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Friday, October 31st, 2014 - 12:45pm
  • Who Stopped the RANE?: Sheriff's detectives arrested a 23-year-old tagger who's suspected of spreading his "art" around SClarita for the past five years. KHTS
  • A Halloween Scare: Want some thrills and chills? As reported here on SCVTalk this morning, all of the money backing the "Yes on S" #vegasboards campaign came from folks tied directly to Allvision, the company that stands to profit if electronic billboards begin dotting our rolling hills. The Devlin Report
  • Guilty Verdict in Halloween Slaying: Almost three years after Alejandro Sanchez-Torres was murdered while trying to help someone being robbed, two men were found guilty. KHTS
  • The Open Space Train Keeps Rollin': The city has closed escrow on more open space, this time 114 acres near Towsley Canyon at a price of $1.8 million. The Signal
  • Bringing the Dead to Life: A photographic look at the transformations taht take place for Magic Mountain's Fright Fest. The Signal
  • Antonovich Endorses Early: When he terms out and retires (after 36 years!) in 2016, Supervisor Mike Antonovich wants his chief of staff to take his spot. LA Times
  • IKEA Intros a Stand-Up Product: An adjustable standing/sitting desk, to be exact. As someone who spends way too much time at a desk, this is very attractive to me. Gizmodo
  • Rainy Possibilities and the Weekend Rundown: There's clouds in the sky and the hope of rain, not to mention a whole lot going on around town this weekend. The Signal
  • Throwing in the (Bar) Towel: Tonight is the night. Love it or hate it, Mulligan's is closing down tonight after 40 years in the SCV. I stopped by for a pint of Guinness last night and it was practically deserted. The space is being bought, and the chatter on social media is that a bar and grill is moving into the space. Let's hope it's something good. KHTS
  • Not So Fast: Congressman "Buck" McKeon is calling for a halt to the transfer of detainees from Gitmo. Armed Services Committee
  • Private Eyes Are Watching You: KHTS talks to longtime Signal columnist Jonathan Kraut about his work as a private investigator. Best read with Humphrey Bogart's voice in your head. KHTS

Posted by Josh Premako   |   Post a Reply »
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Friday, October 31st, 2014 - 6:58am
We reported earlier this week that half of all money donated to the Yes on Measure S campaign could be tied directly to Allvision, the company that would stand to make millions of dollars if Measure S passes. Thanks to the LinkedIn skills of SCVTalk reader Brook, we can now confirm that fully 100% of the campaign donations to Yes on Measure S can be tied directly to Allvision.
On top of the already established 50% of donations that came from the family of Allvision CEO Greg Smith, the remaining 50% came from husband and wife Robert Horwitz and Catherine Redlich of New York. Their connection to Allvision was unclear, but on Horwitz's LinkedIn profile (not fully accessible to the public, or Google) he states that he's on Allvision's board of directors.
Oddly, the Yes on Measure S campaign has been claiming that they're funded by local community leaders (0% comes from California, much less Santa Clarita) and not Allvision (100% comes from Allivision families).

Full disclosure: in recent weeks, I've volunteered a few hours for the No on Measure S campaign. I've all but sworn off campaigns, so this is unusual for me.  My writing here is not an extension of that volunteer work, but you should be clear on where I stand on the issue. Also, the lead image is a parody, if you haven't guessed.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   7 Comments »
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Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Purge Case Handed to Probation: The cases of two local boys arrested on suspicion of distributing child porn in the "SCV Purge" have been handed over to the Probation Department, with The Signal reporting there's an expectation they won't be prosecuted. The Signal
  • Dedicating the Gateway: If there's a ribbon to be cut, SClaritans will find a way. Even if it means hiking into the hills. Yesterday, city officials dedicated the Gateway Ranch open space in the Newhall Pass, which at one time was slated for several thousand homes. KHTS The Signal
  • Also in Probation News: The boy who was arrested after allegedly texting a friend a threat about school violence has been given a year's probation. If he stays out of trouble for a year he could see the case dismissed. The Signal
  • Crash Report Still Underway: The CHP is still finalizing its report on a fatal August collision that left a 17-year-old Saugus High student dead. She was jogging across Golden Valley Road after she was reportedly struck by a car driven by an acquaintance from school. KHTS
  • Sheriff Candidate Gets the Nod: Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell has received an endorsement from interim L.A. County Sheriff John Scott. Daily News
  • File Under 'Public Input': The city is working on a strategic plan to improve library services, and is holding a series of public input meetings starting this weekend. City Briefs
  • Council Wrapup: From presentations and consent calendar items to discussion and denial of Albert Einstein Academy, your anonymous council meeting wrapup. I Heart SCV
  • Plan Accordingly: The Santa Clarita Marathon is coming up this Sunday, which means road closures. SCVNews
  • From Surviving to Thriving: Good piece out of The Signal's community section, as a breast cancer survivor shares her story of overcoming cancer and becoming a personal trainer. The Signal

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - 12:49pm
Shoutout to all the No on S folks that were wavin' signs outside City Hall last night. I gave a toot o' the horn and up of the thumb while blasting "Sweet Home Alabama." I suppose "Fight the Power" may have been more appropriate.
  • Council Says No to Einstein: While city staff recommended an approval, the City Council rejected a proposal to ok an Albert Einstein Academy school location in the Castaic Union School District's boundaries, with Laurene Weste abstaining. KHTS The Signal
  • Slow Down on Copper Hill: The council did vote last night to reduce by 5mph the speed limit on a stretch of Copper Hill Drive where a local man was killed in a crash earlier this year. The Signal
  • Cowboys on the Move: Production conflicts mean that after 22 years, the annual Cowboy Festival will not be at Melody Ranch, and will instead take place on the generally tumbleweed-free streets of Old Town Newhall. The Signal
  • The Toll it Takes: Good piece by Jessica Boyer on how businesses are faring and responding to the drought. KHTS
  • Thumbs-Up for Quarantines: Outgoing Congressman "Buck" McKeon praised the decision to require a 21-day quarantine for troops returning from Ebola missions in Africa. The Hill
  • When Vacation Dreams Become Nightmares: “A time share is like herpes. You can’t get rid of it.” Of the four ways to get out of a time share contract, the first on the list is death. Daily News
  • Freeways That Never Were: In traffic-clogged Los Angeles, there are planned freeways that never saw the light of day. LA Times
  • Giving Them a Home: There's an info meeting coming up for those interested in adopting foster children. KHTS
  • We Have a Problem: "We buy our service for one reason: to get connected. When mobile carriers—a cozy cartel, in the United States, of just four major companies (and a bunch of smaller ones that typically buy connections from the big four)—impose themselves in the middle of our connections to data services we want to use, they are abusing their power, period." Dan Gillmor on how wireless providers are out of control. Slate
  • The S Stands for Socialism: Ethan Jewell opines on what Measure S and its #vegasboards schemes mean for the SCV. The Signal
  • Kids That Give You Hope: A 10-year-old picked up the torch to sponsor this weekend's food drive for the SCV Food Pantry. The Signal
  • Hitting the Slump: Home sales in the SCV have hit a post-summer slump, down 12.6 percent from August. The Signal
  • And Yes, Paywall: As I mentioned yesterday morning, The Signal has introduced a paywall system, apparently still in the early testing phases and similar to models such as the LA Times' that gives you X number of free stories per month. In general, I think paywalls are a good idea, as long as the content behind them is worth paying for. 

Posted by Josh Premako   |   7 Comments »
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Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • 26 to Life: A Saugus man was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for the murder of Karla Brada, who died at 31 years old. KHTS 
  • They Went and Did It: Unless I wasn't paying attention, The Signal just went ahead and threw up a paywall on their site, and did it without giving anyone notice. I really don't have that big of an issue with a paywall, but if you're going to finally make that big of a change at least give people a heads up.
  • Sentence Prompts Outrage: A victim is beyond understandably upset after an SCV man was slapped with 213 days in prison and a $370 fine for molestation that went on when the girl was between 8 to 11. KHTS
  • Deputies Working on Their Night Moves: Sheriff's narcotics deputies arrested three people near Mabel's Roadhouse, one of them for trying to sell cocaine. It's reportedly part of ongoing efforts by the Sheriff's Station to crack down on drugs. KHTS
  • Not Just CalArts: Some 85 colleges and universities nationwide are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault cases. HuffPo
  • Get an Inside Look: If you want to more about how the Sheriff's Department operates, this certainly seems like a good way. The Sheriff's Station is hosting a six-week "Community Academy" to give 30 people an inside look. The application deadline is coming up. KHTS
  • A Champion: “I used to beat up my little brother as a kid. My dad told me ‘You either stop beating up your little brother or you take Taekwondo.'" A local teen who was diagnosed with autism is a state Taekwondo champ. KHTS
  • Talkin' 'Bout Fraud: "Fraudulent voting activity is all over the place, including double voting, impersonation, vote buying and selling, ineligible voting, voter registration issues, and absentee voting issues." In the run-up to Election Day, Joe Messina reminds everyone that voter fraud is out there. SCVNews
  • Not a Tough Time for Turf: While some businesses are drying up in the midst of a drought, one that is starting to flourish is the artificial grass business. Daily News

Posted by Josh Premako   |   4 Comments »
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Monday, October 27th, 2014 - 10:08pm
At least $142,000 of donations to campaigns supporting Measure S can now be linked to Allvision, the Metro contractor that would stand to make millions of dollars if the measure passed. 
Instead of donations coming directly from Allvision, the two pro-Measure S committees (which share the same donors, address, and treasurer) have been funded by entities with no apparent connection to Santa Clarita. Of the $284,000 these committees have received, half has come from the family, and businesses controlled by the family of Allvision CEO Greg Smith. 
This comes despite the claim from the Yes on S campaign that their campaign is "funded by community leaders" while they specifically deny Allvision's involvement.

The Allvision Connection

Allvision CEO Greg Smith is a former theater producer who married fellow producer Amanda Lipitz in 2004. Amanda Lipitz is the daughter of Roger Lipitz, the wealthy philanthropist and businessman who was listed as the principal officer of the companies that provided half of the money for the signature blockers.
In all, the Lipitz family and their companies have donated $142,000 to Measure S. Husband and wife Robert Horwitz and Catherine Redlich of NY are also in for $142,000, but their connection to Allvision and/or Santa Clarita is unclear.  There are no donations from any other sources, much less anyone from Santa Clarita, as of this writing.
The Smith-Lipitz donations break down like so: Roger's companies combined to give $60,000 to the blockers, and the regular campaign PAC has received $49,000 from Commodore Management of Maryland (Eugene Lipitz, son of Roger), $11,000 from Home Grown Productions of Seattle (Sari Lipitz, Eugene's wife), $11,000 from Flora Lipitz (Roger's wife) and another $11,000 from Darlene Lipitz (Roger's daughter-in-law).
Interestingly, Eugene Lipitz posted this document outlining the family's wealth management approach that included this section on "Nepotistic Advantage" that may explain the family's collaborative effort. 
The other donations came from husband and wife Roger Horwitz ($109,000 across two committees) and Catherine Redlich ($33,000).
Under the law, the top donors to a ballot measure campaign must appear in campaign-sponsored communications if they've donated $50,000 or more. Somehow, if you give over $50,000 but spread it across two committees, even though those two committees exist for the same measure, have the same pool of donors, and share an address and treasurer, you can duck that requirement. 
The first committee, which paid for the blockers, was labeled as being "Sponsored by Allvision," and the current committee, which is essentially the same thing, no longer carries the Allvision designation.
In April, Metro's Inspector General investigated the signature blocking, and in their report, they ordered Allvision to cease the blocking activities on April 24. But as you may recall, blocking continued well past that date, and up until the end of the signature gathering period in early May. In fact, documents filed with the city clerk show that Granite Assets (Roger Lipitz's company)  and Robert Horwitz each gave $10,000 to the blockers (PCI Consultants) on April 25th and again on April 28th. 
In August, the treasurer for the Allvision-sponsored PAC started a new PAC, called "Yes on S: A Coalition of Community Leaders for Santa Clarita’s Public Safety, Fire Safety, Seniors, Transportation, and Local Businesses." But it's was a change in name only. The treasurer remains the same, as does the mailing address. On their official address, they claim a Canyon Country address, but it's just a mail box, despite the FPPC's prohibition against using PO Boxes for official campaign addresses. 

Full disclosure: in recent weeks, I've volunteered a few hours for the No on Measure S campaign. I've all but sworn off campaigns, so this is unusual for me.  My writing here is not an extension of that volunteer work, but the conclusion of research I started a few months ago.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   7 Comments »
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Monday, October 27th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Facing the Beast: The Signal's Kirsten Quinn really puts together some great features. Four good pieces from this weekend on a local cancer survivor, a nurse navigator, how businesses are helping and new technology. The Signal
  • On to the Next Phase: The public review period has ended for the proposed expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill (Primer: Massive/next to Val Verde/gets most of its trash from outside SCV/Planned to be more massive) and now county officials will go through the comments that have been submitted. The Signal
  • Trouble on the Hill: Students at CalArts staged a walkout on Friday afternoon and the Department of Education is now investigating a student's charges that the school mishandled a sexual assault claim she filed earlier in the year. KHTS The Signal
  • The Bash Makes a Comeback: The Valley Industry Association's formal Bash event is back on Nov. 8. Cocktails, dinner, live music, plus it's a fundraiser to help support Connecting to Success, a cool program VIA's Education Foundation puts on every year to train juniors and seniors from all SCV high schools in the skills they'll need as they enter the workforce. Tickets still available. The Signal
  • A Breath of Fresh Air: "(W)hy am I rambling on about all this? Because I needed to remind myself that life is good, that joy still exists, and that we simply can’t allow the violence and tragedy and uncertainty of this tainted world to rent any more space in our heads." Some good perspective from David Hegg and worth a few minutes of your day. The Signal
  • Bats on the Rise: SCV's rabid bat count is continuing to rise, with three new cases reported in September. KHTS
  • A Fiery Disposition: Oh nothing, just a local man attempting a record-breaking firewalk. The Signal
  • Remembering a Legend: Yesterday marked 22 years since legendary SCV newspaperman Scott Newhall passed away. So many people have their stories about Scott and Ruth, and I wish I could've worked at The Signal during that era. SCV History

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Phil Ellis writes:
Well, I finally hit the pay wall - on a day that my Signal wasn't delivered and went on line to...
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Mike writes:
Berta, if it matters, I think Clear Channel is a bigger concern than Allvision because of the...
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Mike writes:
Where are they lumped together? The only mention of the figures are in the graphic and the two...
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Berta writes:
Interestingly truthful Ruth I have also not seen Devlin or any of the opposition make any...
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Mike writes:
Mentioned here as far back as May:...
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Mike writes:
The outdoor industry funded the signature gathering, but is not funding the opposition campaign....
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Phil Ellis writes:
Well, I finally hit the pay wall - on a day that my Signal wasn't delivered and went on line to...
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More local relevance to the freeway story... Roughly along the route of the Cross Valley...
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I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did...
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"X" must be a big number as I have yet to see any evidence of a pay wall....
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