Archive | October, 2010

Election Final: A quick review of our top election stories

Election Final: A quick review of our top election stories

Election Final From the Surf City Voice:

This is the final Surf City Voice election update, a simple recap of all the 2010 election articles that you might have missed or would like to have easy access to in your own final review of candidates and issues prior to making your vote on Tuesday.

The list goes more or less in reverse chronological order:

City Advisor: No longer passionate about Carchio after being ignored 3 years
http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/10/city-financial-advisor-no-longer-passionate-about-carchio-after-being-ignored-3-years/
Councilmember Joe Carchio ignored his appointee to the Investment Advisory Board for three years, despite her many attempts to contact him with important

Jersey Joe’s Tax Woes: http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/10/jersey-joes-tax-woes-the-federal-govt-is-wrong-councilman-says/ Joe Carchio sounded bitter but said he doesn’t care if he gets reelected to the Huntington Beach City Council or not. “If people don’t want me to be a councilman, then fine; I don’t care, I don’t care, I really don’t care,” he recently told the Voice. Is Carchio, who has a long history of avoiding paying his taxes, guilty of “fraudulent conveyance”?

Wise Guy Carchio Threatens Journalist Over Investigation of Misuse of Public Funds: http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/not-so-wise-guy-jersey-joe-takes-city-threatens-9-11-war-when-caught/  In a fit of intense anger, expressed with squinted eyes, a tightly stretched face and deliberately pronounced words, Jersey Joe, everybody’s friend, threatened me with dire warnings of “war” and “9-11.”

Carchio Tried to Keep the Money He Took from the City in “Honest Mistake”: http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/carchios-payback-to-city-came-6-months-after-learning-of-honest-mistake/ Contrary to what Councilmember Joe Carchio wanted readers of the Register and Independent to believe, he did not pay back the money he tried to take from the taxpayers until after hee knew that the Voice caught sent of his scam.

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/10/joe-carchio-in-his-own-words-lying-about-divorce-misuse-of-public-funds-and-tax-liens/ Audio of Voice interview with Joe Carchio.

Will Joe Carchio be the next mayor of Huntington Beach? http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/the-days-of-our-lives-will-joe-carchio-become-surf-citys-next-mayor-will-don-hansen-become-a-journalist/

Fred Speaker, planning commissioner and city council candidate:

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/fred-speaker-crotchety-council-candidate-zips-lips-over-budget-slips/ Speaker—in his own words—is a “fiscally responsible” and “pay as you go” candidate who as an experienced small businessman knows “how to balance a budget” and who promises that he “won’t treat taxpayer dollars any less carefully.” But a Voice investigation of his past business practices also reveals a history of financial mismanagement, including a huge bankruptcy filed on the same day that the Bank of America won a lease fraud lawsuit against him as sole proprietor of Economy Auto Leasing.

City Attorney race:

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/who-will-control-surf-city-the-election-of-city-attorney-is-t-gabe-houston-eligible/ Is City Attorney challenger T. Gabe Houston an eligible candidate?

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/who-will-control-surf-city-the-republican-wrath-against-jennifer-mcgrath-part-1/ The war of words against City Attorney Jennifer McGrath by OC’s Republican Guard.

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/secret-e-mail-revealed-keith-bohr-bashes-the-city-attorney-she-responds/ Secret e-mail reveals Councilmember Keith Bohr’s irrational loathing of City Attorney Jennifer McGrath.

Candidates’ Questions:

Infrastructure: http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/07/huntington-beach-election-city-council-candidates-question-2-infrastructure/

Bolsa Chica and the Ridge: http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/07/question-1-city-council-candidates-speak-out-on-the-ridge/

Poseidon Resources, Inc. (desalination plant proposal for Huntington Beach):

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/defactualization-bogus-polls-emerge-from-sea-bottom-before-poseidon-hearing/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/07/probolsky-register-poseidon-bogus-desal-poll/

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City Advisor: No longer passionate about Carchio after being ignored 3 years

City Advisor: No longer passionate about Carchio after being ignored 3 years

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

When Joe Carchio ran for city council in 2006 Angela Rainsberger aggressively campaigned for him because he told her that he would listen to the residents of Huntington Beach.

At councilmember Don Hansen’s suggestion, she signed her name to a flyer that went to every home in the city and endorsed Carchio along with incumbents Cathy Green and Gil Coerper. All three candidates won in the election.

Carchio is the lone incumbent city council candidate seeking reelection in 2010, but he won’t be sending out any flyers with Rainsberger’s name on them this time because, she says, he didn’t listen after all. In fact, she claims, Carchio ignored her phone calls for three years after he was elected.

The problem started shortly after the election. Carchio came to Rainsberger’s home to talk about her request to be appointed to the Planning Commission. Instead, Carchio put crony Fred Speaker on the Planning Commission and appointed her to the Investment Advisory Board which would give her the important task of analyzing and advising the City Council on the City’s investment policies in a yearly report:

In preparing this report, the Board shall review the Investment Policy, Annual Financial Audits, and any other investment information determined by the Board to be applicable to the Annual Report. The Board will review and make recommendations in its Annual Report, on the following items: Investment Policies, Annual Investment Audit, Cash Management, Proposed State and Federal Legislation, Compliance with Investment Policies, Anticipate Exposure to Loss, and other areas as outlined in Municipal Code 2.110.030, including performing other duties or studies as directed by the City Council.

Considering that Rainsberger had over 15 years of experience in corporate finance, with an emphasis on “systems efficiencies, controls and financial reporting,” according to a 2005 Orange Coast magazine article, appointing Rainsberger to the IAB during an economic recession that was about to devastate the City’s budget finances may have been—no, was—the smartest thing that Carchio ever did as a member of the Huntington Beach City Council.

The problem was that Rainsberger took her job to help protect the City’s investments seriously, but Carchio apparently did not, as she indicated in a recent e-mail sent to the Voice.

“Never once while I sat on the board did he return my numerous calls. He voted on financial issues without receiving my advice. It was a complete waste of my time to attend IAB meetings, review investments and formulate advice that Carchio would never receive. City Council members vote on important fiscal matters that impact the safety and return of the taxpayers’ assets. It was a great disappointment that during economically turbulent times that Carchio failed to follow up to gain a better understanding of these important issues.”

In November 2009 Rainsberger fired off an angry e-mail to Carchio that finally got his attention. “I was wondering why you would appoint me as your advisor to a city board, have me volunteer my very precious time, and then fail to return my 10+ voice mail messages I have left for you over the last three years,” she wrote.

In response, Carchio claimed that the number she had called was “an old city number that has not been used for several years.” But the prefix to that number is not used by City Hall and a year later it is still in service with Carchio’s easily recognized voice along with a computer generated voice telling callers that Carchio’s mailbox is full and cannot take new messages at this time.

Generous readers of the Voice might give Carchio the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there was some legitimate reason, such as technophobia or a forgotten voice message retrieval password, for not responding to his appointee to the IAB for three years. But wouldn’t a concerned councilmember have taken the initiative to find other normal means for maintaining contact if he really was “passionate about Huntington Beach,” as Carchio’s campaign signs promise?

Speaking of reining in the city’s financial problems, Rainsberger also told the Voice of a meeting she had with Carchio at City Hall about the Downtown Specific Plan after she finally managed to contact him in November 2009. She was concerned about the problem of drunk driving, related to the many bars that already exist downtown, but Carchio told her that the City’s police helicopter program helped contain the DUI problem.

To prove it—or perhaps to offer a nice perk to an angry former supporter before the next election—he offered to arrange for the two of them to go up for a ride in a police helicopter. “You’ll get a kick out of it,” she recalls him promising.

Rainsberger, still obviously more concerned about the City’s financial future than Carchio, turned down the offer due to her concern that Surf City taxpayers would have paid for an unnecessary and expensive use of police time and resources.

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Editorial: Advertorial Journalism by the Times and Register is Bad for Surf City

Editorial: Advertorial Journalism by the Times and Register is Bad for Surf City

By John Earl
Editor
Surf City Voice

It’s an election year. You need information to help you vote and most of the local election news you get will come from local newspapers.

So, why are the OC Register (publisher of the weekly Huntington Beach Wave) and the Los Angeles Times (publisher of the weekly Huntington Beach Independent) giving their readers (you) pabulum instead of real reporting on local issues? Why is a small news blog with a budget of under $1,000 a year kicking the pants off of corporate media giants with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars and huge staffs?

We understand that the editors of the Times and Register are embarrassed about being consistently out reported by the Surf City Voice since we started it last April as the online successor to the former print edition of the OC Voice.

So we don’t expect local corporate news media editors to link to or mention our stories about misuse of public funds and lying by public officials, or how city council candidates can parlay shady past business experience into “pro business” resumes that qualify them to hold public office and manage your tax dollars, or how a candidate for the office of City Attorney is arguably legally unqualified to run for office, or how your city council has been voting to help a water profiteer suck up hundreds of millions of tax dollars for a white-elephant project you don’t need while telling you, falsely, that it is a “privately funded project that poses no risk to the taxpayers.”

But, come on, with their huge budgets and supposed news-gathering expertise, can’t the (not) Independent and Wave even do some basic, well-researched, not to mention investigative, reporting for the benefit of their subscribers and the consumers who keep them profitable despite the ineptitude of their corporate parents?

How much more circulation and advertising will the “mainstream” media have to lose before their CEOs realize that “dumbed down” or “advertorial” journalism will not save them from themselves?

Can’t their reporters be encouraged to ask a few thoughtful questions of our elected representatives or the people who want to become our elected representatives?

Before the Independent reported that council candidate Fred Speaker wanted to use his business experience of balancing budgets to help the city through its financial crisis, did its editors bother to look into his known record of bankruptcy or a court case in which he was found responsible for passing fraudulent car loans to a bank? The answer is no. Only the Surf City Voice reported thoroughly on Speaker’s actual business background.

And, so far, not a peep in the Independent or the Register about the arguably ineligible city attorney opposition candidate or incumbent council candidate Joe Carchio’s misuse of taxpayers’ money (and his failure to pay it back until months later and only after he knew the Voice was on to him) or his history of huge tax liens levied against him by county, state and federal agencies.

The Voice has reported on lots of 2010 election related issues that have been totally ignored by the Wave and the Independent. You can click the links provided below to review all of those stories.

Apparently the Independent and Wave can’t keep up.

Maybe their owners think that they are the only games in town, so who cares what the readers think?

Well, if anybody thinks that you don’t have other choices, they’re wrong.

You do have another choice and it has been offering you the kind of local news reporting that is vital to maintaining effective, democratic government. That choice is the Surf City Voice at www.surfcityvoice.com . It offers real reporting—that requires hours, days, weeks or even months of research and hard work to produce—instead of stories that are little more than rewritten corporate or government press releases.

If you share our concerns about local journalism and democracy, we ask you to support the Surf City Voice as an alternative source for vital news of our community left unreported by the competition. We ask you to give that support in any way you can; first, by reading our articles and by linking your neighbors and friends to us; second, by donating what you can by clicking the PayPal link at the end of each article or on the side column on every page of our web site. You can find that link at the end of this editorial.

But we’re not selfishly telling readers to abandon the Independent or the Register. In fact, we would welcome the competition—if only it existed. Competition is good for journalism and good for democracy—there are plenty of potential scoops for us all and the Voice, even with its tiny but enterprising staff of under or never paid volunteers can’t do it all.

So far, we aren’t the least bit worried about being “scooped” by our main competitors because they really aren’t trying to do the job that their readers would like to expect from them.

Maybe those editors just need a little free-market incentive from their neglected readers, perhaps in the form of phone calls and e-mails to the editors of the Wave and the Independent. So, why don’t you, as readers, contact them yourselves and ask them to do their fair share of the work.

Here’s the contact info that you need:

Times/Independent:

Michael Miller – Editor: (714) 966-4616; e-mail – Michael.miller@latimes.com

Register/Wave:
Angela Potter – Editor: (714) 796-2254; e-mail – apotter@ocregister.com

In the meantime, here are some, but not all, of the stories exclusively published by the Surf City Voice on important topics that have been ignored by the Register/Wave and the Times/Independent.

Joe Carchio, incumbent city council candidate:

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/10/jersey-joes-tax-woes-the-federal-govt-is-wrong-councilman-says/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/not-so-wise-guy-jersey-joe-takes-city-threatens-9-11-war-when-caught/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/carchios-payback-to-city-came-6-months-after-learning-of-honest-mistake/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/10/joe-carchio-in-his-own-words-lying-about-divorce-misuse-of-public-funds-and-tax-liens/

Fred Speaker, planning commissioner and city council candidate:

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/fred-speaker-crotchety-council-candidate-zips-lips-over-budget-slips/

City Attorney race:

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/who-will-control-surf-city-the-election-of-city-attorney-is-t-gabe-houston-eligible/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/who-will-control-surf-city-the-republican-wrath-against-jennifer-mcgrath-part-1/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/08/secret-e-mail-revealed-keith-bohr-bashes-the-city-attorney-she-responds/

Poseidon Resources, Inc. (desalination plant proposal for Huntington Beach):

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/09/defactualization-bogus-polls-emerge-from-sea-bottom-before-poseidon-hearing/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/07/probolsky-register-poseidon-bogus-desal-poll/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/06/poseidon-desal-deal-govt-may-rescue-junk-bond-project/

http://www.surfcityvoice.org/2010/05/sucking-up-aes-must-modernize-but-what-about-poseidon/

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Joe Carchio In His Own Words: Lying about divorce, misuse of public funds, and tax liens

Joe Carchio In His Own Words: Lying about divorce, misuse of public funds, and tax liens

HB City Councilmember Jersey Joe speaks about his misuse of public funds, lying to the public about his marriage, the strange sale of his (?) restaurant and the multitude of tax liens levied against him over the years–in a spontaneous interview recorded Sept. 26. 2010. To provide a better reading view of documents that appear in this video report, either press pause and/or click the option to maximize the viewing screen. You can also view the report on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D4VnG5D1wg

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Buddy, can’t spare a dime for the environment?

Buddy, can’t spare a dime for the environment?

By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

How much are you willing to pay for access to clean air and drinking water?

What’s a fair price to keep toxic chemicals out of the food supply, to insure the future of ocean and freshwater fish stocks, to keep public parks open, and to stem the melting of the polar ice caps so our coastal cities remain above sea level and polar bears won’t go extinct?

Questions of this sort prompted me to investigate how much the federal government and my home state of California (and ultimately us, the taxpayers) actually spend on environmental protection. Turns out neither comes close to one thin dime on the dollar.

Federal outlay for environmental protection is one percent
Federal environmental spending, like defense spending, comes under discretionary spending which in 2009 amounted to $1.2 trillion or about one-third of the total $3.5 trillion federal outlay. Mandatory spending makes up the remaining two-thirds of the federal budget (nearly $2.3 trillion) and goes to hefty programs like Medicare, Social Security and interest on the national debt.

Discretionary spending is divided into two broad categories, national defense and non-national defense, with defense spending eating up 53 percent of all discretionary dollars in 2009. The government keeps tabs on federal environmental spending in a category called natural resources and environment (NRE) which totaled $35 billion or just 2.8 percent of discretionary spending and a meager one percent of total federal spending.

What this means in dollars and cents spent on behalf of each person in the country is easy to compute using the U.S. Census Bureau estimate that the country’s population in 2009 slightly exceeded 307 million: Per capita federal spending for NRE was just $114.49, dwarfed by the $2,139.24 spent for every man, woman and child on national defense.

That’s just 31 cents per day spent on my (or your) behalf to preserve the environment versus $5.86 spent daily in one’s name for national defense.

Historically, the picture has looked much the same (see graph), although there were modest relative upticks in NRE spending during Bill Clinton’s and especially Jimmy Carter’s presidency where, in 1980, funding for NRE reached an all time high of almost six percent of discretionary dollars.

Remember, Carter is the president who also installed solar panels on the White House, only to see them removed when Ronald Reagan took office. President Obama, by the way, has just pledged to reinstall them by spring 2011.

That relatively more was spent three decades ago than now on NRE seems backwards given that threats to the environment of herculean proportion in today’s headlines – like ocean acidification & fish depletion, deforestation, global warming, environmental contamination from endocrine disrupting chemicals in everyday consumer products, and a Texas-sized cesspool of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean – were on the radar of far fewer scientists back then and had not yet entered the general public’s consciousness.

As example, the name “Cousteau” in 1980 evoked only captivating images of the ocean’s mystery and abundance, courtesy of the pioneering oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, whereas today his grandchildren Philippe, Jr. and Alexandra use the celebrity of the family name to bring attention to the serious degradations to vast bodies of both salt and freshwater wrought by human activities since their grandfather’s time.

The folly of the huge imbalance between discretionary spending on national defense and NRE is brought into focus by the concept of environmental security which has gained political traction in recent years, especially as relates to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. This concept cautions that political instability and turmoil can emerge wherever there is competition for natural resources (e.g. water, land, fossil fuels) or when masses of people are displaced as a result of drought or famine triggered by environmental degradation, as in desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, or declining marine fisheries.

Environmental security acknowledges that each nation’s environmental foundations – its soil, minerals, vegetation, water and climate – ultimately underpin all socioeconomic activities and consequently political stability. The United States is no exception, yet we fund environmental preservation as though it is the concern of some minor special interest group.

Colin Powell warned as early as 1999, “Sustainable development is a compelling moral and humanitarian issue, but it is also a security imperative. Poverty, environmental degradation and despair are destroyers of people, of society, of nations. This unholy trinity can destabilize countries, even entire regions.” One need only reflect on the modern history of the African continent to drive home the point.

California budgets six cents on the dollar for the environment
California is our most populous state and is generally regarded a progressive leader on environmental issues. Perhaps the dearth in federal environmental spending is compensated for at the state level?

California’s expenditures for natural resources and environmental protection accounted for six cents of every dollar in the state’s 2009-10 budget ($7.3 billion out of $119 billion), according to the California Department of Finance. Per capita, this amounted to $190.

Adding it all up, the federal government and the state of California together spent $305 in the last year to keep the environment safe for me. Given what a good pair of walking shoes or membership at a health club can set you back, this doesn’t seem like much.

And with unemployment and the economy driving most political discourse these days, the likelihood seems near zero that the pieces of the federal and state budget pies carved out for the environment will grow any time soon. Case in point: the allocation for the environment in the California budget just enacted for 2010-11 was cut to 5.5 percent, reflecting a spending drop of $415 million compared to the previous year.

I, however, am all for diverting a good chunk of the spending in my name on military defense and foreign wars to funding efforts to stave off very real looming threats to both national security and my own personal well-being from our fossil fuel-based economy, environmental contaminates, water shortages, global climate change and the like.

If only there was a spot on federal and state income tax forms letting us choose how our tax dollars will be spent.

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Jersey Joe’s Tax Woes: ‘The federal govt. is wrong,’ councilman says

Jersey Joe’s Tax Woes: ‘The federal govt. is wrong,’ councilman says

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Joe Carchio sounded bitter but said he doesn’t care if he gets reelected to the Huntington Beach City Council or not. “If people don’t want me to be a councilman, then fine; I don’t care, I don’t care, I really don’t care,” he recently told the Voice.

According to Carchio, his performance on the council has been second to none going back a century. “I have given more to this city than any other councilman that was ever here,” he declared unequivocally.

Carchio spat those sour grapes out near the end of a recent (Sept. 26) interview with the Voice, an interview that he had tried for a long time to avoid; before it was over, he had complained that this reporter was dishonest, untrustworthy, driven by a vendetta and no longer his friend.

He also issued a threat.

Tax lien

Carchio's $50,252.24 federal tax lien for upaid taxes in 1994 and 1995.

This reporter was attacking him and his family, Carchio alleged, because of my supposed ties to local community groups that opposed his past council votes in favor development on the upper Bolsa Chica mesa and in southeast Huntington Beach, and he wouldn’t put up with it.

“If you’re going to start a war, you’re going to start a war,” he warned. “You’re going to start a 9-11 with me, John.”

Under pressure from a Voice investigation of his past business practices and misuse of public employee benefits, Carchio had confessed that he is not married and had kept his ex-wife enrolled on his city paid health care plan even though she was no longer eligible—the latter being an “honest honest mistake,” he said.

That mistake had cost the City’s taxpayers $2,782.73 for 19 months of care. The overpayment ended when Carchio cut his ex-wife from his health plan (except for vision coverage which came without extra premiums) last March; but, as reported exclusively by the Voice, he didn’t pay back the money until six months later—three days after the Voice inquired about his divorce status.

Carchio promised to make a tell-all statement to the OC Register the next day (Sept 27) explaining what happened. “I’m going to the Register tomorrow…I got the whole thing laid out. I’m going to tell them. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Then, showing a bit of remorse, Carchio said he would take the heat for what he did and hinted that a public apology would be forthcoming.  “In a statement that I’m going to put out, I will take the heat. I am so sorry,” he said.

Eleven days later the Register hasn’t published anything about the topic and there are no signs of a public apology or statement of any kind. In fact, there was no sign of Carchio himself at a candidates’ forum on Monday, Oct. 4, and it was rumored that he wouldn’t be attending the debate to be held this Thursday (10/7/10) at the Huntington Beach Central Library. Continue Reading

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