Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chandopoly: The Committee to Oppose Roger Chandler

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

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

He's a sell out, plain and clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- The Mansionization of Arcadia.

- $130 million unfunded pension liability.

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

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

- Votes to revoke tree preservation.

- Votes for cell towers in residential neighborhoods.

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

Dump the chump. Save the town.

Monday, March 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Arcadia City Charter Section 905 provides, in pertinent part:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Shocking Video Footage Of Somebody Stealing Andy Bencosme Lawn Signs In ... Arcadia?

Click here for video.

You can see this clip on Andy Bencosme's campaign for Sierra Madre City Council Facebook page if you are registered there as a "friend." Otherwise you're blocked from viewing it. So much for transparency. But thanks to an attentive and thoughtful reader of your friendly neighborhood Tattler, you will now be able to check out this lurid example of unconscionable political crime right here. Be still our troubled hearts.

What you are looking at is a home security video of an individual swiping a couple of Andy Bencosme for City Council yard signs from somebody's front yard. This is, of course, behavior that is frowned upon as an election tactic, and should you get caught doing such an awful thing you could find yourself in considerable hot water with local law enforcement. Plus it makes you look like an idiot.

There is another problem here, however. It appears that this video was filmed in Arcadia. The place you are looking at is located at the rather busy intersection of Arbolada Drive and Foothill Boulevard, a little bit to the south of the city where we believe Andy thinks he is running for City Council.

Andy's Arbolada signs are now back up. 
This is yet one more troubling instance helping to create the unfortunate impression that our Mr. Bencosme is confused about where he is campaigning. We can now add this to those other Arcadia related anomalies we have discussed before.

Here is that list:

1) Andy held his campaign kickoff event at the headquarters of the Arcadia Association of Realtors in Arcadia.

2) His yard signs have been spotted at various Arcadia locations.

3) His campaign mailings are postmarked in Arcadia, and apparently use a stamp number registered to the Arcadia Association of Realtors. Which hopefully has been reported as an in kind campaign contribution to Andy.

What we could be looking at here is a City Council campaign with identity issues.

This raises another question. Is it illegal to swipe campaign yard signs if they are planted in the wrong city? I mean, what law enforcement agency would you call in a situation like this? The Sierra Madre Police Department, or their equally fine equivalents over in Arcadia? Would you be breaking any laws then? How would you explain your concern to the police dispatcher?

There is also the unhappy implication being made on the Andy for City Council Facebook page that this theft was an act committed by somebody from the campaign of a rival candidate in Sierra Madre. Like maybe this was done by a rabid Gene Goss fan or something. It is an unfair accusation.

In reality this might have just been some overly fastidious individual in Arcadia upset about the presence of lawn signs that shouldn't have been in his city in the first place.

More on this controversy should additional information arrive.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Return of the Arcadian's Rights Protection Association

It just wouldn’t be an Arcadia City Council campaign if there wasn’t a poorly designed campaign mailer sent out by the out of town Arcadian’s Rights Protection Association (ARPA). For those of you not familiar with this non-influential group, this was the committee that sent out the hit piece against candidate for Arcadia City Council April Verlato in 2016.

Here on the left of this page is their politically ineffectual and rather lurid artistry. Just in case you have forgotten what dumb looks like.

It seems that the ARPAs are now back for Round 2, but they're trying a completely different tact as their 2016 graphic masterpieces didn’t get Harbicht elected. April Verlato was successfully voted onto the City Council while Bulldozer Bobby suffered an extremely embarrassing defeat. One that he is still whining about, and blaming everyone but himself.

Now it is 2018, and their chosen target this time is the mild mannered and politically positive Tom Beck, who is currently on the City Council and running for re-election. They are also targeting any candidate that dares to run against the timeless Roger Chandler, who has been sitting on the City Council since back when Fred Flintstone was still in diapers.

These mailers went out to a select group of residents last week. I've posted a portion of one on the left here for you to appreciate. If you feel that they might be targeting a specific demographic, you could be right. I had a hard time deciphering this mailer myself, but luckily I had a well educated friend translate it for me. You can guess the gist of it:  Beck – evil, Harbicht – good.  Joyce Platt and Jolly Wu-evil, Roger Chandler-good. Highly primitive political palaver especially prepared for the unsophisticated voter.

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

When checking out their website, you will find that the group seems to think property values in Temple City are doing much better than in Arcadia, and that’s a reason to get rid of the laws limiting development in Arcadia. Too bad, Temple City has a FAR that’s 35%, while Arcadia has a FAR that’s 45%. Kinda makes an argument for more restrictive development, right? Guess no one bothered to look up what the development laws were in Temple City before writing up the website, or maybe they just don’t care.

In ARPAstan you just don't let the facts get in the way of your argument. Even if you understand them.

Karfeldt Su, an attorney with an office in the City of Industry, claims to be the person in charge of the ARPA on the paperwork filed with the City Clerk of Arcadia. He’s not registered to vote in Arcadia and likely doesn't even live in town. He seems to have an awful grudge against pro-preservation candidates in a city where he doesn’t vote.

You have to wonder what is in it for him. Well, OK. Maybe you don't.

ARPA fibbing
In 2016, this group was fined $868.00 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to disclose where the money came from for the mailer against now Councilwoman Verlato.  Maybe we’re going to get a sequel and another FPPC investigation as the Arcadian’s Rights Protection Association has again failed to provide the required filings.

Of course, Bulldozer Bobby and the Artful Roger deny any knowledge of these shenanigans. But they aren't asking ARPA to stop their nonsense, either. They're much much too busy endlessly whining about how unfair everybody else is being to them.

The eternal Roger Chandler is showing his true stripes with the selection of his campaign manager, Tommy Thai. Roger's too slick sidekick is hoping that the Artful Roger keeps his seat on council. Why would Tommy Thai be so committed to Roger?

As was previously revealed by The Tattler, Tommy Thai works for Tom "Badda-BingCrosby, the owner/broker of Coldwell Banker/George Realty on the corner of Huntington and Baldwin in Arcadia. Huge office. Lots of non-salaried real estate agents. Lots of commissions on all of those homes being bought and sold.

But that’s not it. A video on YouTube was unearthed by The Tattler's eagle-eyed investigative team and I am posting it here. This video features none other than Tom Crosby, the same owner/broker of Coldwell Banker/George Realty. And it shows him blandly confessing that he no longer represents seller and buyers of homes, but rather he has gone into the lucrative business of development. Makes sense. That’s where the badda-big money is in Arcadia.

View Crosby here.

But wait, there's more. Crosby is the same gent who is now suing the City of Arcadia over its denial of a permit to build a circular driveway for his new 6,000 square foot McMansion. So, Chandler’s campaign manager works for the guy suing the city? The one that Chandler sits in closed session discussing Arcadia's litigation strategies? You know, like how they're going to defend the taxpayer's money against Crosby's lawsuit over a vanity driveway?

Chandler can’t discuss this with his campaign manager as it would surely get back to his employer what the City of Arcadia is planning to do and what they think their chances are. Strange, right?

When is someone going to ask the City Attorney about this lurid example of a conflict of interest? How can this in any way be legal?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Andy Bencosme's Campaign Mailer Was Postmarked In Arcadia? Of Course It Was!

OK, you know what they say, right? Three strikes and you're out. Though it certainly doesn't seem like there is really going to be any limitation to all this whiffing since we still have nearly a full month of spring training to go until election day.

As we have most faithfully recounted here before, Andy Bencosme held his campaign kickoff event in Arcadia. He has also planted a bunch of his lawn signs in Arcadia, even though nobody there will be able to vote for him. And now he is mailing his campaign stuff from Arcadia as well? This has become quite a pattern .

Remember, Andy is also a two time president of the Arcadia Association of Realtors. An organization that spent $10s of thousands of dollars a few years back advocating for sky high stack and pack development in certain downtown Sierra Madre areas.

Measure V exists because of the Arcadia Association of Realtors. That is what it took to fend them off. It is also likely why they're running one of their top executive officers in Sierra Madre today.

So I guess that's four strikes. I'm starting to run out of fingers.

Is there anyone here who has not seen the movie "The Manchurian Candidate?" Sierra Madre apparently now has "The Arcadian Candidate." Bring on the McMansions, stop lights, and traffic jams all of the way up Baldwin Avenue.

I'm not sure there are many Arcadia categories left for Andy to take advantage of. Of course, there is always Monrovia, where he used to live. That is, until he decided to run for office here.

Preserve Sierra Madre Email Blast On The Sierra Madre City Council Election

Dear Supporters:

The City Council election coming up on April 10th is a crucial election to the future of Sierra Madre and Preserve Sierra Madre has endorsed the three incumbent candidates, Rachelle Arizmendi, Denise Delmar and Gene Goss.

While much has been accomplished, profit seeking out-of-town developers have not gone away, those who wish to turn the Monastery grounds into one of the largest housing projects that Sierra Madre has seen in decades are eagerly waiting for the water meter moratorium to be lifted, historically significant homes can face the wrecking ball like what happened to the Henry A. Darling house and the pressure to demolish character homes to be replaced by 2-story McMansions squeezed onto a smaller lot is never a distant challenge despite the rules on the books.

We hope that the candidates we are supporting will not succumb to the temptations and pressures from these directions once elected to office and continue to be worthy of our endorsement as they discharge their duties in office and represent the people who elected them.

Provided below are the website addresses and email addresses for the candidates Preserve Sierra Madre is endorsing.  They need support to run a successful campaign for re-election. We encourage you to provide them with that support. Because there is usually a limit to everyone's means, we also encourage you to reach out to the various candidates before offering your support and inquire about the issues most important to you.

We know the core mission of Preserve Sierra Madre and that has not changed over the years. In brief, we want to protect and preserve this "Village of the Foothills" and maintain the quality of life of its residents so that they are not subjected to excessive traffic, pollution, overcrowding, downtown parking meters, depletion of our water supply, and lack of open space.

We also want our residents and our children at some time in the future to be able to drive through the city where they once lived and grew up and actually recognize the neighborhood where they played and perhaps even see the house still standing where they once lived. We only have to look to nearby Arcadia to see the effects of unmitigated and uncontrolled development.

With that being said and with easy links to contact the three candidates we are supporting, here is their information:

Rachelle Arizmendi

Denise Delmar

Gene Goss

These candidates will appreciate your questions and support, and we're sure they will be forthcoming and transparent in their answers.

As always, Preserve Sierra Madre values your support of our coalition. Together, we can make a difference and we have that opportunity right now with this important City Council election.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre 

Mod: As far as I can tell, none of the candidates Preserve Sierra Madre is supporting have campaigned in Arcadia yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pasadena Black Pages: Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez Resigns Under Fire

Hanging up his Junta Hat.
Mod: For my money Pasadena is by far the most debauched city in this stretch of the San Gabriel Valley. And certainly in the thick of all that difficulty is the woefully administered Pasadena Police Department. Hopefully with this week's sudden resignation of PPD Chief Phillip Sanchez things will now begin to improve. But don't hold your breath. Today's double helping of coverage comes to us from Pasadena Black Pages, a news site that was first when it came to reporting on some of the things deeply troubling The Rotten Rose.

Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez Resigns Under Fire (Pasadena Black Pages link): The City of Pasadena was caught a little off guard this week when a letter of resignation suddenly showed up from Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. The chief has been under scrutiny during the past couple of months since two of his officers badly beat Chris Ballew (link).

This incident took place while plenty of the residents still had a bad taste in their mouths after prior incidents like when the PPD beat and killed Reginald Thomas in late 2016 (link). Shortly after that incident, a high ranking officer's home was raided by the ATF and over 100 guns and other armaments were confiscated (link).

In February 2018, that same officer was indicted by the United States Government for the illegal selling of firearms. Just last week the news came out that another Pasadena officer is being investigated by the Feds for the same crime. Shortly after that, a video came out of one of the PPD officers involved in the Reginald Thomas incident refusing to answer any questions about the night they murdered Thomas (link).

“The decision to step away from serving my community is a difficult one which took much deliberation and careful thought. For the past eight years, I have had the honor of leading one of the nation’s finest law enforcement agencies, comprised of heroic men and women who serve with distinction in keeping our city safe. Putting on the Pasadena police uniform every day has truly been a humbling experience,” Chief Phillip Sanchez said in a statement released by the Pasadena Police Department.

Last week after a District 3 meeting where Pasadena Vice-Mayor John Kennedy and citizens expressed outrage at how things have been going with the police force, Chief Sanchez suspended the officers involved in the Chris Ballew incident, but he didn't fire them, leading to a lot of additional scrutiny (link).

Perhaps he couldn't take the heat anymore and now he wants to turn his badge in. Who knows? But in the bigger picture don't be surprised if Sanchez indicted in the next few months. So much shady business has been going on in the Pasadena Police Department for so long, people are going to cooperate with the Feds to save themselves.

Perhaps Sanchez didn't just step down because he's tired of hearing what the people are having to say, maybe the Feds are in his rearview mirror now.

Could Indicted Pasadena Police Lt. Gourdikian Be A Reason For There Being So Many Guns On The Streets? (Pasadena Black Pages link): I was driving home from the Pasadena High School CIF basketball championship games, which the Bulldogs unfortunately lost, to the sound of a helicopter hovering over my neighborhood.

After about twenty minutes I drove around the corner to the sight of police lights and caution tape. When I got there an independent videographer was on the scene and explained that someone had been shot. My interest was sparked because I knew the owner of the apartment, and my concern was for him. I made a few calls and found out that he was okay and the residences of the complex only heard the shots. By the time they came out the 39-year-old, ex-Pasadena resident (who now lives in Las Vegas), who had been shot was on lying the ground alone. Seeing the crime scene make me wonder if indicted Pasadena Police Lt. Gourdikian had anything to do with the gun used in this incident.

In 2016 over 270 guns were confiscated in the City of Pasadena, and that doesn't include the over 100 guns now indicted Pasadena Police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian had stashed away in his Sierra Madre home. Around 250 of the guns were found in Northwest Pasadena. That is way too many guns to be in one community, especially when you think about how many of the guns that haven't been confiscated.

We are necessarily concerned about gang violence and shootings. The Pasadena Police would like to make the people of this community believe that the gang problem is very intense in this city, but that's not necessarily the case. The gang shootings in December 2016 and January 2017 were aberrations, not the norm. But the fact that so many people have illegal guns is a problem. That we don't know yet if Lt. Gourdikian was selling illegally to the residents there is also a concern.

We do know for a fact that he is under fire for selling guns illegally, according to his federal indictment. While Gourdikian was being investigated by the Feds, 8 men from Pasadena were coincidentally targeted and caught by the Pasadena Police heading to Duarte with over a dozen guns, allegedly to retaliate for the three killings.

There is a possibility that the PPD has directly had their hand in a lot of violence in the city by playing both sides of the fence. If you make sure guns are on the streets, and you know where they are, you can make it seem like work is being done. But is this really just camouflage to keep the numbers right?

The fact that Lt. Gourdikian was on paid leave after Pasadena Police Cheif Sanchez said he would deal with this differently, speaks volumes. They will always protect their own no matter what the circumstances.

Mod: For the Transparent California numbers on former Chief Sanchez click here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gran In A Can: Andy Bencosme Embraces Cargotecture

This very afternoon Sierra Madre City Council candidate Andy Bencosme will be holding a campaign event in Sierra Madre. This in itself is notable since his quixotic effort to achieve elective office in the Foothill Village began with a campaign kickoff in Arcadia. Plus I think he planted some of his lawn signs there as well.

I know, I've mentioned that before. But it is nice that he has finally found his way home. Many were concerned. Now if he would just hold them when people aren't at work.

If you go to Andy's campaign Facebook page (link), you will notice that his event at 4PM today has been built around a discussion he is calling "Business Spotlight on Kubed Living." Or "Cargotecture," if you prefer something slightly more well known.

Apparently there is a business in town that advocates for (and coincidentally sells) homes made out of metal shipping containers. You know, the kind they put on those big cargo ships in Long Beach and send to Asia where they are then filled up with sporks, transmission fluid and replacement parts for dishwashers. Among other useful things.

According to Facebook nine people are planning to attend this event so far, and another five claim to be interested, though maybe not quite enough to actually go. So there should be plenty of room if you wish to take part.

Putting aside any discussion of societal decline and depressed community standards for today, what is Cargotecture, and why would this appeal to Andy? I thought we should give this a moment or two of consideration. After all, this guy could be running the city soon. You need to know what he thinks might a good idea for this town.

Back in 2011, when Cargotecture had first become a hot topic, the celebrated website Fine Homebuilding posted the following article. You can link to it here.

Homeward bound.
Cargotecture: Would You Live in a Metal Box? Cargotecture, a term that was apparently coined some years ago by Robert Humble and Joel Egan over at, refers to homes that are made out of shipping containers. 

I’m sure you’ve seen a few of these projects, but have you ever considered them to be a viable building option? I’ve been stumbling upon more and more of these homes lately, and so I’ve been wondering: Do shipping containers make great homes, or are they just weird? I’ve decided my answer is … yes. 

Yes, I think they make good homes, and yes they are rather weird and unconventional, which is a major part of their allure for me. To me, living in a converted metal shipping container demonstrates an open mindedness and a sense of creativity that seems to be severely lacking in a lot of homes. While shipping containers can be used to build larger homes, they seem like a great way to build an affordable, small home.

Of course, I’ve got questions. I wonder what my local building department would say of a plan to build with shipping containers (or how quickly they’d put the brakes on my project). I wonder what electrical and plumbing rough-in would be like. I also wonder if I have the design sense to make a shipping container look, feel and function like a real home, and not like some metal box that was plopped behind a mailbox. 

Yeah, that would be a problem. Personally, I'd be very interested to hear what the Planning Commission might have to say about this. I think any applicant should anticipate some questions.

The Sierra Madre entrepreneurs advocating for Cargotecture locally call their outfit Kubed Living, and they have a website that you can look over by clicking here. They have posted some conceptual pictures of what these wickiups might look like, and they do seem interesting and easy on the eyes. Here are a couple.

That could dress up your backyard, I guess. I suppose they do look like a nice enough place to stash your mother-in-law. The aforementioned "Gran in a Can." Or maybe that special kid who decided he'd prefer to spend his life cultivating a weed habit rather than getting a job, or giving you grandkids.

But you know what? This being the real world and all, and taking into account that a lot of people don't really care that much about what the place they're living in looks like, how can you be sure you won't end up with do-it-yourselfer neighbors living in something that looks like this instead?

OK, who knows, right? Maybe it would look better with a Century 21 sign out front. And so you know, someday SCAG will probably force Sierra Madre to actually build some authentic low income RHNA housing. Like right after they have sent in the National Guard. So perhaps filling up a couple of lots with shipping containers will actually get them off of everybody's backs.

After all, there are a lot of available homeless people in LA County looking for city funded housing to go to. Maybe they actually could come and live somewhere around here. In Cargo Madre.

We could call that neighborhood Andyville.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Arcadia City Council Districting Election Process: Was It Really Just About Mansionization All Along?

I find it quite curious that back in July 2017, the City of Arcadia was facing a rather rancorous lawsuit over the lack of Asian representation on its City Council. Yet today the remedy is having very little effect, and some of those it was supposed to benefit are behaving in the strangest manner. I'm not sure anyone would have seen this coming.

City Council Candidate Jolly Wu
In a report by KPCC on July 31, 2017 titled "Arcadia among latest to switch to council district elections but not everyone's happy" (link), a resident of Arcadia expressed his disappointment with the ethnic make-up of the Arcadia City Council:

At a busy Chinese restaurant in Arcadia last week, Zig Jiang ordered dim sum and talked about the change coming to the council elections. It was a Chinese-American organization he belongs to that first threatened to sue the city.

Jiang said there’s a similarity between politics and food — what you know is often tied to your culture. "Just like eating Chinese food. Only Chinese know how to eat their own food," he said. Jiang feels the same way about Arcadia’s City Council.

"More Asians to be elected they'll be good because they know what we think," Jiang said. Although Arcadia's population is about 60 percent Asian, only one member of the council, Sho Tay, is Asian. Jiang wants to see more Asians elected to the council.

But this certainly wasn’t the first time that the issue of a lack of Asian representation on Arcadia’s City Council had been raised. This from nearly eight years ago:

Los Angeles Daily News, April 18, 2010: "Arcadia City Council loses its diversity" (link): Realtor Lawrena Chang admits she’s disappointed. Not one of the three Chinese-American candidates she voted for garnered enough votes to win one of the three open City Council seats in Tuesday’s election. With the departure of Mayor John Wuo, who was the second Chinese-American to be elected to the council, the ethnically mixed city is reverting to an all Caucasian council for the first time in 12 years.

“They are the same race. They know what we need more,” Chang said of the Chinese-American candidates she voted for while having dinner at Arcadia Garden Cafe this week. “They understand us more. I think it’s important.”

Businessman Sho Tay, Attorney Paul P. Cheng and Attorney Jason J. Lee were defeated this week by three familiar faces; Councilman Bob Harbicht, who will be serving a fifth four-year term, former councilman Mickey Segal, who will be serving his third term, and Councilman Peter Amundson, who is serving his second.

This will also be the third term in a row that the council will not include a woman.

Having read all that, wouldn't you think that the first Chinese-American woman running for an Arcadia City Council seat would be a cause for some celebration, and that the Asian community would rally together and get her elected? Jolly Wu, who is running for City Council in District 5, would certainly be just that candidate. But sadly this does not appear to be the case, at least so far.

The Chinese media, along with the Mayor ProTem, Sho Tay, seem to have blinders on and are doing the very opposite of what they had proclaimed was the purpose of districting. They are supporting the very same old, omnipresent white guys they once hoped to replace by going to this more geographically diverse form of representation.

In the World Journal: "Arcadia Council Election, Asians Do Not Be 'Unknown'" (link), written by Zhang Hong on March 01, 2018, the reporter doesn’t even mention that Candidate Jolly Wu is running against the old school incumbent, Roger Chandler. The entire article is about how Asians need to vote for career perpetual politician Chandler, the candidate they now claim will be the best representative for the Asian community in Arcadia.

In an especially mean-spirited diatribe appearing in a recent edition of the Chinese News USA, titled: "Residents In Arcadia Issued An Appeal Calling For Support For Bob Harbicht and Roger Chandler" (link), Jolly Wu is called "a banana," a derogatory term used to mean that she is "yellow on the outside, but white on the inside." In this classic example of reverse race-baiting, they portray her as a sell out to whites. The article also claims she is a plant by City Councilmembers April Verlato and Tom Beck meant to split the Chinese vote.

So much for bringing all of the people of Arcadia together.

Recently a Chinese language mailer was sent out in District 5 to residents with Asian surnames only. In this bizarre political hit piece Jolly Wu is described as being selfish because she somehow kicked all of the students off the Dial-A-Ride so she could have it to herself. This because she is "guilty" of being in a wheelchair.

This accusation is patently untrue. Ironically, and as reported on January 24, 2016 in the Pasadena Star News: "Arcadia students use of city’s Dial-A-Ride leaving seniors stranded" (link), it was Roger Chandler himself who said that kids need to be prevented from using the Dial-A-Ride. Jolly Wu wasn’t present at the meeting where this decision was made, nor did she have a City Council vote to make it happen.

 “This was never intended as a school bus service and it’s clearly outside of the regulations for receiving the funds,” Councilman Roger Chandler told the Star-News. “Quite frankly, I suppose if we were audited, we would get nicked."

From everything that I have seen and read about Jolly Wu, she seems like a pleasant, intelligent and highly qualified candidate for Arcadia City Council. I have spoken with her at length on the phone, and I came away from our conversations being very impressed by the depth of her knowledge and passion for Arcadia.

In 2001, Jolly was able to raise $1 million dollars for the LA County Arboretum towards making it more handicapped accessible. It is extremely difficult to believe that so committed a person would be, in 2018, grotesquely attacked over her disability.

It would seem intuitive that the Chinese community in Arcadia would fully support so productive a member of society. So why such mean words in the Chinese language media? Why is Sho Tay backing Roger Chandler over the only Asian candidate running for a seat on Arcadia’s City Council this year? Especially when he had been so adamant about proclaiming a need for districting?

Maybe you, our kind and often indulgent readers, can help answer these perplexing questions?

More: At the last Arcadia City Council meeting The Tattler was treated like a celebrity. We were mentioned several times by the speakers during public comment, which is always nice. Thank you to all the readers who have made The Tattler such a hit in Arcadia.

I have always believed that criticism from those with opposing viewpoints means that we are on the right track. Exposing the truth can get messy, you know. And look, if somehow we've harshed on your mellow and upset you, please, kindly remember the Tattler motto: “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

In other words, you should go and get your news elsewhere.

One more item. Anyone wishing to find out more information about the candidacy of Jolly Wu can visit her website at

Sunday, March 11, 2018

BBC News Tells All: The Stormy Daniels - Donald Trump story explained

Mod: There is quite a bit in the news lately about Donald Trump's tryst with porn star Stormy Daniels. An affair that took place right around the time Trump's third wife had just given birth to the happy dad's fifth child, it is a story that won't be going away anytime soon. Here is what you need to know.

The Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump story explained (BBC News link): Adult film star Stormy Daniels is suing President Donald Trump over a so-called "hush agreement". Daniels claims she and Mr. Trump had an affair starting in 2006, but he denies the allegations. So why is this story important? And what do you need to know?

Who is Stormy Daniels? Stormy Daniels was born Stephanie Clifford in Louisiana in 1979. She moved into the adult film industry first as a performer, before in 2004 branching out into directing and also writing.

Grammar Lady - Take note.
Her stage name, Stormy Daniels, comes from Mötley Crüe's bassist Nikki Sixx's daughter Storm, and the US whisky Jack Daniels - which southerner Ms. Clifford chose after reading an ad calling the drink "a Southern favourite".

You may also recognize her from such films The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and the music video for Maroon Five's song Wake Up CallAnything else? She also thought of running for a US Senate seat in Louisiana in 2010 but called off her run after she said her candidacy was not being taken seriously.

What does she allege? It all goes back to July 2006 - when the White House was merely a twinkle in Donald Trump's eye. Ms. Daniels says she met him that month at a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada.

In a 2011 interview with In Touch Weekly, published in full in January, she says Mr. Trump invited her to dinner and that she went to meet him in his hotel room. "He was all sprawled out on the couch, watching television or something," she said in the interview. "He was wearing pyjama pants."

Ms. Daniels alleges the pair had sex in the hotel room (Mr Trump's lawyer said he "vehemently denies" the allegation.) If Ms. Daniels' account is true, this would all have happened just four months after the birth of Mr. Trump's youngest child, Barron.

So what more has she said? Ms. Daniels said Mr. Trump suggested he could bring her on to his TV show The Apprentice.

She also recounts watching a shark documentary with the future president. Ms. Daniels says he's "terrified" of the animal and - look away, shark fans - he apparently told her "I hope all the sharks die."

She claims the pair kept speaking for years afterwards. Ms. Daniels said the last time they spoke was in 2010, around the time she called off her US Senate bid. However, rumors of the affair started to appear before the November 2016 presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal reported just days before the vote that Ms. Daniels had been in discussions with ABC's "Good Morning America" programme to tell all about the reported affair, before abruptly cutting off talks.

Why is the story in the news now? It's been building up for a few months and isn't going away.

In January, the Wall Street Journal published an article claiming President Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a $130,000 (£94,000) payment to Ms. Clifford in October 2016, one month before the election. The Journal said the money was part of a non-disclosure agreement with Ms. Clifford, which said she couldn't discuss the affair publicly. "These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election," a White House official said.

Mr. Cohen denied the payment. In a statement to the Journal, he called the allegations "outlandish", and said they'd been "consistently denied by all parties" for years. But in February he announced he had in fact paid Ms. Daniels the money.

In a statement to the New York Times, Mr. Cohen said neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump organization knew anything about the payment, which he had made from his own pocket. He says he wasn't repaid. "The payment to Ms. Daniels was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone."

Shortly after the Journal article, Ms. Daniels launched her "Make America Horny Again" tour at a South Carolina strip club on the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. The manager of the club, Jay Levy, said he had booked her the day after the Wall Street Journal article about the $130,000 payment. A leaflet for the launch poked fun of the alleged affair. "He saw her live," the flier said. "You can too!"

What's the latest news? Ms. Daniels on Tuesday said she was suing Mr. Trump, claiming he didn't sign the non-disclosure deal, or "hush agreement". Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted about the lawsuit with a link to the documents filed in a California court.

The next day, reports surfaced saying President Trump had won a restraining order against Ms. Daniels in February. The order, won in private arbitration proceedings, reportedly stopped her from sharing "confidential information" about their alleged relationship.

"This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that, I would refer you to the president's outside counsel," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Wednesday. Ms. Daniels' lawyer called the White House comments "ludicrous".

CNN reported on Thursday that President Trump was upset with Ms. Sanders for the comments, as it was the first time anyone from the White House had indicated that Mr. Trump was in any way involved with Ms. Daniels.

What's been the reaction? South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford is one of the few Republicans to comment. He told the Washington Post the claims are "deeply troubling".

"If it was a Democratic president and hush money had been paid in the campaign, would there be a series of hearings going on?" Mr. Sanford asked. "I think you could probably point to a fair number of indicators that suggest there would be."

Democrats Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice, representatives for California and New York respectively, asked the FBI to investigate Mr. Cohen's payment to Ms. Daniels.

The Daniels-Trump debacle has also trickled down to a rather more local level. In Utah, Republican representative Mike Noel introduced a bill to rename a road to Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway. But Democrat state senator Jim Dabakis told local press that if the bill makes it to the upper house, he would propose a change to rename an adjoining road the Stormy Daniels Rampway.

What could it mean for President Trump? The allegations surfaced at a tricky time for White House officials, and don't appear to be going away. As well as the ongoing investigation into possible collusion with Russia, more and more of Mr. Trump's staff have left or are under scrutiny.

The last thing the White House needs is another scandal to respond to. It's also raised the spectre of a former president. Remember that Bill Clinton faced impeachment proceedings after lying about his affair with staffer Monica Lewinsky. Lanny Davis, a lawyer who served as special counsel to President Clinton, on Wednesday accused Republicans of "utter hypocrisy" for the way they're treating Mr. Trump compared with how they treated Mr. Clinton.

David Dennison’s depravity is exposed in Trump’s lies about Stormy Daniels (New York Daily News link): Donald Trump almost certainly had an affair with an adult-film star while his wife raised their young son back home — and scandalously, that’s not the real scandal involving Stormy Daniels.

More troubling for the 323 million of us who count on Trump not as a spouse but as President are detailed allegations from Daniels that Trump was fully aware of, in fact instigated, a secret $130,000 payment made via his lawyer to Daniels on the brink of his 2016 election to buy her silence about their relationship.

The positively pornographic claims surface in a lawsuit that Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles. It seeks to void a nondisclosure agreement that stopped her from spilling to the media, on the grounds that while Daniels signed, as “Peggy Peterson,” a signature from the other party, “David Dennison,” whom Daniels says is actually Trump, is missing.

Yep: The mistress, who signed the agreement not under her fake porn name but under another pseudonym, is fighting in court with the marital cheater to void his hush money agreement because he didn’t sign it under his own pseudonym. At least life in Trump’s America is entertaining.

And maybe entertainingly illegal. If Dennison is Trump, which the record leaves virtually no doubt he is, the cash to Daniels — the agreement arranges for payment wired “on or before 1600 hours PST on 10/27/16” — is an expense plainly related to his presidential candidacy and, tawdry as it is, the public’s business. By law.

Stormy Daniels lawyer: People have offered to pay $1 million penalty for her to speak out (The Hill link): Adult-film star Stormy Daniels’s lawyer said on Saturday that at least 10 people have offered to cover the $1 million penalty she would be subject to for breaking her nondisclosure agreement regarding her alleged affair with President TrumpDaniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that no California court would enforce the $1 million penalty for “every episode that she goes out and speaks in violation of the confidentiality.”

Asked if anyone has offered to pay her penalty to allow her to tell her story, Avenatti said “at least 10 individuals in the last three days alone” have offered. He noted that Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is not considering any of the offers at the moment.