Friday, June 30, 2017

California Refuses To Cooperate With Bogus Trump Voter Fraud Probe

Mod: Donald Trump lost the popular vote by over 3 million ballots, and apparently this has been a burning issue for our narcissistic prat of a president for months now. California, the state that is credited with putting Clinton over the top in the popular vote category, has now been asked to turn over your personal voting information so some cooked up presidential vanity commission can paw through it. This in order to justify flipping enough votes over to Trump so he can proclaim victory. California is refusing to cooperate.

States Refuse To Cooperate With Trump Voter Fraud Probe (Huffington Post link): California, Virginia and Kentucky on Thursday said they would refuse to comply with a request from President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission to provide personal information about registered voters. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Trump’s voter fraud commission’s request of personal voting data on every American voter “is a waste of taxpayer money” that aims to ratify a false claim that millions voted illegally. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the probe “politically motivated and silly.” Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said it was based on Trump’s “lie” that millions voted illegally.

California, which had more than 19.4 million registered voters as of February, was the first state to announce it will not comply with the commission’s request. Virginia and Kentucky soon followed. Trump’s commission on Wednesday asked all states to provide personal information about registered voters. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that millions voted illegally in last year’s presidential election.

″I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally,” Padilla said in a statement.

California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by” Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Kris Kobach, vice chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Padilla continued. “The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections.”

McAuliffe said in a statement there’s no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia, and “the only irregularity in the 2016 presidential election centered around Russian tampering.”

“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe said.

Kentucky also refuses to comply with the request, Grimes said in a statement.

“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue ― it is not,” Grimes said. “Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the president has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election. Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”

Critics say that states would jeopardize sensitive personal information if they turn it over, and that the probe is designed to lead to more restrictive voter measures.

‘It is really not normal’: Both sides condemn Trump for vulgar tweet about TV host (Washington Post link): The first tweet contained the typical name-calling fare from President Trump, the kind of attacks that no longer surprise most people — labeling MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as “poorly rated” and calling its hosts “Low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “Psycho Joe.”

But the second tweet, landing about six minutes later, caused an immediate and sustained uproar, as it contained a deeply personal and vulgar attack on Mika Brzezinski.

“She was bleeding badly from a face-lift,” the president tweeted Thursday morning, claiming that months earlier, Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough tried to spend time with him at his private club in Florida. “I said no!”

Those words amounted to perhaps the most caustic insult that Trump has publicly hurled at another American since taking office, going beyond his usual name-calling and flame-throwing. More than three dozen Republicans and Democrats in Congress issued tweets of their own expressing disgust, calling the remark “unpresidential,” “vile, sexist and unbecoming of an American leader,” “divisive,” “unhinged and shameful” and “amazingly graceless.” Even some of the president’s close allies warned that he needed to act like a president and stop getting into distracting fights.

And by going after a powerful female journalist’s appearance and mental health, Trump not only distracted the country from his legislative agenda for a full news cycle, but also added yet another data point to the argument that he treats women differently from men.

“It is really not normal that the president of the United States and the commander in chief would be tweeting about somebody’s face,” said Liz Mair, a longtime Republican strategist and critic of the president. “It does not conform with the norms that we expect and we treat as pretty set in stone in this country, but it’s also just strange.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This Former GOP Congressman Loathed Obamacare — Until He Lost His Own Coverage

Mod: Interesting story from the Huffington Post about the GOP Congressman who claimed he hated Obamacare when he ran for office, yet had a change of heart when he lost his job and benefits.

This Former GOP Congressman Loathed Obamacare — Until He Lost His Own Coverage (Huffington Post link): David Jolly, a former Republican member of Congress who campaigned against Obamacare, said he’s had a change of heart since losing his own health insurance this year. Jolly, who represented Florida’s 13th Congressional District until he was unseated last fall, opened up about his personal health care struggles during a discussion of the GOP health care bill Monday on MSNBC.

“I lost my doctor, and I lost my plan in 2013, and I was angry about Obamacare, and I ran for Congress,” Jolly said. “But in 2017, as an unemployed person with a preexisting condition, I knew Obamacare was there as a safety net if my wife and I needed it.”

Jolly became unemployed Jan. 4, when his term in Congress ended. He didn’t elaborate on his medical condition.

“While I ultimately chose a private-sector plan, I also knew in 2017 [that] Obamacare provided an exchange that was a safety net that wasn’t there before,” Jolly said. “To be honest with you, if I had had to rely on it, I knew it was there.”

Jolly won the congressional seat in a 2014 special election that featured much debate about the Affordable Care Act. He told the Washington Examiner shortly after his victory that he thought voters saw Obamacare as a “manifestation” of fears about government intrusion. He was defeated in 2016 by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Obamacare, with its mandate requiring health insurance, has driven the uninsured rate to an historic low. The law also requires health insurance companies to provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions.

The Trump administration and congressional GOP allies have pledged to repeal Obamacare and pass new health care legislation. The House and Senate health care bills would leave millions of American uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Jolly also has been critical of President Donald Trump, declaring his presidency “done” during an interview in May.

Poll: Only 12% of Americans support the Senate health care plan (USA Today link): Just 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, amid a roiling debate over whether the GOP will deliver on its signature promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In the survey, taken Saturday through Tuesday, a 53% majority say Congress should either leave the law known as Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact.

But the dilemma for the GOP is this: Eight in 10 Republicans support repeal, and close to a third say the law should be repealed even if a replacement health care plan isn't ready yet. Just 11% of independents and 2% of Democrats feel that way.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stephen McCamman of the Medical Marijuana Industry Shows Up to Pitch Sierra Madre's City Council

To view last night's City Council meeting click here.

The final decision on Ordinance 1388 (Municipal Code Text Amendment 17-03, amending Chapter 17.10 of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code, regulating personal marijuana uses and prohibiting commercial marijuana uses, whether for medical or non- medical), was pushed off to the next City Council meeting. There was some confusion about whether or not to allow marijuana devotees to grow their six legally allotted plants in their backyards, or restrict such agricultural efforts to the great indoors alone.

Under California's new pot laws, as voted upon by the good citizens of the Golden State, anyone who wishes can grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. There is nothing much that any city can do about it, either. However, the law is silent on outdoor growing, and some of those concerned about fire dangers are convinced that permitting people to grow their grass outdoors is the far safer - and therefore wiser - thing to do. Grow lights really can heat up a house.

However, Councilman John Capoccia, who doesn't have a Libertarian bone anywhere in his body, thought that allowing outside marijuana farming, six plants and all, would promote illicit sales, lifestyle mistakes, and uncontrolled mayhem in general. City Manager Gabriel Engeland, a man who thoroughly understands marijuana issues, then jumped in and proposed that any further deliberations on Ordinance 1388 be delayed for two weeks.

Engeland confessed that perhaps the outside grow concept, which was originally passed by the Planning Commission as a land use consideration, might need a little further thinking through. The City Council bit, and the issue has now been bumped to July.

Here's an interesting part

A gentleman named Stephen McCamman spoke during public comment on this topic. While he claimed to be a political science professor, Linked In describes him this way: "Professor of Political Science Cuyamaca College September 2005 – May 2015 - now retired." Steve didn't mention the retired part last night. Or that he has since moved on to something completely different. At least not at first.

Professor McCamman did seem humble and low key enough. He claimed to have grown up in Sierra Madre, and had just now returned here to bury his mother. She was a woman who had lived in the Foothill Village for over 40 years, and during the last decade of her life suffered the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. And one thing that did help her with the associated pain and suffering was Medical Marijuana. This all seemed deeply personal for Stephen.

It was an interesting and touching story, told quite well. Mayor Arizmendi actually allowed him to speak from the podium twice, which doesn't happen here very often. Based on his mother's experiences, McCamman discussed the importance of allowing one specially designated medical marijuana delivery service to function in town as a way of getting cannabis to those needing it to help alleviate their suffering.

Steve claimed this could be done safely by using an unmarked delivery car backed by an equally anonymous warehousing facility. Presumably located nearby in town. I am also assuming that McCamman would want to be the person operating this sweet competition-free enterprise.

Oh, and he also mentioned the revenue City Hall could obtain through this one sole source for Medical Marijuana in the 'Dre. He claimed it could be six figures. That must be noted as well. He understands the financial pressures facing small cities like Sierra Madre, and used it to good effect.

McCamman did get some positive vibes from the City Council, especially from Professor Gene Goss. As the father of a teenage boy, Gene spoke of his antipathy to marijuana in general. But he also confessed that he found what McCamman had to say compelling. Others murmured their interest as well. Except Denise Delmar, who seemed to withhold judgment.

It does seem that Stephen was able to get his foot in the City Hall door, and further conversations with city officials on medical marijuana in Sierra Madre could soon be in the offing. The professor left his contact info and some glossy materials with the City Clerk, and left.

So who is Stephen McCamman?

A big time medical marijuana entrepreneur out of San Diego and Encinitas, apparently. Here are a few articles I found by doing a quick Google search.

I don't know about you, but my body has never been able to "produce its own marijuana." Which is probably why I am able to get through my busy workdays without screwing things up too badly. ECB deficiency and all.

The Encinitas connection is interesting. That is a city on the verge of legalizing large scale marijuana cultivation within its borders. Among other things.  Former Sierra Madre Mayor and now Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca is apparently a part of all that rhythm. Link here for an interesting read.

There is an interview with Stephen McCamman on a webpage called Dr. A site where you can find the information you need to obtain a medical marijuana card. No questions asked. What is interesting is that in this interview, which took place on May 21st, or about 5 weeks ago, there is no mention of that mother in Sierra Madre. This time the sufferer is his wife.

Stephen McCamman on Elevate the Conversation ( link)

The rest of the interview is available at the link above.

Don't get me wrong, this McCamman guy could be on the level. I don't mean to harsh on the dude's mellow too hard. But I also have to confess some gut level doubts about some of the claims he made last night. It could just be about the money. It almost always is. And couldn't this be a way the marijuana industry finesses its merry self into town?

That said, you just never know who or what is going to show up at a City Council meeting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Some Items for Your Kind Consideration

So will the City of Sierra Madre finally reveal its mighty struggles with pension and water bond debt? "Process," as used above, is kind of an open ended and vague word, and like most jargon can be interpreted to mean almost anything the user wishes. And you would have hoped these kinds of things would be shared in a more official venue. Like the State of the City address the Mayor of the moment delivers every 12 months. Though such news might detract from the forced cheeriness that address has taken on over the last several years.

It looks like the heavy lifting on the debt topic has now fallen to the new City Manager, Gabriel Engeland. Certainly no elected official is willing to tackle it. That is best left to the help, I guess. Since these have been taboo topics for years now, it will be interesting to see how so recent an arrival handles this onerous duty. Even in so non-traditional a place.

We will be keeping an eye out. The problem for me personally is I have somehow never been able to get on the e-mail list for the Village View. If you do see this special edition please forward it to me. This should be an interesting read, and I'd like to post it here as well. You won't be able to give it a Facebook "thumbs up like" on The Tattler, but you will be able to comment on it. Commenting being something the city controlled venues are sometimes uncomfortable with.

Having trouble posting links to the Sierra Madre Police Dept. Facebook page?

Apparently the Sierra Madre Police Department believes that links to other sites posted on their Facebook page constitute a threat to their readers. I attempted to post a link to a Tattler article there last week ("Sierra Madre Crime Wave: So Whose Fault Is It Actually?" - link), and it was quickly yanked down. Done apparently to "maintain proper security for all of our followers." There are plenty of other such links elsewhere on the page, so maybe they just didn't like that particular article.

One unhappy resident's comment last night about proper security

The following was posted here late last night by an aggrieved resident. I am reposting it in order to maintain proper security for all of our readers.

The poster is definitely unhappy with the responses he's received to his "calls for service" to the Police Department. I hope we will get follow ups from him in the future.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tomorrow Night the City Council will outlaw for good the commercial selling of Marijuana in Sierra Madre

We've had a lot of fun with this issue on The Tattler over the last few months. From the recently hired City Manager's role in the legalized sale of the stuff in Trinidad Colorado when he was running that city, to the financial pressures causing many cities here in California to sidestep their misgivings about soft drug peddling and get in on the pot boom. Done in order to lighten up their fiscal pension load. Yes, it's always about the money.

The City of Encinitas, where former Sierra Madre Mayor Joe Mosca happily allowed himself to be shoved onto the City Council there by the San Diego County political machine, and without a single resident vote by the way, is now seriously considering industrial scale commercial cultivation of marijuana for fun and beaucoup tax profit. Indications are this is going to happen. Link here for some of the mellow details.

For the record, I agree with what the Sierra Madre City Council is about to do. While I am sure the city could use the tax revenue it would gain by allowing medical marijuana shops downtown, especially when you consider the tens of millions of dollars the city is in the hole to CalPERS, it isn't going to happen. And trust me, they desperately need the money. It would be quite a lot.

However, all indications are they are not going to sell the city out in order to line the pockets of retired city employees. Downtown is a family place, and hundreds of school kids gather there after every school day. What message would it send to them if medicinal marijuana shops were to suddenly open in some of Sierra Madre's plentiful empty storefronts? How about a Weed-Mart at Howie's? Not a good look, right?

If allowed to do so, these shops would open in a heartbeat. Here is how tomorrow's City Council action on this issue is described in the staff report for this item (link).

It really doesn't look like anything approaching the legalized sale of marijuana is going to happen here. And it shouldn't. It is a nasty drug that can have some seriously debilitating effects on many of its users. Especially teenaged kids. If you need medical marijuana, trust me, it is available. Google "medical marijuana + Sierra Madre" and dozens of helpful resources will pop up. Places that will deliver the stuff to your home within the hour. With an illegal smile.

Or just drive down the 710 and read the billboards there for instructions on where to pick some up. Exit numbers are helpfully provided. Consult your doctor to see if marijuana is right for you. There are plenty of them who will write you a scrip for the cost of a visit to their offices. No questions asked.

Not everyone agrees with me, and I don't care

Everybody has an opinion, and they're entitled to them. Some people are more than willing to share their thoughts with you, whether you like it or not. And there are some good arguments in favor of legalizing the local sale of marijuana in California. After all, the voters did just that in a statewide referendum recently. Sometimes votes count.

One such opinion provider would be Frank Girardot, the fellow who used to posit himself as the friend of society's outsiders when he ran the Pasadena Star News a few years back. His perspectives have markedly changed from that apparently easily discarded guise over the last couple of years, and for reasons I personally find a little hard to respect. But that is a story for another time.

Frank wrote a column for the Star News back in late 2009 advocating for legalizing commercial marijuana shops. And while it did run in that and a few other regional dailies at the time, it also appeared on a blog called Toke of the Town (link). Here is how his piece appeared there on December 22 of that year.

So there you go. Two sides to every story.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Do Not Offend the Comrades

Mod: A little Sunday Trumpian news and review for those who enjoy such things. A lot has been going on and it is now time to catch up a little. That said, I do hope none of this offends.

Russia's Putin: Top Goal for Journalists Is 'Do Not Offend' (US News & World Report link): MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the most important principle for journalists is to avoid upsetting those featured in their articles and television broadcasts. Journalists should ensure their work "won't be offensive to those about whom they do their reports," Putin said Saturday, according to the TASS news agency.

The Russian leader made the comments while talking to a child interested in working in journalism at a summer camp in Crimea, the southern Ukrainian region that Russia annexed in 2014.

The number of independent media outlets in Russia has fallen drastically under Putin and there have been several murders of high-profile journalists.

The journalists' group Reporters Without Borders placed Russia 148th in its ranking of world press freedoms published this year.

It’s Now Illegal to Protest Against Trump, It Violates His “First Amendment Right” (Blue Dot Daily link): Donald Trump has never been a champion of civil rights, and in fact, several people in his administration (we’re looking at you, Mr. Attorney General) have actively worked to oppress civil rights.  Now, one of the President’s attorneys argued in court last week that it is actually illegal for people to protest against the President.

The filing argues that citizens “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at Trump rallies, because it violates the President’s first amendment rights. The lawyers argue that the protesters “obviously interfered with the Trump campaign’s First Amendment right vigorously expressing their disdain for Mr. Trump,” which included chanting, holding up pictures of Trump’s face on the body of a pig and other messages.

This filing is in response to a judge ruling that Trump was responsible for inciting violence at a 2016 Louisville, KY rally in which three protesters were violently ejected from the venue after Trump riled the crowd up against them.

Putin Personally Ordered Campaign Interference to Help Trump (Mother Jones link): Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House….Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

….The White House turned to Congress for help….But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims. Through a spokeswoman, McConnell declined to comment, citing the secrecy of that meeting.

Key Democrats were stunned by the GOP response and exasperated that the White House seemed willing to let Republican opposition block any pre-election move.

Evidence is mounting that Russia took 4 clear paths to meddle in the US election (Business Insider link): It was September 2015 when the FBI first noticed that Russian hackers had infiltrated a computer system belonging to the Democratic National Committee. It was the first sign that Moscow was attempting to meddle in the presidential election.

Nearly a year later, further reporting and testimony from current and former intelligence officials have painted a portrait of Russia’s election interference as a multifaceted, well-planned, and coordinated campaign aimed at undermining the backbone of American democracy: free and fair elections.

Now, as FBI special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional intelligence committees continue to investigate Russia's election interference, evidence is emerging that the hacking and disinformation campaign waged at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin took at least four separate but related paths.

Meet the all-star team of lawyers Robert Mueller has assembled for the Trump-Russia investigation (Business Insider link): As the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia gains traction, special counsel Robert Mueller has begun quietly assembling a formidable team of top lawyers and investigators.

Mueller has so far hired 12 people and intends to bring on more, his spokesman Peter Carr told The New York Times.

Only a handful have been named publicly so far, but legal experts and fellow lawyers who have spoken to media in recent days lauded the new hires as a powerhouse team of experienced professionals with sterling credentials who rank among the best in their field.

"That is a great, great team of complete professionals," Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, told ABC News.

The members of Mueller's team who've been named have a cumulative 37 years of experience at the FBI and 85 years at the Department of Justice, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Half of Americans want Democrats to control Congress as Trump struggles, poll shows (CNBC link): As President Donald Trump continues to struggle, Democrats have moved into a stronger position to challenge Republicans for control of Congress next year, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey shows that just 40 percent of Americans approve of Trump's job performance, while 55 percent disapprove. That's virtually unchanged since last month.

At the same time, Americans now say by 50 percent to 42 percent they want Democrats to control Congress after the 2018 mid-term elections. That's the largest lead either party has held on that generic ballot question in the NBC/WSJ poll since 2013, and the first time either party reached 50 percent on that question since 2008.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Was the Heavily Armed Fellow Arrested at the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station Hunting for Zombies?

Mod: They have a different take on the Christopher Harrison Goodine case at the website. Apparently the weapons he was carrying in his duffel bag are very similar to those found in zombie killer movies. And rather than being on some sort of terrorist mission designed to wreak havoc on the greater Pasadena metropolitan area, perhaps Mr. Goodine had actually come here to save us all from the scourge of a zombie invasion?

Zombie Killer knife that Goodine was carrying.
Man busted with zombie kit including suppressed Hi-Point ( link): According to the above press conference at the Hall of Justice and the accompanying release, Christopher Harrison Goodine, 28, of Union City, Georgia, was arrested Wednesday for a slew of charges including possession of a silencer (illegal in California except for law enforcement and licensed dealers), as well as possession of an “assault weapon” and of a “high-capacity magazine.”

Deputies apparently saw Goodine taking a leak at the Sierra Madre Gold Line Station, a light rail public transportation hub, and when they contacted him he refused to speak to the officers. This interaction led to an arrest after they found what officials describe as a “cache” of weapons in his duffle bag. These included a loaded AR-15 with a pair of 30-round mags, the first frowned upon without being featureless and the latter verboten in California after this year even if pre-ban.

There was also a really sweet $29 zombie killer/ninja mega knife katana (that’s how they are advertised), and– hold your breath this is the best part– a Hi-Point .40S&W that somehow had an ersatz suppressor device attached similar to those seen in the Walking Dead.

Scene from the "Walking Dead" with Goodine appropriate weapon in use.

Police also found a rope and “a notebook with unidentified writing inside.”

As noted by the good folks over at The Firearm Blog, it’s farfetched that the Hi-Point flashlight suppressor would work for more than one shot in the likely absence of a recoil booster (Niesen Device), but hey, we can dream can’t we?

Goodine was booked at East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station and is being held in lieu of $50,500 bail.

News video featuring zombie hunting weaponry link.

KTLA reports Goodine was previously arrested in 2015 in Key West, Florida and again at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel “wearing a bullet-proof vest, an empty gun holster, and a ski mask.”

Mod: So maybe this Goodine guy was actually here for a different purpose than the one many have suspected? Sometimes the good intentions of individuals are misunderstood.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Joe Mathews: Don’t Believe the L.A. Transit Hype

Mod: I was looking for more info so I could follow up on yesterday's story about the heavily armed Gold Line vagrant arrested Wednesday. I then stumbled upon the following 2016 Joe Mathews piece. Here is a good portion of it, with a link that will take you to the entire article.

Don’t Believe the L.A. Transit Hype ( link): I wish this were a happy column about the advance of California public transit. I wish I could report that my own life is better now that I ride the brand-new Metro Expo Line extension to work in Santa Monica. And I wish I could validate all the triumphant talk of the great metropolis of Los Angeles becoming a fabulous train town again, with the restoration of a vital rail link between its city center and the Pacific.

But I’m a rail commuter in Southern California now, so I no longer have time for fairy tales.

Or much of anything else.

Perhaps I expected too much. For four long years, I’ve commuted between the San Gabriel Valley and Santa Monica—always at least an hour each way, often 90 minutes or more—while dreaming of the day when the Expo Line would extend to downtown Santa Monica and my commute, and with it my life, would change for the better.

That day arrived two weeks ago, and immediately my dreams were dashed. I had been ready for the hiccups and kinks of a new line, and I had been warned that the trains would be slower and crowded until Metro could add enough cars and drivers for full service.

But I was unprepared for just how slow—and painful—a commute via light rail could be.

On my first day—the fourth day of service on the new line—I dropped off my two younger boys at preschool and drove five minutes to a Gold Line station in Pasadena, parked, and walked three minutes to the train. I was happy and eager for the new routine.

Then I waited 20 minutes for a train to arrive—the wait is supposed to be less than 10 minutes at that hour. And the train moved slowly—it took more than 40 minutes to reach Union Station downtown (the train schedule says it should take 30).

There I had to switch to the subway to go three stops to pick up the new Expo Line. But the switch was mismanaged by a Metro staffer who inexplicably packed two subway cars with people—while refusing to let anyone onto two relatively empty cars. That train left, stranding hundreds of us for another 10 minutes before another subway arrived and we were allowed to board.

The switch to the new Expo Line at the Metro Center station for the third leg of my trip was smooth. But the Expo Line was painfully slow. Metro had advertised a 48-minute ride, but it took more than an hour. The track runs down the middle of streets—and the train stops for traffic lights at some intersections. In Santa Monica, after a six-block walk, I arrived at work two and a half hours after I had reached the Pasadena station—25 miles away. In that same time, I could have flown to Las Vegas, played the airport slots, and flown home, jackpot in hand.

The return trip was even more frustrating. I waited another 20 minutes to board and depart on a train from the downtown Santa Monica station. Once on board, a fellow passenger started screaming how much Jesus loved me (even as I wondered if the transit gods had forsaken me).

I opened my laptop, something I can’t do in my car, and got some work done with the aid of my office’s mobile hotspot. Yes, it’s BYO wifi. My attempt to conduct a phone interview failed (the train was too loud). And after about 45 minutes of typing with my computer on my legs while sitting on one of the train’s hard plastic chairs, my back started to hurt.

As I boarded the Gold Line, I had been in transit for nearly two hours. I needed to go to the bathroom, but no such luck. Metro trains, not exactly designed with multi-hour voyages in mind, don’t have bathrooms. And I couldn’t work on the Gold Line—the two-car train was so full it had no open seats.

I had allowed myself two and a half hours to return to Pasadena, grab my car and pick up the boys at preschool by 5:45 p.m. It wasn’t enough. Metro’s very affordable $1.75 fare—less than a buck an hour!—had become a $31.75 trip, with the $30 preschool fine for late pickup. I had spent nearly five hours commuting—and just four and a half hours at work. Yes, our car culture isn’t sustainable—but neither is public transit like this.

Mod: The rest of the article is available at the link supplied above.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Deputies Arrest Man Seen Urinating at Sierra Madre Gold Line Station, Find Cache of Weapons in His Bag

Mod: You have to wonder why Goodine decided that he wanted to get off at this particular station.

Deputies Arrest Man Seen Urinating at Sierra Madre Gold Line Station, Find Cache of Weapons in His Bag (KTLA 5 link): A man was arrested Wednesday after deputies saw him urinating in a planter and found him to be in possession of a cache of weapons at a Gold Line station in Pasadena.

Twenty-eight-year-old Christopher Goodine, of Union City, Georgia, was taken into custody after two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies noticed him urinating in a planter at the Sierra Madre Gold Line Station in Pasadena at about 9:20 a.m. He originally gave deputies a false name, but then he said his identification card was in his duffle bag.

The deputies placed Goodine into a patrol car and searched his bag.  Inside they found a loaded AR-15 rifle, two loaded 30-round magazines, a loaded .40-caliber handgun with extended magazines, a machete-type knife, a rope, several rounds of live ammunition and a notebook with "unidentified writings," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at an afternoon press conference.

A preliminary investigation did not show any intelligence to indicate terrorism, but officials said it was too early to determine what Goodine's plans included.

"When you have someone walking around with this type of weaponry, this much ammunition the outcome would not have been good no matter what he was going to do," McDonell said. "Their proactive actions are commendable and may have saved a lot of lives on the transit system this afternoon or in our communities."

Deputy Katherine Zubo, who arrested Goodine alongside Deputy Juan Gonzalez-Valencia, said he was not acting suspicious or displaying erratic behavior.  Instead, she described him as, "a transit patron with a duffle bag," who was only noticed because he was standing on the sidewalk and urinating in the planter.

She said she did not see Goodine on the train. Investigators said Goodine got on a train in Chinatown and exited at Sierra Madre.

Goodine was booked at the East Los Angeles Sheriff's Station on suspicion of possession of a silencer, possession of an assault weapon and possession of a high-capacity magazine. He was being held on $50,500 bail.

Records show Goodine was arrested in 2015 in Key West, Florida and at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel wearing a bullet-proof vest, an empty gun holster and a ski mask.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why Is PUSD Board of Education Member Scott Phelps Denouncing "Collaborate PASadena?"

Elitist Spendthrifts?

I have always admired Pasadena Unified School Board member Scott Phelps. Not because I always agree with him, or even understand what it is he is going on about sometimes. He can be a little obscure once in a while. But that is hardly a problem for me. At least Phelps cares about something more than mere self-aggrandizement or personal wealth creation, and in these troubled times that is a good thing. The guy is a truth-teller in a place where that can be an exception, and certainly his longstanding dedication to the needs of PUSD's kids cannot be easily questioned.

Which is why Scott's denunciation of something called "Collaborate PASadena" has to be viewed with some interest, and concern. In an exhaustive Pasadena Star News op-ed piece called "Blame for Pasadena Unified’s woes is on those who’ve left" (link here), Phelps makes the following potentially damning observations:

Board Member Scott Phelps
On the larger, long-term topic of the current prospects and climate for success for any superintendent in PUSD, we should be very concerned. The once-promising city-school work plan has been taken over by nonprofits that changed its name to Collaborate Pasadena

Colloborate Pasadena now has expensive staff, something it was not intended to have. It is funded equally by the city of Pasadena and the PUSD. The criticism of the district by these nonprofits and the powerful circle of activists who express the desire to help the less fortunate, but who send their own children to private schools, is on full display.

The last two joint meetings between the City Council and the school board have shown that there really isn’t any collaboration going on or concern for the district involved, but rather the public airing of false allegations and statements about the PUSD without checking with PUSD staff.

Of course, PUSD supporters know full well that many nonprofits and most private school parents have a fundamental conflict of interest involved in their assessment of the district. If the situation is not made to seem worse than it is, and the nonprofits aren’t made to be the saviors, then they don’t receive as much funding. If the schools aren’t portrayed as sufficiently bad, there would be no reason to spend the large sums of money on private schools. No reasons they would admit to publicly. 

So what is "Collaborate PASadena?" Here is how they are described on the City of Pasadena website (link).

Collaborate PASadena is a framework for the Pasadena Unified School District, the City of Pasadena, the unincorporated community of Altadena and the City of Sierra Madre to work together to build a commitment toward a shared vision to create better outcomes for children, youth, families and all residents. First jointly approved by the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education and Pasadena City Council in February 2013, Collaborate PASadena is also a planning process intentionally designed to build more trusting relationships and a way to align resources to more effectively deliver services to better serve children, youth and families.

Then there is this from the Collaborate PASadena website itself (link):

What is Collaborate PASadenaCollaborate PASadena is an initiative, based on Collective Impact research, that:​
- Develops and nurtures new community partnerships
- Establishes better working relationships
- Improves communication between all partners and stakeholders
- Shares accountability for results
- Supports the alignment of resources
- Allows for meaningful participation of diverse stakeholders

So what is the truth here? Is Collaborate PASadena what it claims to be, a kind of selfless do-gooder organization completely dedicated to the success of the PUSD and its students? Or is it the expensive, over-staffed and self-serving impediment to public education Board of Ed member Scott Phelps describes above?

Apparently the taxpayers are paying a lot of money for this mishegoss. Perhaps it is time for Sierra Madre, and especially the Collaborate PASadena city council representative, John Capoccia, to take a long hard look.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

KPCC: California bill would relax supervision of sex offenders

Mod: Remember the "crusading civil rights attorney" Janice Belluci and her organization, California Reform Sex Offender Laws? Now rebranded and known by the name "Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws" (link), they have certainly been quite busy. If you could go to their now defunct old website you'd stumble across an article identifying Sierra Madre as one of the cities Dear Janice beat like a drum in court over its sex offender ordinance. Here is that article.

Mod: Janice Bellucci has sued a lot of cities over the years, and has won in court every chance she got. But apparently opening cities up one lawsuit at a time for the residential convenience of registered sex offenders is not really enough for her. Now she is working through the state legislature to bring the entire State of California to heel. Here is how KPCC tells it.

California bill would relax supervision of sex offenders (KPCC link): State lawmakers, with support from many in law enforcement, are considering an historic rollback of California's lifetime registration requirement for sex offenders.

The state's sex offender registry is the largest in the country, with more than 100,000 names, according to Janice Bellucci, executive director of the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offender Laws. She estimates that 90 percent of the people on the registry are lower level offenders who pose no threat to society.

The Alliance backs SB 421, which would create different requirements for how long sex offenders must register, based on the severity of their crime.

California is one of just four states that continue to require lifetime registration for all sex offenders.

The legislation would create a three-tier system for sex offenders.

Under tier one, the least serious offenses, people convicted of a range of crimes including indecent exposure and possession of child pornography with intent to distribute would be eligible for removal from the registry after ten years.

Under tier two, people convicted of crimes such as rape or lewd conduct with a child under 14 would be eligible for removal after 20 years.

Anyone convicted of repeat child molestation, repeat rapes and others of the most serious offenses would still be required to register with police for the rest of their lives.

Another change would allow people who have been on the list for more than 30 years to be removed. California created the registry 70 years ago, and in the early days required gay men to register.

Some victim’s rights groups oppose the measure.

"The sad part is that we keep talking about the human face of offenders," Mika Moulton told KPCC’s Airtalk. Moulton operates Christopher’s Clubhouse, a non-profit organization that teaches families and kids about safety in the Coachella Valley.

"What about the face of victims," asks Moulton, whose 10-year-old son was kidnapped and murdered in 1995. She supports changes to the registry but believes people should be required to stay on it longer than proposed.

Governor Brown has yet to say whether he would sign the bill.

The Alliance  for Constitutional Sex Offender Laws held its national conference in Los Angeles over the weekend, and in a sign of the stigma surrounding the issue, the gathering, attended by sex offenders and their supporters, was closed to the media and other outsiders.

Mod: SB 421 was passed by the State Senate, so you might want to write Jerry Brown and tell him you are not happy. Anthony Portantino abstained. Oh, and you know who was one of the sponsors of this bill? Scott Wiener, the same State Senator who has been fighting so hard to bring back a revitalized and more potent RHNA. What a blessing he has been for this state! Well, OK. Maybe not.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pasadena Star News: When a Pasadena police officer becomes a gun dealer

Chief Sanchez in his junta hat
Mod: Another intriguing development in the Vasken Gourdikian Pasadena PD gun running scandal, as conducted out of a garage in Sierra Madre. This time the excitement is in the form of a Pasadena Star News editorial that ran in our local daily newspaper of record a couple of days ago. Just in case you have joined that vast community of folks who wouldn't pick up a newspaper at gunpoint (so to speak), here it is for your perusal. It is big news, and we could be close to some actual arrests in this case. Arrests that could go to the top of The Rotten Rose's police department.

When a Pasadena police officer becomes a gun dealer: Editorial (Pasadena Star News link): Citizens don’t give up their fundamental rights if they become police officers — including the constitutional “right to keep and bear arms.” But, outside the firearm needs that come with their jobs, neither do they suddenly gain new Second Amendment rights allowing them to become major armaments dealers without any restrictions on what guns they may sell and to whom they may sell them.

Given the scandal swirling through the Pasadena Police Department after Lt. Vasken Gourdikian was put on paid leave earlier this year when federal authorities raided his Sierra Madre home and confiscated guns that he had a large side-business selling, Chief Phillip Sanchez was certainly correct last week to put a halt, temporarily at least, to a department practice that encouraged such arms dealing.

There is every reason to believe that in the future the halt ought to become permanent.

What the department is suspending is a practice of issuing letters that help officers bypass 10-day waiting periods to purchase guns in their private lives. The move came less than a week after it was finally announced that Gourdikian, an officer very much in the public eye in recent years as deparment spokesman and a top aide to the chief, received seven such waivers over a four-year period.

Augusto Pinochet's junta hat
He was apparently selling quite a large number of guns out of his house — dozens of them between 2013 and earlier this year, when his online handle at a firearms website ceased activity after the raid by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Some of the guns he sold were not available to the general public, and required the waiver that was so often signed off by his superiors.

Again, peace officers have rights to legally buy and sell guns, though the public might wonder, given their line of work, how many extra firearms they want to see on the streets. And here it’s clearly a question of quantity. Gourdikian has not been charged with any crime, and the investigation has been very hush-hush. But over the last four years, he offered to sell more than 70 firearms and gun parts, including 45 pistols, 15 rifles — some of them semi-automatic ones — and three shotguns. At least 63 were later marked as sold.

The Police Department’s waiver policy deserves a thorough review, and future restrictions are in order.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sierra Madre Crime Wave: So Whose Fault Is It Actually?

You see these kinds of press releases from the Sierra Madre PD every once in a while. Usually around the time crime has spiked and people have grown concerned about it.

And while what you will read below might be useful and feel good tips for preventing crime from ever coming to your home or car, I have often thought there might be another motive at work as well. That being, should you ever become the victim of criminal activity, the fault could be yours. You must have not taken advice and done your due diligence.

The question that never gets asked being, "What can the Sierra Madre Police Department do to prevent any such increases in crime?" Which I think could be the point. The SMPD doesn't have much of a handle on the situation, and would prefer that any blame be focused on the residents rather than this city's green and inexperienced police force. Expectations and perceptions must be properly managed.

"The burglaries all took place because the vehicles were not locked." Seriously? Is this actually true?

This is from the Sierra Madre Weekly website (link):

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Hill: Trump disapproval hits 64 percent in AP poll

Mod: He's now being investigated by the FBI and other government entities for both obstruction of justice and even treason, and if that isn't an indication of how badly things are going for this loud-mouthed fool of a president, what is? The results have been devastating for the fellow, and historically low approval ratings for a POTUS at this stage of his administration are pretty much the rule. Here is the latest on all of that rhythm from The Hill.

Trump disapproval hits 64 percent in AP poll (The Hill link): Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the job President Trump is doing in the White House, according to an Associated Press/NORC poll released Thursday.

Sixty-four percent of respondents in the survey said that they don't like how the president is handling his office, while just over a third, 35 percent, approve of Trump.

The poll also found that 65 percent of Americans believe Trump has little or no respect for the country's democratic institutions and traditions. Only about 34 percent said they believe he has a great deal or even a fair amount of respect for such institutions.

While that sentiment appeared most common among Democrats and independents — 9 in 10 and 6 in 10, respectively — a third of Republican voters said Trump had little or no respect for democratic institutions in America.

While the president entered the White House with relative unpopularity, the AP noted, his dwindling approval numbers and perceived disrespect for the country's institutions show mounting challenges for Trump as he seeks to cast himself as a unifying figure.

Trump also faces disapproval in some key policy areas. Sixty-six percent of Americans said they disapprove of Trump's handling of healthcare. That comes two months after House Republicans passed a measure to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate is hammering out its own healthcare bill.

Nearly as many Americans, 64 percent, disapprove of Trump's climate change policies. The president announced earlier this month that he would withdraw the U.S. from the 195-nation Paris climate deal and has made a concerted push to undo Obama-era environmental regulations.

The poll surveyed 1,068 Americans from June 8 to 11, and respondents were interviewed either by phone or online. The survey's margin of error is 4.1 percentage points.

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say (The Washington Post link): The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Scalise Shooting is not the fault of The Tattler, nor is anyone here happy about it

Pot-Kettle black.
Mod: Yesterday some thoughtless commenter expressed the belief that I posted the local pot story over the Congressman Steve Scalise shooting story because I was OK with what happened in Arlington, VA. I thought that was unfair, and I set it aside so that I could discuss the comment here with you today. This is what that unhappy soul wanted to share with you yesterday.

"The mod runs national stuff 80% of the time. This story didn't comport to the mod's Trump-bashing, so it didn't get any mention. At least the mod is reinforcing his own radical leftist agenda. It doesn't take any longer to copy from one web site versus another. " - Anonymous at 5:21 PM

I don't agree with this reader, and I want you to know that I am against people shooting other people. I am also opposed to people attempting to make political hay by accusing others of being sympathetic to those who do such shootings. Which is what the above individual was obviously attempting to do.

As we can see from the inset above, the words and sentiments of radical rightwing Tea Nuts are no better than their doppelgangers on the radical left. They're all part of the same ideological mental illness, and each feeds off of the other. A pox on both, I say.

Here are the articles the above quotes were taken from.

Sharron Angle Floated ‘2nd Amendment Remedies’ As ‘Cure’ For ‘The Harry Reid Problems’ (Huffington Post link)

California GOP Candidate Wants To ‘Issue Hunting Permits’ For Conservatives To ‘Thin’ The Liberal ‘Herd’ (Think Progress link)

Sullivan apologizes for remark about "killing a couple" of senators (Tulsa World link)

The real problem with Joni Ernst’s quote about guns and the government (The Washington Post link)

Ted Cruz: 2nd Amendment Is ‘Ultimate Check Against Government Tyranny’ (Talking Points Memo link)

A Year Ago, Rand Paul’s Account Tweeted That 2nd Amendment Exists ‘To Shoot at the Government’ ( link)

Donald Trump Suggests ‘Second Amendment People’ Could Act Against Hillary Clinton (The New York Times link)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

If pot becomes legal in Sierra Madre this guy could emerge as downtown's most successful merchant

Future Chamber of Commerce President?
Mod: The thin line between crime and what we might want to consider legal and normal commercial activity can be a very tenuous one at times. Such could be the case with this unfortunate fellow as detailed in the latest on-line edition of the Pasadena Independent.

Sierra Madre Cops Nab Pot Dealer With 600 Plants (Pasadena Independent link): Dealer in possession of estimated street value of $100,000 of marijuana arrested. Recently, the Sierra Madre Police Department received an anonymous tip that a subject was loading “multiple boxes of marijuana into a truck and trailer from a home located in Sierra Madre.”

Officers responded to the area and located the described vehicle. Sierra Madre Police officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle for a vehicle code violation and contacted the driver, Jason Walker, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Walker was driving on a suspended driver’s license and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. A search incident to Walker’s arrest revealed he was in possession of over 600 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, approximately 125 pounds of mature marijuana bud and a large amount of U.S. currency. The recovered marijuana plants and bud have a street value of over $100,000.

Walker declined to provide a statement of how he came into possession of the items and was booked at the Pasadena Police Department Jail.

Mod: Photos such as the following are being used to help highlight this arrest, and some can be found on the SMPD's vibrant and new Facebook page (link).

Mod: By coincidence I am sure, this week the Planning Commission will be considering the possibility of legal marijuana becoming commercially available (or not) in Sierra Madre's downtown business zone. In California marijuana recently became legal via a statewide vote of the people, though local jurisdictions can still have their say in this matter. Here is a brief description from the Agenda Report for this item (link). Please note that the actual Staff Report is not available on-line at this time. Something that is both annoying and possibly south of what is legally required under state law in regards to the noticing of such meetings.

Mod: Remember, and as one informed reader noted yesterday, "the person arrested is a potential downtown entrepreneur who could be paying taxes to this city rather than sitting in the pokey." As always we will be keeping an eye on this thin line for you.