Saturday, March 31, 2018

What is a Spring Egg? Encinitas Takes the Easter Bunny out of Easter

Mod: One of my favorite local blogs here in Lo Cal is called Encinitas Undercover (link). Like the one you are reading now, it attempts to portray what is going on in its community in the most realistic and unvarnished ways possible. Something that often stands in vivid contrast to the feel good happy talk and politically mandated bromides you find in most other so-called news outlets.

Such bold reporting can often upset certain local worthies and the assorted tedious individuals who admire them. Think of it as a kind of a bonus. However, this is an acquired taste, and not for everyone.

That said, it is a thankless job and certainly not a skill set likely to enrich EU's unnamed publisher. As we are fond of saying here at The Tattler, the real money is in lying, truth is for volunteers. Though, now that I think about it, it doesn't look like they're getting rich these days, either.

So what is Encinitas Undercover struggling with today? Would you believe it is something called the Spring Egg Hunt? Here is how that is referred to in a recent email blast from Encinitas Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca, formerly of Sierra Madre.

Calling all kids!: Spring Egg Hunt! Saturday, March 31st, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Encinitas Community Park. Bring your own basket for eggs. Limited parking on site, extra parking available at Scripps Hospital, lower parking lots off of Devonshire Drive. 

According to the City of Encinitas website, there will be 20,000 eggs to hunt. A diabolical figure that I find mind boggling. That is a lot of chickens who will never see the light of day, or enjoy scratching up a little corn.

So you know, I am also struggling with the metaphysical implications of Easter and April Fools Day falling on the same date this year. It could finally mean the end of all we know. You really should try to get out and enjoy the day. The weather is quite nice.

No word yet if the Spring Rabbit is going to be there for the Spring Egg Hunt. Then again, what else is he going to do?

Mod: As long as we're dealing with topics of a religious nature today (or the complete lack thereof), I thought we should all try and ponder the following.

Does Hell Exist? And Did the Pope Give an Answer? (The New York Times link): The Vatican felt obliged this week to reaffirm that Pope Francis believes in a central tenet of Catholicism, that there is a hell.

That odd declaration came after the newspaper La Repubblica published a front-page article on Thursday by an atheist, left-wing and anticlerical giant of Italian journalism, who reported that during a recent meeting the pope had said that hell did not exist.

Bad souls are “not punished,” the journalist, Eugenio Scalfari, 93, reported the pope as saying. “A hell doesn’t exist.” Nor, for Mr. Scalfari, does a tape recorder or notebook or the orthodoxy of quotation marks.

The Vatican characterized the remarks as misquotations.

In the past, Mr. Scalfari, the founder of La Repubblica, a bible of the Italian left that he edited for decades, has admitted to sometimes putting words in the papal mouth.

But the infernal remarks, especially as the pope prepared for Easter Sunday celebrations, proved too tempting for international tabloids, conservative websites antagonistic to the pope and many others to let go.

Pope Declares No Hell,” read a screaming headline across the Drudge Report website.

“Does the Pope Believe in Hell?” asked Patrick J. Buchanan in an online column.

Vatican literally falls apart after Pope Francis says ‘Hell doesn’t exist,’” read a headline in Metro UK, a British newspaper.

The pope, in fact, has often talked about hell as a very real final destination for the wicked, and the Vatican made clear that the “literal words pronounced by the pope are not quoted” and that “no quotation of the article should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Mod: Personally, I have no doubts about the reality of hell. Those who would deny its existence are merely lacking in the ability to properly observe.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A New Mailer from the Committee to Oppose Chandler - Plus: Where is Bob Harbicht Campaigning Today?

In case you do not live in the same Arcadia voting district as Roger Chandler, here is the latest mailer from the Committee to Oppose Chandler for Arcadia City Council. It makes for some enlightening reading, and it is pretty much an article all by itself. Of course, there are a few left who might not want anyone reading something like this, but you know what? Do you still know anyone who actually cares about what they think?

Where is Bob Harbicht campaigning today?

While Bulldozer Bob's hardworking volunteers are on the streets pounding on doors, passing out his situational funny papers and tirelessly manning the phones, you might want to know where the candidate himself is campaigning right now. Well, according to this social media communique, that would be somewhere in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Arcadia Weekly: Why Is Sho Tay Spending Campaign Money After Being Appointed?

Sho Tay: Not talking to the press.
Mod: The Arcadia Weekly's Galen Patterson has a few questions about Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay's murky money today, and comes up with some interesting answers. 

Why Is Sho Tay Spending Campaign Money After Being Appointed? (Arcadia Weekly link): Mayor Pro Tempore Sho Tay was appointed by the City for an extended second term in office specifically because he was the only candidate from the 3rd district. One other 3rd district Arcadian had drawn papers, but had not submitted them. With the lack of any prospective write-in candidates, Tay had his second term locked down on January 25th, 2018.

The final deadline for any candidate to file the papers was January 12, 2018, which means that Tay was officially running unopposed after that day. On January 15th, Tay’s committee, “Sho Tay for Arcadia City Council 2018” received two separate contributions from two development-related companies.

The first contribution was from Tony Chen, owner of Candet properties. Chen gave Tay’s committee $1,000.

The second contribution came from James Chou, listed as the owner of Concord Property Management. Chou gave Tay’s committee $2,500.

What makes these donations interesting is the fact that both Chen and Chou would have known about Tay running unopposed and would therefore not have an obvious reason to donate to him. While Chen lives in Arcadia’s 2nd district, not Tay’s 3rd district, Chou does not live in Arcadia and Concord Property Management may not even be a real company.

More perplexing still is that both Chen and Chou have declined to comment on their contributions, and perhaps one of the most puzzling features of this mystery is Mayor Pro Tem Tay using their money to pay for mailers in both districts 2 and 5 to support candidates Bob Harbicht and Roger Chandler.

The mailers, paid for by Tay’s committee, call for urgency to protect people from home invasions, suggesting the current council has not adequately handled the task. However, since both Chandler and Tay are currently serving on the council, the mailer furtively suggests that electing candidate Bob Harbicht, thereby ousting incumbent candidate Tom Beck, will change the crime rate in the city, even though all councilmembers have a proven track record of giving the Arcadia Police Department what they need to effectively do their job.

These mailers circulated amidst a mailer whirlwind of information aimed at almost every candidate. However unflattering and opinionated some of these mailers were, one organization was steadfast in circulating mailers with false information written only in Mandarin and attacking candidates Tom Beck, Jolly Wu and Joyce Platt. The Arcadian’s Rights Protection Association, registered under a non-Arcadia lawyer named Karlfeldt Su, has been reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Arcadia made the choice to switch from at-large elections to district elections because of the misrepresentation of demographics on City Council. Arcadia is nearly 60 percent Asian and only has a single Asian Councilmember.

Yet candidate Jolly Wu has been denigrated by Tay in several forms including social and Chinese media, and by door-to-door campaigners, some of which were recruited from Tay’s WeChat boards. Meanwhile Tay openly supports Councilman Roger Chandler.

District elections were designed to bring representatives of cultural populations into local politics. What it has done instead is create hostility between candidates and council members, regardless of race.

Mayor Pro Tem Tay could not be reached for comment.

Mod: So much for community leadership.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How to look up your Facebook data (all of the stuff that was mined during the last election.)

I just looked up my Facebook data, you know, to see the kinds of information about me that could have been mined. Wow. Just about everything is there, I think. The photo, the groups you participate in, your posts, your private messages, your profile, etc. Think of it as an intimate trip through your past. 50 million people were data-mined by Cambridge Analytica for the Trump campaign, and chances are pretty good they knew all about you. And if they knew, so does every other corporate marketing and government intelligence service on the planet that cares.

Or so the theory goes. It is one I have personally bought into, and unless you are a technological flat-earther, you probably should as well. If you ever put something on Facebook, it is still there somewhere for you, and everyone else who wants to know.

I have never really liked Facebook. I think it is the Internet dumbed down to a lowest common denominator level in order to suck in as many credulous people as possible. You might not agree with me about that. But in order to run this blog I kind of need it. It helps me reach people, plus it is a useful source for information.

People who would never reveal things to you personally for some reason have no problem sharing their information on Mark Zuckerberg's website. And by extension whoever he wants to sell it to for cash. That is how he makes his money, you know. Lots and lots of it.

Despite Facebook's famous official policy about only using your own name, I have never once posted there with the one my mother gave me. I never considered it any of their business. Facebook is useful if you run a blog like mine, but if I ever want to communicate with someone personally I send an email or a text. Or pick up the phone, a bad habit of mine. Publicly exhibiting my private information for complete strangers on Mark's website never really did much for me. It is kind of like electronic pole dancing. You either need to do it, or you don't. And at least the real dancers get paid.

But you don't have to take my word on any of this. Here is a portion of an article that ran on CNN Tech recently. The author was quite surprised by what was there once she decided to take a look.

I downloaded 14 years of my Facebook data and here's what happened (CNN Tech link): After downloading my stored data on the site — I've been a member since 2004 — I was presented with an enormous amount of personal details that have been collected about me over the years. It had the phone number of my late grandmother who never had a Facebook account, or even an email address. It preserved the conversations I had with an ex-- someone with whom I thought I had deleted my digital ties. 

It even recalled times I was "poked," a feature I had forgotten about. I also learned that Kate Spade New York and MetLife have me on their advertiser lists. Staring at the data was not only creepy but it drudged up painful memories.

After the news broke last week that data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed information from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge, I wanted to know more about what information Facebook has on me.

The rest of the article is available at the link. It details how the author was able to dig up all of the information Facebook had on her, and what they had done with some of it.

But enough about them. So how can you find out what Mark Zuckerberg and all of his special corporate and governmental Facebook friends out there in the vast ether-sphere have on you? You can begin your journey right here:

Here's the link. Follow the prompts. Just don't tell them who sent you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Arcadian's Rights Protection Association Back For More

(Former Housing Authority Police Chief, link.)
Over the weekend District 2 and District 5 residents of Arcadia were graced with yet another atrocity of political acrimony from the ARCADIAN'S RIGHTS PROTECTION ASSOCIATION. This time, they decided they should really spell out what's wrong with the other candidates running against Bulldozer Bob and Cha-Ching Chandler. And let's set the record straight, Bulldozer got his name because he voted to bulldoze everything and Chandler, well, he is just a sell-out.

The mailer for District 5 tries to pit the candidates' donors against each other. Poor Jolly Wu is penalized for being self-funded, meaning she won't accept money from anyone because she doesn't want to be beholden to anyone, and she's got the money to back that up.

Joyce Platt is picked on for being supported by those horrid monsters in District 2. You know, the ones that try to fight off developers and real estate agents and keep Arcadia the charming, tasteful neighborhood that has helped increase their desirability and property values. Sources close to  candidate Platt tell me that actually many of those donors were the parents of the children Ms. Platt taught in the elementary school which is located in District 2. Go figure, the parents of Ms. Platt's students think that she would make a great leader of the City of Arcadia. The nerve of them.

The best part of the mailer, though, is when ARPA claims that Chandler receives campaign donations from "people like you and me." That's if you're a developer, real estate agent or police officer. Someone must have gotten too close to the printer's ink and breathed deep when they wrote that sentence. A look at Chandler's Campaign Finance disclosure statements shows the Cha-Chingaroo received thousands from special interest groups over the years. He carried forward a balance of over $8,000 to his 2018 campaign from his 2014 campaign.

The Chandolopy mailer previously posted on this blog itemizes the entire list of developer money Chandler is utilizing (link). And in an all out effort to keep the identity of donors anonymous, Chandler has claimed that over $8,000 of his campaign contributions in 2018 have been less than $99 per single source. Whoever believes that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Urban Dictionary link.
But the real hypocrisy is in the details. Check out ARPA's campaign finance disclosure: ARPA's sole donation is $6,000 from a company called CYL Transportation. A quick check to the Secretary of State reveals this enigmatic contributor is not even a corporation located in Arcadia. It's in Rosemead. And it was dissolved in a puff of smoke just 6 days after it made this lavish gift.

"C You Later" indeed.

So how is that a donation from people like "you and me?"

Tattler Rule #1: It's Always About the Money

By the way, the address for ARPA is now in El Monte. It's a moving target. But since they are now under investigation by the FPPC for campaign law violations (link), maybe they have no choice.

What other outside interests are at play in Arcadia politics?

Oh, and one more question. Didn't crime actually go up on Roger Chandler's watch? According to the Chandler and Harbicht campaigns, it did.

Harbicht Continues To Defy Logic and the Law

This mailer went to District 2 residents of Arcadia and again Bulldozer Bob is thumbing his nose at the law. Even though the City Attorney of Arcadia asked the APOA and Harbicht himself to remove the words of the Arcadia Police Department from the photos of the APOA endorsement, Harbicht flagrantly rubs the nose of the City in his complete defiance of this directive.

This is your crime fighter? A man who won't even follow the law himself?

Please forward your complaints to the City Attorney and City Manager:

Stephen Deitsch

Dominic Lazzaretto

Good luck getting them to do anything.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Bencosme's Library Move Flip/Flop: Did Andy Have Privileged Information on Library Survey Card Results?

Above is the "flip/flop" portion of Andy Bencosme's most recent campaign mailing. To go from being a leader in the effort to move the Library to the YAC as the head of an influential city commission, to the candidate now claiming that he wants to keep it just where it is now, is truly a quantum leap. But then some people will say or do anything to get elected.

You do know what the irony is here, right? Had Andy, as Community Services Commission Chair, opposed the process for moving the Library to the YAC a few months earlier, none of this would have happened.

However, and at the insistence of Andy, the Community Services Commission voted unanimously to further explore the option of moving the library. Which is why those survey cards went out, community outreach meetings were held, plus other unnecessary and costly things happened.

 Arcadia Andy
That was then. Now, because of his City Council campaign, Andy has emerged from his City Hall commission cocoon to mingle amongst the residents of Sierra Madre, people he had never really met before. And, quite suddenly, he has flip/flopped on a process that he himself bears a lot of the responsibility. If Andy had actually talked to real Sierra Madreans earlier, he would have known how unpopular this Library move scheme had always been, and perhaps none of this would have ever gone down.

This is what happens when you put people who are new to town, and don't really know very much, into important positions like Chair of the Community Services Commission. Bad and unnecessary things happen. Plus it ends up costing the taxpayers a lot more money than was really needed.  

However, there is also a chance that Andy did not discover his sudden opposition to the Library move by actually talking to real Sierra Madre residents. Andy is mostly running a Facebook and mailer campaign, and has not spoken with as many residents as perhaps he should. As an example, at this year's fairly well attended Wistaria Festival outsider candidate Andy spent very little face time at the candidates' booth, while his three opponents hung out there for hours. Perhaps people are not really his thing.

I exchanged emails with City Manager Gabe Engeland about the possibility of Library survey data having leaked. I respect Gabe, and I do not envy him the job he has trying to keep this very challenging city moving forward. But he is someone who trusts people perhaps more than he should, and I believe Gabe may have missed something important.

Here is our question, and his answer.

The Tattler:  Is there any possible way Andy Bencosme could have known what the state of the groove is on the Library survey card results? Did somebody give him an early peek at some results? Does anybody know anything yet? Was there a leak? Would a leak have even been possible? What he says on his latest post card is the polar opposite of what he was aggressively pushing for as Chair of the Community Services Commission. It seems out of character for him to take such a position without having at least some foreknowledge of what is coming down.

City Manager Engeland: It is not possible that any Council Member or any Council Candidate has seen the preliminary results.  The research company is still finalizing their review and analysis.  My guess is this is just one of the topics residents are asking council candidates to state their position on as they campaign. 

Gabe might be mistaken here. This is just a theory at the moment, so nobody should jump to any conclusions just yet. But this wouldn't be anything we haven't seen in Sierra Madre before, and do remember we are talking both politics and the possibility for developers to make big money should a predatory development candidate like Andy Bencosme get elected. You know how that goes.

It is true that the company hired to do this postcard survey, the National Research Center (NRC) out of Colorado Springs, has yet to put together their final findings on the desire of Sierra Madreans to move their Library into a gymnasium. The graphs haven't been designed yet, the final phraseology hasn't been curated, data hasn't been analyzed, the fine report book stapled, none of the stuff you'd expect when you shell out $18,000 for a research project of this kind.

But numbers apparently have been run, and as of March 6th actual raw data exists. Here is a memo from March 19 showing Sierra Madre's library survey cards were likely run though a tabulating machine by the NRC nearly three weeks ago.

If Andy Bencosme did have this raw data from the NRC, it would give him certain political advantages. While the other three candidates still dutifully waited for the results, and therefore could make no conclusive statements about the fate of the Library, Andy would have been able to come out and take a position he already knew was in line with what the residents really want. Why? Because he saw the numbers. Even if it contradicted all he had done and said before.

I guess we now need to find out how many people at City Hall have been in communication with the NRC, and who might have leaked this information to the Bencosme campaign. Let's face it, City Hall is hardly the FBI, and I doubt anyone there discussed making Library survey tabulations a high security matter.

Maybe they should have, right? And look at it this way, now we know that most folks don't want to move the Library. We too might have the results. Just remember where you read it first.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

'Vote them out': Hundreds of thousands march for gun control across the nation

'Vote them out': Hundreds of thousands march for gun control across the nation (Chicago Tribune link): In a historic groundswell of youth activism, hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied across the U.S. against gun violence Saturday, vowing to transform fear and grief into a "vote-them-out" movement and tougher laws against weapons and ammo. They took to the streets of the nation's capital and such cities as Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, in the kind of numbers seen during the Vietnam era, sweeping up activists long frustrated by stalemate in the gun debate and bringing in lots of new, young voices.

They were called to action by a brand-new corps of leaders: student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead Feb. 14.

"If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking," Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from the protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol many blocks back toward the White House. "We're going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. We're going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run, not as politicians but as Americans.

"Because this," he said, pointing behind him to the Capitol dome, "this is not cutting it."

Some of the young voices were very young. Yolanda Renee King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader's most famous words in declaring from the stage: "I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period."

187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine. Many are never the same.

The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence March 14, when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message "I'll control my own guns, thank you."

President Donald Trump was in Florida for the weekend and did not weigh in on Twitter either.

Stormy Daniels's lawyer posts photo of mystery disc in a safe (The Hill link): Stormy Daniels's attorney hinted on Thursday that he may have hard evidence that the adult-film actress had an affair with President Trump, posting a photo on Twitter of what appeared to be a compact disc in a safe.

"If 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' how many words is this worth?????" Michael Avenatti tweeted.

While not explicitly stated, Avenatti appeared to suggest that the disc may contain photographic or video evidence of Daniels's alleged affair with the president. Avenatti has previously declined comment on whether such evidence exists.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is currently suing to void a nondisclosure agreement that she says blocks her from speaking publicly about the alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

She was paid $130,000 by Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in 2016, just weeks before the presidential election. That payment, she has said, was intended to buy her silence in the alleged affair.

Trump's motorcade in Florida yesterday

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Post Mortem: The Night Sierra Madre's Civility Party Died

View video here.

Mod: I've been writing columns for the Sierra Madre Weekly, which also run in its sister paper the Pasadena Independent. Here is what appeared there this week.

The Night Sierra Madre's Civility Party Died (link): Once upon a time there was a slate of candidates who ran for Sierra Madre City Council seats that called themselves "The Civility Party." They claimed to be much nicer and more polite than the other candidates, and a lot of people bought into that. Then, in November of 2014, all of it blew up, and in truly spectacular fashion.

I am not sure anyone had ever made such a journey before. To go from being this city's Mayor to by far its most egregious and frankly cracked offender at public comment, and in just a relative few months, was a pretty dramatic trip.

I had never seen this kind of thing happen to any other Mayors in the area. Yet here in Sierra Madre the person who had been The Civility Party's spokeswoman and Mayor, for whatever the reason, went deep and very dark.

Nancy Walsh's disturbing and profanity laced address to the City Council on November 13 of 2014 was a radical departure. Yet only a relative few actually saw her say any of those things at the time. However, on YouTube the video of her speech has been viewed thousands of times, and all across the country. At the top of this article I have posted a link so you can see it all for yourself.

To call her use of the words "child predator" as a metaphor to describe the actions of certain elected officials interested in governmental reform "inappropriate" hardly does justice to that somewhat fussy word. That she should then go on to cite these officials by name, and in this very same ugly and disparaging context, was not the act of a civil, or even reasonable, person.

Many of the people I discussed this with at the time believed what she said that evening represented actionable libel, and should two City Councilmembers have decided to take former Mayor Walsh to court over what she said in this video, they probably would have won.

It also begged this question: Whatever happened to the Civility Party? Perhaps Nancy's fellow members, John Buchanan, Josh Moran and Joe Mosca, might have wanted to share their views about this. Clearly her talk did not reflect well on those who had supported and elected her to office in 2010.

And after all, this woman really was elected to the City Council. People believed they were voting for her because she represented a kinder and gentler way of doing political business in town.

Clearly that had all gone out the window. It was the night Sierra Madre's Civility Party died. It has never been heard from since.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Arcadia Weekly: Arcadia Election Mailer Pokes Fun At Opposition As Election Tactics Run The Gamut

Mod: The following article is front page news in this week's Arcadia Weekly, and it is a pretty good indication of the effect The Tattler is having on election coverage there. I can't imagine the Roger Chandler campaign is quite as excited about all of this freedom of the press as we are, though. Thanks to Terry Miller for bringing it all home.

Arcadia Election Mailer Pokes Fun At Opposition As Election Tactics Run The Gamut - At the Eleventh Hour, Humor Has Thrown Some Residents a Curve Ball (Arcadia Weekly link): April’s municipal election in Arcadia has turned ugly and humorous at the same time. This is nothing new in politics, however. While candidates exchange jabs at one another and residents decry the advent of "districting," which leaves over 11,000 residents without a voice, campaign mailers and complaints are flying in to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Epoch Times, a Chinese language newspaper, is the latest to splash another, potentially illegal, political photo, where an Arcadia police officer’s badge is clearly shown in a direct endorsement for candidates Harbicht and Chandler. Arcadia City Hall is not amused.

More recently, Deborah Priester, a resident of District 5, has had enough of the attacks and put out a mailer that encourages voters to select ANYONE but Roger Chandler. The mailer depicts Roger Chandler as the McMansion Monopoly man.

You might remember two weeks ago, ‘Arcadia’ Best’ – a conservative blog run by Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay – ran the same photo of the APOA endorsing the two pro-development, or ‘property rights,’ candidates for Arcadia’s election next month. They, too, got their wrists slapped by election officials, who do take these matters very seriously.

Here’s how our friends over at Sierra Madre Tattler described the latest attempt to coerce the few voters that can actually vote in this year’s election:

“It seems that the ARPAs are now back for Round 2, but they’re trying a completely different tact as their 2016 graphic masterpieces didn’t get Harbicht elected. April Verlato was successfully voted onto the City Council while Bulldozer Bobby suffered an extremely embarrassing defeat. One that he is still whining about, and blaming everyone but himself ... Now it is 2018, and their chosen target this time is the mild mannered and politically positive Tom Beck, who is currently on the City Council and running for re-election. They are also targeting any candidate that dares to run against the timeless Roger Chandler, who has been sitting on the City Council since back when Fred Flintstone was still in diapers."

The always politically astute Tattler also added this regarding another mailed sent out in Chinese. After a careful translation, The Tattler made this observation:

“What I especially like here is the description of Beck being a mob leader causing crime to increase, property values to decrease and taxpayer money to be wasted, all at his direction. Joyce Platt is apparently a “puppet” of Tom Beck, and Jolly Wu is selfish because she wants to keep the Arcadia Dial A Ride for seniors and the disabled, herself being wheelchair bound. Your only hope, according to this group, is to elect the venerable Bob Harbicht and Roger Chandler."

We contacted Tom Beck for comment on this story and the advent of the dueling mailers. "I am most concerned about all of the lies, misstatements, and plays to fear that Harbicht is sending out at me. He said he would run a clean campaign. His ethics certainly are different from mine,” said Tom.

Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay, who is not actually running for office (he was appointed), has allegedly opened a campaign committee and may be receiving contributions from local real estate interests.

According to sources familiar with the campaign, Sho Tay is allegedly paying from his committee for the mailers being sent in support of Harbicht and Chandler. However, in an email to this office, Tay denies any responsibility.

Mod: A second Arcadia Weekly article from this week's action packed edition deals with an FPPC complaint filed by an annoyed resident. Apparently the FPPC now agrees that this Arcadia resident does have a valid complaint, and has launched an investigation of ARPA.

Arcadia Resident Files FPPC Complaint Against PAC (Arcadia Weekly link): A 35-year Arcadia resident, Roger Nemrava, recently filed an FPPC complaint regarding the Arcadian's Rights Protection Association (ARPA): (FPPC complaint COM-03052018-00262: Arcadian's Rights Protection Association.) ARPA, which is not based in Arcadia but Alhambra, has sent out mailers supporting Bob Harbicht and Roger Chandler, candidates for Arcadia City Council, allegedly without the required disclaimers. Not a good thing to do.

The first mailer sent was in support of Bob Harbicht. Nemrava complained to the Arcadia's City Clerk's office. The Chief Deputy City Clerk for Elections, Lisa Mussenden, contacted ARPA to stop.

Shortly thereafter, another mailer from ARPA was mailed in support of Roger Chandler. Again, Nemrava complained to the Arcadia City Clerk's office, and then decided to file a complaint with the FPPC.

The Arcadia Rights Protection Association is being investigated by the FPPC for violating campaign finance disclosure laws. “ARPA doesn’t comply because it is attempting to hide where the money is coming from for the mailers. This is a major violation,” Nemrava told Arcadia Weekly.

Nemrava belives ARPA, Harbicht and Chandler are breaking the rules.

Mod: Bulldozer Bob and the Artful Roger continue to run absurdly dirty campaigns, while their alleged financial bagman, peacock proud Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay, denies knowledge of any of it. Something everyone should find completely laughable.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Horrific development bills coming out of Sacramento

Mod - This was sent to me by an area resident and I am pretty much posting it verbatim. What this all means is Sacramento is in the process of monetizing land use in cities all over California, done to benefit the development industries that stuff their campaign banking accounts. Do you really think Chris Holden will vote to stop this? If you think Chris does nothing more than hand out vanity awards to area businesswomen, think again. He loves this kind of legislation, just like he loves the campaign cash he'll get when he votes for these bills. Look at what happened to Pasadena under his watch. 

The developers have created nightmare bills being pushed through the legislature in Sacramento.

Ask your city council to publicly oppose the SB 827/828 Sacramento power grab.

Scott Wiener's mandatory high-density housing zoning override bill SB 827, and his unfunded housing quotas bill SB 828, are threats to local control of land use and zoning and existing city planning processes throughout the state of California. Who is better qualified to manage your city's growth: your local City Council and Planning Commission, or developer-funded politicians drawing circles on maps in Sacramento?

Email, write, and call your City Council members today and demand that they pass a public resolution opposing SB 827 and SB 828 and similar legislation that rips up existing local zoning and renders city plans and planning processes meaningless.

More info on the impact of this legislation and its opponents:

Here's the gory details:

SB 827 is not a housing bill; it's a real-estate bill. It is intended to monetize real estate. This bill is not about YIMBYs vs. NIMBYs; it's about WIMBYS: Wall Street in My Backyard. With one stroke of the pen, the State Legislature could totally transform the economics of real-estate development in California cities while totally eviscerating decades of planning.

Is that what we want to do to our cities? Does Scott Wiener want to take a wrecking ball to most of the retail villages and residential communities in Los Angeles County? It's nuts. Every responsible planner with whom I've spoken to about this bill speaks of it with great disdain. It is classic overreach, a one-size-fits-all approach to the planning of the largest city in California. That is why I say this is not a transit-oriented development bill; it's a real-estate play of the worst kind."

If you are within the area affected, SB 827 eliminates:

All zoning limitations (that means R1, R2, setbacks, height, and yards).

All parking requirements.

All residential density or floor area ratio (FAR) requirements.

All design standards.

All unit mix requirements that require more than 40% of the units in a project to have 2 bedrooms or more.

All ordinances, plans, charters or local regulation.

For those who are ready to act NOW on SB 827, here is a short practical list of things to do:

Email the Lead Secretary for the Sacramento Senate Transportation and Housing Committee at expressing opposition to SB 827.

Call and email the staff assigned at the office of each Committee member, especially the Chair, Jim Beall, 916-651-4015, and the Vice-Chair, Anthony Cannella, 209-577-6592.

Mod: There you go. You've been warned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

None of Andy Bencosme's Campaign Donors Actually Live In Sierra Madre

The following should help reinforce the notion that Andy Bencosme is not running a Sierra Madre centered political campaign for City Council, and that he really doesn't know very many people living here in town. Or anybody outside of his immediate associates from work since almost all of his campaign donors are either Realtors, or employed in businesses that have something to do with the selling of houses. Making this all a very narrowly focused and possibly only one issue based campaign.

Below are the currently available three pages of Andy's City Council campaign 460 Forms. These roughly cover the months of January and February, and list all of those who donated money to him in the sum of $100 or more. Like all of the candidate's 460 Forms they are available at City Hall and can be obtained there if you show up and ask the always helpful Laura Aguilar to get them for you.

The FPPC requires that the filings of candidate campaign finance disclosures be immediately available to the public upon request. All you need to do is ask nicely.

Outside of Andy himself, the one person here who actually gave a Sierra Madre address is Kristine Mathison. Yet if you check that address you'll find it is the location of the Century 21 offices where Andy Bencosme works, and that she actually lives in Arcadia. Like all of the Bencosme campaign donors listed here besides Andy himself, Kristine will not be able to vote in this election.

A cursory Internet search will help to confirm that Andy's donors are almost all in the real estate business. As an example, Andy Storch, who lists himself on the form as being a "certified life and business coach," can be found on Linked In (link) and is identified there as employed by Christie's International Dilbeck Estates in Pasadena.

This all sheds a little more light on why Andy held his campaign kickoff event at the Arcadia Association of Realtors offices rather than somewhere here in Sierra Madre. His supporters were much more likely to actually know where that was.

Mod: Switching gears, here is an interesting Pasadena Now article.

In Sierra Madre, City Demands Political Group Stop Using City Logo to "Mislead Voters" (Pasadena Now link): The City of Sierra Madre has put TeaPac and the two proponents of Measure D on notice that they must immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of the City’s logo in their Stop the UUT campaign literature, or face legal consequences, including a potential lawsuit. After receiving telephone calls and emails from confused or angry residents demanding to know why the City’s well-known and loved wistaria logo was being used in Measure D campaign materials, the City was forced to take immediate action to stop the deception.

Use of the City’s logo without express written consent is a violation of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code and may be enjoined as a public nuisance or enforced as a misdemeanor. Use of a city logo or seal in campaign materials in a manner that misleads or gives a false impression that the campaign materials are authorized by a public official is also a violation of state law.

Unlike private committees and initiative proponents, Sierra Madre is held to a higher standard by the Fair Political Practices Commission to communicate only truthful and accurate information to the community on the impacts of proposed initiatives, and cannot produce campaign literature. The use of the City logo to communicate false information in campaign literature is deceptive and misleading. 

The March 8th TeaPac email, which used the City’s logo, contained several false statements about the City’s fiscal condition. The Utility User Tax (UUT), which is a 10% local tax on utilities, produces $2.6 million in revenue annually, making up 24% of the General Fund, and pays for Police, Fire, Library and Community Services.  

The rest of the article is available at the link I provided above.

Obviously Measure D is dead on arrival. By my estimate it will be lucky to garner more than 20% of the vote. Obviously nobody is going to be able to preserve much of anything in town if you murder City Hall by stripping it of a quarter of its funding. This really would be an act of community suicide.

So while I can understand why the city can't kill this measure enough, I'm not sure I buy into the notion that the Measure D campaign is based on nothing but lies. Can anyone tell us what percentage of Sierra Madre's budget is consumed by its bond debt and outsized CalPERS obligations? I know we've covered that here before.

An eternal 10% UUT didn't just happen all by itself, you know. And is certainly no guarantee that taxes won't have to be raised here again. Or so you'll be told.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chandopoly: The Committee to Oppose Roger Chandler

Last week, the lucky residents of District 5 in Arcadia were gifted with a satirical treat from the opposition to Roger Chandler. This piece of marketing genius capitalized on the familiar and popular Monopoly brand and transfixed the reader into a new quantitative reason for NOT voting for community backstabber Roger Chandler.

Not only do we get to chuckle at all the quirky quips modeled after the original board game, but we have real, hard facts, irrefutable evidence of the voting history of the candidate begging for re-election. It seems Chandler's actions speak louder than words.

He's a sell out, plain and clear.

A whole committee was formed just to oppose Roger Chandler in this election, and it seems to be fronted by a real person who lives and votes in the area where Roger is running. Congratulations to the people who fight back against the demagogues and their mysteriously funded war chests.

Hopefully, District 5 residents are now getting the message that Chandler cares more about the profits of developers than quality of life for the residents. Chandler's biggest lie is that limits on building will cause property values to collapse.

That certainly didn't happen in Sierra Madre, and it didn't happen in Arcadia, either. Sierra Madre has proven time and again that preservation and reasonable building codes protects the property values of the residents.

Those houses that sit next to these oversized mausoleum-looking monstrosities lose their privacy, their views, sunlight and, of course, big chunks of their property value.

Preservation has worked in Sierra Madre, San Marino, Monrovia, Pasadena and just about every other city in the San Gabriel Valley. Why the people of Arcadia keep electing those pro-development sell-outs, well, I will never understand that.

It's like paying for the rope they'll hang you with.

So what can Roger Chandler take credit for during his 30+ years on Arcadia’s City Council?

- The Mansionization of Arcadia.

- $130 million unfunded pension liability.

What can Arcadia have to look forward to if Chandler is re-elected?

- Votes to revoke the codes limiting the size of new homes.

- Votes to revoke tree preservation.

- Votes for cell towers in residential neighborhoods.

- Votes for raises to the police and fire which will balloon taxes and still end up bankrupting the City of Arcadia.

Dump the chump. Save the town.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Do Arcadia's Laws Apply to Bob Harbicht? He Doesn't Seem to Think So, and Perhaps He is Right

Attentive readers of The Tattler will recall an article from March 3rd that we called "The City of Arcadia's Double Vision on Bob Harbicht's Police Picture Shenanigans" (link). There we detailed how the Bob Harbicht campaign had been busted for using a photo that had an Arcadia Police Department officer's badge featured front and center. Applicable laws do not allow for that.

This photo had been displayed on Harbicht's City Council campaign Facebook page, and he was quickly called out on it by City Hall. After which he replaced the original photo with one that had the offending police badge airbrushed out. That along with the lettering across Arcadia's Police Department Headquarters, which had been visible in the background. Also frowned upon.

After this embarrassing incident the City Clerk in charge of elections, Lisa Mussenden, sent out a riot act style memo on March 1st to all of the campaigns specifically spelling out the law. Just in case they somehow never knew, or, as in Harbicht's likely case, just chose to ignore it.

Here is the portion of Mussenden's memo that is relevant to what we are talking about today.

Arcadia City Charter Section 905 provides, in pertinent part:

“No City employee shall take any part in any political campaign while in a uniform bearing the insignia or name of the City of Arcadia. No person shall use the administrative offices and facilities of the City for the purpose of furthering a political campaign for public office.”

Pursuant to Section 905, employees may, for example, appear in a picture endorsing or campaigning for a candidate for office or regarding a ballot measure.  However, in doing so, they must not wear a uniform bearing the insignia or name of the City, at least to the extent that the insignia or name is clear and identifiable.  That would include a badge, such as a police or firefighter badge – again at least to the extent that the badge is clear and identifiable.

So what showed up in the Chinese language edition of The Epoch News this past week? Two full weeks after all of the above? The same Bob Harbicht campaign photo that caused so much concern back at the beginning of the month. Here is a closer version of the shot we reproduced at the top of this page.

As you can clearly see, the police badge is back. The picture you are viewing here is taken from the print version of this paper, which is available at no cost on the streets of Arcadia now. The on-line version of this Epoch News article had been reported to City Hall by concerned residents on the 18th. The badge shot was then replaced over the weekend with an airbrushed version.

Apparently somebody got in touch with The Epoch News, and they complied with a request to help cover up this act of campaign malfeasance. You can witness this sad example of craven journalism by clicking here.

I'm going to cut to the chase because I'm weary of having to write about Bob Harbicht's unabashed scofflaw behavior. That his people actually got up at the most recent Arcadia City Council meeting and whined about The Tattler's earlier reporting on this affair seems even more ridiculous than before.

It now seems obvious to me that Mr. Harbicht feels that the City of Arcadia's laws, along with those of the State of California, do not apply to him and he can do just as he pleases. And maybe he is right. Nobody being paid by the taxpayers to enforce the laws governing this issue seems willing to confront him on his now serial malefaction.

The sad irony here is Bulldozer Bob, the great crimefighter, has posited himself as the Law and Order candidate in this race. The one candidate (along with his sidekick Roger Chandler), who is going to really crack down on all forms of crime in Arcadia.

So since the only likely way The Epoch Times could have obtained this law busting photo would've been to get it from either Bob Harbicht or those working for him, when is he going to arrest himself? You know, really crack down on crime?

The bad odor of Harbicht's hypocrisy is becoming way too much to endure. It really is time for the voters to put an end to his madness.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

General McCaffrey: "Reluctantly I have concluded that Trump is a serious threat to US national security."

Mod: When one of the top Generals this country has produced lately decides to tell people that he believes the President of the United States could very well be a traitor, you'd think most everyone would listen to what he has to say. Hopefully some are. The survival of democracy here could possibly depend on it.

Retired four-star Army general: Trump ‘serious threat to US national security’ (The Hill link): A retired four-star Army general said that he believes that President Trump is a “serious threat to US national security.”

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey tweeted Friday that he reached the conclusion about Trump because the president “is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin."

McCaffrey has also worked as an adjunct professor at the U.S. Military Academy and led the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for five years during the Clinton administration.

Trump has come under fire for his response to Russian interference in the U.S. election. The president has repeatedly hit the probe into Russia's election meddling as a "witch hunt." His administration unveiled new sanctions against Russian cyber groups involved in election meddling on Thursday, including individuals and groups charged with election interference by special counsel Robert Mueller.

However, Trump had been criticized for not implementing sanctions against Russia earlier, after Congress passed a bipartisan bill last year giving him the power to do so.

U.S. Cyber Command chief and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers testified before the Senate last month that he hadn’t received instructions from Trump to take additional steps to deter Russian cyberattacks aimed at U.S. elections.

Ex-CIA Boss John Brennan Tears Into Donald Trump Over Andrew McCabe Firing (The Huffington Post link): Former CIA chief John Brennan did not mince his words when taking aim at President Donald Trump on Saturday morning.

In a blistering tweet, Brennan blasted Trump for celebrating the dismissal of former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Trump would take his “rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history” once “the full extent” of his “venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known,” Brennan wrote. “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe,” he added. “But you will not destroy AmericaAmerica will triumph over you.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe from his role on Friday, just two days before he was slated to retire, over his alleged conduct during a review of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Brennan’s tweet was in direct response to an earlier post from Trump, shortly after midnight, in which the president described McCabe’s firing as “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI” and “a great day for Democracy.” McCabe has already hit back at his dismissal via a lengthy statement.

“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,” he wrote. “It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day.”

Earlier this month, Brennan said there was “deep, deep worry and concern” about America’s safety under the Trump administration.

Crowdfunding site rallies behind porn star Stormy Daniels as Trump’s lawyers seek $20m in damages (The Sunday Times link): The CrowdJustice website is usually a beacon of high-minded legal activism. It typically plays host to environmental activists or immigrants needing funds to fight deportation. But now it has rocketed to prominence thanks to an unexpected patron: a porn star. Since Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, started using the site to raise funds for her legal battle with President Donald Trump, it has become the focal point of a struggle that may have serious ramifications.

Daniels is trying to break a “hush” agreement signed in 2016, during the presidential campaign, that stops her telling the full story of her alleged affair with Trump and efforts to gag her. The scale of her task was made clear on Friday when Trump weighed in on the scandal for the first time.

Court papers filed by his lawyers claimed Daniels had violated a confidentiality agreement at least 20 times, which would expose her to damages of $20m (£14m) or more. That seems to have boosted the donations to her on CrowdJustice. She raised $150,000 in 36 hours, one of the fastest fund raisings in the site’s history, rising to more than $200,000 after a flood of almost 7,000 donations.

“It definitely didn’t occur to me that I’d be so thrilled to have an endorsement by a porn star,” said Julia Salasky, the British lawyer who founded CrowdJustice. “There’s something extraordinary about people coming together to back her against the most powerful man in the world.”

Mod: Publicly pilloried by Generals and CIA heads, while also fighting it out in the media and courts with porn stars, and not necessarily winning. Pretty wild times. Next Sunday Stormy Daniels will appear on 60 Minutes, and the word is it will be one of the highest rated reports in that show's long history. Trump's disgrace only gets worse.