Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Report Claims Sierra Madre's Homeless Population Has Dropped 100%

Here is an interesting concept. If a community doesn't build a homeless shelter, they are less likely to have a homeless problem. I suppose that could be argued over, but if there isn't the prospect of a cot and a hot (meal), there would be no real reason for a homeless person to show up here. And according to the following article it appears they have gone elsewhere.

These San Gabriel Valley cities have no homeless residents (Pasadena Star News link): The 2018 Los Angeles County homeless count numbers are out. Overall, the numbers in San Gabriel Valley are holding steady: 3,561 homeless individuals were counted in the Valley this year, just two more than last year. That bucks an overall trend for the county, which saw the homeless population shrink for the first time in four years, by 4 percent.

The numbers do not include Pasadena, which conducts its own count. Those numbers, released in May, showed 677 homeless individuals living in Pasadena in January 2018, an 18 percent increase from the year before.

But there are some cities with no homeless individuals living there, per the January count. They are: 

La CaƱada Flintridge
San Marino
Sierra Madre

Sierra Madre was the only city to have dropped to zero; the others counted no homeless last year. Sierra Madre tallied one homeless individual in 2017.

So there you go. A 100% drop in the homeless population in Sierra Madre. Which City Councilmember is most likely to take the credit? My bet is on the one now planning to run for a higher office.

But it is yet another in a series of major accomplishments here. The water bond debt has been dampened, CalPERS costs have been reduced for the moment, mansionization has been dealt with through a tactic called complete abject surrender, and now the homeless problem has been solved.

They're working miracles down there.

Sometimes the best changes are the ones that didn't happen

In August of 2011 there was a burning irrational urgency to build a homeless shelter somewhere on East Montecito. Known to some as The Arts District. Here is how we described this 7 years ago.

The rest of the article can be viewed by clicking here.

So where is the lesson in all of this? If then Councilmember Joe Mosca and his equally witless SGVCOG pals had succeeded in building a homeless shelter on East Montecito, would Sierra Madre now be celebrating the complete eradication of homelessness within its borders?

Probably not.

Tonight's Special Meeting of the Sierra Madre City Council

All City Council meetings are special, but this one involves water and money so it becomes even more special. The Tea Party boys have been pushing hard for people to get their Prop 218 protest ballots in, so there should be at least 30 submitted is my guess. Or only several thousand short. Their influence in the community remains lasting and profound. You can link to the city's pertinent agenda report here.

The Tattler is visited by many Russians

I have no idea what they think this site is all about, but the stats show that each time we post an article dealing with President Mango a lot of traffic from Russian comes our way. Yesterday was no exception. Check out this screenshot from last evening:

Maybe they think we're this massive news site with millions of readers or something. It would be pretty funny if they did.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Was the 2016 election legitimate? It's now definitely worth asking the question

Mod: A timely and thought provoking editorial that addresses much of the nonsense we often hear in the comments from the colorful defenders of 2016 popular vote loser Trump.

Was the 2016 election legitimate? It's now definitely worth asking the question (Los Angeles Times link): We need to talk about a forbidden subject: the legitimacy of the current president. There’s been a code of silence around President Donald Trump’s shady victory in 2016. It’s one of those tiptoe-around-it things that the American family just doesn’t talk about. And with good reason. Whatever your politics, it’s perilous to question the soundness of an American election.

Raising the question of Trump’s legitimacy risks detonating a full-blown crisis of faith — kindling distrust not just in Trump, but also in the system that installed him.

But fear of facing the legitimacy question has not stopped Americans from harboring profound doubts, if only “deep down in places you don't talk about at parties,” in Aaron Sorkin’s phrasing from “A Few Good Men.”

As more and more facts about Trump’s incongruous victory emerge, the doubts gnaw harder — and grow harder to ignore.

A nation devoted to majority rule has a minority president. Who squeaked into office on an electoral college technicality. Against most data projections. Using dark money. Using voter suppression. Using Russian disinformation.

And, most chilling of all, with a massive assist from the Russian military, which not only hacked the Democrats, but also hacked voting software and a voting-system manufacturer.

Some people were motivated to vote for Trump because they believed Russian lies about Hillary Clinton’s health or email. But at least they got to cast their votes, and have them counted.

Others, many who planned to vote against Trump, were kept from the ballot entirely. In Wisconsin, as Mother Jones has reported, discriminatory ID laws prevented 45,000 eligible voters from participating in the election, including 23,000 in two heavily Democratic counties. Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes.

The attorney general of Wisconsin, Brad Schimel, even boasted recently that Trump won Wisconsin chiefly because tens of thousands of eligible voters were turned away. We’ve long known that Russian hackers attempted to break into the nation’s voter databases. But NBC reported this year that they succeeded. Senior intelligence officials said that Russia compromised seven states, including California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

There are other good reasons to ask questions about the election. In Florida, exit polls on election day had Clinton winning by 1.3 % of the vote. When the votes were tallied, Trump beat her by 1.2%.

None of this data is conclusive. But it absolutely does not suggest that American citizens should shut up, forget it, and will away all the evidence that something’s rotten in our electoral system. If it didn’t hurt your candidate this time, next time it might.

When, in 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon, he sounded noble. He claimed that to put Nixon on trial would cost the nation its newfound “tranquility.” Why rock the boat by bringing Nixon, who’d already been subject to so much “degradation,” to trial?

Why indeed. Ford was arguing for repression, when oh, say, maybe justice might have been the surer route to real tranquility.

He was telling the nation what abuser apologists tell victims. Don’t press charges. Think of all your abuser has suffered. It’s classier to move on.

Likewise, for years, Justice Antonin Scalia insisted that Americans must move on from Bush vs. Gore, the highly unusual 2000 Supreme Court decision that gave the presidency to George W. Bush. Scalia would get testy when asked questions, snapping at audiences: “Come on, get over it.”

Bush vs. Gore became the case that must not be named. Don’t interrupt Scalia’s tranquility.

Those who kept asking were also called bad sports, still sulking about the election. A protester around the time of the Supreme Court decision mocked those who’d voted the Gore-Lieberman ticket using Gore’s campaign logo. It read: “Sore Loserman.”

Sound familiar? Trump has been desperately trying to get voters to “move on” from the 2016 presidential election and to get special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to “move on” from the Russia investigation.

He’s also shouted into the wind that, against all evidence, the Russia investigation is a plot by sore-loser Democrats.

Aw. Hasn’t Trump suffered enough?

No. It’s the American people — of every stripe — who have suffered, seeing our democracy in such devastating disarray. And the remedy for that suffering is not to suck it up, pretend everything’s fine, and let criminals hold on to ill-gotten power and money.

The remedy is to keep speaking up, work for electoral reform to restore free and fair elections, and of course let justice run its course in the form of the investigations into Russian interference and Trumpland complicity.

In the meantime, typesetters, cue up your asterisks. You might need them.

1919 World Series*

2016 presidential election*


Sunday, July 29, 2018

CalPERS Debt Reduction: The Still Suppressed Sierra Madre Story

There is a bit of a media blitz going on this weekend about how Sierra Madre is shipping $5 million dollars in funds you might have believed the city didn't have to CalPERS as a way of reducing its dangerous exposure to that failed state pension system.

In addition to all of the news published on the City of Sierra Madre site (link), there are two feature stories available right now from what passes for local news coverage in these troubled days. This first one comes from the local newsprint publication "The Mountain Views News," which can be found just outside the front door of many of this area's finest package goods stores.

I am not certain what a "Mayor Pro Tempe" is, but I am fairly certain it doesn't have anything to do with Arizona. You can read the entire MVN approximation of reality here. There is also yet another picture of a gnarly car crash, if you're into that sort of thing. But it is part of a different article in the paper.

Pasadena Now also has an article out, which oddly enough doesn't mention the $5 million dollar spend it took to achieve the savings proudly being boasted about. A lapse that in my opinion detracts from the overall piece. As pithy as it is.

You can read all of this brief summation from Pasadena Now by clicking here.

These are a few questions I have. Here is a portion of the staff report that was available a few days before last Tuesday's City Council meeting. You can link to more about this by clicking here.

Does that 42% CalPERS pension obligation reduction Pasadena Now briefly discusses happen before or after the expected additional 32% payments increase over the next 5 years has kicked in? Anybody know? Is the reduction on the net liability, or that total payments figure? And is the $5 million lump sum payment included in that 42% reduction number?

I get it, these are probably just statistical semantics. So here is my more pressing concern. Since the taxpayers of Sierra Madre just kicked in $5 million dollars to hopefully help with this city's out of control pension debt mess, don't you think some kind of an explanation of how this all happened in the first place would now be in order?

Who exactly exposed the city to $28.5 million dollars (current figures) in pension and interest payment debt? Who thought that was a good idea? Or, who was so clueless that they didn't realize that they were setting Sierra Madre's city government on a path to potential insolvency? A threat so real that the City Council had to spend $5 million dollars last Tuesday to stave it off for a while?

You'd think for that $5 million dollars in public funds, extracted from the pockets of the citizens of this burgh through some rather stiff taxation of various kinds, the heavy lid would have finally been lifted from this long suppressed story.

Don't get me wrong, it is nice that the city is finally doing something to handle its #1 financial crisis. It has been a while since anyone dared to actually face the CalPERS mess. And it is good that City Hall has a City Manager that knows how to function as something of a financial fixer.

But judging by this weekend's media blitz, the overall cover-up remains firmly in place.

So let's ask these questions again. Who did this to you? What City Council critters from the not so distant past set in motion a series of CalPERS events that still threatens the city with financial disaster over the next decade or two? Despite what the City Council did last week?

Apparently that remains none of your beeswax.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Are Russian Soldiers Now Guarding the Remnants of Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star?

I don't know if you are yet aware, but Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorative star has been repeatedly vandalized. These occurrences have received world-wide attention, with many concerned dictatorships expressing deep dismay at these actions by what they are referring to as "anti-social elements" and "hooligans."

The rumored news today is the Russian government has now sent military personnel to Hollywood Boulevard to help guard the remnants of that most recently desecrated star.

The photo reproduced above being our sole piece of evidence at this time.

Perhaps President Putin's government felt it needed to step in to provide security as America's "deep state" intelligence apparatus has apparently refused to protect this highly revered monument to the reality show greatness of Mr. Trump.

The video that discusses this latest affront to MAGA Magnificence is linked below.


We are now awaiting final word about exactly when Sierra Madre's Tea Party militia will be heading to Hollywood to join their Russian comrades on the front lines.


Friday, July 27, 2018

A Couple Of Contrasting E-Mails Sent To The Tattler

The Library is hot right now, but not in a good way
Mod: I received these two emails from two different Sierra Madre residents, and within a day of each other. They present quite a contrast, and I am not sure what to make of it all. Maybe you can figure out why these two disparate occurrences have gone down? This first email deals with the Library.

"I am in the Library right now and it is 80 degrees. No joke, I checked the thermostat near the front desk. It's so hot in here I cannot believe it. I sat down to read the pamphlet I've included here and realized that the library will now be closed on Fridays as of Aug 6. I asked myself, is this how they are going to fund a new library? Cut hours and shut off the A/C?"

I am going to assume that in the winter you are going to want to bring a sweater. Maybe this is part of a ruthless psychological campaign designed to build some support amongst Library users for a parcel tax? Cut hours and increase your intellectual sweat equity? Does it have something to do with that Challenger Reader Pool Party?

This next email had shown up a day earlier, and it deals with what is currently going on at City Hall. It is very different.

"City Hall has been redone. New everything in the reception/staff area. Carpet, reception desk, paint, partitions, chairs. I guess the UUT money is coming in handy. Also, the thermostat is set really low."

Maybe we should be alerting all Library users that City Hall can now officially be considered a designated cooling center? You can take out your books at the Library and read them at City Hall. If you ask nice and bring enough nickels, you might even be able to use the copy machines there and preserve the memorable passages you'll want to treasure in the years to come.

My guess here is that since the City Council has decided it will no longer be fighting mansionization because the city can no longer afford the legal costs of doing so, City Hall has been upgraded in order to make it a more business friendly environment.

With all of those out-of-town developers now streaming in to get their permits and other stuff done while the getting is good, the city felt it needed to make a more positive impression on them. They're now looking golden for the anticipated gold rush.

Besides, they got to keep their competitive edge with Arcadia, right?


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Experts Conclude That Russian Attack Won The Election For Trump

Mod: Interesting article from the news site Politicus USA. What it describes here probably explains why Trump and his supporters are so squishy soft on the collusion issue. The Russians did something that they were incapable of doing since back in the days of George W. Bush. That is, actually win an American Presidential election. 

Experts Conclude That Russian Attack Won The Election For Trump (PoliticusUSA link): Outside experts have concluded that the Russian attack on the 2016 election did enough damage to swing 80,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which put Trump in the White House.

In his latest column for The Washington Post, Max Boot wrote:

While the intelligence agencies are silent on the impact of Russia’s attack, outside experts who have examined the Kremlin campaign — which included stealing and sharing Democratic Party emails, spreading propaganda online and hacking state voter rolls — have concluded that it did affect an extremely close election decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. Clint Watts, a former FBI agent, writes in his recent book, “Messing with the Enemy,” that “Russia absolutely influenced the U.S. presidential election,” especially in Michigan and Wisconsin, where Trump’s winning margin was less than 1 percent in each state.

The numbers are staggering. Russian pro-Trump/anti-Clinton propaganda reached 126 million people on Facebook alone, which is roughly the same number as the number of votes cast for Clinton and Trump. Russian bots reached 1.4 million Twitter users with their disinformation, and 39 states had their voting systems hacked in what experts believed what a Russian effort to get data that they could use to target voters in their attack.

Trump is not a legitimate president

It is simple math. Trump lost the popular vote but won an election by 80,000 votes in three states. The Russians micro-targeted voters in those states. They only needed a small fraction of voters to fall for their efforts in order to be successful. The numbers were in Putin’s favor. He could fail 90% of the time, and still swing the election for Trump.

The conclusion is that Trump wouldn’t have won without the Russians. Trump owes Putin big, which is why he is constantly kissing the ring of America’s biggest enemy.

Trump isn’t legit. The majority of Americans felt it, believed it, and the numbers show that it is true.

Mod: The sad irony being Vladimir Putin is the most effective political operative the American radical right has. Which probably explains why they have sold out to an American enemy.

Half Of U.S. Voters Say Russians Have Something On Trump (Quinnipiac Poll link): American voters believe 51 - 35 percent "that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump," according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.

Republicans don't believe 70 - 18 percent there is compromising information, the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group which does not believe it, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll finds. Two other groups are divided: 44 percent of white voters with no college degree believe the Russians have something and 43 percent don't believe it; 42 percent of white men believe it and 43 percent don't believe it.

The Helsinki summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin was a failure for the U.S., voters say 52 - 27 percent. The summit was a success for Russia, voters say 73 - 8 percent.

Trump was not acting in the best interest of the U.S., voters say 54 - 41 percent.

"Whether it is with love or not, President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia has delivered a small blow to his already poor standing with the American people," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump's job approval is back below 40 percent again.

"The president gets a split 49 - 47 percent score on the economy, but he receives negative reviews on his handling of a bevy of international problems and especially his relationship with Russia."

President Trump should defend all of America's NATO allies, American voters say 78 - 16 percent.

A total of 68 percent of American voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about President Trump's relationship with Russia, while 32 percent are "not so concerned" or "not concerned at all."

Mod: It looks like people have begun to figure it out.

'Trump 2020' campaign banners are being proudly produced in . . . China? (Marketwatch link):    Manufacturers are already hard at work churning out banners for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign — in China.

According to a Reuters report Wednesday, China’s Jiahao Flag Co. has produced more than 90,000 “Trump 2020: Keep America Great!” banners and flags since March, and the factory has ramped up production before Trump’s threatened tariffs against all Chinese-made goods kick on.

The banners and flags cost about $1 each to make, Reuters said, and a factory manager said Trump’s campaign suppliers appear to be trying to get their orders in before potential tariffs cause the price to rise.

The manager told Reuters that the factory has been making Trump banners ever since the days of “Make America Great Again.”


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cohen Tape: Another Glorious Moment For Donald Trump

 Half of U.S. Voters Say Russians Have Something On Trump - Link
Mod: Apparently dear leader Donald Trump doesn't know about things until it is proven that he does. At which time a whole new series of denials and claims are issued by the White House, which are then eventually disproven. On and on it goes. Here is yet another in a seemingly endless series of glorious Trump moments. We as a nation have much to be proud of.

Transcript of Cohen tape suggests Trump knew about model’s deal to sell story of alleged affair (Washington Post link): Donald Trump appeared familiar with a deal that a Playboy model made to sell the rights to her story of an alleged affair with him when Trump discussed the matter in September 2016 with his attorney Michael Cohen, according to a transcript of their conversation.

The transcript, which was provided by President Trump’s legal team, shows that the then-GOP presidential nominee does not register confusion or surprise when Cohen refers to a plan to purchase the rights to model Karen McDougal’s story from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer.

AMI, whose chief executive is David Pecker, had signed a $150,000 deal with McDougal in August 2016 for her story, but never published it.

“Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen says, according to the transcript.

“So what do you got to pay for this . . . one-fifty . . .” Trump says.

“Yes,” Cohen replies. “Um, and it’s all the stuff.”

On Tuesday night, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani disputed the idea that the recording shows that Trump knew about the McDougal deal.

“It doesn’t,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That’s open to interpretation, and we can have a fight about that.”

“To me it sounds like Cohen is explaining something to [Trump] that he doesn’t understand,” Giuliani said, adding: “He doesn’t seem that familiar with anything. There is nothing to indicate he knew anything in advance.”

The president’s legal team released the transcript after one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, provided CNN with the audio of the tape — marking dramatic escalation of rhetoric and turn against Trump by the Cohen camp.

Davis told The Post that Cohen, who is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud and election law violations, decided to release the tape “following extensive discussions” with his lawyers about the timing and consequence of doing so.”

The Cohen team was pushed to act by statements Giuliani had made about Cohen’s role in the conversation, Davis said.

“It became necessary to rebut false statements,” he said. “We were not going to let Michael become a punching bag.”

When asked whether the Cohen team would release more recordings of Trump in the coming weeks, David said he would not comment, but acknowledged, “There are a lot of other tapes.”

Trump’s legal team does not believe that he was captured saying anything of substance on any other recording made by Cohen, according to people familiar with the material.

The Wall Street Journal first reported four days before the November 2016 election that McDougal had been paid by the National Enquirer. At the time, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks called McDougal’s claims “totally untrue.”

“We have no knowledge of any of this,” she said.

The revelation of the existence of the recording last week showed for the first time that Trump knew of her claims and efforts to keep her quiet at least two months earlier.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Transparent California's Robert Fellner On Sierra Madre's $5 Million Dollar CalPERS "Lump Sum Prepayment"

Mod: Sometime early yesterday afternoon Transparent California's Robert Fellner left a comment on last Saturday's post (link) about that $5 million dollar lump sum prepayment to CalPERS the City Council will contemplate tonight. Robert's verdict? He likes it. I emailed and asked if he would explain why he feels that way. Here is what was kindly sent back:

Pension funding is very complex, so it is often helpful to make comparisons that are not entirely accurate, but help illustrate the point nonetheless. So with that disclaimer in mind, the $5 million prepayment is similar to paying down your mortgage at a faster rate.

While that initial payment obviously increases costs today, you end up saving money by having to pay much less in interest over the remaining payment periods — which are now shortened thanks to the lump sum extra payment, ie your debt will be paid off sooner, and at a lower total cost, than if you simply made the monthly minimum payments.

That’s basically the scenario here. So as the city points out in the document you link to at end of your post, that $5 million dollars paid today knocks nearly $12 million off the amount Sierra Madre owes to CalPERS.

In addition to reducing long-term costs, I think this is smart because it leaves the city better protected should an economic downturn hit. Cities who do not address their existing debts will fare much worse if/when the next market downturn hits, and CalPERS costs explode.

So paying down as much as you can now, when things are good and you can afford to, will make that scenario more manageable.

I think it’s a prudent, fiscally responsible move. Far too many officials care only about keeping costs low under their watch, knowing that if residents get screwed in the next 10-20 years, it will be someone else’s problem. So I’d give Gabe and whoever else is responsible for this policy some much-deserved praise.

One more positive effect: reducing their outstanding debt could also increase the city’s credit rating, which would mean lower interest costs on other loans.

Robert Fellner - Executive Director, Transparent California

ModSierra Madre is not the only city taking this road. What follows is an article from the San Diego Union-Tribune that describes similar efforts there. Obviously the numbers are far larger, as are both savings and risks.

San Diego may accelerate paying off pension debt, which could create budget woes (San Diego Union-Tribune link): San Diego may accelerate paying off the city’s pension debt of $2.76 billion to avoid leaving taxpayers with a long-term bill they can’t afford, but the move could spike the city’s annual pension payment and force budget cuts.

Members of San Diego’s pension board say they will weigh their long-term goals against any short-term impacts to the city’s budget when they consider in September new policies for handling increases in the projected pension debt. For more than a decade, the pension system has softened impacts on the city budget of new pension debt by spreading corresponding increases in the city’s pension payment over either 15 years or 30 years.

No one is suggesting the pension system immediately pay off such increases in debt, which are caused by stock market losses, shrinking long-term investment expectations and increased estimates of how long employees will live.

But board members, during a preliminary discussion this month, analyzed scenarios under which the pay-off periods for such new debt would shrink to as little as five years. Under such a scenario, the city’s annual pension payment would increase from about $350 million per year to about $530 million per year over the next five years.

Board members said such a spike would probably be too extreme, but directed the board’s investment committee to present as many as five options for accelerated payoff periods during the September board meeting.

The board, however, may decide to have the new payoff policies only apply to new pension debt the city faces in the future, instead of having them apply retroactively to previous debts for which payoff periods are already spread over 15 or 30 years.

Potential policy changes have been prompted by concerns about a significant down turn in the stock market that many financial analysts are predicting.

Mod: The rest of the Union-Tribune article is available at the link. 


Monday, July 23, 2018

The City Council Is Spending Some Real Cash Lately

One thing that this City Council is trying to do is to get a handle on a lot of past financial debacles and actually solve them. For better or for worse.

Many of the sorry legacies of the Shenanigan Years are still very much with us, and are no longer being kicked down the road. Mostly because the city can't do that any more. The prospect of an eventual insolvency is a real one. The result of all this is a whole lot of sticker shock. That plus you do need to wonder where it is all going to come from. Here is how one commenter summed it all up.

If you want to start attaching some real numbers to all of this, try $9 million for the Library, $5 million for a CalPERS prepayment, and $6.5 million to repair leaky pipes. All up for grabs this month. That is $20 million plus a few dollars just to start. Feel free to add in the rest yourself if you like.

And look, even the warrants are way over a million dollars for tomorrow night. Since after all this heavy lifting the City Council is taking off August to rest, they need to anticipate paying those bills as well.

So how are they going to pay for all of this? Unfortunately it looks like the City Council is getting ready to green light every development project that comes before them. Including the rest of One Carter and the Monastery.

After all, paying off the financial legacies of the 2002/2004 City Councils is going to take just about everything this city has left. As was alluded to in this comment:

Just about everything would be my guess. It is their legacy.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Question - Why Did The Sierra Madreans Cross The Road? Answer - The Solar Powered Flashing Crosswalk Signs Told Them To

Some might find this to be yet another example of the nanny state persuasion at one of its more interesting antipodes. Others will find it to be reassuring to know that their loved ones will be electronically ushered across the streets in the safest possible ways. Strobes lights flashing to properly illuminate the event.

But at $25,000 for the complete set? At a time when some Councilmembers are pushing to establish a parcel tax for as yet not completely detailed reasons having something to do with the Library? But perhaps not exclusively so?

On Tuesday the matter of purchasing several Solar Powered Flashing Crosswalk Signs will be discussed at what could be a City Council meeting that establishes a new record for spending money. Which we will discuss tomorrow. They're gearing up to move some truly serious cash into the outbox.

Here is a link to info on those Solar Powered Flashing Crosswalk Signs from the appropriate staff report. It establishes the perils faced by each and all every time they dare to cross one of Sierra Madre's busy streets. Upon reading this report you might wonder why many have not died so far.

None have, but that hardly means someone won't in the future, as I am sure some concerned soul will want to mention. You can never be too safe, I suppose.

But perhaps more to the point is the following news article one reader found, published by Lawrence University in famous Appleton, Wisconsin. It discusses the kind of sign Sierra Madre's City Council will consider Tuesday evening, but with all of the available bells and whistles attached. Including a camera that stores footage of each time a pedestrian dares to cross the road. Just in case anything might happen, or you have a need to view videos of pedestrians getting run over by cars.

This is not to say Sierra Madre is thinking about this kind of accessory for their Solar Powered Flashing Crosswalk Signs, I don't think they are. At least not yet. But isn't it comforting to know that such a thing is available? We should never want the city to run out of things to buy.

The article is called "New crosswalk cameras on College Ave. designed to improve campus pedestrian safety" and you can link to this in its original place here.

So there you go. The world just keeps getting more complicated all of the time.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

The City of Sierra Madre Is Preparing A $5 Million Dollar CalPERS "Lump Sum Prepayment"

The City of Sierra Madre might not be able to afford to make repairs to its Library building without first establishing a parcel tax, or fund the necessary legal campaign to protect itself from predatory mansionization, but put together a $5 million dollar "lump sum prepayment" to CalPERS to ensure its employees of carefree and rewarding retirement years?

Apparently the money is there and that would not be a problem. Here is how this news reads in the Staff Report for Tuesday's City Council meeting.

In case you have ever wondered about such a thing, the City of Sierra Madre owes an incredible amount of money to CalPERS. Something to the tune of $28.5 million big ones, with $14.9 million of that in interest payments alone. Just in case you're wondering why the city cannot afford to buy nice things.

The hilarious part of this is that by making a $5 million dollar prepayment on its vast CalPERS debt, a non negotiable financial obligation that could at one point actually threaten the solvency of Sierra Madre's government agency, the city would actually be putting itself into the position of saving some money.

You might recall the old XTC song, "We're Only Making Plans for Nigel." Kind of reminds me of that somehow. Here is a link.

All of which could make you wonder this. Does City Hall exist to take care of the needs of the residents of the Foothill Village, or merely see to the requirements of those working there?

Apparently the correct answer is the latter one. A link to all of this exciting news is found here.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials to Russia

Mod: Trump had wanted to hand American officials over to the Russians for interrogation? Of course he did. Look at who he is working for.

Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials (The Hill link): The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution warning President Trump not to let the Russian government question diplomats and other officials, shortly after the White House released a statement backpedaling on a proposal to allow Moscow to help interrogate U.S. citizens such as former Ambassador Michael McFaul. Senators voted 98-0 on the resolution spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Brian Schatz (HI).

“That President Trump would even consider handing over a former U.S. ambassador to Putin and his cronies for interrogation is bewildering. …This body must agree on the importance of protecting our ambassadors. We should pass it today, not wait, not show any equivocation,” Schumer said ahead of the vote, which was scheduled before the White House backtracked.

The nonbinding resolution comes amid growing frustration in the Senate over the White House's warmer stance toward Moscow, especially after the joint summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump earlier this week.

The potential that Trump could allow Russia to question U.S. officials had been in the headlines since the summit in Helsinki.

Putin said during a press conference with Trump on Monday that the Kremlin would permit special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to travel to Russia and attend the questioning of 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted in the probe, if Russia is allowed to help interrogate some people “who have something to do with illegal actions in the territory of Russia.”

The White House initially refused to shoot down the proposal. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that Trump was “gonna meet with his team” to talk about the potential for Russian officials to question U.S. citizens.

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


Thursday, July 19, 2018

This Attractive Billboard Is Going Up All Across America

They're created and paid for by something called the Mad Dog Pac. Apparently a lot of money is donated to the MDP by concerned citizens like you and I, and they turn that cash into eye catching informational billboards. 

The one above was photographed in Indiana. It looks like this may be coming to Los Angeles as well. I hope they put one up on Green Street in Pasadena. It would be appropriate.

Here is the Mad Dog map of where these puppies are slated to grace America's busy interstates. Be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Gotta love the dog. Here's a link.

From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered (The New York Times link): Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

The shifting narrative underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump regularly picks and chooses intelligence to suit his political purposes. That has never been more clear than this week.

On Monday, standing next to the Russian president in Helsinki, Finland, Mr. Trump said he accepted Mr. Putin’s denial of Russian election intrusions. By Tuesday, faced with a bipartisan political outcry, Mr. Trump sought to walk back his words and sided with his intelligence agencies.

On Wednesday, when a reporter asked, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” Mr. Trump shot back, “No” — directly contradicting statements made only days earlier by his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who was sitting a few chairs away in the Cabinet Room. (The White House later said he was responding to a different question.)

Hours later, in a CBS News interview, Mr. Trump seemed to reverse course again. He blamed Mr. Putin personally, but only indirectly, for the election interference by Russia, “because he’s in charge of the country.”

In the run-up to this week’s ducking and weaving, Mr. Trump has done all he can to suggest other possible explanations for the hacks into the American political system. His fear, according to one of his closest aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity, is that any admission of even an unsuccessful Russian attempt to influence the 2016 vote raises questions about the legitimacy of his presidency.

Mod: The rest of this article detailing Trump's continuing coverup of Russian ongoing interference in US domestic politics and elections is available at the link. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Has the Pasadena Police Department Disgraced Itself ... Again?

Video can be found here.
Mod: Considering the actions of this crime wave of a Police Department over the last several years (gun running, murder, unprovoked beatings, Police Chief Sanchez's surprise resignation) I am going to withhold judgement on this one. Given the record of the PPD however, I think these women deserve to be heard out in a court of law and not be tried on-line. Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian is hardly an unbiased source. A link to the video is below the picture. While it shows little, does it cover the entire incident? And who edited it?

Pasadena Police Officers Sexually Assaulted Mom, Daughter: Lawsuit (NBC Los Angeles link): The suit alleges that one of the officers forced the mother to lift her shirt and "expose her breasts" in public view. A mother and her adult daughter are suing the city of Pasadena and two police officers for allegedly sexually assaulting them during a traffic stop, an attorney announced today.

Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian called the lawsuit "baseless" and "unsubstantiated."

"The claims on which the lawsuit rests are easily proven false," Derderian said.

"Pasadena Police Department patrol officers initiated a traffic stop based upon a detective investigation and traffic violation witnessed by police. As per department policies and procedures, the officers remained professional the entire time, assessed the situation, speaking with the individuals and conducting appropriate and necessary searches of the individuals --a waist-band check for weapons -- and of the vehicle. After the vehicle and individuals were searched and questioned, they were free to leave the scene.

"When the Police Department received a personnel complaint, a thorough review of the incident was undertaken per department policy. The in-car camera footage from the patrol car clearly shows that the officers acted appropriately."

The video will be released Tuesday morning, Derderian said.

According to the complaint, which seeks at least $25 million in damages, the officers allegedly violated the civil rights of the women, who were 41 and 20 years old at the time of the alleged May 2, 2016, assault.

The lawsuit contends the women were stopped by police around 3:25 p.m. that day near the intersection of Altadena Drive and Foothill Boulevard. The women contend the officers physically searched them without probable cause or justification, with one of the male officers "using his bare hands to rub between (the) legs," in the areas of the "crotch" and "buttocks" and inside the pants of the daughter, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that one of the officers forced the mother to lift her shirt and "expose her breasts" in public view.

Even though the mother immediately drove to the Pasadena Police Department after the stop to lodge a complaint, the police department failed to seriously investigate their claims and refused to take any disciplinary action against the officers, the lawsuit alleges.

"We're living in the age of the `Me Too' movement and people have to be held accountable for their actions, including police officers," said Dakar Diourbel, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. "It's time for the sexual assaults and violence committed against women to stop, once and for all." 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Both The New York Times And Fox News Are On The Same Page About Trump

Mod: The denunciation of Trump's appeasement of the mass murderer and autocrat who launched cyber-attacks on an American presidential election is now pretty much all across the ideological  board. We are living in a national emergency, and the betrayal by this president has become clear for everyone around the world to see. 

Fox News hosts take Trump to task after Putin summit (Politico link): President Donald Trump usually turns to Fox News and the Fox Business Network when he wants to hear pundits defend his policies and behavior, but he probably would not have liked what he saw on Monday following his joint press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Directly after the press conference, Fox Business host Neil Cavuto, who also hosts a daily show on Fox News, called Trump’s performance “disgusting.” Referring to Trump’s refusal to side with US intelligence agencies and his own Department of Justice over allegations that Putin ordered a Russian interference scheme in the 2016 elections, Cavuto said Trump “is essentially letting the guy get away with this and not even offering a mild criticism. That sets us back a lot.”

Putin won," said Cavuto’s guest, Mark Weinberg, a former Reagan administration official. "Trump missed the opportunity to call [Russia] out in no uncertain terms. He dodged every opportunity to do it, and he missed a chance he won't get again."

Lawmakers and pundits were left reeling by the joint appearance Monday, in which Trump also indicated that the U.S. was to blame for tensions between the two nations and suggested the countries work together on cybersecurity, even after special counsel Robert Mueller's team indicted 12 Russians last week for their roles in hacking Democratic computer systems in 2016.

On CNN, the reactions to Trump’s remarks were stark. "You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, that I have ever seen," anchor Anderson Cooper said immediately after the press conference ended. Co-host John King referred to the meeting as a "surrender summit."

Republicans Rebuke Trump for Siding With Putin as Democrats Demand Action (The New York Times link): For nearly two years, Republicans have watched uncomfortably, and often in silence, as President Trump has swatted away accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential race, attacked his own intelligence agencies and flattered President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

On Monday, even for members of his own party, Mr. Trump apparently went too far.

The president’s extraordinary news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, stunned Republicans across the ideological spectrum and the party’s political apparatus, leaving them struggling to respond after the president undermined his national intelligence director, blamed both the United States and Russia for poor relations between the two countries and seemingly agreed to Mr. Putin’s suggestion that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, cooperate with Russia.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, declared, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Trump adviser, declared the news conference “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and current Senate candidate from Utah, called it “disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles.”

The effect extended far beyond official Washington. One local official — Chris Gagin, the chairman of the Republican Party in Belmont County, Ohio — resigned his post, announcing on Twitter that he “did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.” Neil Cavuto, a Fox Business Network host, called Mr. Trump’s performance “disgusting,” adding, “I’m sorry, it’s the only way I feel. It’s not a right or left thing to me, it’s just wrong.”

It was left to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, to demand actual action. He called for increased sanctions on Russia; for Mr. Trump’s national security team to testify before Congress; for defense of the Department of Justice and other intelligence agencies; and for Mr. Trump to press Mr. Putin to extradite the 12 Russian intelligence agents who were indicted  Friday. 

“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin,” Mr. Schumer said.

He added: “A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder. The only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”

Former CIA director Brennan urges Pompeo, Bolton, Kelly to resign following 'treasonous' Trump-Putin summit (The Hill link): Former CIA Director John Brennan on Monday called on members of President Trump's Cabinet to resign in protest following the president's news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton and chief of staff John Kelly "can continue in their jobs"

"I thought that there was nothing Donald Trump could say that would shock me, but I was wrong. I was just totally shocked at the performance of Donald Trump in Helsinki at a press conference with Vladimir Putin. I just found that it was outrageous," said Brennan to anchor Brian Williams on MSNBC immediately following Trump's press conference in Helsinki, Finland.

"Even when the press gave him an opportunity to hold Russia accountable for anything, he chose to talk about Hillary Clinton, about his election, about servers," Brennan continued. "He criticized American citizens, Secretary Clinton, and others as opposed to really taking advantage of a world stage with all the world’s eyes upon them to point out how unacceptable Russia’s behavior and interference in our election and the elections of other democratic countries around the globe is. But he just shirked those responsibilities."

Ex-Tea Party lawmaker calls Trump a ‘traitor to this country’ after stunning Putin press conference (Raw Story link): Former Tea Party lawmaker Joe Walsh on Monday said he was completely done with President Donald Trump in the wake of his jaw-dropping joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Walsh, who backed Trump in 2016 but who has been critical of the president’s attacks on law enforcement agencies, wrote on Twitter that he would no longer consider voting for him in 2020.

“Look, I’m no big deal, but today is the final straw for me,” he wrote. “I will never support Trump again. If that makes me a NeverTrumper, so be it.”

Walsh then took things a step farther and said he believed it was possible that Trump’s actions have been treasonous.

“I am a tea party conservative, that will never change,” he wrote. “But Trump was a traitor to this country today. That must not be accepted. Speak out.”

Kim Jong Un Upset to Learn That Trump Is Seeing Other Dictators (The Borowitz Report link): The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is reportedly “upset” and “hurt” that Donald J. Trump is seeing other dictators, sources in Pyongyang have confirmed.

According to an aide close to the North Korean leader, Kim was “devastated” to see images of Trump warmly embracing another dictator in Helsinki on Monday, just one month after jetting off to Singapore to spend a memorable and intense five hours with Kim.

Shortly after their time together, aides close to Kim warned him against becoming emotionally attached to Trump, alerting Kim to press reports linking the American to many other dictators.

“He’s been quoted saying nice things about Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte, to name just two,” one aide said. “Trump could never commit to just one dictator. When it comes to autocrats and strongmen, he’s a total player.”

Still, despite all the red flags, seeing Trump in the clutches of another dictator left Kim “deeply wounded,” aides said.

Donald Trump said that he and I had a ‘special bond,’ ” Kim reportedly said, choking back tears. “I guess that meant something different to him than it did to me.”