Candidates Circling State Sen. Mendoza, Central Basin Generosity

Montebello mayor says she is ‘seriously considering’ run against embattled Sen. Tony Mendoza

With state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) on a leave of absence pending a sexual harassment probe, Montebello Mayor Vanessa Delgado said Tuesday that one reason she is considering a possible election challenge to the incumbent is that there is no one standing up for the Senate district with him absent.

Other names being bandied about for SD 32 (the southern part of SGV) are former Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez, Cerritos College trustee Sandra Salazar, and Angela Acosta-Salazar, a former Rio Hondo Community College trustee. March 4 is the filing deadline, unless Mendoza either resigns or doesn’t run again. Then the deadline is March 9.

He worked at a water district for just seven days. But it ended up costing $1.5 million

By last fall, Beilke had found work at a company that operates a solar farm in El Mirage in the Mojave Desert. It’s run by a former Central Basin executive.

His job involved finding local governments willing to do business.

Will Mike Eng Bring Back Redevelopment Program To Create Affordable Housing?

Mike Eng held a popular “Coffee With Mike” event in Covina this week. Despite the State of the Union Tuesday night, and the acrimony toward President Trump, Eng had more than 50 people attend, first giving a short speech and then answering questions. One interesting topic he mentioned was bringing back redevelopment agencies to fund affordable housing.

Redevelopment was killed in 2012, criticized as a giveaway to developers. Legislation passed in 2015 bought back portions of the program, but apparently it’s not doing enough. We’ll track where this goes. Eng is running to replace state Sen. Ed Hernandez for Senate District 22.


Trump Blame for Puerto Rico Tragedy Is Lazy Reporting

I’m certainly no Trump apologist. As a long time New York, I’m well aware of Trump and his destructive narcissism. But, while he bears some blame for the current tragedy in Puerto Rico, he’s nowhere near the top of the list.

Corporate greed and government leaders in the U.S. and on the island for decades have manipulated and neglected the island’s needs and its people. The storm just exposed this.

Today’s example is the role Wall Street played in wiping out the savings of unsavvy investors.

“To have this type of carnage being born on this small of a population in this small of a geographic territory is something that we’ll likely never see again,” said attorney Jeffrey Erez, who has filed hundreds of securities cases on behalf of Puerto Rican investors. “You have the complete investing class on a very small island having lost 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of their retirement savings within a few years.”

And among the many factors that contributed to this was this: 

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A Missed Pension Story in Monrovia?

When people talk government pension details, eyes roll back. But the latest at on Monrovia is interesting – and frightening – for a few reasons. The city’s current unfunded liability is $112 million. This, by the way, in a city of 36,000.

Here’s a show stopper:

“In fact, if we do nothing, current financial modeling indicates that the costs associated with the pending CalPERS UAL repayment schedule will strain our General Fund to the point of rendering the City insolvent in either FY 2021/22 or FY 2022/23.”

Despite this, the city’s plan has no staff or service cuts. Employees took a minor pay cut across the board, but the larger bite will be paid with a bond, which the city will have to pay back with interest. And more taxes. One potential stumbling block:

But in a system that expects to pay 60 percent of future pension costs with a risky stock-laden investment portfolio, a plunge in a record-high market could quickly add new debt.”

Have to wonder what the rest of the cities in the San Gabriel Valley are facing. 

You should read the whole scary story:

Media Held Liable for What Law Enforcement Tells Them?

Here’s a warning to journalists, and their employers, who regurgitate whatever law enforcement tells them, especially if they work in Minnesota.

Every day we are inundated by news stories of criminal behavior, murder, drug dealing, stealing. Many of these stories are built, sometimes verbatim, around press releases, provided by police or prosecutors and statements from either on-the-record or anonymous law enforcement sources.

What if that information is wrong? What if a suspect has been quickly cleared, though only after his name is splashed across the media properties?

In Minnesota, a wrongly accused man has sued media organizations after police held a press conference and announced his arrest in the 2012 killing of a police officer.

The media published stories based on the press conference. But investigators were wrong. The cleared man sued, not the police, but media for defamation. A jury found the statements published were defamatory but not false, so no damages for the plaintiff. A judge reversed the jury decision, and now a new trial will be scheduled for two news organizations, others initially sued settled out of court.

Experts believe the judge got it wrong and the decision will eventually be appealed. Meanwhile, the organizations have to pay increasing legal fees, regardless of whether they lose or win.

Media organizations should think about why they allow themselves to be used as a propaganda tool for law enforcement. Skepticism should be a priority.

 Statements at issue

  • Police say that man – identified as 34-year-old Ryan Larson – ambushed Officer Decker and shot him twice, killing him. (KARE)
  • Rosella holds no ill will against the man accused of killing her son. (KARE)
  • Ryan Larson, the man accused of killing Officer Decker, could be charged as early as Monday. (KARE)
  • Investigators say 34-year-old Ryan Larson ambushed the officer, shooting him twice. Larson is in custody. (KARE)
  • He was a good guy last night going to check on someone who needed help. That someone was 34-year-old Ryan Larson who investigators say opened fire on Officer Tom Decker for no reason anyone can fathom. (KARE)
  • Investigators believe he fired two shots into Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker, causing his death. (KARE)
  • Man faces Murder Charge (St. Cloud Times)

YouTubing The Prosecution’s Case

It was inevitable. Prosecutors have frequently used a compliant media. The perfectly timed leak. The perp walk. And the press conference. All to gain public attention and sway any potential jurors before a trial begins.

But why bother with the mainstream media when you can go straight to the public using social media, especially video?

Embattled District Attorney Tony Rackackas decided to embrace the social media era by using YouTube to fight back against what the Orange County DA’s office feels is unfair and biased reporting in a murder case as well as social media postings from the felon’s defenders.

Kenneth Clair was sentenced to death for the sexual assault, beating and strangulation of babysitter Linda Faye Rodgers in 1984. That sentence was overturned, and Clair is facing life without parole. Supporters of Clair argue that at least he should get a new trial. Something Rackackas is against.

As part of the DA’s offensive is a series of videos detailing the crime.

By taking the Clair case to the general public, Rackauckas is appealing to people in a way that will become the norm, Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor at Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University, told the Register.

“I think what you are looking at is the future,” he said.

Pasadena Police Must Confront Trust Issue

A police department is only as good as the public thinks it is.

The Pasadena Police Department should use that as its guiding principle as investigations and internal reviews mount. Credibility matters, and with the latest revelations of alleged police misconduct, the public should be fully informed.

Recently, the Pasadena police chief announced that the city hired a consulting firm to review all the cases handled by some of its officers. According to reporter Brian Charles, two officers allegedly hid exculpatory evidence and threatened at least one witness to recant earlier statements related to a 2007 murder case. Allegations connected to the officers also include: kidnapping, assaults, death threats and soliciting of bribes.

These and other revelations caused a judge last month to declare a mistrial in the case.

In addition, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the county’s Alternate Public Defender’s Office and Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating past cases of officers.

Criticism of the tactics used by the Pasadena police have ebbed and flowed over the years. Some black residents have long complained that they have been unfairly targeted.

A shooting last year increased the belief. In March 2012, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by police who believed he was armed and had just robbed someone at gunpoint.

The biggest obstacle in keeping the public informed and keeping trust is how difficult it is to get information on police misconduct. Unlike other public employees, even when police employees are found to have abused their authority, their employee files are rarely if ever disclosed. Secrecy is the default position and keeps the public in the dark.

The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Charlie Beck, who talked about how trust matters between police and residents, also recently noted the difficulty in keeping the public informed. After an ex-officer, later killed, exacted deadly revenge because of what he said was an unfair hearing and firing, Beck promised to be as transparent as possible. But he added that because of privacy protections allowed to police officers, state law would need to be changed to allow true transparency.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Beck appropriately summarized what all police departments face: “We have great responsibility. I don’t think any profession, any department, is as scrutinized as ours. That’s legitimate, because we (are given) the right to take away personal freedom, even human life.”

The Pasadena Police Department has that same responsibility given to it by its citizens.

When officers blatantly abuse that authority, openness should be the default position.

It keeps bad cops off the streets and allows the good cops to do their jobs and have community trust.

Right now there are too many questions unanswered. How far does this stain go? How many officers knew this was going on and did nothing? The department needs to answer these questions openly or that credibility gap will increase and the distrust will widen.

No one should want that.

Originally posted in the Pasadena Star News