Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pasadena Independent: Brutal Beating Of Ballew Sears Itself Into History As Pasadena’s ‘Rodney King Moment’

Pasadena City Council meeting video footage here.
Mod: The press on this story continues to grow. Still no word on how the City of Pasadena plans to handle it, which could be why many there are now taking things into their own hands.

Brutal Beating Of Ballew Sears Itself Into History As Pasadena’s ‘Rodney King Moment’ (Pasadena Independent link): Dozens of enraged citizens recently packed the city council chambers as the outrage over a video showing 21-year-old Chris Ballew brutally beaten by Pasadena police came to a vicious boil.

The footage, captured on Nov. 9, 2017 at an Altadena gas station, shows officers Larry Esparza and Zachary Lujan quickly escalating a questionable traffic stop into a brutal beatdown in which Ballew was repeatedly punched, slammed to the concrete pavement, and hammered so ruthlessly with a baton that the weapon was seen visibly bent and unable to be sheathed at the conclusion of one the body-cam videos.

Ballew, who was himself seated in the second row of the audience during council’s first meeting of the year, was approached by Pasadena police as he was walking to the gas station mini-mart for having tinted windows and no front license plate on his white Mercedes-Benz.

The inhumane treatment that followed and allegedly resulted in a broken leg for the 21-year-old, is currently under investigation. Ballew also reportedly lost his work as an assistant director at a marketing firm following the incident. The two officers involved remain on the job.

Chief Junta Hat gets the raspberries.
For almost two hours emotions ran high as representatives from various organizations, including the NAACP, ACLU, Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Violence, San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance, Black Lives Matter, and more called for justice during the council meeting’s public comment portion.

It must have seemed like déjà vu for many local activists in attendance, as many of the same faces crammed into the council chambers just over a year ago, in October 2016, following the controversial in-custody death of Reginald Thomas – an African-American male who died following a struggle with Pasadena PD, in which he was tased three times. The coroner’s report and investigation report for this case have yet to be released.

Four years prior, in 2012, 19-year-old Kendrec Mcdade, unarmed with no prior criminal record, was slain by Pasadena police in a hail of bullets – a shooting that was ultimately deemed to be justified, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Unlike McDade and Thomas, Ballew was able to walk away from the incident with his life, yet the barbaric footage, which quickly went viral, has proved to be a third strike for the Pasadena Police Department in the eyes of the citizens they are sworn to protect.

Rodney King haunts this city now, as we relive another black man lying on the ground beaten by police,” proclaimed local civil rights attorney Dale Gronemeier.

Tensions inside the chambers ran high and the comments ranged from calm requests, to assertive demands. Some members of the community pleaded with the council to take action, implement an independent investigation, and remove officers Esparza and Lujan from the streets.

Others attacked Pasadena police and Chief Philip Sanchez with profanity-laden tirades, essentially accusing the department of institutional racism and of resembling a militarized, occupying force.

But, the most moving request of the evening came from the victim’s mother, who calmly asked for a public, written apology.

City Manager Steve Mermell, in tandem with some representatives from the Pasadena Police Officers Association and Council Member Victor Gordo, urged the public to respect due process – all were met with substantial heckling and “boo’s” from the crowd.

Mod: The rest of the article can be viewed at the link provided above. Below are some details on a series of demonstrations taking place this evening and tomorrow.


Monday, January 15, 2018

CNN: Mark Zuckerberg is fighting to save Facebook

Russian origin paid Facebook ad (2016).
Mod: It seems that Facebook is in tr

Hhouble. Hard to believe when you consider the couple of billion hits it gets every month, but apparently that is the case. There is a lot of lofty language describing its problems, but foremost of those could be that much of what you see there is crap. Or even malevolent state promoted propaganda, such as we saw in the last election (example to the left.) That does not prevent Facebook  from being the most used and abused on-line entity in the world today. But when did such popularity ever mean something was actually any good?

Mark Zuckerberg is fighting to save Facebook (CNN link): If there's one thing Mark Zuckerberg has consistently excelled at as Facebook's CEO, it's destroying his enemies.

When Google (GOOGL) launched Google Plus, a rival social network, Zuckerberg put Facebook (FB) in a state of "lockdown" and informed employees that "Carthage must be destroyed," according to one tell-all book from a former employee.

After Snapchat (SNAP) began gaining traction several years ago, Zuckerberg tried to buy the company and, failing that, pushed out a long list of features and new apps to clone the disappearing messaging app.

Google Plus is no longer viewed as a threat to Facebook. Snapchat is struggling to grow its audience. Now, Zuckerberg is turning his focus to a new enemy: Facebook itself.

On Thursday, Facebook announced a major change to News Feed, its central feature, to prioritize posts from friends and family over posts from publishers and brands.

The goal, according to Zuckerberg and Facebook, is to boost the "well-being" of the billions of people who use the social network by encouraging users to have more conversations and connections with peers, rather than being bombarded by brands.

In short, Facebook wants to show the world that it can still be a positive force in peoples' lives -- or at least show that it's really, truly trying to be.

Since the 2016 U.S. election, Facebook has come under fire for stories about fake news, Russian propaganda, filter bubbles and social media addiction. Facebook has also been described as enabling ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and Facebook's WhatsApp was cited as a cause of beatings in India after a fake news story went viral.

Suddenly, the most existential threat Zuckerberg faces isn't some rival service. It's his own.

The media is increasingly fixated on the dark, unintended consequences of Facebook and other social networks. Regulators are scrutinizing the company more than ever before. Former Facebook executives have spoken out to express regret about what they built. And so has Zuckerberg.

"For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post for Yom Kippur in September.

"Controlling the narrative at this juncture is critical, particularly when it comes to the press and regulators," James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt, wrote in an investor note Friday morning about the News Feed change.

Facebook to show more content from friends, less from publishers and brands (CNN link): Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to devote 2018 to "fixing" Facebook. Now the Facebook CEO is kicking off the effort with a move he says is intended to boost the well-being of users, possibly at the expense of the well-being of publishers and other businesses.

Facebook (FB) said late Thursday it is changing the News Feed to prioritize posts from friends, family members and groups over posts from publishers and brands.

The company will elevate posts that ignite conversations and meaningful interactions between friends while demoting the many videos, news stories and business posts that users consume passively -- without commenting and sharing.

In an exclusive video interview with CNN Tech's Laurie Segall, Facebook VP Adam Mosseri described the move as a "rebalancing" of how Facebook's algorithms rank items in the main feed.

"We think that we're currently slightly overvaluing how much time people spend on our platform and undervaluing how many meaningful interactions they have with other people," said Mosseri, who oversees News Feed.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said the change was informed by research that shows the "well-being" of users is better served by connecting with friends and family than by "passively reading articles or watching videos."

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," Zuckerberg said.

With more than two billion monthly users, any change Facebook makes can be a seismic event. This move, in particular, has the potential to rattle countless publishers and brands who rely on the social network to distribute and promote content.

Mosseri said Facebook will "continue to value publisher content." But the pressure will be on publishers and brands to create content that generates conversations if they want to improve their odds of being seen in News Feed.

Unsurprisingly, businesses may be able to sidestep this shift by putting money behind their content. Mosseri says the change "shouldn't affect ads in general" as this operates on a "separate system."

The announcement comes amid a broader shift at Facebook. It is, it says, focusing on the quality of connections and content on its platform after a bruising year of stories about fake news, foreign election meddling, filter bubbles and social media addiction.

Mod: In case you are wondering what one of the actual motivating factors in the changes described above might be, this following article ran on the Daily Beast news site last September.

30 Batsh*t Crazy, Mostly Racist Facebook Memes the Russians Used to Corrupt Your Mind (The Daily Beast link): Earlier this week, Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, revealed that Russia had “likely” used 470 deceptive accounts to buy about $100,000 worth of political advertising before and after the 2016 presidential election.

It was Facebook’s first public acknowledgment of the role it unwittingly played in the Kremlin’s “active measures” campaign to help elect Donald Trump. Based on the numbers, a Facebook marketing expert consulted by The Daily Beast says the Facebook run might have reached 70 million people.

The admission was a sharp turnaround for Facebook. As recently as July, the company was denying that it had evidence of Russian ad-buys, even though four months earlier the Russian news outlet RBC specifically identified one of the Facebook communities secretly run from Russia and promoted with paid Facebook ads.

That community, called SecuredBorders, positioned itself as the work of conservative Americans concerned about U.S. border security. In truth, according to RBC, it was operated by a notorious St. Petersburg troll factory called Internet Research Agency, which is financed by “a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence,” according to a public report by U.S. intelligence agencies (PDF).

Facebook finally closed down the page last month in its belated purge of Russian propaganda. By then SecuredBorders had 133,000 followers. So far, Facebook is refusing to release any of the posts and ads from Russia’s campaign, opting instead for this terse description: “The ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum—touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

Mod: The remainder of all three articles can be found at their respective links.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wall Street Journal: Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence

Mod: Just another day of bizarre revelations from the Donald Trump reality show. Or is it a four year comedy special? I am no longer quite sure. Put down your platinum golf clubs and pull up a chair. Today Rupert Murdoch's very own Wall Street Journal is on the witness stand.

Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence (The Wall Street Journal link): Agreement just before election required woman to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, people familiar with the matter say.

A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

Michael Cohen, who spent nearly a decade as a top attorney at the Trump Organization, arranged payment to the woman, Stephanie Clifford, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated the nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Cohen, these people said. Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has privately alleged the encounter with Mr. Trump took place after they met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament on the shore of Lake Tahoe, these people said. Mr. Trump married Melania Trump in 2005.

Mr. Trump faced other allegations during his campaign of inappropriate behavior with women, and vehemently denied them. In this matter, there is no allegation of a nonconsensual interaction.

Ms. Clifford has appeared in about 150 adult films, and was considered among the industry’s biggest stars when the then-27-year-old met Mr. Trump at the American Century Championship in 2006, held at Edgewood Tahoe golf course in Nevada.

Porn Star: Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels Invited Me to Their Hotel Room (The Daily Beast link): ‘I ended up with Donald in his hotel room. Picture him chasing me around his hotel room in his tighty-whities,’ Stormy Daniels told fellow porn star Alana Evans.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer for President Donald J. Trump, arranged a $130,000 hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels one month prior to the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Journal, the payment was made “as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.” Daniels (given name: Stephanie Clifford) had reportedly been in talks with both ABC’s Good Morning America about going public with the allegations.

The Daily Beast had also been in protracted talks with Daniels about arranging an interview after three sources—including fellow porn star Alana Evans—told The Daily Beast that Daniels and Trump were involved. She ultimately backed out on Nov. 3, just five days before the 2016 election.

Daniels’ story would have come on the heels of the porn star Jessica Drake coming forward in late October 2016 to accuse Trump of kissing her without consent and offering her $10,000 in exchange for sex in 2006. Then, on Nov. 4, 2016, the Journal unearthed documents revealing that the Trump-friendly rag National Enquirer had shelled out $150,000 to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal for a tell-all about her alleged 10-month affair with The Donald from 2006 to 2007. They never ran the piece.

If Drake and McDougal are to be believed, their encounters with Trump took place in the months after Melania gave birth to the Trumps’ youngest son, Barron, in 2006.

Report: Trump Lawyer Paid Off Porn Star To Keep Lid On Relationship (CBS News Los Angeles link): A report in the Wall Street Journal said President Trump’s longtime attorney paid a well-known porn star $130,000, to keep the lid on an alleged sexual encounter between the performer and the president in 2006.

Michael Cohen, the attorney, arranged the payment to Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, according to the newspaper. Daniels had been in talks to discuss Trump with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election when Cohen arranged the payment to her, according to the Journal.

The payment, the Journal reports, was made through Clifford’s attorney, Keith Davidson. Davidson declined to comment on the story, citing “attorney-client privilege.”

Daniels was one of the most popular porn stars in America when she met Trump in 2006 at a golf championship in Nevada. She was 27 at the time, and Trump would have just turned 60. He married Melania in 2005.

Daniels is no stranger to politics. In 2010. the self-described Republican said she was going to challenge incumbent Senator David Vitter.

Mod: The thing is, if it was only this story alone, think of what a big deal it would be. But with Donald Trump? Just another daily outrage from our crooked popular vote loser of a president. One that will quickly be replaced by another outrage, and then another. On and on it goes, like a bad TV show. So will he now be asked by that ethically pristine GOP Congressional leadership to resign? Of course not. And gosh, shame on you for asking.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Fox 'News' Fans React With Anti-American Glee To Fatal Mudslides In California

Video here.
Mod: The following upsetting report comes to us from a site much beloved here called "Crooks & Liars." It details how the viewers of a certain news network have reacted to word of the disasters here in California.

Fox 'News' Fans React With Anti-American Glee To Fatal Mudslides In CA (Crooks & Liars link): The response from Fox News fans to the deadly flooding and mudslides in California proves that this is a network for people who hate America. Today, FoxNews.com reported:

At least 13 people were killed Tuesday after a powerful winter storm drenching Southern California sent mud, rocks and debris plummeting down wildfire-scarred hillsides and into several neighborhoods, some of which house lavish celebrity homes. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown confirmed the deaths at a news conference Tuesday, in which he said the affected areas of the state "looked like a World War I battlefield."

Fox News also reported that more deaths are expected.That engendered hideous glee from a slew of readers who seem to have nothing but hate and hostility toward their country.

Watch the slide show of the devastation that accompanied Fox's article above and see just how full of hatred and devoid of humanity these Fox fans are.

Mod: Lovely people. And now a word from their leader. It starts with an "S".  
'There's no other word but racist': Trump's global rebuke for 'shithole' remark (The Guardian link): Donald Trump has been branded a shocking and shameful racist after it was credibly reported he had described African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many of their citizens had ever been permitted to enter AmericaUS diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock that such crude remarks could ever be made in a semi-public meeting by the president of America.

In a strongly-worded statement, the UN said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist, while the Vatican decried Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive.”

The 55-nation African Union said the remarks were “clearly racist”.

Trump initially allowed reported accounts of his comments to go unchallenged, but went into damage limitation mode on Friday, insisting he had not used derogatory words – but admitting that the language he had used at a meeting with Senators on immigration was “tough”.

But the democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was present at the meeting with Trump on Thursday – insisted that the reports were entirely accurate.

Mod: Such interesting times we live in.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Arcadia Shocker! Former Mayor Johnny Gem Coins decides not to run for City Council

John Wuo let the Tattler down.
Alas, the rumors going around town proclaiming that John Wuo was gearing up to run for City Council were not backed by any amber mines. This was disappointing. Think of all the fun we could have had with that.

Don't get me wrong, it is true that Johnny Gem Coins did actually pull papers to run for his old seat on the Arcadia City Council. However, at the time of this typing, which was also the filing deadline to run for a city office there, we were told that Steve Chen's former business partner, and alleged fellow exploiter of gullible immigrants just off the boat, did not file anything with City Hall and therefore will not be on the ballot.

Let me tell you, nobody feels more let down than the Sierra Madre Tattler. But there is a story here, nonetheless. Pull up a seat and let your old pal Uncle Eric tell you all about it. I certainly don't mind. This is my idea of a good time.

While John Wuo did pull papers to run for City Council, something that had sent shock waves through Arcadia's troubled political firmament, it never did quite seem authentic. Something was just not right. The reason being had Wuo run he would have been up against his old pal Roger Chandler. Roger being about as strong an argument for term limits as Arcadia has ever provided.

A look of gastrointestinal anguish?
As followers of Arcadia politics will surely tell you, Peacockia recently went from having City Council Folk that were all representatives of the entire town, to those who only run in specially designed and racially coherent subdistricts. Chandler and the celebrated former Mayor Gem Coins not only live in the same council district (#5), they're Grey Poupon swapping neighbors. And as devoted supporters of Mansionization, and therefore avid lip polishers to the boots 'n booties of even the most predatory of developers, it would make no sense for them to run against each other. They're 8,500 square foot no set backs buddies.

Why did Johnny Gem Coins head down to city hall and pull papers, only to decide at the last possible minute not to run? Here is where the irony starts to thicken. The reason Birdtown went to districting was to get more folks of Chinese ancestry to run for City Council. Continued round eye dominance of the municipal legislative body having caused some not exactly disinterested observers (Kin Hui, Frank Girardot, Lawsuit Richie McDonald) to howl that racism was playing a role. Districting was somehow going to cure such evils.

So here's the theory. By pulling those papers what John Wuo did was effectively frighten off any potential Chinese candidates that might have presumed to run against his beloved Roger Chandler. Since no such candidate did emerge in the face of such mighty (though tainted) opposition, and there were possibilities I've been told, that unhappy gambit apparently worked. By committing to this act of shadiness Mr. Gem Coins protected his old political ally from having to run for re-election against a serious Chinese candidate in a district that is predominantly Asian. Possibly preserving a dependable mansionization advocate.

So you know, Roger the Building Standards Dodger will have two opponents. The first is named Joyce Platt, and she does not favor run amuck development. The other is Jolly Wu, who is described as a one issue candidate that advocates exclusively for the disabled.

Over in District 2 none other than perennial candidate Bulldozer Bob Harbicht has reemerged from the thumping he took in the last Arcadia election. I guess he thinks everyone has somehow forgotten the $10s of thousands of dollars he took from developers during the 2016 race. He will be running against the incumbent Tom Beck.

Sho Tay, also known as the "Man with the Miss America Smile," will be running unopposed in District 3. Paul Van Fleet had drawn papers but must have forgotten to turn them in.

As you can see, redistricting has brought out a wave of new Chinese candidates, proving once and for all that the advocates for racial gerrymandering in Arcadia are extraordinarily brilliant men who deserve the thanks of their grateful city.

Well, OK. Perhaps not.

Funny how things sometimes work out in the real world, right? We will have much more on the Arcadia City Council race in the days and weeks to come.

Would you like to be anointed Sierra Madre's next City Clerk?

If you have been reading this blog lately you will know that the current City Clerk flew the coop after the City Council ripped her off to the tune of $7,500. It is not an easy gig, and losing so large a sum of money in what must have seemed like a bait and switch turned out to be a little too much to take. That, plus being rudely dressed down before the entire city, and on live TV no less, apparently discouraged any further participation.

So doesn't such City Hall bonhomie make you want to throw your hat into the ring? Do you like cake? Well, now you can have it all. Check out the following, citizen. And do print your name neatly. They can be critical down there.

That is not all of it, of course. It does go on. If you want to fill out the whole thing (and you will have to if you're going to jump into the fray), you will need to click here. Be sure to highlight your specific attitudes.

Best of luck!


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Feds Raid California Chinese 'Maternity Hotels' / Similar Russian Trump Owned Facilities In Florida Untouched

Mod: While this story has not been picked up by any of the local media, MSN/NBC has now put out a major report on the Fed raids this week on California "maternity hotels." Please note that the birthing facilities raided here had been servicing Chinese nationals only. There are other nationalities that use this kind of service as well. We'll get to that in a minute. First news on the California raids that have just taken place.

Baby Bust: Feds Raid California 'Maternity Hotels' (MSN/NBC link): Southern California apartment complexes that doubled as "maternity hotels" for Chinese women who want made-in-America babies were raided early Tuesday, capping an unprecedented federal sting operation, officials said.

NBC News was on the scene as Homeland Security agents swept into The Carlyle, a luxury property in Irvine, California, which housed pregnant women and new moms who allegedly forked over $40,000 to $80,000 to give birth in the United States.

"I am doing this for the education of the next generation," one of the women told NBC News.

None of the women were arrested; they are being treated as material witnesses, and paramedics were on hand in case any of them went into labor during the sweep. Instead, the investigation was aimed at ringleaders who pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars tax-free to help Chinese nationals obtain visas and then pamper them until they delivered in an American hospital at a discount, court papers show.

"It's not necessarily illegal to come here to have the baby, but if you lie about your reasons for coming here, that's visa fraud," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Los Angeles.

All told, the feds raided 20 locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, targeting three competing birth tourism schemes, officials said. The suspected operators have not been charged but are being questioned.

The organizers who allegedly ran the Carlyle site, Chao Chen and Dong Li, used a website to drum up business, touting the benefits of a child with U.S. citizenship: 13 years of free education, low-cost college financial aid, less pollution, and a path for the entire family to emigrate when the child becomes an adult.

Clients were counseled on what lies to tell to obtain a tourist visa; how to fly through Hawaii, Las Vegas or Korea to avoid suspicious immigration officers at Los Angeles International Airport; and how to disguise their pregnancy in transit, according to search warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday. The women were then set up at the Carlyle, which charges about $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment and features amenities including private balconies, a resort-style pool, and cabanas with flat-screen televisions.

A neighbor, Linda Trust, told NBC News she did find it strange that she had seen a forklift deliver a huge pile of diapers to the buildings but had never seen a baby. The women's handlers provided transportation for doctor visits and trips to restaurants and shops, the court papers say. An agent tailing one of the suspects followed them to Target and Babies R Us.

They were funneled to several Orange County hospitals to deliver, but they didn't pay full price — approximately $25,000 — for medical services, officials said. Instead, they got reduced rates for the indigent, ranging from nothing to $4,000, the court papers say. That translated into big losses for the hospitals. More than 400 babies linked to the scheme were born at just one facility in a two-year period, investigators said.

The investigators discovered that the parents of one baby born in April 2014 who paid the hospital just $4,000 were spending money at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, Rolex and Louis Vuitton, using an account with almost a quarter of a million dollars in it.

The fraud, authorities say, went beyond the visas.

Mod: The rest of that story is available at the link. Apparently maternity housing/birthing facilities in Florida, which cater to a Russian clientele, have to date remained completely untouched. Perhaps it has something to do with one of the owners? 

Russians Flock to Trump Properties to Give Birth to U.S. Citizens (The Daily Beast link): While the president rails against children of undocumented immigrants, wealthy Russians rent his condos—at huge costs—so they can have American kids.

Anatoliy Kuzmin held out his daughter’s blue U.S. passport over a red Russian one and snapped a photo from a Florida beach.

“Woohoo! Got dual citizenship for my daughter!” he wrote on Instagram.

American citizenship for the newborn girl was the goal of Kuzmin and his Instagram-celebrity wife, who sought the help of birth-tourism services in Florida for the arrival of their first child. They are among the estimated hundreds of Russian parents who flock to the U.S. annually for warm weather, excellent medical care, and, more importantly, birthright American citizenship.

And many, like Kuzmin and his wife, stay at President Donald Trump’s properties in Florida.

While Trump rails against U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, his Florida properties have become a playground for birth tourists from Russia’s upper crust. The Daily Beast has discovered several companies are advertising rentals in Trump properties to expectant Russian parents.

Mod: Check the link for more. Assuming none of this is race based, perhaps Chinese nationals hoping to have a child born in the United States would fare better if they stayed at a Trump owned facility back east?


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The City Council Will Be Appointing The Next City Clerk

Barbara Leigh found no takers (link).

It turned out as most had predicted. The prospect of the City Council approving a spend of $55,000 to pay for a special election to replace a City Clerk who resigned because they wanted to save $7,500 was unanimously rejected. The expense was cited as the main reason, though I suspect the potential embarrassment of such an outcome could have also played a role. I know it would have been commented upon here with zest.

Barbara Leigh Kline did give the City Council an opportunity to reflect upon the exact reasons why things went down with now former City Clerk Carillo as they did, but no elected officials rose to take the bait. Barbara's comments about the unseemliness of the way things had been handled were met with a stony silence, as are most things these days. Any viewers who had tuned into this meeting hoping for additional insight into this ongoing mystery were likely rewarded with nothing but disappointment for their efforts.

The Tattler will continue to investigate this matter, though I will admit we have not made any additional progress. All of the involved parties have now dummied up, and as of this typing seem likely to keep their lips zipped.

City Hall will soon be placing an ad in the Mountain Views News in hopes of obtaining the names of civic minded souls willing to fill the position of City Clerk through April of 2020, which is the remainder of Ms. Carillo's term. Making Treasure Henderson a prime arbiter in the disposition of this troubling matter. Given her remarkable past (link) this is an irony many long time Tattler readers might enjoy.

What the costs of this media outreach will be are unknown at this time, though it will need to be subtracted from that $7,500 bounty all are enjoying. The city has 60 days to resolve this situation according to the lawyer, so expect a media blitz to begin soon.

So you know, we will happily publish that ad here at no cost to the taxpayers.

Laura Aguilar, who is the Assistant City Clerk, will continue to administer all of the requirements for next April's election. With that dump the UUT measure on the ballot, the more egalitarian amongst us will continue to grapple with the uncomfortable prospect of paid city employees running an election that could have a direct effect on their personal financial well-being.

Not that I can imagine anything untoward happening in this special instance, but it could help set an uncomfortable precedent for the future.

I suppose that anyone in this city's government would ask you what other options do they have, and it is a good question. But they did bring this upon themselves. Something they couldn't admit to last night.

Is Chief Junta Hat's head on the block?
Meanwhile, over in Pasadena, also known as the Selma of the San Gabriel Valley ..

The Pasadena Star News has clocked in with some impressive coverage on what looks to have been quite a raucous City Council meeting there. Things have reached the boiling point, and hundreds of angry residents let the elected suits have it right between the ties. In an article titled "Tensions grow as Pasadena leaders ask for patience during inquiry into officers who broke black man’s leg" (link), here is how they broke all this down.

Hundreds of community members and activists packed the Pasadena City Council chambers Monday to call for independent oversight of the Pasadena Police Department and swift action against the officers who, following a November traffic stop, smashed a man’s face into the pavement and left his leg broken.

The outcry follows years of growing tension over the Pasadena Police Department’s handling of incidents involving young black men, spurred largely by the police-involved shooting of unarmed teenager Kendrec McDade in 2012 and the in-custody death of Reginald Thomas Jr. in 2016.

Christopher Ballew, who is suing the city for his treatment during the traffic stop, sat in the audience Monday along with his mother, Sonya Ballew.

“The beating of my son has left not only my family hurting, but the community is hurting as well,” Sonya Ballew said. “They can’t deal with those officers on the street. They need to be removed until the investigation is complete, and once that investigation finds them guilty, they need to be removed from the police force.”

There is a lot more to be read there, and I strongly urge you to click on the link and seek that out. However, here are two paragraphs that gave me pause.

Some pushed for the firing of Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, who they argued is complicit because he has not taken enough action against Lujan, Esparza and other officers in the past.

That seems obvious to me. Considering what has gone down in Pasadena, I can't figure out how this guy has kept his gig for as long as he has. Then, again, maybe I can.

Mayor Terry Tornek said the city would try to open better lines of communication with the Ballew family and members of the community, even if they are limited by state law in what they can share about the internal review. The investigation will take time, he said. “These things don’t happen in a hurry,” Tornek said. “I know you would like to have immediate satisfaction. It’s just not going to happen.”

In other words, nothing is going to happen. The city will simply do what they always do, wait out the current public furor and then go on its merry way until the inevitable next bloody outrage.

That's how it goes in the Rotten Rose.

There is an article from Pasadena Black Pages that you might want to check out as well. You can link to it here. It is called "City Council Meeting Goes Beyond Chris Ballew Beating; To The Kedrec McDade & Jr. Thomas Killings," and it starts out this way.

As I sat next to Kendrec McDade's mother and listened to the scores of people who want change in the Pasadena Police Department after the beating of Chris Ballew, I reflected back to that morning a few years ago. That morning was one of the reasons why the Pasadena Black Pages exist. Kendrec's mother told me that she could not sleep another night in Pasadena after her son was shot down by the Pasadena Police because of a prank call from someone who is free and alive now. Kendrec's life was meaningless to the PPD officer who killed him.

People of all races came to the Pasadena City Council meeting Monday night to express their outrage about the latest infraction by the Pasadena Police. What I realized during the meeting is that the Pasadena Police weren't even in Pasadena when the Ballew beating occurred, they were in Altadena and out of the Pasadena Police's jurisdiction. The PPD was actually in Altadena when they saw Chris Ballew in his car, to begin with.

Now go and read the rest.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

This is what patriotism looks like: President of Macmillan responds in memo to Trump's Cease and Desist Demand

Mod: Great Daily Kos article on Trump's latest attack on the free press.

Fire and Fury: President of Macmillan Responds in Memo to Trump's Cease and Desist Demand (Daily Kos link): Macmillan Publishers and their President, John Sargent, responded to the Trump administration’s demand they "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination" of Michael Wolff’s bestselling book, Fire and Fury. In the memo to employees, Mr. Sargent succinctly lays out the constitutional basis for Macmillan’s refusal to comply with this clearly fascist attempt to stifle the free press, and makes it clear this is about much more than just this one book.

Below is Sargent’s full letter:

To: All Macmillan Employees
From: John Sargent

Last Thursday, shortly after 7:00 a.m., we received a demand from the President of the United States to “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. On Thursday afternoon we responded with a short statement saying that we would publish the book, and we moved the pub date forward to the next day. Later today we will send our legal response to President Trump.

Our response is firm, as it has to be. I am writing you today to explain why this is a matter of great importance. It is about much more than Fire and Fury.

The president is free to call news “fake” and to blast the media. That goes against convention, but it is not unconstitutional. But a demand to cease and desist publication—a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government—is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional.

This is very clearly defined in Supreme Court case law, most prominently in the Pentagon Papers case. As Justice Hugo Black explained in his concurrence:

“Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints. In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.”

Then there is Justice William Brennan’s opinion in The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan:

“Thus we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

And finally Chief Justice Warren Burger in another landmark case:

“The thread running through all these cases is that prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.”

There is no ambiguity here. This is an underlying principle of our democracy. We cannot stand silent. We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court. We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment of our Constitution.


Monday, January 8, 2018

How the City Council potentially lost a lot of money when they took away Melinda Carillo's $7,500.00

Link to the video here.

At the November 28, 2017 City Council meeting it was decided that then City Clerk Melinda Carillo should be denied the $7,500 her predecessor had always received for working on Sierra Madre's elections. An arduous and difficult job that requires lots of time and painstaking attention to detail, with much of it involving the intricate legal requirements of electing officials and placing ballot measures.

The sitting City Clerk, who had the dubious honor of listening live and in person to each City Councilmember's opinion of her and her work, was surprised and upset by what took place that evening because it had been her understanding when she first ran for the gig that this money would be paid to her.

It must have all appeared to Melinda to be a kind of bait and switch, as well as an equally upsetting and unanticipated bushwhacking. She appears in the video to be completely taken by surprise at the rather raw public excoriation. A month later she resigned.

The vote by the City Council to deny City Clerk Carillo the $7,500 she felt she had been promised to her was unanimous. Each of the City Council members had their special reasons for voting to deny her that money, and said so. Some were subdued, others not as much.

You can see all of that by viewing the above video.

Perhaps the most demonstrative Councilmember on this matter was John Harabedian. His speech  begins at 2 hours, 35 minutes into the video, and it really does need to be seen. Among other things, it is his stated (and perhaps unintentionally ironic) claim that he would never spend $7,500 of the publics' tax money unless he felt it was completely justified.

But what if that sum was $55,000? The final item on tomorrow's City Council meeting agenda deals with how to replace the now departed Ms. Carillo (link). Here is what it could cost the taxpayers.

So it seems that it will cost the city $55,000 dollars to save $7,500.00 dollars. Certainly that doesn't make a whole lot of business sense.

Of course, this is if you are to be allowed to vote for a new City Clerk. There is always the possibility the City Council will simply decide to just appoint someone to the job so they can save that $55,000.00. Which perhaps was in the plans all along.

But wouldn't that mean taking away your right to cast a ballot for an official that has, by tradition and legal custom, always been placed into office exclusively through a vote of the people?

Yes, it would. Does that bother you?


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Pasadena Star News: NAACP, ACLU to demand firing of Pasadena officers involved in Christopher Ballew arrest

Click here for video.

Mod: Those attending Monday evening's City Council meeting in Pasadena could find it to be quite an interesting experience. As those who have followed events there know, the Rotten Rose has become something of a racial flashpoint as a state of considerable tension now exists between the Pasadena Police Department and many in that troubled community. Here's how the Star News describes what could be going down.

NAACP, ACLU to demand firing of Pasadena officers involved in Christopher Ballew arrest (Pasadena Star News link): Local activists incensed over the violent arrest of an Altadena man by Pasadena police in November will present a list of demands to the City Council at its Monday meeting, including calls to fire the officers involved and to install a permanent, independent auditor for the Pasadena Police Department.

Community members gathered at the offices of the Pasadena NAACP on Wednesday evening to discuss the list the organization will deliver to council members next week, according to an NAACP statement.

The demands were prompted by the arrest of Christopher Ballew, 21, at the Mobil gas station at Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road on Nov. 9. The encounter left Ballew with a broken leg and a bloodied face.

Bystander video released on Facebook about a month after the arrest showed a tug-of-war over a baton between Ballew and one of the officers before the second officer punches Ballew in the head and slams the man’s head on the ground multiple times. The video also depicts the first officer hitting Ballew’s leg with the baton three times while the man is on the ground.

Mod: The rest of the PSN article is available at the link. The following is taken from a website called Pasadena Black Pages. It also discusses tomorrow evening's Pasadena City Council meeting.

Pasadena City Council: End The Police's Excessive Force In This City (Pasadena Black Pages link): The Pasadena Police Department’s baton beating of Christopher Ballew is the City’s Rodney King moment. Videos of his senseless attack have made national and international news, and have again put the spotlight on a department with a history of using excessive force on its residents.

The Ballew incident follows on the heels of the Department’s killing of Kendrec McDade in 2012, shooting of Paris Holloway in 2013, killing of Reginald Thomas in 2016, and shooting of Matthew Hurtado in 2017.

Along with the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police, Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence, ACLU of Southern California, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, and the San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance, we, the undersigned, urge the Pasadena City Council take immediate action to hold the Department accountable for its beating of Mr. Ballew and to ensure that Pasadena communities are protected from unnecessary police violence.

To stop police violence and over aggressiveness in Pasadena click here and sign the petition to the Pasadena City Council. This is the only way to get things going. It has to start this way for change to be made. When it comes to matters like this the pen is mightier than the sword so become involved.

Don't just sit back and complain when the excessive force affects you personally.

Mod: Here is a screenshot of the petition.

Mod: Like I said, it should be quite a meeting. The public part of this confab starts at 6:30 PM in Council Chambers. Address is Pasadena City Hall100 North Garfield Avenue, Room S249. You might want to get there early. Before 6 PM is my guess.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Friends of the Sierra Madre Library to host a food and wine fundraiser ... but for which Library?

Mod: Here is one of those publicity release style articles that sadly you find too often in the Pasadena Star News these days. It is for a Sierra Madre Library fundraiser that will be held at Alverno in February. But which Library are they talking about? The current one that smells like old books, or the new one that will supposedly look a little bit like an Apple store?

Sierra Madre Library to host food, wine fundraiser (Pasadena Star News link): The Friends of the Sierra Madre Library will host its 48th annual Wine and Cuisine Tasting Benefit 7 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Alverno Heights Academy’s historic Villa del Sol d’Oro, 200 N. Michilinda Ave.

The event will feature more than two dozen vintners and  local restaurants offering creative foods and desserts. Tickets are $80 and allow early admission at 6 p.m. Main event tickets are $60 and provide admission at 7 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now at the Sierra Madre Public Library, The Bottle Shop, Savor the Flavor and Arnold’s Frontier Hardware & Gifts. For more information, visit sierramadrelibraryfriends.org.

Mod: So since this is a "Friends of the Library" event, and they support selling off the desirable property the current Library stands upon in order to fund the building of something rather different over by the YAC, this could put some people in kind of a funny place. What if you are a friend of the old Library? By attending this event won't you be helping fund its demise? That might not be what a true friend would care to do. Here is how they delicately try and dance around that one on the FOTSML website:

Mod: I'm not sure it is actually quite that simple. In a Star News article from last July titled "Will Sierra Madre’s library finally get upgrade, or move to new location?" (link), the Friends money spend is described this way:

Mod: Be sure to sample the brie.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Public Burning: The Mystery of Former Sierra Madre City Clerk Melinda Carillo's Resignation

Mod: I filed a public records request to get a copy of Melinda Carillo's resignation letter. This was in no way difficult to do, or obtain. I sent my request in on January 3, and the information I wanted was in my e-mail box a few hours later. Under the previous City Manager I wouldn't have received this letter until a week later, if at all. Often all I got for my trouble was a note from the City Attorney telling me my request was wrong.

As far as I know nobody outside of City Hall has seen this letter in its entirety before. So this is an exclusive for The Tattler, if only by default. Sierra Madre is now a city with no functioning news outlets besides this one. It's not like there are any other newsers around anymore that see the need to get such information to the likes of you.

That all said, Melinda's sudden resignation has proven troubling for some, including myself. After all, she was an elected official, and by right deserved far better than the kind of treatment she was accorded. Here is her letter.

Note that the official resignation date is today. The City of Sierra Madre no longer has an elected City Clerk.

Three things that I think need to be aired out. The last one is in several parts.

1) Melinda makes this important point in her letter. I have watched video footage of the episode in question several times now, and it is an awful look. The angry conversation that took place between the City Council and the City Clerk is uncomfortable and embarrassing. This City Council's reputation for high-handedness was on full display. It's one thing not to talk to residents except through postcards, quite another to ignore an actual elected official, and then attack that person over her resulting frustration. And even if Melinda was at fault for some of the things she's been accused of, this could have been handled in a far more civil and professional manner. Squabbling over money in public is never becoming behavior.

2) Taking Melinda Carillo out of it for a moment, the City Clerk position in Sierra Madre is an elective office. It comes with all of the privileges and rights any elected official in this city would expect to receive. We have now witnessed an elected official, someone voted into office by the people, hounded from office, and with no official explanation of why that happened. This sets a strange and dangerous precedent.

3) There was an article published in The Mountain Views News on the matter, and predictably the now former City Clerk is gratuitously slaughtered. Here is an example:

That is, of course, made up nonsense. A meeting could have taken place with staff and the Mayor alone, and therefore the Brown Act would not have been triggered. To say that a more civil and dignified conversation couldn't have taken place because of the Brown Act is absurd. That didn't happen because nobody there cared enough to bother.

Here is another:

As an elected official, a City Clerk has the right to expect assistance from City Staff to get something done. It is what they are paid to do. Why that was considered so dire a problem in this instance is not explained. Also note the phrase, "According to sources." What sources? Nobody at City Hall wanted to put their name to the sorts of dodgy accusations being leveled in this MVN article? And therefore would only dare to speak anonymously? It is not hard to see why.

Also, where are these emails from the "Elections Coordination Division" stating that Carillo did not respond? Do they really point fingers, as MVN publisher Treasure Henderson claims they do, thereby giving her license to do the same in her article? That would be odd behavior for County of Los Angeles clerical staff.

I would certainly like to see those emails. I would also like to hear Melinda's side of the story. And as an aside, Treasure Henderson herself exists in a glass house where stone throwing isn't always a recommended activity (link).

Obviously Sierra Madre deserves a far better accounting of what actually happened, but it is taking time for me to tease that out. There must be some verifiable behind the scenes events that led to this unfortunate November 28 confrontation. My guess is much of this has its roots in an absence of communication and cooperation between the City Clerk, the City Council, and staff. And when things predictably went south, it became one person against everyone else.

Here is the video of that City Council meeting. The portion we are talking about begins at around 2 hours, 20 minutes in. The link is below the screenshot.