Sunday, February 25, 2018

Seriously, Does "Arcadia Andy" Bencosme Even Know Where Sierra Madre Is?

Andy should ask Alpha where Sierra Madre is.
We've had a lot of fun with the fact that Andy Bencosme held his campaign kickoff event at the controversial confines of the headquarters of the Arcadia Association of Realtors. Which, as most know, is located in Arcadia, and not the town where we think Andy believes he is running for a seat on the City Council. Or at least that is what we've been told.

However, we are no longer certain. Apparently Andy's campaign is now making a concerted sign push in Arcadia. There might be more of them there than there are here.

The photo here was sent to us yesterday by a resident of the Peacock Empire who wondered if this Sierra Madre candidate knew that he would not be able to pick up very many votes by campaigning in Arcadia. The sign pictured above can now be found at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Arbolada Drive, which is a little bit afoot of the Foothill Village.

Despite what some might say, we don't just criticize here, we also try to help. In case Andy reads The Sierra Madre Tattler, and we have no reason to believe he does, here is a map that helps to point out what part of Arcadia this particular sign is found in.


As people who are better acquainted with the area than Andy will tell you, the corner of Arbolada Drive and Foothill Boulevard is to the south of the City of Sierra Madre. To get here you would need to make a left on Foothill from N. Baldwin, and then take a right on Baldwin where it resumes its happy journey home. Upon getting there you would still have a ways to go before you safely arrive in Sierra Madre.

I hope this helps. We're reaching out here.

Maybe Andy was looking for cheap cigarettes?

Yet another Andy Arcadia sign.
The following story in the Pasadena Star News might offer us the clue we're looking for here.

2 men from Arcadia, Monterey Park accused of fraud scheme to avoid taxes on selling millions of cigarettes (Pasadena Star News link): Federal investigators arrested two San Gabriel Valley men this week in connection with an alleged scheme to procure and resell cigarettes without paying excise taxes through the Port of Los Angeles over the past two years, authorities announced Friday.

Yong “David” Lu, 54, of Arcadia and Wenzhu Guo, 54, of Monterey Park, both Chinese nationals, were arrested by federal agents Thursday morning, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States during an appearance Thursday afternoon, Feb. 22, in federal court in Los Angeles, he said. They were ordered free on bond, and a trial date was set for April 10.

Lu is accused of illegally obtaining the tax-free smokes, while Guo is accused of acting as the “primary distributor” of the duty-free tobacco. Mrozek said in a written statement the arrests were “part of a wider investigation into cigarette diversion schemes designed to avoid the payment of excise taxes.”

We'll let you know if we find out anything more.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Your Tattler Weekend Donald Trump News Dump

Mod: It's Saturday, so what better a time than now to catch up on a week's worth of the bizarre happenings from the Trump universe? Yes, indeed.

The unwitting: The Trump supporters used by Russia (CNN link): A Donald Trump supporter who unwittingly helped a Kremlin-linked operation to meddle in American politics says he only learned of his part in the Russian plot when the FBI showed up at his doorstep months later. Harry Miller was paid as much as $1,000 by the Russians to build a cage that was used to depict a person dressed as Hillary Clinton in a prison cell at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida in August 2016.

The stunt was part of an elaborate scheme run by the Internet Research Agency, a troll group in St Petersburg, Russia with links to the Kremlin, that was designed to undermine the American political system, according to a new federal indictment. The agency and thirteen Russian nationals associated with it were named in the indictment, which was made public by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office on Friday.

In early August 2016, the indictment says, the Internet Research Agency began reaching out to Trump supporters in Florida to organize a statewide "flashmob" that it dubbed "Florida goes Trump."

Twitter just purged ‘Russian bots’, and Trump fans are crying as their followers vanish (Metro.com link): Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the #MAGA brigade, as they howl in despair after half their Twitter followers vanished overnight. The reason? Those ‘cruel leftist libs’ at Twitter just purged a load of Russian bots, it seems – leading (hilariously) to right-wing Tweeters losing their minds.

They think it’s some kind of left-wing conspiracy, whereas in fact, Twitter appears to have just deleted a bunch of non-existent fascists controlled from St Petersburg. Not seeming to realise the irony, many are sharing their agony online with the hashtag #TwitterLockoutTwitter has been targeting bot accounts in recent weeks, and the latest spate of deletions comes in the wake of indictments against Russians for alleged disinformation campaigns on social media. Twitter deleted up to a million fake accounts in January, the New York Daily News reported.

A Twitter spokesman said, ‘Twitter’s tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias. ‘We focus on suspicious account behaviors that indicate inorganic, automated activity, or abusive behavior. Our systems regularly look for suspicious account behaviors and we proactively take action on accounts that behave in spammy ways, including by requesting additional details like asking account owners to confirm a phone number.’

Manafort Left an Incriminating Paper Trail Because He Couldn’t Figure Out How to Convert PDFs to Word Files (Slate.com link): There are two types of people in this world: those who know how to convert PDFs into Word documents and those who are indicted for money laundering. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the second kind of person. Back in October, a grand jury indictment charged Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates with a variety of crimes, including conspiring “to defraud the United States.”

On Thursday, special counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment against the pair, substantially expanding the charges. As one former federal prosecutor told the Washington Post, Manafort and Gates’ methods appear to have been “extensive and bold and greedy with a capital ‘G,’ but … not all that sophisticated.”

One new detail from the indictment, however, points to just how unsophisticated Manafort seems to have been. It appears that he created an incriminating paper trail because he needed someone to help him convert a Word doc to PDF.

Quinnipiac poll: Trump's approval rating slides (The Hill link): President Trump’s approval rating has fallen 3 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which was released on Wednesday. The new poll, conducted Feb. 16-19, found that 37 percent of American voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 58 percent disapprove.

This marks a decline from the last Quinnipiac poll, released on Feb. 7, which had Trump’s approval rating at 40 percent, the highest it had been in seven months. The lower ratings follow controversy concerning former White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation after being accused by his two ex-wives of domestic abuse. Nearly 60 percent of voters said they disapprove of how Trump handled the Porter case.

Special counsel Robert Mueller also brought charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups last Friday for interfering in the 2016 election. Fifty-seven percent of American voters said they disapprove of how the president responded to the threat of Russian interference in the 2018 elections. The same percentage said Trump is not fit to serve as president.

More than three-fourths of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, said the Russian government did try to influence the 2016 elections and 68 percent said they are concerned that they might try to do it again in 2018.

The NRA Is Losing Tons of Corporate Partners (The Cut link): Once again, the country is left reeling in the wake of a devastating mass shooting, after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week. And once again, many are left questioning the continued laxity of our nation’s gun laws, and the overwhelming influence of the National Rifle Association.

As the Washington Post noted following the massacre in Las Vegas last October, the majority of Americans favor stricter gun-control laws, but many Republicans continue to block them, for fear of losing the NRA’s considerable financial support. And the association’s leverage has extended much farther than Washington. Across the country, major companies like Hertz, Norton, FedEx, and Wyndham Hotels have partnered with the NRA, offering discounts to NRA members in the hopes of drawing more customers.

On Thursday, First National Bank of Omaha tweeted that it would not be renewing its contract with the NRA. It was soon followed by Alamo Rent a Car (though the tweet seems have been deleted), Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and National Car Rental. The next day, MetLife, Hertz, and Symantec, the cybersecurity company that owns Norton and LifeLock, announced they would no longer be offering discounts to NRA members.

Florida shooting survivor: We should call AR-15s Marco Rubio because they're both so easy to buy  (The Hill link): A survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School criticized Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Twitter early Friday, suggesting he is "easy to buy" for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA). “We should change the names of AR-15s to ‘Marco Rubio’ because they are so easy to buy,” Stoneman Douglas junior Sarah Chadwick tweeted Friday.

Rubio has been criticized by survivors of the shooting for accepting donations from the NRA. On Wednesday at a CNN town hall with survivors of the shooting, junior Cameron Kasky asked Rubio if he would commit to no longer accepting donations from the gun group.

Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?” Kasky asked. Rubio didn’t directly answer, telling Kasky that “people buy into my agenda” and saying he supports both the Second Amendment and “the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.”

The Florida senator was repeatedly confronted during the town hall event, with the father of one girl killed during the shooting  calling Rubio’s comments “pathetically weak.” Rubio has an "A-plus" rating from the NRA and has received $3,303,355 in donations from the organization over the course of his political career.

Video Link

Parkland Survivor Calls Out Melania Trump After Donald Trump Jr. Likes Conspiracy Tweets About Her Brother (Teen Vogue link): First Lady of the United States and self-described anti-cyberbullying advocate Melania Trump is being called out by a 14-year-old survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, after Donald Trump Jr. liked conspiracy tweets about her brother. Lauren Hogg's brother, 17-year-old Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg, has been the target of conspiracy theorists ever since he spoke out about gun control in the media.

As Teen Vogue previously reported, the conspiracy theories in question accuse David of being a "crisis actor," receiving payment from anti-gun groups, and being coached to push an agenda by his dad, who's a former FBI agent.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. liked two tweets perpetuating these unsubstantiated and false attacks against David, according to The Daily Beast. Now, Lauren is saying Donald Trump Jr.'s Twitter likes directly led to the harassment of her family, and she wants Melania to do something about it.

"Hey @FLOTUS you say that your mission as First Lady is to stop cyber bullying," she tweeted Friday morning, "Well then, don’t you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your step-son @DonaldJTrumpJr before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory which in turn put a target on my back & created a safe space for people all over the world to call me and my family horrific things that constantly re-victimizes us and our community.

I’m 14, I should never have had to deal with any of this and even though I thought it couldn’t get worse it has because of your family."

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, February 23, 2018

Arcadia Weekly: Are Bloggers; Social Media Sites Killing Us Softly With Their Song? Gossip and Innuendo Plague the Political Landscape in Arcadia

Mod: A story that first broke here on The Tattler (link) has now become headline news at the Arcadia Weekly. Here is their report.

Are Bloggers; Social Media Sites Killing Us Softly With Their Song? Gossip and Innuendo Plague the Political Landscape in Arcadia (Arcadia Weekly link): By all accounts, political races and battles are nasty, ugly and even downright jaw-dropping at times. Enter Arcadia’s municipal race and its new district(s) and you have a potential for confusion and misinformation.

Last week, mild mannered Arcadia councilman, Tom Beck, became the latest victim of what has become a disturbing trend on social media and blogs more commonly known as “bullying.” In this particular instance, the attack took place on a local blog called Arcadia’s Best which, as it turns out, is run by another councilmember who sits at the dais, Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay.

On this particular blog, Arcadia’s Best, you’ll find derogatory comments on a page that is very thinly veiled as an announcement for an upcoming candidate forum in March (link).

Not only is there no story, but if the blog claims the candidates are placed (‘in alphabetical order’) for the March 7 forum, someone needs to tell the editor (aka Tay) that the name Harbicht is definitely later in the alphabet than Chandler. At least, this was the alphabet I was taught.

The piece and the corresponding comments raised many an eyebrow last week.

“Most voters in Arcadia have no idea what is going on in this election. In fact, most voters don’t even know we have districts,” Tom Beck told Beacon Media last week.

Sho Tay took over Arcadia’s Best from Scott Hettrick when Scott moved away two years ago. Sho states in required government disclosure forms that he owns Arcadia’s Best. The morning that the hit piece on me came out it was Sho that sent it to me. He said his site had been hacked. I told him to take it down. He would not take it down.

The byline said it was written by Scott Hettrick so I emailed Scott to ask if he wrote it and he said absolutely ‘no’. He said he has had nothing to do with Arcadia's Best since he left. Sho emailed me that he does not own Arcadia's Best, that Scott owns it. Sho will admit that he is at least the ‘editor’ and controls the site day-to-day.”

Tom Beck told Arcadia Weekly that “Sho Tay has been working daily to do whatever he can to make sure I am not re-elected and that Harbicht is elected. I told Sho that I have no problem with that as that is his right as a resident of Arcadia.”

“I told Sho that what I object to is the lies and mistruths he spreads about me on Facebook and his WeChat sites. I also told him ‘hit pieces’ like the one front and center on Arcadia's Best, which he either owns or controls is not in keeping with the dignity of Arcadia.”

"The last election was an absolute low for Arcadia. I will not be part of this effort to embarrass our great city.” Tom Beck.

Mod: The veracity challenged Sho Tay might have claimed in his emails that he does not have all that much to do with Arcadia's Best, but in his filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission that story is quite different.


Mod: Here is Tom Beck's letter to the Arcadia Weekly in its entirety.

Most voters in Arcadia have no idea what is going on in this election. In fact, most voters don’t even know we have districts. Sho Tay took over Arcadia’s Best from Scott Hettrick when Scott moved away two years ago. Sho states in required government disclosure forms that he owns Arcadia’s Best. The morning that the hit piece on me came out- it was Sho that sent it to me. He said his site had been hacked. I told him to take it down. He would not take it down.

The byline said it was written by Scott Hettrick so I emailed Scott to ask if he wrote it and he said absolutely ‘no’. He said he has had nothing to do with A. B. since he left. Sho emailed me that he does not own A.B. that Scott owns it. Sho will admit that he is at least the ‘editor’ and controls the site day-to-day.

Sho Tay has been working daily to do whatever he can to make sure I am not re-elected and that Harbicht is elected. I told Sho that I have no problem with that as that is his right as a resident of Arcadia. I told Sho that what I object to is the lies and mistruths he spreads about me on Facebook and his WeChat sites. I also told him ‘hit pieces’ like the one front and center on A.B. which he either owns or controls is not in keeping with the dignity of Arcadia.

Since the last Arcadia election two years ago was so ‘dirty’ I asked my opponent (Bob Harbicht) to pledge to run a clean campaign. Bob said he always runs a clean campaign and claimed the one two years ago with April Verlato was ‘clean’. Bob stated he could keep his associates in line. I copied Bob with my emails to Sho so he would know what is going on.

The last election was an absolute low for Arcadia. I will not be part of this effort to embarrass our great city.

Mod: It seems obvious to me that Sho Tay, who is scheduled to become the next Mayor of Arcadia soon, struggles mightily with the truth. That does not bode well for the people of Arcadia.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Your questions are answered here by the City Manager

The Gizmo is watching.
Mod: As is usually the case I have been diligently collecting questions for Gabe Engeland, Sierra Madre's City Manager, and when I get a few together I send them off for his answers. Today's installment is informative, though brief. Gabe has been traveling this week, thus the succinctness. Send in your questions to The Tattler and soon you will know all.

The Tattler: Do we have any indication of how many Library survey cards have come back yet?

Gabe Engeland: We will provide the official update at next Tuesday’s Council Meeting.

The Tattler: Does Chris C. have that info on the traffic gizmo? I get asked all the time. People are concerned it is part of a process leading to a traffic light. Or it might be connected to a move to Disney-fy Kersting Court.

Gabe Engeland: The study is for pedestrian crosswalk safety only.  The engineer firm has the backup information on the device they are using. The results of this study will ultimately go to Council, but the scope is limited to crosswalks.

The Tattler: Has anyone involved in Sierra Madre governance been contacted by the PUSD about its financial crisis? Has Sierra Madre reached out to the PUSD?

Gabe Engeland: The Mayor has requested an update from the PUSD. I anticipate an update will come to City Council shortly.

Mod: It's good all of that is going to the City Council. They haven't had much to talk about lately. I received the following report from an adventurous Sierra Madre resident who actually attended the Andy Bencosme campaign kickoff event in Arcadia earlier this week. He might have been the only one from this far west to attend.

I went to Andy Bencosme's kick off party this evening. There were about 25 people there, none that I knew. He had some sandwiches, drinks and deserts.

I spoke with him for a short time and he is very friendly and personable. He said that he is running to give people a choice, but he does not elaborate on the differences between himself and the three incumbents.

His handout is very well done and not specific. He stresses his love for Sierra Madre and wanting to keep it a special place.

Mod: Hopefully Andy will be able to find his way back to Sierra Madre and he'll share something with a little more substance to it. The third of four City Council campaign kickoffs will be for Denise Delmar, and it will take place Sunday in Sierra Madre, of all places. I have obtained a copy of her campaign flyer, some of which I am sharing with you today. There is some substance here, something that I am sure will confuse those who would prefer to just receive a pat on the noggin and be told they are nice.


Mod: The kick-off party to re-elect Denise Delmar to the City Council is this Sunday, February 25th from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at 441 Ramona Avenue. In Sierra Madre.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Can Somebody Please Tell Andy Bencosme Where Sierra Madre Is Located?

History of a different sort was made yesterday afternoon. For the first time ever a candidate for a seat on Sierra Madre's City Council began his run for glory campaigning in an entirely different town. This is quite unprecedented, and you have to wonder why he did it.

Well, OK. So you don't have to wonder too hard. Andy held his campaign kickoff at the offices of the Arcadia Association of Realtors because that is where the money is. Outside of the Realtor and development communities Andy really doesn't know all that many people. Who else is there he could hit up for a little campaign cash? Nobody he knows.

When you are representing the interests of an industry rather than that of a resident community, you will need to take your act to a place that your people both know and are comfortable with. And for those special interests giving money to Andy Bencosme yesterday, that location couldn't be found anywhere in Sierra Madre.

Rather it had to be located somewhere else entirely, such as at the offices of the noted and rather activist supporter of mansionization and high density development, an organization known as the Arcadia Association of Realtors.

The AAR has quite a long history of sticking its long nose into Sierra Madre affairs. Measure V was created in part to keep them at bay.

Pretty remarkable if you think about it. I wonder what those folks think they'll be getting for their money. It's not like they would care all that much about better parks or the Library, right? And certainly not the values and hopes of a community that they see only as a place to make a little folding money. After all, most attending yesterday don't live here.

It would need to be something else. Something industry figures from other places want.

Any guesses?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chandler and Harbicht: Are the Pro-Property Rights Pals also the Cell Tower Twins?

Chandler and Harbicht, the pro-property rights pals. Just what exactly are they talking about?

We hear a whole lot about how candidates Roger Chandler and Bob "Bulldozer" Harbicht are all about your property rights. I think it is safe to assume that what they mean by this is allowing the biggest home any developer wants to build. Roger and Bob will ignore the pleas of those who will have to bear the burden of living next door to a single family hotel, done in the name of profiteering for developers.

And now the two dudes are claiming your property rights are "under attack." Which, of course, they will be once these characters allow a McMansion to be build right next door to your house.

Last Saturday Arcadia heard all that again when Roger and Bob campaigned at the Arcadia High School Chinese Parents' Booster Club Fundraiser and Chinese New Year Celebration. At this event, Roger, whose ticket was fully funded by the City of Arcadia, went table to table, wearing his City Councilmember pin, passing out flyers and ingratiating himself to all the Asian parents there, all on the taxpayer's dime.

Bulldozer Bob chugged along not too far behind, brandishing a City Council pin as well. Done even though he is not currently serving in that capacity, or legally authorized to wear it. Bob was escorted by a member of the AHS Chinese Parents Booster Club for language interpretive services.

Both had their "Property Rights First!" battle cry going on that day. And remember, your tax dollars paid for Roger to be at this event, representing the City of Arcadia. It doesn't sound very ethical to use taxpayer money to attend an event for the purpose of political campaigning. But that's our boy. Arcadia can be proud of Roger Chandler's easy ethical convenience.

So let's take a closer look at some of that list of property rights Roger and Bob are eager to protect once elected to a Peacock Throne on the City Council.

Some might think it's a property right to build big houses. However, that is not all of it. The people who would have to live in the dark shadows of those big houses have property rights as well, and neither Chandler nor Harbicht care anything about them. They are selective about this, and only choose to listen to the sweet sound of money.

Roger and Bob have consistently voted to repeal tree protection ordinances in the name of property rights. Such annoying things get in the way of those building huge McMansions, limiting the amount of profit concerned developers can make.

Some might think that it's a property right to have a circle driveway that holds 10 cars for certain poor and elderly couple's 6,100 square foot McManny. But again, it's not. If you want to live next to a parking lot, go set up your tent at the shopping mall.

There's one more property right the big house boys are hokey pokeying about, and the residents of Arcadia would have to be bat blind not to see this one coming. Cell Towers. Big, tall, obtrusive, medically questionable cell towers, and right next door to your home.

Perhaps you think I'm making this up?

Roger was the lone vote for a 54' tall cell tower proposed by Verizon to be placed in a residential neighborhood last year.  The owner of the Church at the corner of 1st Avenue and Lemon needs the $2,000 in yearly revenue it would produce to stay afloat, but the neighbors vehemently protested and the majority of council voted against it. Verizon has now sued and the City of Arcadia is still hip deep in litigation over that one. A change in council would allow for a settlement with a 54' tall tower to be built in that residential neighborhood.

But what evidence do I have that Bob the Bloody Bulldozer would vote for a cell tower in a residential neighborhood?  Who would be so crazy to be in favor of a cell tower in their own backyard? You guessed it! Bob himself!

link
At the top of this post is a photo from the front of Bob's house. Circled in red is a cell tower glaring above the roof line of his own home like Darth Vader's hissing head. Bob has his very own cell tower next to his very own backyard. How would you like to live near it? That's what Roger and Bob call property rights. The right of every homeowner to have the cell tower of their dreams right there, in their own backyard. With nothing they can legally do to stop it.

If Roger and Bob are elected, you can also bet that Sho Tay will vote with the tower team to protect the property rights of every homeowner to have their own 54' tall cell tower. Whether they want one or not.

Don't worry, Sho Tay has been appointed and won't have to run, so he's not beholden to the wishes or desires of his constituents. You really don't think he'll go back on his word on cell towers? Try it and see what happens.

The HOAs trusted Two Timing Tay when he campaigned in 2014. He told all of them that he would vote in favor of smaller homes in the HOAs. His way of showing his appreciation to the HOAs for helping get him elected? He has voted against them every time the issue comes up.

So who's ready to get better cell service in Arcadia? Be sure to wear your sun screen.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents Day: Did Washington Predict Donald Trump?

Mod: Thoughtful New York Times op-ed for Presidents Day. Please remember that we are living in interesting times. Times George Washington might have seen coming.

Did George Washington Predict Donald Trump? (The New York Times link): In September 1796, George Washington, weary of partisan combat just eight years after the ratification of the Constitution and the founding of the nation, wrote a farewell address explaining why he would not seek a third term. His message is worth remembering in our current political moment.

In elaborate and thoughtful prose, Washington raised red flags about disunity, false patriotism, special interests, extreme partisanship, fake news, the national debt, foreign alliances and foreign hatreds. With uncanny foresight, he warned that the most serious threat to our democracy might come from disunity within the country rather than interference from outside. And he foresaw the possibility of foreign influence over our political system and the rise of a president whose ego and avarice would transcend the national interest, raising the threat of despotism.

Washington certainly had great confidence, but in his address he didn’t brag about his accomplishments. On the contrary, he beseeched the Almighty to soften the impact of his errors and expressed hopes that the country would forgive them. He established a standard for presidential self-deprecation out of the fear that a president of grossly inflated ego could become a threat to democracy.

He cautioned against both overly friendly alliances (lest another country’s interests and wars become our own) and excessive hatreds (lest we provoke unnecessary conflict and war with others). Forbearance in the use of power was another of his major themes.

“A free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another,” he declared. Such encroachment, he said, would lead to the consolidation of power and create “a real despotism.”

Some of Washington’s most prescient warnings were about the dangers of factionalism. He wrote that should one group, “sharpened by the spirit of revenge,” gain domination over another, the result could be “a more formal and permanent despotism.” The despot’s rise would be fueled by “disorders and miseries” that would gradually push citizens “to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.”

“Sooner or later,” he concluded, “the chief of some prevailing faction, more able and more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purpose of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.”

As if envisioning the political tribalism and 24/7 cable news culture of today, he urged political leaders to restrain “the continual mischiefs” of political parties. The “spirit of party,” he wrote, “serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

And then he arrived at one of his greatest concerns: The ways in which hyper-partisanship could open the door “to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

On Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, charged 13 Russians with trying to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. One need only read the indictment to understand what the first president was talking about.

Since 1893, a senator has read the farewell address on the floor of the Senate every year on Washington’s Birthday, alternating annually by political party. Bluntly speaking, it’s become little more than an exercise in bipartisan lip service. The House of Representatives stopped reading it decades ago.

This was, at least, a form of honesty. Clearly no one was listening anymore. In 2016, fake news, gerrymandering, voter suppression and disenfranchisement were “the mischiefs” employed by the Republican Party to propel Mr. Trump’s campaign. And Mr. Trump, perhaps “more able and more fortunate than his competitors,” stumbled to victory using mendacious appeals to voters squeezed by a greedy economy — even though Mr. Trump had himself profited handsomely from that economy. If only we had heeded Washington’s warnings, would the election have turned out as it did?

Washington’s goal was to ensure that the young country became stable enough to withstand the threats to liberty and freedom he saw on the horizon — a horizon that has now stretched 220 years into the future. We can never say he didn’t warn us.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sho Tay Censors a Discussion of Guns on his Arcadia's Best website, even though he deals in them for a living


A gentleman that I have come to know over the last few months posted the above question on Sho Tay's website, the at times oxymoronically titled Arcadia's Best.

As was recently revealed here on The Tattler, Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay is a genuine gun dealer. And my concerned friend wanted to find out what this next Mayor of Arcadia thinks about semi-automatic weaponry and the role these things have played in the repeated slaughter of innocents. Such as what happened last week in Florida.

Or like what had also occurred in Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora, Bowling GreenBlacksburg, PlanoLittle RockCharleston, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs and, of course, Parkland High School. And far too many other places to mention here.

To give you some additional perspective, a New York Times article, titled "After Sandy Hook, More Than 400 People Have Been Shot in Over 200 School Shootings," appeared in that paper earlier this week. Here is the link that will take you there. Heavily armed madmen have declared a war on kids.

The screenshot at the top of this page shows the question my friend asked Sho Tay on Arcadia's Best. It seemed to me like a good one. As someone who is in the gun business, and is also about to become the next Mayor of Arcadia, Sho's opinions on this issue could be both insightful and beneficial to a lot of people.

Unfortunately, Sho Tay has not only refused to answer that question, but he also censored it from his website. It was never cleared to appear on Arcadia's Best. It's as if this deadly menace is of no concern there, with Sho not wishing to reveal any personal insight on an issue of singular importance today.

After hearing from my friend about his unfortunate experience there, I decided to do some research into Sho Tay's firearms business. The question in mind being why is he keeping this topic from appearing on his Arcadia's Best website? There must be a reason. Especially since Sho himself claims he never deletes comments from his site. Except that apparently he does.

Here is a screenshot describing the corporate entity that financially incorporates Sho Tay's gun business, Merriwether Enterprises (link).





There is a website link on the Merriwether page, and if you click on that you will be taken to the site for the La Puente Firing Range, which is Sho Tay's firearms business. You can also get to that site by clicking here.





You with me so far? Good. While we're on the topic of tragedies involving weaponry, Sho Tay's gun business in La Puente has not been without a similar misfortune. The following comes to us from local daily the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (link).

La Puente Firing Range shooting death possible accident or suicide --- (LA PUENTE 5/12/2015): Detectives don’t suspect foul play in the death of a Walnut man found fatally shot at a shooting range Monday night. Investigators are looking at whether the death is an accident or a suicide, according to Sgt. Shannon Laren of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.  

Ed Winter, assistant chief of investigations and operations for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, identified the man as Ning Pan, 29, of Walnut. He said an autopsy is pending.

An employee at the La Puente Firing Range at 16418 Valley Blvd. found Pan around 9:30 p.m. He had a gunshot wound to the upper body, Laren said. He said the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Obviously guns are designed to be deadly, and those who use them need to be extremely careful. Semi-automatic weaponry, such as the kind used at mass killings like the one that occurred this week at Parkland High School, is a particularly lethal category of firearms.

For some additional insight, here is how Frank Girardot, the former news chief at the Pasadena Star News, describes his experiences with the semi-automatic weaponry available at La Puente Firing Range. This following comes to us from his very serious sounding news site, SGVCrime (link).


The rest of Girardot's article on his experiences at La Puente is available via the link provided above. As a side note, given the many gun massacres involving semi-automatic weaponry over the last decade or so, I wonder how Frank might feel today about some of the edgier viewpoints he expressed in his column.

Hopefully Sho Tay can now answer our friend's question, as posted at the beginning of today's article here on the Sierra Madre Tattler. It is never too late to do the right and honorable thing.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 17, 2018

All of the Sierra Madre News you'll ever want to read

Mod: We get our share of complaints here about the blog, and that's fine. When some people aren't complaining you probably need to check and make sure they're still breathing. One of the gripes we hear quite often is that The Tattler doesn't carry enough Sierra Madre news anymore. So here you go.

San Gabriel Valley water board accepting applications for Sierra Madre representative (Pasadena Star News link): The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District is accepting applications for an appointment to represent Sierra Madre on its board of directors.

Applicants must reside in Division 4, which encompasses Sierra Madre, be a citizen of the United States and not have any felony convictions, according to the board. Mailed and personally delivered applications will be accepted until 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 6. Board members will interview candidates in March.

The successful applicant must commit to attending board meetings at 8 a.m. the second Monday of each month in the district’s board room in Azusa, as well as special meetings as necessary.

Mod: Like anyone ever needs an excuse to go to Azusa, right? You could be the next Tom Love, and wouldn't that be wonderful? Another near volunteer job that has been out there for a bit is the Sierra Madre City Clerk gig. The last one left when the city cut her pay by a few thousand dollars, but don't let that discourage you. If writing down every nugget of wisdom shared at a City Council meeting appeals to you, then go for it!

City Clerk Application (City of Sierra Madre.com link): In the United States, the office of city clerk was one of the first to be established when early colonists set up local governments.

Today, a city clerk is an elected or appointed senior official who is responsible for many administrative functions that relate to maintaining the public records of a municipality. The Sierra Madre City Council is soliciting applications to fill the vacancy of the elected City Clerk. The successful candidate will be appointed by the City Council to serve as City Clerk until April 2020.

The statutory duties of the City Clerk, as described in Government Code Section 40801 through 40811, are:

· Keep an accurate record of the proceedings of the legislative body

· Keep and record all city ordinances with the clerk’s certificate annexed to each, which record, with the certificate, constitutes prima facie evidence of the contents of each ordinance and of its passage and publication and is admissible as such evidence in any court or proceedings; and

· Act as the custodian of the city seal

The appointed City Clerk will receive a $250 monthly stipend commencing the month they are appointed and concluding the end of April, 2020. If you are interested in applying for the City Clerk position please return a completed  application to Sierra Madre City Hall at 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

Mod: Former Sierra Madre Mayor Joe Mosca abruptly left the Foothill Village behind a few years back, and is now Vice Mayor in the City of Encinitas. However, San Diego County has not been as accepting of Joe and his family as they probably hoped. 

Santa Fe Christian school discouraged same-sex couple from applying (The Coast News link): When Matt Bosse began looking for a middle school for his 10-year- old, Garrett, several friends told him to consider Santa Fe Christian Middle School, a school known for rigorous academics, proud athletics and a Bible-based curriculum.

After all, they said, Garrett is a high-character, straight-A student at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School, an altar boy at his Episcopalian Church and plays competitive lacrosse.

So it came as a surprise, Bosse said, when school admissions director Vicki O’Rourke late last year discouraged him from applying because they weren’t the type of family that would be welcome at the school.

The reason, Bosse said? Because Garrett has two fathers. Bosse’s spouse is Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca, who became the city’s first openly gay councilman when he was appointed in 2017. Bosse and Mosca said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” by the school’s decision, which they called outdated.

“It was the first time in our experience that we have faced that sort of discrimination,” Bosse said. “We respect SFC and their right to run the school, but in this day in age, it seems antiquated.”

Mosca echoed Bosse’s sentiments. “When they told us that we weren’t invited to apply because we were two dads it was shock to us,” Mosca said. “Hopefully by telling our story it can effect some change.” Santa Fe Christian Middle School Director Todd Deveau said in a statement that the school doesn’t comment on specific admission decisions, but commented on the school’s admissions practices.

“While we do not provide details on matters involving students or prospective students, I can say that our policy is to encourage the family of any student committed to academic excellence and spiritual development to apply,” Deveau wrote. “As a matter of practice, we do not attempt to persuade or dissuade prospective families from applying.

“At the same time, as part of the admissions process, we make clear to prospective applicants that they will be joining a Bible-based community designed to disciple students to embrace biblical truth,” Deveau’s statement continued. “This is our mission and our purpose, and a vital component of the SFCS experience.”

Mod: This next item should be received as good news for anyone hoping to save Sierra Madre's current Library. Apparently the Feds no longer care as much about "ADA requirements" as some still claim.

Bill slowing lawsuits for ADA non-compliance passes (The Hub link): A bill that slows the process of filing a non-compliant Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit passed the House on Thursday. The ADA Education and Reform Act, or H.R. 620 was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas).

Businesses will now have an additional 60 days to devise a plan to fix non-ADA compliant issues and another 120 days to implement the changes before being sued. “These ‘drive-by’ lawsuits all too often create a negative impression about the goals of this important law. Suits of this kind saw a 14 percent increase in 2017,” Poe said in a statement on his website. Supporters of the bill claim it will help both small businesses and people with disabilities.

“We’re very excited for H.R. 620, it’s long overdue for the business owners and for the disabled,” said Maryann Marino, the Southern California representative for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA). This nonpartisan group focuses on fighting against lawsuit abuse in California.

ADA lawsuit abuse has been explosive,” Marion said. “I can line you up with hundred of shakedown lawsuits that have wiped out or nearly wiped out a lot of family-run businesses.”

Opponents of the bill feel it discourages businesses from making their spaces ADA-compliant and could result in long delays.

Mod: Just when you began to fear that the planet might have forgotten, a new article about Sierra Madre's mighty Wistaria Vine has now appeared on the World Wide Web.

Sierra Madre Wistaria Vine (Atlas Obscura link): Every spring, a breathtaking swathe of purple emerges within the shadow of the parched Southern California mountains. This spectacular colorful display is thanks to the beautiful flowers that burst from the branches of one extra-special vine.

This lovely “Lavender Lady,” as some call it, is the largest flowering plant in the world. Every spring, more than a million gorgeous purple blossoms drape from its tangled branches. Its seeds originally came from China, and two homeowners planted it in 1894 to celebrate their new house.

In a sad twist of fate, the wistaria eventually grew so large it destroyed the home it was planted to honor. It now occupies a staggering one-acre stretch of space.

Though the Guinness Book of World Records lists the vine as the world’s largest blossoming plant, the massive specimen is strangely hard to see. As it’s on private property, the public is only able to visit the behemoth beauty once a year during the annual Wistaria Festival. On this day, the whole town (plus plant-loving travelers) gather to celebrate this local celebrity.

It’s worth the wait. Witnessing this rare botanic gem is a true treat. Being able to walk under its sprawling canopy of delicate purple flowers is a magical experience. It’s no wonder it’s considered to be one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world.

Mod: We all know that the Pasadena Unified School District has some serious woes, but that should never prevent the usual suspects over in Pasadena from screwing things up even more. Very few people in Sierra Madre will be aware of this next item.

A New Way - Council to hold special meeting on changing charter to suit new state law (Pasadena Weekly link): The Pasadena Board of Education and the Pasadena City Council will hold a joint meeting at Pasadena City Hall to vote on putting a proposed City Charter change on the June 5 ballot. According to a new state law, cities with low voter turnout must move election dates to coincide with state election dates if local election participation rates result in contests with low voter turnout.

City Council and Board of Education races over the past several years have been plagued by voter apathy, forcing city officials to comply with the law. Under the California Voters Participation Rights Act, the city will change its election calendar from March primaries and April general elections, which are currently conducted in odd years, to June primaries and November general elections in even years, or when the state holds its elections.

The city’s election calendar is regulated by the charter which can only be changed at the voting booth by Pasadena residents. Because the Pasadena Unified School District includes Altadena and Sierra Madre, those residents will have a chance to vote on the proposed charter change regarding Board of Education elections.

Under the new system, elections will no longer be run by the city, and instead be supervised by county officials. Voters will be asked a simple yes or no question:

“Consistent with state law, shall the Pasadena City Charter be amended to: 1) change the city’s primary and general election dates to coincide with statewide primary and general election dates, beginning with the November 2018 general election; 2) extend the current terms for the mayor and councilmembers by 19 months on a one-time basis in order to transition to the  statewide election cycle; and 3) change the timing of the mayor’s thematic budget message?”

The City Council would maintain part of its current system which requires the winner to receive more than 50 percent of the vote. The school district will move to plurality elections. Under that system, the candidate with the most votes wins.

The current system could extend elections by months and make it even more expensive to run for office, thus making it more difficult for newcomers to be elected.

Mod: Hopefully that is enough for now. More Sierra Madre News as it arrives.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

NY Times: Thoughts and Prayers and N.R.A. Funding

Mod: I think that if I was God the prayers of these fools would offend me.

Thoughts and Prayers and N.R.A. Funding (The New York Times link:) Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association. Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.


All of these representatives are Republican. The highest ranked Democrat in the House is Sanford Bishop, who ranks 41st in career donations from the N.R.A. Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican. In the Senate, the top two Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who rank 52nd and 53rd — behind every Republican but Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Michael Cohen's Porn Star Payment Just Left Trump Open to Criminal Charges (Law and Crime.com link): President Donald Trump‘s personal attorney Michael Cohen addressed the payment of $130,000 that went to former pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) in 2016. Cohen said that the payment to Clifford, who had claimed she had an affair with Trump soon after his wife Melania Trump gave birth to their son, came directly from him. In an apparent effort to show that the payment was legal, he made it clear that Trump’s campaign was not involved in the transaction. Ironically, however, Cohen’s very explanation could land Trump in serious trouble, and possibly vulnerable to criminal charges.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford,” Cohen told the New York Times, “and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” Cohen would not say what the payment was for, but other outlets have reported it was to prevent Clifford from speaking publicly about the alleged affair.

While Cohen was probably trying to put Trump in the clear by saying he had nothing to do with it, his very explanation paints a picture very similar to that of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

Edwards faced charges after it was alleged that he accepted and tried to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars that came from outside sources that were then used to cover up an affair he was having. Edwards was running for president at the time of the payments, and federal prosecutors claimed that the money should have been reported as campaign contributions. Such contributions also would have been in excess of the maximum amount allowed by individual donors, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Arcadia's Worst Valentine's Day: Did Sho Tay Lay An "Arcadia's Best" Hit Piece On Councilmember Tom Beck Under The Name Of Long Departed Editor Scott Hettrick?

Mod: I ordinarily don't like to post articles having titles quite that long, but this really is a special case. Yesterday things went quite bananas in Peacocktown, and we're here to try and untangle this latter day Valentine's Day Masasacre for you.

As you might know, the now oxymoronically titled "Arcadia's Best" website is currently owned and run by Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem Sho Tay. Here is a document that establishes his ownership. It is important to share this because Sho Tay is now apparently claiming he bears no responsibility for what gets posted on his own website. Here he identifies himself as both owner and "webmaster."


Scott and a friend.
Arcadia's Best used to be the pride and joy of a fellow named Scott Hettrick. Scott ran it as a kind of Chamber of Commerce news site, and filled it with articles that promoted local businesses and civic events. You know, nice community booster style positive stuff.

However, Scott moved to Nebraska a couple of years back to be with his grandkids, gave up the blog business and, quite obviously, things have now gone downhill very quickly at a site many refer to today as "Arcadia's Worst."

Yesterday someone posted a truly nasty and dishonest hit piece on the Arcadia's Worst site smearing current City Councilman Tom Beck. And this person did it under the name of Scott Hettrick who, after being contacted by incredulous Arcadia residents at his home in far away Omaha, swore he had nothing to do with it. And why would he? He gave the site to Sho Tay two years ago and hasn't been involved with it ever since. Plus it just isn't his style. Scott is a far better writer than that, and never penned anything I've ever seen in such an "ESL" style.

Sho Tay was then contacted by certain aggrieved residents and asked why he had written such a thing and posted it on a site many still believe has something to do with civic involvement and promoting the nice things about Arcadia. Sho then claimed it wasn't him, but rather it was posted by hackers and he would take care of it right away.

So what was Sho Tay's idea of taking care of this situation? Did he take down the offending article and apologize to Scott Hettrick? Or explain to a baffled community that the article was put there by a hacker, and that he has hired professionals to improve the security on a site that he himself owns?

No, instead he left the article up, said Scott didn't write it, and then gave it a new author.


Very strange, right? Technical glitch indeed. The smear piece is still attached to the name Scott Hettrick, but the site's owner said it was actually posted by a mystery resident. Look, if your website was hacked and an obvious smear piece was left there, and under the name of a highly respected fellow who ran the local Chamber of Commerce for years no less, you'd immediately pull it down, right? Then call the cops. Obviously Sho's weird solution here does raise some very substantial questions.

Tom Beck responded to the smear by posting the following on Arcadia's Worst.

Tom Beck says
February 14, 2018 at 8:48 AM

WHO WROTE THIS FALSE HIT PIECE? Everything on my website can be backed up with documents or emails. The two lawyers on the CC voted to fight the potential lawsuit because of facts of Arcadia were unique and we thought we could win. EVERY ARCADIAN I HAVE TALKED TO THINKS DISTRICTS ARE BAD FOR ARCADIA. At large election would mean everyone who wants to be on the CC would have to face the voters they represent- including Sho Tay. My votes prove I’m the MOST FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE member of the CC. The Brinks sent me an email stating they totally support me and were telling their friends to vote for me. They were then listed as endorsers. I then received a later email that they should be removed because Burt is running for the Assembly but they still support me and were sorry. Sho Tay is WRONG!! I did bring the Ring Door Bell Program. Sho should ask our City Manager where I first brought it and it was passed to Police Chief.

Sho and tell?
There is one more piece to this very strange puzzle. Sho Tay is now claiming that the smear was posted (or hacked in) by someone who goes by the name of Brett Meyer. No such name can be found on any list of property owners in town, nor has he been located yet on any roster of Arcadia voters. And I emphasize the word "yet" because we are still trying to identify who Brett Meyer might actually be. Nobody knows who this man of mystery is.

My opinion? What follows is conjecture at this point, but it is where all of the evidence is now pointing. Sho Tay, or someone close to him, wrote the piece, and he posted it under the name of Scott Hettrick because he thought this would lend it some credibility. Obviously Sho felt it did need a credibility boost, and for once he is right. And if true, it was obviously a very creeped out thing for him to do.

After Hettrick was contacted in Omaha about the smear piece and cried foul, Sho Tay then claimed the site had been hacked, but strangely enough left the offending piece up anyway just in case someone in town did write it. Or so he claims. Sho also left Hettrick's name there for all to see, along a very odd explanation for having done so.

Now Sho Tay is claiming an as yet unidentified "Brett Meyer" wrote the hit piece, but nobody knows who this guy is. Nor has evidence of his existence been found so far in any of the usual places.

You do realize that Sho Tay is about to become the next Mayor of Arcadia, right? I pity the peacocks.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com