about time this city got some new leadership.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Are Things Changing For The Better In Arcadia?

(Mod: Interesting and upbeat Pasadena Star News editorial. You may link here.)

Citizens in San Gabriel Valley cities are busy, same as everywhere. They may be concerned about changes in their communities, but they don’t have the time to puzzle out solutions to every little thing.

That’s why they elect fellow citizen to their city councils. The neighbors who so serve also have to get the kids to school, head off to work and then get dinner on the table in the evening, but they volunteer to address constituent concerns and to plow through reams of paperwork before each council meeting.

In Arcadia, an affluent, successful community with a good mix of small businesses, the major attractions of Santa Anita Park, a massive shopping mall and the county Arboretum along with beautiful residential neighborhoods, the City Council majority in recent years had not been doing a good job addressing citizen concerns about the plague of mansionization.

There’s nothing wrong with the all-American sport of adding on to your home. But unlike every other neighboring city, the Arcadia council had done a dismal job of addressing widespread concern about preventing building too-big houses on too-small lots. The city was in danger of losing what had been so appealing about its residential neighborhoods by clinging to a building code that is in conflict with its own general plan. Absurdly, a much-needed zoning code study was halted before it could be completed on the wacky pretense that a neighborhood group was suing the city over its failure to address mansionization.

Finally, last spring, a divided City Council adopted amendments to city building codes regarding height, setbacks, parking and hillside standards in addition to a few new regulations on basements and home size, which includes adopting a sliding-scale floor-area ratio.

And now, under the leadership of new Councilwoman April Verlato, a lawyer who formerly led the charge against bad, concrete-happy projects as an ordinary citizen, questionable development exemptions for size approved at the staff and Planning Commission are being called up to the council level and subjected to real scrutiny. Exemptions were supposed to be applied when an unusual lot shape prevented any additions. Instead, ordinary lots saw homes being built out to the sidewalk.

That has happily changed. Who says government is always up to no good?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is Bruce Inman Leaving Sierra Madre As Well?

Yesterday evening I received the following email from a sharp eyed Tattler reader.

The answer to that question is no, I have not. We do know that City Manager Elaine Aguilar is retiring from her Sierra Madre government role in November, but as of now there has been no word regarding an Inman departure as well.

Does the above spill the beans about yet another high level retirement from City Hall? You can link to the City Manager's Report by clicking here.

It could also mean that the short-timer City Manager needs to work on her sentence structure. She doesn’t say they are both outgoing; she says they are both getting presentations.

Let me know if you've heard anything.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Star Trek Effect on the 2016 Presidential Election

Trump In Chaos As His Own Campaign Just Proved Clinton Didn’t Start Birther Conspiracy (Politicus - link here.)

In a desperate effort to cover up their lie, the Donald Trump campaign put out a press release that provided proof that Hillary Clinton didn't start the birther conspiracy.

This is the transcript of an interview that a Clinton advisor did with CNN that was released by the Trump campaign:

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE: There was a volunteer coordinator, I believe in late 2007, I think in December, one of our volunteer coordinators in one of the counties in Iowa. I don’t recall whether they an actual paid staffer, but they did forward an e-mail that promoted the conspiracy.

WOLF BLITZER: The birther conspiracy?

DOYLE: Yeah. Hillary made the decision immediately to let that person go. We let that person go.

The transcript shows that Hillary Clinton shot down the birther conspiracy. When a staffer forwarded an email that promoted the conspiracy, that Clinton staffer was fired.

In other words, Donald Trump just released proof that Hillary Clinton didn’t start the birther conspiracy as he claimed at his event earlier on Friday.

It is unfathomable, but it appears that the reemergence of Trump’s birtherism has caught his campaign by surprise. The memo and interview that they cited were proof that Hillary Clinton didn’t begin the birther conspiracy.

Donald Trump’s own campaign just proved that their candidate is a liar.

Donald Trump’s Latest Birther Lie (New York Times - link here.)

The midday bulletin arrived as another bizarre moment in the absurdist presidential campaign of Donald Trump: News Alert: Trump admits Obama was born in the United States.

What? It read like some variation on “Trump Finds the Earth No Longer Flat.” But no, Mr. Trump, the ultimate mountebank, was at it again, altering but not abandoning the Big Lie campaign that first made him the darling of wing nuts and racists five years ago: his vicious insistence that President Obama was not born a legitimate American citizen.

Did he apologize to Mr. Obama and the American people for the political poison he spread for so long? Of course not. Being Mr. Trump, he instead substituted a lie for a lie. He falsely accused Hillary Clinton of starting the birther myth, then further claimed he had nobly “finished” it off by badgering the White House for proof that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii, not Africa.

The standard words for campaign mishaps — “flip-flop,” “retreat,” “walk-back” — simply do not apply to this candidate’s spirals through unreality.

Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Mr. Trump maintained with a straight face, speaking in Washington to a crowd of friendly military veterans. “I finished it.” Then he conceded the truth, an act that must have felt very peculiar to him: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”

Not quite period, much as Trump strategists now wish it were. Mr. Trump is probably hoping to reassure voters that he is edging into the mainstream, that he is not just the reckless, cynical bully of the Republican primaries. But the birther lies cling to him as tightly as his nativist hallucinators.

The facts — because facts still matter — are that Mr. Trump continued to heap doubt on President Obama’s birth certificate even after it was released, slyly retweeting others’ contentions that it was a fake and a “computer generated forgery.”

After he tried to pin the birther smear on her, Mrs. Clinton called it what it is: an “outrageous lie” intended to “delegitimize our first black president.” Mr. Trump delegitimized his own candidacy instead.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Arcadia Resident Wants To Know What Sierra Madre Has Done About Curbing Bad Development

I thought the following was a great question, and since it was asked fairly late in the day it might not get the attention it deserves. So I am posting it here today.

If anyone wants to chime in on this, please do.

Another Arcadia Resident Sent This
Arcadia resident Chang Hsia forwarded to me the following email he sent to the Arcadia City Council recently. It deals with the erroneous claims of Councilmembers Tay and Chandler that property values in Arcadia would plummet with the imposition of a FAR.

Here is his e-mail.

Good stuff. What follows is a portion of the Pasadena Star News piece Chang referenced in his email. To view the entire article click here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Question: Has Sierra Madre Won?

Mod: It certainly wasn't the longest email ever sent from Preserve Sierra Madre, but it just might be one of the most significant. Has Sierra Madre actually won in its fight against unwanted development? Are the necessary ingredients needed to properly control things like mansionization now in place? It is a big question. Here is their message.

Dear Supporters:
We are happy to report that the City Council at Tuesday night's meeting unanimously approved all of the amendments to the R-1 zone recommended by the Planning Commission.

We appreciate all the hard work of the Planning Commission and City Staff as well as the work and approval by our City Council. It is a rare thing in the governance of a city to have a City Staff, Planning Commission and City Council working so well together for the good of the city.

On another note, you have probably noticed that you have not been receiving as many emails for the last few months from Preserve Sierra Madre. We can assure you that we have not gone away.  But to a certain extent, the more that is accomplished in Sierra Madre towards setting up good rules and regulations for development, the less there is for us to do.

In other words, because of the updated General Plan and the continued work being done to bring the Municipal Code in line with a General Plan predicated upon preserving our "Village of the Foothills", there is simply less to fight about and less to argue about.  As long as builders and developers follow the reasonable rules for development that are currently in place, we can all be confident that any development will be consistent with the goals of the General Plan. The upfront work that has been done means less work and problems down the road.

We will remain vigilant however.  The project at One Carter will soon be back on the table and there may be other issues that crop up every now and then. We will of course bring these issues to your attention and take whatever action is needed.

As always, we appreciate your concern for our city and your continued support.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

COLIN POWELL: Donald Trump 'has no sense of shame'

(Mod: Everything went pretty well at last night's City Council meeting. The Planning Commission's R1 amendments were approved unanimously, which is a happy thing. So instead I thought I would post the following from Business Insider. Link to this directly by clicking here.)

COLIN POWELL: Donald Trump 'has no sense of shame' - Former secretary of state Colin Powell is no fan of Donald Trump.

In a slew of emails obtained by BuzzFeed News, Powell tore into the Republican presidential candidate referring to him as an “international pariah” and a “national disgrace.”

In one email, Powell denounced Trump for perpetuating the “racist” birther movement that questioned President Barack Obama’s US citizenship.

“Yup, the whole birther movement was racist,” Powell wrote, according to the BuzzFeed News report. “That’s what the 99% believe. When Trump couldn't keep that up he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he was a Muslim.”

In another exchange, Powell went off on media — echoing the position of other lawmakers who believe the press helped fuel Trump’s rise.

“You guys are playing his game, you are his oxygen," he said. "[Trump] outraged us again today with his comments on Paris no-go for police districts. I will watch and pick the timing, not respond to the latest outrage …”

The real-estate mogul's controversial White House run has been unlike any other in modern history. Many of the campaign's highs and lows have been covered from every angle — much to the chagrin of the GOP nominee himself — who often rails against the coverage while simultaneously generating new headlines.

When Trump publicized South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's personal phone number in July, Powell reacted saying, "Trump has no sense of shame."

The retired four-star general said he was strategic about publicly criticizing the brash billionaire in order no to entice him.

“To go on and call him an idiot just emboldens him,” Powell wrote.

Trump says 50% of Americans are "lazy?"

Mod: The endless whining from certain quarters over Clinton's "50% Deplorables" statement has been heard ad nauseum these last few days. But all that is out the window as Trump has now said something strikingly similar himself.

Link here to watch Big Mouth swallow one of his tiny feet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Preserve Sierra Madre's Email to the City Council Regarding R-1 Amendments

Dear Mayor Goss and City Council Members:
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 you will be considering some changes to the R-1 Zone that were recommended by the Planning Commission. We have reviewed the Staff Report and Preserve Sierra Madre takes the official position of respectfully recommending that you approve all of the changes made by the Planning Commission in their entirety. Upon careful examination, we have found these changes to be intelligent, reasonable and, most importantly, consistent with the updated General Plan.

While we never want the City Council to simply rubber stamp the actions and recommendations of the Planning Commission, in this case we believe such a rubber stamp is warranted.  We are sure that a lot of time and effort went into these commonsense improvements, and we think the results are a good one.  We also thank the Planning Commission for their time and efforts.

For the benefit of our supporters who will all be bcc'd on this email, the summary of what will be addressed was copied from the City's eBlast and is offered below:

City Council Consideration of Amendments to the R-1 (One Family) Zone

At the City Council meeting on September 13, 2016 the City Council will introduced for first reading Ordinance 1379, amending Chapters 17.20 R-1 (One-Family Residential) Zone and Chapter 17.08 Definitions of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code.

The revisions to Chapter 17.20 of the City of Sierra Madre Municipal Code include:

- The establishment of maximum allowable floor area specific to new lots and lots reconfigured through lot line adjustments;

- New minor lot line adjustment provisions;

- New requirements for minimum frontage for lots located at the end of a cul-de-sac and for lots accessed by a shared private driveway;

- New diagrams illustrating the requirements for lots accessed by a shared driveway and prohibited/permitted lot configurations for lot splits, and

- Elimination of flood control easement areas in the calculation of lot area for purposes of calculating maximum allowable floor area.

If the proposed amendments are adopted by the City Council, a second reading of Ordinance 1379 will be scheduled before the City Council at the September 27, 2016 City Council meeting. The ordinance will become effective on October 27, 2016.

Thank you for your consideration.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

9AM Update from Preserve Sierra Madre

(Mod: This went out as a later addition to the above.)

Dear Supporters:
The email below was written by one of our Steering Committee members and goes into some detail about one of the issues that will be discussed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 13th at 6:30 pm.  The City Council will be voting on whether to approve the unanimous recommendations of our Planning Commission and City Staff to further amend the R-1 zone of the Municipal Code so that it is aligned with and consistent with the General Plan. Preserve Sierra Madre supports these changes and we would urge our City Council to adopt them in their entirety.
You can show your support by emailing the City Council or coming to the City Council meeting.
Thank you for your support.
Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

Dear Mayor Goss and City Council Members:
There are a number of issues that the Planning Commission is addressing in their proposed amendments to the R-1 Zone which you will discuss at your City Council meeting on September 13th.  I would like to briefly address what I consider the most important of all the recommendations and that is the issue of lot splits.  As one of the founding members of Preserve Sierra Madre, my goal has always been to preserve the unique character of Sierra Madre.  That character is manifested in such things as the eclectic nature of our architecture and the mix of big and small homes and big and small lots.  I believe that the goals of Preserve Sierra Madre are also consistent with the directives found in the recently updated General Plan.
If it was up to me, my solution to dealing with the issue of lot splits would have been to simply increase the minimum lot size from 7,500 square feet to perhaps 10,000 square feet. That would mean only lots 20,000 square feet or more could be split.  I'm sure the Planning Commission had valid reasons for recommending a different approach than mine which was more draconian in prohibiting lot splits entirely for certain sized lots.  Instead, the Planning Commission wants to keep the minimum lot size alone but remove the huge incentive a developer would have to split a larger lot that allows a certain size home to be built into two or more smaller lots with houses on them that significantly increase the aggregate square footage of what can be built.
If we leave things the way they are by rejecting the unanimous recommendation of our Planning Commission as well as the recommendation to approve the Planning Commission's recommendation on lot splits by the City Staff, you would be effectively promoting the demolition of those existing homes on lots of 15,000 square feet or more, increasing density by having two homes or more rather than one (even though that one could be a larger home, it would still leave more open space on the same amount of land than if you had two or more homes with more square footage) and it would reduce the diversity of our neighborhoods with its mix of big and small homes and big and small lots.

Bigger lots would over time become smaller lots with more houses packed into the same area. As a long-time realtor, I can assure you that developers will be literally searching for homes that come up for sale that have lots of 15,000 or more square feet and can be split and you would virtually guarantee that they will demolish what's there, split the lot and build two or more homes where there used to be only one home on one lot.

The Planning Commission's recommendation in reducing the size of the home that you can build on each one of the split lots, just moves the needle from an obvious decision by a developer to split the lot to one that is more of a tougher call because the financial incentives are not so weighted on the side of splitting the lot.  That to me is a good thing if we truly want to preserve the character of our town and remain consistent with our General Plan.
I can only implore you to ask a lot of questions of the City Staff, City Attorney and any of the Planning Commissioners who may attend your meeting before you make your decision.

Thank you.

Matthew N. Bryant