Saturday, October 21, 2017

Is the Fix In? Some Sierra Madre Library Demolition and Relocation Survey Issues

The agenda and staff reports for next Tuesday's City Council meeting are now available on the City of Sierra Madre website, and one of the items that really jumps out deals with whatever it is the city wants done with the Library. The other big deal involves wrapping up the refinancing of Sierra Madre's water bonds, which we are going to gamely try and tackle in the next couple of days.

Here is that Library question:

Listed as the fourth out of five agenda items, it is naturally rather succinct. After all, an agenda is only a list of the evening's events. When you turn to the actual staff report itself there is quite a bit more detail. Some of it troubling. With the subject line being "Information on Library Survey and Ballot Question for Residents," this report reads as follows (link).

Here is something that jumps out for me. A big concern for many would appear to be saving the Library building itself, along with not selling the property it stands on. Once that property is sold, it is gone forever. At $1.3 million, doing whatever repairs are necessary to salvage the Library building would seem to be the priority here. So why would it be necessary to spend "up to $3.9 million" for something called "adequate community space?"

Can "community space" really be considered an adequate reason for razing the Library and putting all of its books into the Youth Activities Center? Along with (if I am reading this not very clearly written staff report correctly) spending an additional $2 million dollars?

Repairing the building and creating community space are two very different things. And with two very different cost levels. How were they lumped in together like this?

As far as that resident survey goes, the questions remain who gets to write the postcard, and who gets to interpret the resulting information. Unlike with a vote, the real power in this case goes to those who get to decide what the questions are going to be, and then determine what the gathered information means.

The line between finding out what residents really want on a matter as important as this, and push poll style marketing, is a thin one. In my opinion that line is robustly crossed here:

So why must that line now be considered crossed? Listed as an alternative choice, this staff report then identifies a possible ballot question. The ballot question proposal (which, as shown below, is absurdly slanted in my opinion), reveals that the Board of Library Trustees, which would craft and curate the postcard survey questions, already unanimously favors a demolition and relocation route.

The Library Board of Trustees has obviously already made up its mind, and unanimously wants to go with the demolition and relocation option. So can these unelected folks really be depended upon to put together postcard survey questions that will be both non-partisan and concerned only with finding out what the residents are thinking? And not pushing their own personal agendas?

And why is it so partisan a group gets to decide what these questions are going to be? Shouldn't that be something done by the City Council and staff? With input from the residents themselves perhaps? 

Why is that important responsibility being shunted off elsewhere?

Based on this agenda report, it certainly does look like the fix is in.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Whatever Happened to a Second Public Forum and Ballot Initiative for the Sierra Madre Library?

Mod: That is what some folks have been asking about. Well, OK. Two that I know about. Three if you include me. I'm always up for another opportunity to bring up Sierra Madre's debt problems. But when I do have any questions these days I go right to the recently installed Sierra Madre City Manager, Gabriel "You can call me GabeEngeland. A guy who will actually answer Tattler questions, and in a quite forthright and open kind of way. It's a good thing he has a five year contract, right?  

SM Tattler: Any news on Library 2?

City Manager Engeland: Our library manager met with the firm who will do the drawings for the move last week.  I should get a report back this week and we can plot out a timeline from there. I'm not sure how long it will take for them to complete the drawings, but once we know we will get out a tentative schedule.

SM Tattler: I am beginning to believe the non-binding vote of the people on the question of the Library's various fates is a dead issue as far as the City Council goes. Am I wrong?

City Manager Engeland: At the last meeting the Council agreed to move forward with the survey.  Currently we are planning to survey 75% of the households in Sierra Madre, but we are working with the company to determine if we can survey 100% of the households. With regards to the non-binding vote Council asked us to bring back a draft of what the question would look like along with more information. They will decide if we are proceeding with a non-binding ballot initiative, in addition to the survey, at the meeting on Tuesday the 24th.

SM Tattler: Why go to the expense and bother of both a survey and a vote? Shouldn't the vote provide all the answers needed?

City Manager Engeland: The ballot question is a “yes or no” only and it is limited to one question.  The benefit is it goes to everyone, but the drawback is it provides no information on any other Library related topics. The survey is 5 questions which are much more in depth than the ballot.  The benefit is the amount of information provided, but the drawback is, currently, it doesn’t go to everyone (though it is statistically significant). I think there are good arguments that can be made for doing both.  Doing the “vote option” only will give us information on if people want to move the Library location or not, but won’t discuss library services in general. The Library Board will be drafting the questions to send out and there are areas outside of the move they have interest in.

Mod: Good and thoughtful answers that I, obviously, cannot agree with. Any such city survey, with 5 questions that have yet to be determined, will likely end up becoming a marketing tool used to push forward whatever agenda the City Council wants. It will give them the ability to tell you, the concerned resident, what you think. Meaning you will then be told that you think the Library property needs to be sold, the building itself razed, and all of those books moved inside the YAC. A vote, even a non-binding one, will take that power away from the City Council and give it to unpredictable you. No creative interpretations required. Trust me, it ain't gonna happen.

In Encinitas, former Sierra Madre Mayor Joe Mosca votes to put pot question on the ballot -Mod: Let's call it a Tale of Two Cities. Our interest in Encinitas originally stemmed from curiosity about the political career of a former Sierra Madre Mayor who somehow got himself appointed to the City Council there, and after only living in town for two years. But today all of that does give us a nice contrast with what's going down in The 'Dre. Especially regarding exactly what gets put on the ballot.

From poinsettias to pot? Voters to decide what grows in Encinitas (The San Diego Union Tribune link): Encinitas voters, instead of the City Council, will be the ones deciding whether to allow commercial marijuana growing operations on the city's few agriculturally zoned lands. And for now, until that likely November 2018 ballot measure, the city's current bans on marijuana will remain in place, the council decided late Wednesday night.

Cities across California have been grappling with the issue of marijuana regulations ever since voters approved the marijuana legalization initiative Proposition 64 last year. The intensity of the debate has only increased in recent months as the January 2018 state deadline for putting regulations in place approaches.

Mod: The final vote there was 4 to 1 to punt it to the voters. And which side did Councilmember Mosca come down on? Both, of course.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who held off on voicing a position in the past, and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who has supported commercial growing, agreed. "This is truly one of the most difficult issues I have faced since I have been on the council," Boerner Horvath said, adding that months ago she had thought that this wouldn't be the case.

Councilman Joe Mosca, who opposed the proposed ordinance, said he wouldn't "stand in the way" of putting the issue on the ballot, but said he felt marijuana growing businesses were not compatible with the city.

Mod: Rule of thumb about what gets on a city's ballot. If an issue is controversial, but if approved will bring significant revenue to that city? It's happening. And if a vote might possibly interfere with the acquisition of needed revenue, such as with the sale of the Sierra Madre Library property? No vote for you.

Mod: This next story is not very pretty.

Charred Body Found on Mt. Wilson (Pasadena Now link): Authorities are still trying to identify a male body found Wednesday night on Mt. Wilson as firefighters continue to attempt to control a smoldering wildfire. An Associated Press report Thursday, quoting a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, said the charred body has been recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to make an identification.

The fire has so far burned about 50 acres of the Angeles National Forest and was 35 percent contained as of Wednesday night, the report said. An RMG News report meanwhile said family members were searching for a Sylmar teen who has been missing since Tuesday morning.

Matthew Huerta, the report said, left his home at around 4:30 to 5 a.m. to jog but has not returned since. Using the mobile Find My Friends app, his friends placed Huerta’s phone in the Mt. Wilson area about the same time the brush fire started early Tuesday in the area.

Mod: The foothills, though undoubtedly beautiful, are not without their sinister aspects.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump

A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump (Verified Politics link)

America’s Gold Star Families have come out, but none more powerful than this letter from Gold Star Mother Candie Glisson.

Glisson lost a son ten years ago, Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Jason Alan Schumann, ten years ago and received very different treatment than Gold Star Families now receive from Trump.

Her courageous words speak for volumes and say everything about the heroes who bravely serve our country and the president who is disrespecting their service.

Her letter is below as shared by Common Defense PAC.

"My son was killed in Iraq. Here’s my message to Trump: 

On October 4th, 2017, four of our troops were killed in an ambush in Niger. For twelve long days, we didn’t hear a word from this Commander in Chief. Twelve days. Total silence. 

On Monday, he said he was “too busy” to pay respects to the Gold Star families (although he had plenty of time for golfing, sabotaging our health care, and trying to ban Muslims). Finally, last night, he called one of the grieving mothers. But instead of offering sympathy and remorse, he callously said that her son, SGT La David Johnson, “knew what he signed up for.” 

This is beyond the pale, even for Trump. When my son, SGT Jason Alan Schumann, was killed in Iraq 10 years ago, George W. Bush sent me a heartfelt letter. Now we have a president who degrades our fallen heroes, then calls their mourning families liars on Twitter. 

This goes so far beyond party politics. Trump is a dangerous liar. He fabricated the truth on national television by claiming no previous president ever reached out to Gold Star families. He tried to use fallen heroes to score political points. Now, after saying La David Johnson should’ve known better, Trump is accusing a Gold Star widow and a Gold Star mother of making the story up. 

When George W. Bush contacted me, he didn’t brag about it. He did so quietly. When Barack Obama met fallen soldiers at the airbase in Dover, he didn’t take to Twitter or turn it into a politicized photo-op. I may have disagreed with Bush, but at least he was respectful, humble, and dutiful. 

To say I’m sickened by Trump’s remarks would be an understatement. And I know, with certainty, that my son would be utterly disgusted too. Not just by Trump’s remarks this week, but by Trump’s entire platform of bigotry, hate, and divisiveness. That isn’t the kind of country he swore an oath to protect. That’s not the kind of country he fought and died for. 

Thank you, 
Candie Glisson 
Gold Star Mother

The post A Gold Star Mother Just Went Viral With An Open Letter To President Trump appeared first on Verified Politics.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: 'He knew what he signed up for'

Mod: As someone pointed out the other day, Donald Trump has the empathy of a cockroach. 

Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: 'He knew what he signed up for' (ABC News Miami link):  President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow Tuesday that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway," when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

"Yes, he said it," Wilson said. "It's so insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson's surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson's remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight.

A top advisor later told Local 10 News "The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private."

Wilson watched as the widow, who is expecting their third baby in January, leaned over the U.S. flag that was draping Johnson's casket. Her pregnant belly was shaking against the casket as she sobbed uncontrollably. Their daughter stood next to her stoically. Their toddler waited in the arms of a relative.

There was silence.

Local politicians, police officers and firefighters lined up to honor Johnson for his service and for the efforts and discipline that got the former Walmart employee to defy all odds and become a 25-year-old member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Johnson, who participated in a mentorship program Wilson founded in 1993, died during a mission fighting alongside Green Berets. Islamic militants ambushed them on Oct. 4 with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The team reportedly didn't have overhead armed air cover and was in unarmored pickup trucks. Reuters reported the lack of planning upset the French.

Trump didn't discuss any of the details of the ambush or say that the Pentagon was conducting an investigation. Instead, he focused on questions about whether or not he had offered his condolences to the families of the fallen.

"I will, at some point, during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that, traditionally," Trump said during a press conference last week.

Wilson criticized Trump for failing to acknowledge Johnson's death after he was left behind during the evacuation. It took nearly two days to find his body in the Republic of Niger's desert. Johnson's body made it to the U.S. on Oct. 7 when Trump was playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Amid the controversy, Trump later said President Barack Obama and other presidents didn't make calls to the relatives of all fallen servicemen and women. Aides for both President George W. Bush and Obama reacted on Twitter and in The Huffington Post, saying the president misspoke.

Trump later backpedaled the claim during an interview with NBC's Peter Alexander.

"President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do, all I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn’t do anything," Trump said. "But I like the combination of, I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter."

The Atlantic's David A. Graham believes Trump used the controversy to distract reporters. Despite the criticism, Trump continued the discussion on Fox News Radio when he raised doubt about whether or not Obama called his chief of staff, John Kelly, when Kelly's son died.

Graham said it was Trump's strategy to distract reporters from the important questions about the deadly ambush in Africa.

"The broader question, of what the soldiers who were killed were doing and what went wrong, remains unaddressed by the president, and Trump’s jab at other presidents may, unfortunately, help to keep it that way," Graham wrote.

After an emotional procession from Miami-Dade to Broward County, Johnson's remains were at a funeral home in Hollywood. There will be a public viewing from 4 to 8 p.m.  Friday and a funeral service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at the Christ The Rock Church at 11000 Stirling Road in Cooper City. The internment will be at the Hollywood Memorial Gardens, at 3001 N. 72 St.

According to officials with the Department of Defense, the other three victims of the attack were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One of Steve Bannon's Candidates in California? Sierra Madre's Former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly

Mod: If Steve Bannon is working on Trump's behalf to drain the swamp, then apparently he thinks that swamp is filled with Republican officeholders who need to be run out of town. The last thing the GOP needs now is a far right wing insurgency running candidates against its already conservative establishment incumbents, but they're going to get a civil war anyway.  

Steve Bannon’s Republican insurgency: What does he really want? (Salon link): As he looks to advance his Republican Party insurgency, Breitbart News head and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon could well prove more powerful outside Donald Trump's administration than inside it.

Bannon has variously been described as a white nationalist, an "ethno-nationalist" and an apologist for the overtly racist alt-right movement. (He reportedly once described himself as a "Leninist," although it's not clear he knows what the word means in ideological terms.) He has pledged to unconditionally support and advance Trump's agenda, and has begun by promoting hand-picked candidates to challenge the Republican establishment.

If the aftermath of the 2016 delivered one clear lesson, it's that the Republican Party's establishment — and the Washington establishment as a whole — is in trouble.

"If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America," Bannon said as he departed the White House.

Mod: So who is Bannon's guy in the dusty southwestern corner of California? Apparently none other than Sierra Madre's former state Assemblyman, and current Breitbart News columnist, Tim Donnelly. This from the Los Angeles Times:

This Republican is running to the right in California: 'I will help the president make America great again' (Los Angeles Times link): Tim Donnelly, former California state assemblyman and current columnist for the far right outlet Breitbart, announced a bid for Congress on Monday, saying he'll have President Trump's back.

In a state that's positioned itself as the leader of the so-called resistance to Trump, it's an unusual statement of support for the president, but not that unexpected given the source.

Donnelly is known as a conservative firebrand and a tea party favorite who has run for multiple offices. In a video announcing his bid for the 8th Congressional District, Donnelly says he'll advocate for a wall along the Mexican border, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without replacing it, an end to laws requiring people to be vaccinated, and literal interpretation of the Constitution.

It's his second try for the district, which ranges along most of the state's eastern border from Joshua Tree to near Lake Tahoe. Yucca Valley Rep. Paul Cook has represented the area for three terms.

In the video, Donnelly claims the district "overwhelmingly" supported the president in the last election, but Trump won with just 54.7% of the vote.

"We sent him to D.C. because he said he would make America great again, and we've watched as the Congress, this ‘do-nothing’ Congress has stymied him at every turn," Donnelly said in an announcement video. "So my promise to you is very simple: I will back the president’s agenda because I know you back it—and I’ll have his back because he’s got yours."

Cook won reelection in 2016 with 62.3% of the vote. His most recent campaign finance report shows he has $761,287 in cash on hand. Three Democrats have also filed to run against Cook.

Donnelly also ran for governor in 2014, finishing third in the primary behind Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari.

Mod: Below is Donnelly's video, which seems like a fair approximation of what a Bannon candidate is going to sound like in 2018.

For video click here

Mod: This just in.

Fire near Mt. Wilson Observatory threatens TV towers (Los Angeles Times link)

Monday, October 16, 2017

NFL To Take Up Protestor’s Cause

Mod: I have never been the world's biggest football fan. As far as I am concerned the NFL season doesn't officially begin until after the World Series is over. If then. But that could soon change. Because now the NFL is starting to show all of the signs of becoming an effective - and dare I say even courageous - defender of free speech in this country. And at a time when many of our less than glorious political so-called leaders have been strangely mum on the topic. Or, as in the case of the President of the United States, its outright enemy. Any port in a storm, I say. Let freedom ring.

Trump’s Bullying Backfires - NFL To Take Up Protestor’s Cause (Daily Kos link): Donald Trump epitomizes incompetence that he attempts to conceal with his big mouth as if bloviating nonstop lies and absurdities will convince Americans he is anything other than a monumental buffoon. When the Oval Office oaf took up the cause of defining patriotism as denying other Americans their Constitutionally guaranteed rights, not only did he reveal his fascist tendencies, he pushed an American institution to declare that they would not join his tyranny against mostly African American athletes.

The fascistTrump was certain he could “force” the NFL to restrict its players’ constitutional rights by running his mouth and calling socially-conscious players “sons-of-bitches” and demand they be “thrown off the field.” There were even rumors that next week the NFL was convening a meeting with owners to do as Trump ordered and punish mostly African American players who are unwilling to forfeit their constitutional rights.

However, the only thing Trump running his big mouth accomplished was doing precisely what Colin Kaepernick began over a year ago; use the NFL to bring attention to racial and social injustices destroying America.

Trump has been hoping to distract Americans from his corruption and incompetency by continuing to portray Americans exercising their constitutional right as being deliberately disrespectful to a song, the country, veterans, active duty soldiers and the American flag. On Friday he kept his big mouth running and addressed the issue again.

"Before watching a football game, you want to see those players be proud of their country. Respect our country. Respect our flag. And respect our national anthem and we think they will. We certainly hope they will."

Trump is a petty piece of work if he believes, and he does, that standing up when a song plays informs a person’s pride, patriotism, and respect for a country or a flag. If Trump wasn’t a know-nothing idiot, he would understand that this country began as a protest against his type of tyranny during a so-called ‘tea party’ in Boston Harbor in 1773.

The nation’s founders and Constitution’s Framers made “freedom to protest” a guaranteed right for all Americans for all time, and like everything about America, Trump hates free expression and wants it to stop under threat of retribution. It’s why he called on the NFL to get the “sons-of-bitches” off the football field for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Loudmouth Don likely thought the NFL owners would follow the lead of Dallas Cowboys owner and threaten to bench any player who dared exercise their constitutional right of free speech. On the same day Trump accused players taking a knee of disrespecting everything American because they displayed their pride to live in a country” that gives them freedom of speech,” the NFL made an announcement that it was not going to do what this fool demanded.

Instead of strictly obeying the fascist Trump, the NFL has decided that it will focus on how best to use its powerful forum to do exactly what the protestors are taking a knee for; bring national attention to the racial and social injustices roiling American society.

According to Reuters, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the League’s commissioner Roger Goodell:

“Has a plan that he is going to present to owners about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country.”

Mr. Lockhart said that instead of “throwing the sons-of-bitches” off the field, or “forcing” mostly African American athletes to give up their 1st Amendment rights like Trump demanded, the League is joining the players’ crusading to make social change. He said there will be discussions focusing on using the NFL players and clubs “broad platforms” to actually make progress on “issues of equality, social justice, and criminal justice reform.” Lockhart said:

“These are issues that are important to our clubs, issues that are important to our players, issues that are important to the communities in which we play.  That’s what we are discussing. So for everyone who has speculated over the last few days that somehow there is a proposal that is set for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday you are speculating. Those who are reporting it as fact are reporting it incorrectly.”

The announcement by the NFL reflects the desire of the NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith according to a statement he made last week. Mr. Smith related that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants owner John Mara, chairman of the NFL’s management council, informed the players’ union that “they would respect the Constitutional Rights of our members without retribution.” Trump doesn’t get it, but that is precisely what it means to “respect America.”

The NFL announcement Friday also fulfilled one of Smith’s desires; He said:

"I look forward to the day when everyone in management can unite and truly embrace and articulate what the flag stands for: ‘Liberty and justice for all' instead of some of them just talking about standing. We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue."

Based on the NFL announcement Friday, those upcoming talks will address what the flag stands for as well as address the issues the players are protesting.

Mod: To me the greatest desecration of all would be denying the principles our flag stands for. And one of those principles is the right to speak as you please, whenever you please. Link to the rest of the article is up top.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It Is Really Annoying When People Brag About Their Kids ... Except When I Do It

The above ran in some Pasadena Now entity about a year ago (link). The news then was that Jack Crawford and his La Salle High School debate team co-captain and colleague John Nahas (from Sierra Madre of all places), won a rather large tournament called Jack Howe, which was held at UC Long Beach.

Then, just two or so weeks ago, they won that same Jack Howe Speech & Debate Tournament again. Second year in a row.

Last night they won another big time mostly west coast debate tournament, this time at UC Fullerton. I believe they won that one last year as well. Let me check the trophy wall to make certain. Oh, second.

What this means is that Jack and John, who have known each other since they went to kindergarten together at The Gooden, now have a bid to compete at various national tournaments, including the much ballyhooed Tournament Of Champions (TOC), which takes place in Lexington KY next spring.

All very good stuff.

Here is the dad irony for me in all of this. A big part of the reason we left Sierra Madre for our mountain side retreat here in San Dimas is after years of private school we wanted to put our kids into something public. But we didn't want to put them into THAT public school, if you know what I mean. So we bailed on y'all. Sort of.

But what happened is La Salle High School (a place that I have grown to appreciate in many ways), recruited Jack for their fledgling debate team when he was a sophomore at San Dimas High. Jack, John Nahas, and my younger son Harlan (also debating at La Salle), have been on debate teams together since the 4th grade. They basically grew up doing this stuff, and have gotten pretty good at it.

So now I get up at 5am every morning to battle traffic for an hour on the 210 Freeway (AKA "The Meatgrinder") to take my kids to a school that is just a few blocks from where we used to live. Funny old world. Which is why it looks like we will be moving back to town fairly soon.

Just as soon as I get a few more banks robbed. Kidding.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Top Bush aide to GOP: ‘It’s time to panic’

Top Bush aide to GOP: ‘It’s time to panic’ (The Hill link): A former aide to President George W. Bush and opinion writer for The Washington Post wrote Friday morning that it’s time for the GOP to “panic” about President Trump’s fitness for office.

Michael Gerson, who served as a deputy assistant and director of speechwriting in the Bush administration, writes that Trump’s personal conflicts with his advisers, aides and lawmakers in his own party should concern leaders that Trump's unfitness to serve as president could do permanent damage to the country.

“It is no longer possible to safely ignore the leaked cries for help coming from within the administration,” Gerson writes. “They reveal a president raging against enemies, obsessed by slights, deeply uninformed and incurious, unable to focus, and subject to destructive whims.”

The president’s feud with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has made headlines this month, as have reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron,” that chief of staff John Kelly is frustrated to the point of wanting to leave his post and that Trump “hates everyone in the White House.”

In the op-ed, Gerson railed against the GOP and accused Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) of "bland complacency" in Trump's antics, warning that it is time for elected Republicans to voice their concerns about the president as Corker has.

“The time for whispered criticisms and quiet snickering is over," Gerson writes. "The time for panic and decision is upon us.”

Manafort and Kushner likely incriminated by Reince Priebus in Mueller questioning (Raw Story link): Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and White House likely gained valuable information from Friday’s interview of former chief of staff Reince Priebus. That testimony could not just make Mueller’s case against President Trump, could also implicate other top Trump advisors.

“Central to the theory of Bob Mueller’s case, is that there was a coverup — there was a deliberate attempt to hide the true story about what happened in the election,” Global editorial director of the Huffington Post, Howard Fineman explained to MSNBC anchor Ari Melber. “And I think central to that is the question of the firing of Jim Comey and the explanations given for it.”

“What were the real reasons for the firing and who said what afterwards? And those are the two parts of Mueller’s case that I think Reince Priebus can shed the most light on,” Fineman predicted. “Then, of course, the whole firing of James Comey, which I think Mueller believes is in itself an act of obstruction of justice, to fire the guy investigating the president. What did Priebus know about it?”

“Also, don’t forget, Reince Priebus is not fundamentally a Trump guy,” Fineman reminded. “Trump hired him every way, Trump humiliated him every day, six ways to Sunday during his time as chief of staff, no wonder Reince Priebus is happy to testify.”

“Happy,” Melber noted in reply. “Happy is the word of the day, no question on that.”

Melber, who is chief legal correspondent for MSNBC in addition to hosting his own show, queried his guests on what Mueller’s team likely asked Priebus.

“I think he would be very interested in Paul Manafort’s contacts with anyone in the White House,” Melber began.

“What did he and the president talk about last week when they had dinner?” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti suggested.

“I agree with you, Ari, what have Manafort’s contacts been?” Fineman added. “Because you know, he’s about to be indicted I think, so you want to know what has the White House been doing to protect him or distance themselves from him.”

“What does he know about Cambridge Analytica, that’s the data firm that Jared Kushner was operating,” recommend Nayyera Haq, White House senior director under President Barack Obama.

Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With a Russian Oligarch (NBC News link): Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.

An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.

According to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska to entities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus.

Friday, October 13, 2017

City Council Districting In Arcadia Slithers Through

The Home of The Hub
Mod: There really is quite a lot of disinformation being put out now by the Singpoli controlled press (link), but it's their money and I suppose they're entitled to spend it as they wish. Last evening when I was piecing this post together The Hub had about 30 views for their developer sponsored version of events, so I am going to assume the cost was around a hundred dollars an eyeball. I hope they're happy. That said, if you want the real story you'll need to turn to the residents of Arcadia themselves. A self-reliant bunch who figured out a long time ago that if you want something done right (and truthfully), you're going to have to do it yourself. Here is how one resident reported what actually happened at Wednesday night's Arcadia City Council meeting. Big surprise, districting (so-called) truly is all about what developers want, and the total power they feel they deserve.

Hi neighbors: Last night the Council affirmed its decision to move to districting and its selection of the Purple map. Sho Tay, Peter Amundson and Roger Chandler voted for it. April Verlato and Tom Beck voted against districting, saying they were willing to challenge the issue in the courts. Over the past two months, April and Tom have done all they could to bring reason, fairness and common sense to the districting issue, but they have consistently been overruled.

April pointed out that the entire process has not been about achieving what is best for the City but as a way for the developers to once again have free reign to build whatever they want. Even though the drawing of the districts in the Purple map is ridiculous, clearly gerrymandered and disenfranchises a large majority of voters, Tay, Chandler and Amundson voted for it.

I'm particularly disappointed with Peter. When he was running for election, Peter promised at a meeting at the home of Donna Perez that he would support the goal of sensible and harmonious development. His vote last night paves the way for the resumption of mansionization in the City.

Peter should have sided with April and Tom against districting or at least voted for the more balanced Orange map. The Orange map created two Council seats in the North, one in the Center and two in the South. It was drawn by the demographer employed by the City and it reflected a fair and even distribution of voters across the City. Many people, including former Mayor Gary Kovacic, were in favor of it.

Instead Peter joined hands with Tay and Chandler and chose the Purple map, gerrymandered so that each current council member keeps his/her seat and opening the door to a developer-controlled Council.

Without the support of the voters in North Arcadia and those throughout the City who supported the Saving Arcadia effort, Peter would not have been elected. Many of us helped place his signs, wrote letters, made calls and urged our neighbors to vote for him. His support of districting and the Purple map is a betrayal. He has chosen to allow the 3100 voters in South Arcadia to rule the City with three Council seats while the North, with 5100 voters, is left with two.

His excuse is the possibility that a lawsuit filed by the City of Poway, CA in federal court might overturn the requirement for districting. First of all, there is no guarantee that Poway will win. Second, it could take years to settle the case. In the meantime, the Council will be packed with developer-backed cronies.

Mark my words, the next thing we will see is an effort to roll back the reasonable building codes that were put in place last year to contain out-of-control development. Despite warnings from Chandler and Tay that these codes would hurt property values, the opposite is true--property values have increased considerably. This proves that tighter controls on development do have a positive effect on prices. And I believe that the current codes could have been improved even more if we had had a Council that represented the wishes of the people.

When Amundson, Tay and Chandler begin their effort to undo the City's building codes and encourage their developer friends and backers to build a monstrosity next door to you, I hope you will get involved and work to oppose them. When they run for reelection, we must support and vote for candidates to replace them. The three of them need to go. Their vote for districting and the Purple map proves they do not have the City's best interests at heart.

Thanks to all of you who paid attention to this important matter, got involved and showed up at City Council meetings.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The 25th Amendment: Can Trump Be Removed From Office For Being Nuts?

Mod: Interesting Vanity Fair piece that discusses what many have come to believe is true. America just might have its very first insane President, and the consequences could be extremely dire. That is, unless he is removed from office first.

“I Hate Everyone In The White House!”: Trump Seethes As Advisers Fear The President Is “Unraveling” (Vanity Fair link): At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”

The conversation among some of the president’s longtime confidantes, along with the character of some of the leaks emerging from the White House has shifted. There’s a new level of concern. NBC News published a report that Trump shocked his national security team when he called for a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during a briefing this summer. One Trump adviser confirmed to me it was after this meeting disbanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron.”

In recent days, I spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.”

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.

One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.

Mod: There is more to this story, and you can read it all by clicking the link at the top. So can Donald Trump be removed from office for being bananas? Apparently moves are being made to do just that.

The 25th Amendment at 50: Democratic bill lays groundwork to remove Trump from office in historic move (Salon link): In the year of its 50th anniversary, the 25th Amendment is suddenly seeing a surge in relevance -- so much so that there are even reports of the White House itself taking notice. This has been precipitated, of course, by a recent bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, one that would create a congressional "oversight" commission which could declare President Donald Trump to be incapacitated under the 25th Amendment and consequently remove him from office.

As Raskin explained to Yahoo News, "In case of emergency, break glass. If you look at the record of things that have happened since January, it is truly a bizarre litany of events and outbursts."

The 25th Amendment was ratified in the immediate aftermath of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, with the goal of providing a thorough outline for what should happen in the event that the president or vice president should be killed, incapacitated or resigns from their office. It was officially ratified on February 10, 1967.

The section of the amendment that pertains to Raskin's bill states that "whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal  of the executive departments, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting President."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Welcome to The Hub: Arcadia, Pasadena & Sierra Madre

Enjoyed the brownies?
Mod: It now appears that former Pasadena Star News chief Frank Girardot is back in the rag trade. I am sure it seemed like a good solution to certain problems at the time. The things we did in our younger years often do when we're being forced to come up with something quick. I'd like to find me a gig that pays six figures to put CDs into retail outlets. Except that I probably won't since nobody buys shiny discs any more. Or at least nowhere near as much as they once did. I am sad to say.

A little background here. Frank left his position as the Star News self-styled crusading journalist a while back to go to work for a real estate development outfit called Singpoli. Apparently for a whole lot of money. Located in Arcadia, it is run by a fellow named Kin Hui, a gent mostly famous for both large scale urban development and those unhappy squat monuments to nouveau riche conspicuous consumption known to many as McMansions.

On the surface Frank was there to operate a public relations firm called Pegasus Media (link). Something he was running in partnership with Mr. Hui, or so Frank claimed. It was supposed to perform as a kind of independently run promotional conduit for companies interested in making headway in the treacherous world of Los Angeles area media. Except that almost all of PM's clients were Singpoli associated entities, and Frank functioned more like an in-house publicist than anything else.

Under that incestuous umbrella, which offices out of the Singpoli building in Arcadia, Frank also became something of a de facto hired social media enforcer for certain development interests. A lot of them also owned, or at least in alliance with, his boss at Singpoli. And also often functioning in partnership with certain oligarchic financial operations and investors out of China.

I think it is safe to assume that none of them were ever interested in preserving the small town community atmosphere of places like Arcadia or Sierra Madre. They just want to build stack and pack development, and then rake in the dough. Woe to anyone daring to stand in their way.

Which brings us up to where we are today. Recently Frank Girardot announced the birth of a new weekly newsprint and website entity called The Hub. Aimed at today's happening youngsters in search of meaning in a world that can often seem confusing at times, it is described by Frank this way.

Welcome to The Hub (link): Let’s take on the elephant in the room first. Yes, we know there are fewer and fewer printed newspapers, tabloids, magazines, pamphlets, and books these days, and that this endeavor — in its printed form at least — flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

That said, we know most of you are reading this explanation on the same phone you used just a few moments ago to send a Snapchat or read a Facebook post, which should tell you that we are a little more conventional than we seem.

Separated at birth?
But we also know that conventional wisdom is just that — conventional. Not that we want too unconventional or eccentric — but we do believe there is a market for a polished and professional news source in our vast, and ever-changing community. And, with that in mind we created The Hub.

The Hub is a mobile, online and print news resource for Angelenos in their 20s and 30s that will be primarily distributed in downtown LA, Pasadena and Glendale. It is sponsored in part by the Monterey Park-based World Journal, which is venturing into English language media for the first time in its storied history.

All well and good, I suppose. Except I am not sure about either the print or Facebook parts. My kids wouldn't touch an actual printed newspaper if you paid them to, and strongly believe that Facebook is for tedious mid-lifer types hellbent on showing off their weight problems while wearing colorful shorts.

And then, sadly, there is this:

Expect The Hub to include that sort of hard-hitting journalism. Also expect the Hub to delve into the lives of millennials priced out of the region’s expanding housing market and explore the rise of marijuana-themed bakeries as legalization makes its way into the mainstream.

Affiliated with the World Journal, which is the largest Chinese language daily publication in Southern California, the HUB will not only be spot to find curated locally sourced information, it will also contain premium content from the World Journal translated for an English speaking audience.

I am not sure that parents of anyone under the age of thirty are going to see a burning need for a weekly rag that extolls the virtues of "marijuana-themed bakeries." Especially in a free distribution publication that will likely be found stacked up outside of places where kids like to congregate (link).

And as far as being priced out of that "expanding housing market," you might stand a better chance of getting a place of your own if you passed on the pot brownies.

Anyway, and wouldn't you know it, one of the very first articles to appear under the cool and ganja groovy banner of The Hub is a rather nasty hit piece on Arcadia City Councilwoman April Verlato.

So much for that LA, Pasadena and Glendale thing.

As you know, April earned the enmity of Arcadia's more predatory development interests by having the temerity to be elected to office as a highly effective community preservationist. And The Hub, given the origin of its financial backing, not surprisingly shares in that unfortunate animosity (link).

We will have more on this story later in the week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Was John Capoccia Right About 2016's Utility Tax Hike?

The Peppery John Capoccia
Mod: Before very many people were aware that raising utility taxes in Sierra Madre to 10% forever in 2016 was to cover water bond and CalPERS debt, there were quite a few alternative arguments favoring that tax hike. None delivered with more brio than what was put out by the peppery John Capoccia. A lot of people bought into arguments like his, and Measure UUT passed by a large margin. So now that a little time has passed I guess we can ask a few questions. Was he right? And why exactly was Sierra Madre experiencing such large deficits? John, or anyone else, never really said.

Yes on Measure UUT – A Vote For Sierra Madre – Opinion by John Capoccia, Mayor: On April 12, Sierra Madreans will vote on Measure UUT.  Measure UUT is asking you to set the Utility Users Tax at 10%, which is what it was from 2009 to 2015, when Sierra Madre enjoyed balanced budgets and growing reserves. Sierra Madre is now facing a $500,000 deficit in the current year, and a $1,000,000 projected deficit next year, because of the step-down of the Utility Users Tax.  These massive budget deficits are not sustainable.  Deep cuts that threaten our town as we know it are imminent without the fiscal security provided by Measure UUT.

Measure UUT gives Sierra Madre a choice – Do you want to continue to provide the means for our town to prosper, or shall there be cuts that could have far-reaching and unpredictable effects? Your City Council unanimously agrees that if Measure UUT does not pass, our recreational and community service programs will be decimated, library hours will be dramatically reduced, maintenance of city facilities such as parks, roads and sidewalks will be compromised, and the loss of revenue could result in outsourcing one or more departments such as Police, Paramedic or Library.

It is simply not realistic to expect that our town can thrive after losing such a large portion of our General Fund revenue.

Many that are in favor of deep cuts to the City’s budget have a thread of commonality – they are more concerned about themselves and keeping a few extra bucks in their wallets than they are concerned about preserving our historic Village of the Foothills, and they’ll resort to the spread of misinformation and employ underhanded tactics to get you to side with them.  Some of them don’t even live here, or haven’t lived here long enough to understand or appreciate Sierra Madre.  Many are devoted to anti-tax dogma and are willing to sacrifice our beloved Sierra Madre to demonstrate their ideological purity. Sure, there are some upstanding citizens with a legitimate concern that growth of government has gone too far and excessive taxation hinders economic growth, but here in Sierra Madre, your local utility tax pays for the services and programs that Sierra Madreans value.  I urge these folks to take a hard look at the facts, and I know they’ll side with those that love this town and will vote YES on Measure UUT.

Here are some of the weak arguments put forth by those opposed to Measure UUT and why they should be ignored:

If we outsource the Police Department by contracting with LA County Sheriff, we don’t need the UUT.  Yes, we could save perhaps $200,000 per year (for now) by contracting with the Sheriff.  We could reduce police presence and permanently close our facility and save more, but that will result in slower response times and more crime.  So where will we make up the remaining $800,000 deficit without compromising safety?  What happens a few years from now if we realize we made a mistake? – Too bad!  Once our PD is gone, we’ll never get it back. The UUT is a small price to pay to keep local control of our police, which has faithfully kept Sierra Madre as one of the safest communities in the nation.

Sierra Madre can’t afford the 10% UUT and needs to live within its means. That’s bunk.  We can afford it and we have. The rate was 10% from 2009 to 2015.   If we couldn’t afford it, why did voters overwhelmingly approve Measure U in 2008 at the higher 12% rate?  To cut costs, we’ve contracted out landscape maintenance, our pool, and now all of our recreation programs.

Was that a good idea?  Some think not, that we’ve gone too far with cost-cutting.  Sierra Madre’s per capita income is $81,395, which is higher than Arcadia’s. Monrovia has a per capita income of only $64,949, yet they have FIVE (yes, 5) voter-approved additional assessments against property, that when added together, cost Monrovians way more than what Sierra Madreans pay on their utility tax, even at the 10% UUT rate!  How is it that Monrovia can “afford” to pay even more than Sierra Madre, especially when Sierra Madreans earn 25% more? It’s not a question of affordability, it’s a question of whether you value the things that make our town special and whether you’re willing to keep it that way.

When voters approved the 12% UUT rate in 2008, it came with a “promise” that it would sunset. The “no” folks are not very clever.  Witness their recent mailer, where they attempt to mislead you with a partial quote from the 2008 impartial ballot analysis. They crudely omitted a few critical words from the city attorney’s actual text.  Here, I’ve added the critical words back in (in bold face type) so that you can have the full story.  It reads:  “Unless approved anew by the voters, the rate will decrease over time…”.  Clearly Measure U was meant to be reconsidered by the voters prior to the sunset, which makes sense if you read the Citizen’s Ad-Hoc Finance Committee’s November 8, 2007 report to the City Council.

The second bullet on the first page states that “The council should consider the political necessity of the sunset clause, although the public safety needs are not expected to subside”. Obviously, the committee recognized that the revenue needs were ongoing, and the sunset clause was included to reassure voters should conditions change.  Well, the committee was right, the conditions haven’t changed, and we now have a deficit after years of balanced budgets because of the step-down of the UUT.

Public sector pensions are too generous. If we cut the city’s revenue then they won’t have to pay for the pensions.  This is a tea-party favorite, and is patently absurd.  If you look at the experience of Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which filed for bankruptcy, pension obligations were protected, while public safety and other city services suffered.  And of course, this happened after a lot of very expensive litigation.  A city cannot simply walk away from its pension obligations, even in bankruptcy, and especially without first gutting all the other services including public safety, that the city provides for its citizens.

The budget keeps rising, which means that the city hasn’t cut expenses.  The city has cut expenses – this has been well documented, so I’m not going to go over that again.  I will however, draw attention to the reports from the annual UUT Oversight Committee.  The committee’s existence came in to being with Measure U in 2008, and its purpose is to ensure that the incremental revenue raised by Measure U goes to public safety.  The last UUT Oversight Committee Report dated November 10, 2015 states this: “…the UUT Committee has concluded that for the year ended June 30, 2014, the increase in public safety expenditures over the base year of 2008 ($1,920,695) exceeded the increase in UUT revenues over the base year ($1,277,795) in the amount of $642,900…”.

This means that there was $642,900 less from the general fund than what was available to spend on non-public safety in the last fiscal year compared to 2008.  How is this possible?  Because of budget cuts, that’s how!

Lost UUT revenue will be replaced by the continual rise of property values and the corresponding increase in property tax revenue.  This was the main argument put forth by the authors against Measure UUT in 2014, and they were just plain wrong, but they managed to fool enough people to defeat the measure.  And because they were wrong, we now have a deficit and are spending hard-earned reserves.  Now they’re pushing dissolution of the Sierra Madre PD as the budget savior – and guess what?  They’re wrong again!

Your City Council is unanimous in support of Measure UUT, because they know that we cannot keep Sierra Madre the special place that it is without sufficient revenue to support the services and programs that our citizens expect.

Let’s not take for granted what we cherish.  We have safe neighborhoods, fast response from Police, Fire and Paramedics, eclectic neighborhoods, a picturesque, charming downtown, and unspoiled hillsides.  We have low density, effective anti-mansionization laws, no traffic signals, a fantastic library and high property values.  Sierra Madre is a great place to raise a family and is the envy of other communities.  Let’s ensure that future generations feel the same way about this special place.

We all dislike paying taxes.  However, here in Sierra Madre your utility tax dollars provide for your safety and security, terrific library services and community programs.  Your local tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively for your benefit, allowing your city to keep development in check to preserve this special oasis.  I don’t need to remind anyone that Sierra Madre has no Walmarts, K-Marts, strip malls, auto malls, hotels or racetracks to pad the city coffers like our neighbors.  Nor do we have ANY additional property tax assessments like many of our neighbors.  Yes, we have a utility tax and we rely on it to keep Sierra Madre special!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Media Matters For America: Here's what you need to know about BuzzFeed's Breitbart bombshell

Mod: Buzzfeed's revelation is this: When Steve Bannon was working for the Trump administration, and feeding this President information he then parroted to the American people, Neo-Nazis had their highest placed advocate and ally ever.

Buzzfeed News has obtained and published “an explosive cache of documents” confirming Breitbart as the mouthpiece for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the racist right-wing movement known as the alt-right. Buzzfeed’s entire report on Breitbart management’s courting of neo-Nazis and white supremacists can be found here.

Breitbart actively courted and solicited neo-Nazis and white supremacist leaders for stories, even allowing them to contribute ideas and kill stories

Buzzfeed reports that a March 29th Breitbart article titled “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” was written with editorial input from numerous white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Prior to writing the article, Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos reached out to the system administrator for the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, Devin Saucier, and “neoreactionary” Curtis Yarvin to solicit ideas. All responded at length with suggestions. Saucier, who Yiannopoulos described as his “best friend,” responded that Steve Bannon was “sympathetic to much of it.”

Additionally, Saucier suggested ideas for articles that were later published on Breitbart, including in an email titled “Article idea: How trolls could win the general for Trump.” Yiannopoulos forwarded the email to a Breitbart writer and ordered him to “Drop what you’re doing and draft this for me.” The following day the article appeared on Breitbart. Saucier also killed a story Yiannopoulos had written on class-based affirmative action. After sending a draft of the article to Saucier, he replied, “I would honestly spike this.” The story never appeared on Breitbart.

Breitbart articles ghost-written by white supremacists and neo-Nazis have seeped into conservative politics, including the rhetoric of Donald Trump

In a July speech in Warsaw “that was celebrated by the alt-right,” President Trump used a line from a Breitbart story that Buzzfeed reported was “all but line-edited by a white nationalist.” Referring to remarks about free speech on college campuses, Yiannopoulos remarked that Trump “used phrases extremely close to what I say -- Bannon is feeding him.”

Furthermore, the Breitbart article written with the help of white nationalists and neo-Nazis, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” received notes from former Reagan and George H.W. Bush staffer James Pinkerton. Buzzfeed also reports the collaboration of “conservative thinkers” with Yiannopoulos that led to Breitbart articles, such as correspondences that included Rachel Fulton Brown, a University of Chicago medievalist, Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, and Ghaffar Hussain of the controversial organization Quilliam.

Steve Bannon continued his relationship with Breitbart while working on the Trump campaign

After joining the Trump campaign on August 17, 2016, Bannon “continued to run aspects of Breitbart.” Buzzfeed cites emails from Bannon to Yiannopoulos on September 1, September 3, and attempts to arrange a meeting between Yiannopoulos and digital strategist and Trump supporter Oz Sultan on September 11. Buzzfeed also reports that “there were also signs that Bannon was using his proximity to the Republican nominee to promote the culture war pet causes” of Breitbart.

Breitbart management was aware the site was courting white supremacists and neo-Nazis and was focused on maintaining plausible deniability

Buzzfeed reports that for Yiannopoulos,“maintaining a sufficiently believable distance from overt racists and white nationalists was crucial to the machine he had helped Bannon build.” Buzzfeed cites an email chain that had been forwarded to Bannon and Breitbart editor Alex Marlow by an assistant to Yiannnopoulos with a story bylined by Yiannopoulos that was actually written by his deputy and ghostwriter Allum Bokhari. Yiannopoulos replied with instructions not to “forward chains like that … everyone knows; but they don’t have to be reminded every time.” In another email, Yiannopoulos admitted that it was important for him to remain “clean enough” in his public interactions with white supremacy, despite his courtship of the movement.

Republican patrons the Mercer family, funds Breitbart and maintains editorial control

Hedge fund billionaire, Robert Mercer and his family, who Buzzfeed describes as “a major funder of Breitbart,” are described as having control over articles that are published on the website. In one instance detailed by Buzzfeed, Robert’s daughter Rebekah emailed Steve Bannon to demand an article she wanted written about a phone app game mocking Hillary Clinton that was rejected by the Apple App Store. Mercer wanted “an article up detailing his 1st amendment political persecution.” Breitbart published two articles about the app and Bannon described Apple’s reversal of their original decision a “Huge victory.”

In 2016, Yiannopoulos sang “America the Beautiful” for alt-right neo-nazis, who gave him a “sieg heil” salute

Link here.

Mod: The following article ran on the Huffington Post site on Feb. 2nd of this year.

Donald Trump Defends Far-Right Troll Milo Yiannopoulos (Huffington Post link): President Donald Trump lashed out at the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday after the school canceled an appearance by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart, had been invited to speak at the university by the Berkeley College Republicans, but Wednesday’s event was called off after protests against him turned violent. Trump didn’t refer to Yiannopoulos by name, instead referring to “innocent people with a different point of view.”

Over 1,000 people gathered on Wednesday to protest Yiannopoulos, who was kicked off Twitter last year after he led a brutal harassment campaign against comedian Leslie Jones. The Breitbart editor, the self-proclaimed “most fabulous supervillain on the internet,” has been accused of using hate speech to incite his followers.

“In our view, Mr. Yiannopoulos is a troll and provocateur who uses odious behavior in part to ‘entertain,’ but also to deflect any serious engagement with ideas,” Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement last week, noting that it’s unconstitutional for public institutions to ban “expression based on its content or viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are hateful or discriminatory.”

Yiannopoulos is a vocal supporter of the so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement.

Mod: It looks like UC Berkeley was right, and Donald Trump wrong.