Dear Mitch, May 12, 2013

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Dear Readers,

Its been a busy week and my inbox is going nuts. While there is still interest on what is happening at the Simi Valley City Hall regarding the City Attorney’s continued troubles, what with this week’s news article regarding her paying a claim in violation of the California Tort Claims Act, it seems the focus at City Hall has shifted dramatically over to spotlight the continued poor judgment displayed by Council Member Mike Judge with his Facebook misadventures re soft porn likes and now his sharing of “snuff flicks.”

I am not really sure where all this City Hall Lack of Good Judgment thing is coming from, either.

Since the Simi Valley Police Officer’s Association (the local police officer union, not to be confused with the Simi Valley Police Department, a municipal police department), staged a successful coup in taking over City Hall three years ago in 2010, with the election of their endorsed candidate Mayor Bob Huber and the accidental election of “supported candidate” Council Member Mike Judge over their endorsed candidate Keith Mashburn, the word from inside City Hall is things have never been worse, have never been so unorganized, and morale has never been lower.

To back up a touch, the term “accidental election” regarding Mike Judge is a local colloquialism referencing the fact that in the 2010 municipal election, the Police Officer’s Association, the local police union, not to be confused with the Simi Valley Police Department, a municipal police department, endorsed council candidate Keith Mashburn, a retired fire department battalion chief. The Police Officer’s Association, the local police union, not to be confused with the Simi Valley Police Department, a municipal police department, flooded the town with signs for Mr. Mashburn, and on each sign, to show that Mr. Mashburn was endorsed by the police officer union, a police officer badge was prominently displayed. Come election booth time though, it is believed many associated the police officer badge on every other sign posted around town with the guy who had police officer next to his name on the ballot, Mike Judge.

And to explain the issues coming from inside City Hall, the first hand word that I have received is no decisions are being made, nothing can get done, everyone is so worried about protecting their backside that the documentation on each and every task has gone up multiple folds not to ensure the work is correct, but to protect one from the inevitable sharp shooting that comes from actually making a decision on something. Clerical staff get yelled at and belittled by a certain elected official. Department heads have given up on trying to deal with a certain high level attorney as it is possible that the person just cannot remember what she said from one day to the next, hence her constant denial of prior conversations and decisions. To the receivers, the shocked impression is that she is outright lying to their face, when an equally plausible explanation is that she suffers mental issues normally associated with advanced years.

In 2012, the police union again supported and helped elect Council Member Keith Mashburn. Mr. Mashburn appears to be getting comfortable with his new elected role and with six months now on the job, his honeymoon period with the press is about over. It remains to be seen what his positions are going to be in the future, but he also does not share the blame for the currently ongoing City Hall woes.

So back to the inbox. With the Mike Judge decapitation murder snuff flick issues going on this past week, my inbox has been snuffed, er, stuffed, with all kinds of things from the “whatever . . .” to “its his right to look at whatever he wants!” to “it’s a private Facebook page, get over it!” to “disgusting,” “where does this woman hating misogynist get off???” and “violence against women is not a training film!”

Frankly, I wish the issue would just go away. But instead of an apology from the wayward council member, we get weird postings from him along the lines of “no one is going to tell him what to do.” Kind of like how my then juvenile boys handled issues in seventh grade. And until he fesses up that he really, really blew it, things will continue to compound. Or as one observer relayed to me at the Street Fair (nice job by the way Chamber!), this snowball has taken a life of its own and its headed down hill fast.

So lets get started.

Dear Mitch

Did you see Mike Judge’s Friday’s Thought for the day? It looks like a cat with a torn up pizza in it’s mouth with the caption, “I regret nothing. NOTHING.” So he posts a picture of a cat that has obviously done something wrong and shows no remorse about it as something to think about? And that’s the message he felt like sending out? Is Mike really trying to say he has zero remorse and is fully aware that he did something wrong? I sure hope that is not what he intended. But if he was trying to say “I did nothing wrong” and totally missed that the picture he used sends a different message, what does that say about his ability to comprehend?

Judge Cat

Dear Reader (too many today to come up with cute names for you, so you all get to be “Dear Readers),

Yeah, I did see that post! What is up with that? The one comment that was sent to me was “This guy is an arrogant idiot!” The same person sent me a screen shot of Judge commenting Friday night, “I’m getting to the point where I wish dueling was still in vogue.” Now, what do you think Mike meant by that? Another reader sent me the same screen shot with the caption, “Mike Judge Wants to Shoot You.”

So here’s the question for today: Do you think that a) Mike Judge was just being cute with his statement that he wishes dueling were back in style; b) do you think Mike Judge was implying he wants to shoot someone? c) do you think Mike Judge was conveying the message that he would like to shoot me?

Here’s the screen shot . . .
Mike Judge Duel

***

Dear Mitch,

Mike Judge says he’s a Police officer who happens to be a City Councilman. Great. Do we really want someone who views representing our city and its citizens as something he just kind of does on the side?

Dear Reader,

Interesting take. I too noticed the play on words. Perhaps there is confusion over which hat to wear at any one time . . .

Or perhaps . . ., well, perhaps that observation can stay in the pocket for now . . . 😉

***

Dear Mitch

Have I got it right that at first the explanation for posting the decapitation video on Mike Judge’s Facebook page was to ID the killer and then when it was pointed out this was obviously a Mexican Drug Cartel video, the explanation went to it was a training tool? So when we find out something like there are rules against using these kinds of video as a training tool, will the explanation switch to something else?

Dear Reader,

Wow, it is so amazing how you caught that! If you were to listen to the supporters of this conduct, these simple observations tend to get lost, overlooked or (pointing finger in opposite direction), Hey! Quick! Look Over There!!!

My kids used to play the same games too . . . “Well, MAYBEE it happened that way!” Sure kid, and just MAYBEE you’re gonna git chur butt whipped! (Ahem, figuratively . . ., such tender dear boys . . .)

***

Dear Mitch

What is going on with City Hall? Between signing void contracts, posting videos of people’s heads being cut off and paying $20,000 on expired claims, it makes you wonder if there is anyone who works there that has half a brain? And as long as they are passing out free money, when can I get mine?

Dear Reader,

Heck, I’d like some free money too. Maybe some health and dental benefits, pension contributions . . ., all that. Then MAYBEE I could sit at my desk all day long, twirl around in my chair, suck up to my elected friends, take long naps behind closed doors, rush off with my clip board in hand looking very busy, “Not now! See me when I get back! Better yet, send me a memo!!”

But then again, I also like actually getting things done . . .

***

Dear Mitch

Remember when Doug Crosse was ready to sue over Steve Sokja’s cell phone reimbursement that was something like $7,000 over 14 years? Where is he now that the City has forked over $20,000 on a claim it didn’t have to pay?

Dear Reader,

Yeah, what is that all about?

Doug Crosse! Come back! Your City Needs You! Bring Your Broom!

***

Dear Mitch

What happened to all your posts on Vote Simi Valley? You and Chandler still cool post the Mike Judge issue?

Dear Reader,

Yes, I think so, but the Mike Judge issue hasn’t gone away yet, so that remains to be seen. Until we see how all this shakes out, lets just say we are working things out, and the prior columns have all been safely tucked away.

***

Dear Mitch?

I saw that you have been kicked off the Facebook page, Simi Valley Letters to The Editor again. And then the natives enjoyed a good old fashion “parade the head on a stick” post hatchet job party at your expense.

You are probably not missing out on too much, other than the denial of your First Amendment Rights for pointing out the Councilman “wears no clothes.” Funny how the defenders of a certain local politician demand First Amendment rights for their boy to watch and share human decapitation videos, but insist on censure and denial of those same First Amendment rights for anyone pointing out that this public figure has publicly embarrassed himself and Simi Valley.

You do know that Letters to The Editor was started as a Republican political operation, and it has now been taken over as a propaganda site for the radical right fringe group called the California Republican Assembly or CRA for short? And the voices there all tend to agree with each other as they boot anyone who does not follow the right wing fringe Republican agenda.

Wherever YOUR political sympathies lay, I doubt they fall in with the “right wing fringe” group.

OK, “Dear Reader,” that voice was barely disguised. But I’ll play along and say, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”

***

Dear Mitch,

Bill walked from Santa Monica to Westwood. It took 45 minutes to walk from Santa Monica to Brentwood. Then it took 25 minutes to walk from Brentwood to Westwood. He just arrived in Westwood. the current time is 2:30 P.M. At what time did he leave Santa Monica?

Do you start at the beginning of the problem, add 45 minutes and 25 minutes and then subtract that from the current time? Do you start at the current time and then go backwards 25 minutes and then another 45 minutes? Do you use a technique of random selection using reasoned deduction or do you methodically go in order to arrive at your solution?

Let me know which method you use.

***

Dear Reader,

Here I have to confess that I learned how to solve these kind of equations in my head at an early age. When I see a story math problem, I keep a running total in my head while I read the problem, waiting for the “call of the question.” If this were a formal test with a series of similar questions, I would be disciplined to glance first at the call of the question, here “At what time did he leave Santa Monica?” Then when I read the question, I see that we start in Santa Monica. Great. Add 45. Plus 25, running total up to 70. We arrive somewhere at 2:30, less 70 minutes = 1:20 in my head at the same time we arrive at the end of the paragraph with the final sentence, “At what time did he leave Santa Monica.” That for me happens simultaneously for me as I read the question.”

I learned how to do the same thing when I read a government claim coming into the City. You just knew which ones had denial written all over them from first glance, which ones blew their statute of limitations giving us an easy win before it even started, and which ones to pucker about. Its not really rocket surgery, its just doing the same thing over and over again and learning from your prior mistakes.

But if you keep doing the same mistake over and over again, well then, in the words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”

To recap, I do not always start at the beginning of a problem when I notice a trend. Sometimes you have to start with the patterned result, and then work you way backwards and then back forward again to arrive back at that same result. And then ask yourself, “Is there a pattern here that I need to be concerned about?”

So Simi Valley, what do you think?

Is there a pattern going on here we need to be concerned about?

***

Tell Mom you love her today, and if for some reason you cannot do that in person, thing loving thoughts of Mom and find your own way of telling her anyway.

Mitch

PS: I dare you all to share this link with our friends at Letters to The Editor! Such a shame they would miss out on our discussions . . . 😉

2012 Simi Valley Election Results

Bob Huber defeated Ken Sandberg for Simi Valley Mayor, though Ken captured 20% of the vote.

As predicted, Steve Sojka achieved a very comfortable victory for Simi Valley City Council with 30.38% of the vote. Joining him on the City Council will be Keith Mashburn, who took 21.07% of the vote.  Congratulations to Steve Sojka and Keith Mashburn!

Mashburn on Crime in Simi Valley

Keith Mashburn, Candidate for Simi Valley City Council, had something to say about crime, drugs and prostitution in Simi Valley on his campaign website, which became a source for discussion in the online forums. Keith isn’t backing down. He released his latest statement on his campaign platform, specifically targeting his concerns on crime. As follows…

“Crime, drugs and prostitution have invaded”. I will labor tirelessly to remove these threats from Simi Valley. Our citizens and children deserve no less. Some of the other candidates have challenged me on this, saying I’m using fear tactics and that the statistics don’t bear this out here in what once was one of the “safest cities”. Well I do not agree. I read the papers, watch the news and have observed what’s going on.

Has the sitting city council and city management artificially created the issues of Crime, Drugs and Prostitution? Did they institute programs, pass several ordinances, step up targeted enforcement, and sponsor the Heroin Task Force so they can look like heroes coming to our rescue? I don’t think so. These are well documented real problems.

Gang activity and graffiti is prevalent. Crimes by the homeless and related problems are increasing. Although “only” two in the first six months this year, any murder is way too many. Property crimes are up. And the news on armed robberies is disturbing. Finally drug use in our schools have made headlines and drug use by our youth has increased.

Here’s where I stand: Police & public safety: I’m a committed supporter of our police department, its officers and our new Chief. We must have a strong, highly professional, well equipped & paid, contented police department. They are “our thin blue line” that protects us. People sleep peacefully in their beds at night because they have the knowledge that dedicated men and women are protecting them from violence. Statistics say that crime increases in tough economic times. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. I encourage you to ride along with one of our police officers and see first hand the direction our city is heading.

Besides the criminal threat we face, there is the potential for natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and floods. We also are a major railroad thoroughfare with hazards that could be a major threat to our community (life and property) with each passing freight train. I will support and improve our CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team). I will work to Maintain top-notch fire services.

We’re not the San Fernando Valley and I don’t want to become the San
Fernando Valley. I pledge to protect the suburban, semi-rural equestrian heritage of Simi Valley. I’d like to see More pro-active code enforcement, fight sign blight, illegal occupancies, non-compliant residential and business uses plus maintain the safety, aesthetics and quality of life in our great city.

I’m a Board Member of the Simi Valley Police Foundation and a retired VC Fire Dept. Battalion Chief. The best possible defense is being prepared for the worst. Not being prepared, and not being proactive is inexcusable. I practice reality, not fear tactic.

Keith Mashburn – Simi Valley Days

I had an opportunity to meet Keith Mashburn during the last election. Both he and his wife are two of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. He cares deeply for Simi Valley and it shows when you talk to him.

With two City Council seats up for election every two years, I really agonize over how to cast my votes. Even if I decide early how to cast one vote, I may decide, un-decide, decide again, and un-decide again up to the final days before the election. Therapy may be necessary. Keith is the type of candidate to sit down with you one on one to answer your questions and help you make an educated decision.

I spotted Keith Mashburn at the Simi Valley Days Parade and he was kind enough to let me give him the paparazzi treatment. Here’s Keith Mashburn at the parade…

Simi Valley Political Sign Drama

Sometimes, not sharing the details does more to stir the rumor mill than simply naming names and telling the truth. Take the latest in Simi Valley political sign gossip:

BTW, I have heard from multiple people that a certain Council person is harassing citizens who have signs from other candidates and in some cases getting people to take the other signs down.

After Ken Sandberg, candidate for Simi Valley Mayor made that remark, I began speculating and asking around, privately and in public forms, who he was talking about and learned that the latest rumor was that Council Member Barbra Williamson had “harassed” a property owner into removing a Keith Mashburn for City Council sign. No one seemed to be able to confirm it, including those involved. I asked Keith Mashburn for comment and he kindly replied:

Hi Mike.  In the interest of my camp remaining positive, I decline to comment.

I respect Keith’s decision to keep things positive. Unfortunately, however, his choice to stay quiet in the interest of running a positive campaign only made me more suspicious that the rumor might be true. I learned that the property owner was on Stearns Street and received their contact information and decided to call them directly.

It turns out the property owner’s adult son granted permission for the Mashburn sign to be posted and the sign was placed while the owner was out of town. Upon return, the owner, a long-time Williamson supporter, decided he preferred not to have the sign there and respectfully requested that it be removed. The property owner indicated that the Mashburn team was very courteous, removed the sign and apologized for the misunderstanding. When asked if Williamson played a role in removing the sign, he seemed surprised by the question and said, “No, not at all!” He reiterated that he was not harassed or coerced, that his son was also a good man who is a Mashburn supporter, and that both Mashburn and Williamson are good, respectful people. The sign was removed for no other reason than the property owner simply didn’t want it there.

Sign-gate 2012? No, not at all. The lesson learned: apparently, not everything you read on Facebook about the political scene is true. Imagine that!

Mashburn and Simi Valley Businesses

Keith Mashburn doesn’t believe that Simi Valley is business friendly. I have heard of several concerns over the past several years, most of those have been specific to the permitting processes. In the video below, Keith Mashburn identifies the problem as he sees it and suggests solutions, from cutting the business tax, training of city staff, and forming a new task force.

Mashburn Proposes Elimination of Business Tax

Keith Mashburn appeared at City Hall tonight during the public statements to propose changes to make Simi Valley more business friendly. The foundation of his proposal was to eliminate the city’s business tax. He acknowledged that this would reduce income for the city, but asserted that the draw to the city as business friendly would drive the economy and account for the loss.

He also indicated that part of the problem that businesses experience are due to the lack of training by portions of city staff. I’m assuming that one of the areas he is referring to is the permitting process. I really have no insight into the training process, hopefully city employees wouldn’t mind contacting me to weigh in on that theory. I have heard stories from other business owners that starting a business that involves conditional use permits and building permits can be a lengthy and frustrating endeavor.

Since the proposal was made during public statements, the Council does not discuss the topic or provide any feedback, so not much more to say at this point.