Crazypants translator, or Alba Elephantis
January 18, 2021 § 11 Comments
Cyclists who remember the anti-cycling campaign by divorcee-hermit-turned-pariah Robert L. Chapman, Jr., are now getting the last laugh as they watch his white elephant languish on the real estate market for the absurd price of $9.5M. The fun is even better because he’s been trying to unload this stinker since shortly after buying it, with what appears to be at least one failed attempt in 2011, when the owner sought a whopping $10.9M for one of the few properties in Palos Verdes Estates that continues to lose market value as time goes by as compared to appreciation of prices in PVE as a whole. Needless to say, there were no takers.
An objective observer might think the owner has been desperate to get out of this gilded dump for going on ten years. If the house was bought in 2007, that means it took a mere four years for Chapman to presumably sour on the crowds, the police reports, the problems with neighbors, and the ongoing party palace down belowr, all “extras” that a buyer can expect with the purchase of 612 Paseo del Mar. Savvy buyers have taken a pass on this overpriced lump of garish bad taste, and there’s no suggestion that what was ugly then has somehow become beautiful now.
Doesn’t look like 2021 is going to be any better. Now, mired in the muck of a collapsing market, this albatross of a fixer-upper which is too expensive to tear down, too expensive to remodel, and too ugly to live in, is struggling in the one market that always seems to win. Exceptions prove the rule …
In an attempt to get some sucker to bite, a failed real estate copywriter, perhaps Chapman, has penned this write-up of what Chapman has laughably named “Villa Activista,” but which the market refers to as “Alba Elephantis.”
To protect the public from the silliness with which Alba Elephantis is being marketed, I pulled down sections of the the website www.612paseodelmar.com and have provided a handy translator for the crazypants marketing hokum used to lure unsuspecting sods into buying this millstone.
Villa Activista is a trophy property located at 612 Paseo del Mar – the intersection of Bluff and Malaga Coves in Palos Verdes Estates, California. This absolutely authentic French-Italian villa was built sedulously upon nearly an acre on the prime block of the most prestigious street in the city … Villa Activista’s fortunate owners look out unobstructed upon spectacular natural scenery but remain inconspicuous to the outside world.http://www.612paseodelmar.com
Crazypants translator: Has CP ever seen a French-Italian villa? No? Let us help! View the photos below and compare with CP’s “absolutely authentic French-Italian villa.”
CP Translator: “Spectacular natural scenery” in this case means “gorgeous ocean view with ringside view of endless traffic jams, stripping surfers, and party house down below regularly filled with partying rentals.” Another hilarious word he uses is the “Acropolis effect,” emphasizing that in Alba Elephantis you will be perched above the teeming masses. That is actually true. But he neglects the other half of the “Acropolis effect,” which is that sound waves travel up, so you get to hear all the fascinating conversations down below. Morning coffee with a cursing fistfight? Check. Glass of wine in the evening hearing people talk about their epic surf sesh? Check. All-day-long prattle by the public wafting up through your open windows and doors? Check, check, check. So exclusive and privy to start your day with “Fuckin’ killer shit man!”
In the case of Villa Activista, this ocean view mirroring Italy’s Amalfi Coast is the focal point from nearly every room in the house.http://www.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Ah, yes, mirrors the Amalfi Coast … What he means is “apes, and fails to copycat Amalfi.” Folks, the PV Peninsula is pretty, but it’s hardly a world-class destination. Comparing this heavily developed, tiny stretch of coastline replete with eyesores, no culture, no cuisine, and the hideous traffic getting in and out of PV with the Amalfi Coast is hucksterism of the worst sort. What the author means is “another faux Italian home designed to fool people who’ve never been to Italy.”
Horcada Hill homes’ [sic] have a front-row seat to an everchanging [sic] show of sea life, boats and paddleboarders.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Fucking surfers and traffic everywhere, morning to night, whenever there’s surf. Which there usually is. Note: Who in their right mind wants a front row seat to boats and paddleboarders? Isn’t the point of expensive homes to have “unobstructed views of nature”?
Privacy and Peace Perfectly Protected: 612 Paseo del Mar’s massive land size of nearly one acre, combined with its landscaping and dwelling’s positioning on a sloping lot, gives its residents the ultimate in peace and privacy on top of privileged vicinity to Bluff Cove … The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department headquartered a mere two minute drive down Palos Verdes Drive West deepens one’s foundation for peace of mind. Unlike other neighborhoods further away, squad cars patrol this neighborhood with frequency akin to a private security force.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: The area swarms with outsiders, so it takes every bit of design to screen out the saggy tummies and jockstraps. Years of reports to the police department have resulted in constant security patrols due to constant fears of crime. The privacy is a fantasy and the fear of intrusions are real. Also, Alba Elephantis has a public-access dirt path that leads from Via Horcada down to the bluff, a handy shortcut for surfers, visitors, amateur photographers, gawkers, and others who want to park in front your home and easily walk to the “surfers paradise.”
With real estate being all about “location, location, location,” from Villa Activista one goes from gazing at to [sic] splashing inthe [sic] ocean after merely a skip across the street. Imagine not having to load the car to hit one of L.A. [sic] “raddest” surf spots: Bluff Cove. Also known as Little Waikiki, the Cove is famous for its long rides both left and right as swells pushing east break upon the rock reef just offshore.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Imagine everyone else in SoCal loading their car to park in front of your home so they can enjoy public access to hit one of LA’s “raddest” surf spots. Also known as “Police Patrol Central,” the massive weekend surf crowds are famous for parties, good times, and a dawn-to-dusk party looking up at your jacuzzi.
If the surf is flat or blown out, peel off your wetsuit and lace up your hiking boots612paseodelmar.
CP Translator: Peel off your wetsuit because SO HAS EVERYONE ELSE. Learn to teach your small children how to say, “That is a hairy penis” and other fun educational projects from the deck.
612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274: A terrible investment?
January 3, 2021 § 10 Comments
A couple of days ago I posted here about what appears, at least to me, to be the wildly over-inflated value of the home for sale at 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, also known as 701 Via Horcada. In that post I wondered why the 701 Via Horcada address was not being used for the listing and speculated that it was because owner Robert L. Chapman, Jr., doesn’t want the numerous police reports associated with the home and neighborhood to pop up when someone does a search of the home.
Apparently, the Paseo del Mar address is “worth” more than the Via Horcada address (“Horcada” in Spanish means “raving lunatic”), as Paseo del Mar is the most desirable address on the peninsula. So this explains the 612 Paseo del Mar listing, although when you google 701 Via Horcada, the same house pops up in real estate home descriptions. This fits right in with the potential deception spotted in the Secretary of State filings for 701 Via Horcada, discussed as well in that previous post. Chapman, who I suspect to be a relentlessly anonymous internet troll, appears to spend much of his time covering his tracks so that the “real” Chapman cannot be definitively nailed down. Same with 612 Paseo del Mar; is it really 612 Paseo del Mar or 701 Via Horcada?
Inquiring minds could likely care less.
What inquiring minds will care about is this: Since its purchase by Chapman in 2007 at the height of the real estate boom and immediately before the massive bust, the property has gained relatively little in value. It’s an odd strategy of “buy high, sell low” for a tiny fellow who claims to be a stock market balding-boy-genius, and there’s little doubt in my mind that 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 turned out to be a bad investment and that Chapman is now desperate to unload the big, stinky turd by spritzing some perfume on it in the form of a fancy address name change. Add to that the fact that he may well be imprisoned in 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 simply because he is so loathed that wherever he goes he is met with disgust, distaste, and shunning. This would not be a pleasant living environment for his poor family, who might well be wondering when the next restraining order is going to magically appear on their doorstep.
However, there are real reasons why this overpriced, under-sized “estate” is floundering on the market. In a word: “TRAFFIC.”
I’ve been bed-bound since returning from Texas as I try to rest and eat my way back back into fitness, and for the first time in forever I hopped in a friend’s car to go get a cup of coffee at Golden Cove. As we drove along PV Drive, we noted the extraordinary sunset that was shaping up and the extraordinary snarl of cars that made the very entry into PV a nasty, crawling, freeway inch-along.
“I wonder if the surf is up?” I said.
“If it is, you know what that means for Paseo del Mar.”
“Indeed I do.”
So we dropped down to the lower portion of Paseo del Mar to see what the traffic was like leading up to Bluff Cove, 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, and all the other hapless homes located on this supposedly exclusive street.
All I can say is that the traffic was mind boggling. The surf was indeed up, and the combination of people having nothing to do on the holiday weekend, the stay-at-home order, and the stunning sunset had turned Paseo del Mar into an amazingly frenzied hub of activity, just the thing that you’d want if you were in the market for a $9.5M home. My favorite was the guy and his wife who had set up for the sunset with their own little generator and arch of electric lights, the perfect guests that you’d like to have if you were seeking the exclusivity and solitude that money so often promises to buy.
But whatever mess we encountered on the lower slopes was nothing as compared to the crush of people and cars smack in front of the public coastline facing 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274. In addition to a giant piece of garbage a few feet in front of the “auxiliary” mailbox, there was a giant blackened garbage can and a whiny admonition to “Pack Out Your Trash.” Those packing the trash in were present in swarms, happy little surfers and surfettes parked bumper to bumper where they had presumably been sampling waves, the SoCal groove, and the view from the backyard of 612 Paseo del Mar all fucking day long.
- Chapman is selling.
- The value of 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 has barely risen since 2007.
- Everyone who doesn’t live there wants to come visit.
As the Bluff Cove HOA states, the area around 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 is indeed a “Surfer’s Paradise,” but it’s more than that. It’s a destination, a day-cation for visitors from all over LA, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. And any potential buyer who thinks that the this strip of public, open-access, world-class coastline is going to decline in popularity as the covids remain, group gatherings diminish, social distancing stays in place, restaurants and large entertainment options are limited, and the real estate market tanks, well, that person needs to revisit reality.
Nor was the awful traffic jam that we encountered limited to the surf spot at Bluff Cove aka 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274. It continued all the way down the street up to the cul-de-sac, with cars jammed in every which way. Descending Bluff Cove, Via Horcada itself, a dead-end, was jammed head-to-toe with happy surfers who had scored parking right in front of what was almost certainly the home of Robert L. Chapman, Jr., himself, although we didn’t bother to drive down the street and see for ourselves. Although I’d been considering putting in an offer for the home, an even swap for my nifty North Face tent, seeing all the traffic helped me conclude that this was the last place on earth I’d want to live.
Peace of mind? Purchasing a piece of paradise?
Check out these photos and see for yourself. If it’s traffic you want, you can already get that in LA on the 405 pretty much any time of day or night.
And the good news is that it’s not going to set you back $9.5 million U.S. dollars.
Has Robert L. Chapman, Jr. committed a felony? Via Horcada LLC a/k/a 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, 90274
December 31, 2020 § 11 Comments
In looking over the records on file with the Secretary of State for 701 Via Horcada, Palos Verdes Eatates, CA, 90274, it appears that that the statement of information for 2017 may contain deliberately false information. Does this constitute perjury, and if so, should the district attorney for the County of Los Angeles initiate an investigation against Robert L. Chapman, Jr.? The home located there is also listed as 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, and is currently listed for sale for a sickeningly overpriced $9.5 million considering all of the complaints that have been filed with the PVE Police Department about this property and neighborhood.
At the outset, Robert L. Chapman, Jr., filed and signed a 2007 Limited Liability Company Application for Registration with the California Secretary of State, shortly after the formation of 701 Via Horcada, LLC, a Delaware corporation. Presumably this was the business entity formed for the purchase of 701 Via Horcada, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, in which Chapman has lived since 2007. The home located there is also listed in county tax records as 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274.
The section of the California Corporations Code regulating limited liability corporations states that “(c) An individual who signs a record authorized or required to be filed under this title affirms under penalty of perjury that the information stated in the record is accurate.” Of course this includes the LLC’s statement of information, a document that LLCs are required to periodically file with the state.
The 2007 application for registration lists “Robert L. Chapman, Jr.” as the managing member. However, in 2017 a statement of information is filed with the state to reflect a change in the LLC’s agent for service of process, changing the agent from CSC to someone named “Robert Lewis, Jr.” In addition to this name, which is suspiciously similar to “Robert L. Chapman, Jr.”, the 2017 statement of information is now signed by not by Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., but by by the managing member Robert Lewis, Jr.
This leads to a couple of obvious questions:
- Who is Robert Lewis, Jr.?
- Does he actually exist?
- If not, does naming him in the statement of information as agent and managing member constitute perjury pursuant to the Corporations Code?
- If so, who submitted the false 2017 document to the Secretary of State?
- If the person who submitted it was in fact Robert L. Chapman, Jr., should he now be investigated by the Los Angeles District Attorney for commission of perjury, a felony?
- Should concerned citizens and neighbors in Palos Verdes Estates request that the DA launch such an investigation?
The concerns about 701 Via Horcada’s state filings don’t end there. The home located there is also listed as 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274. In 2019, the LLC filed what appears to be a completely unsigned “Statement of No Change.” Unlike the 2017 filing, this new document now lists the managing member as, you guessed it, “Robert L. Chapman, Jr.” However, it affirms that none of the previous information has changed, i.e., the agent for service is still the mysterious “Robert Lewis, Jr.” and that the managing member is still “Robert Lewis, Jr.” despite listing the managing member now as the former “Robert L. Chapman, Jr.”
It’s hard to figure out why the Chapman who signed the 2007 application would falsify the new agent for service and managing member in 2017, if that’s what happened, other than to make it easier to evade service of process. If that’s the case, it suggests that Chapman might have a lot of problems he’s concerned about getting sued for. But it also suggests that whoever filed the 2017 document may have committed perjury, if “Robert Lewis, Jr.” is a sham person.
Perjury in California is defined in Penal Code Section 118, stating in part that “every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify…before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false…is guilty of perjury.” This includes giving false information on a material matter in a signed affidavit, and the Corporations Code seems to explicitly make deliberately false information filed with the Secretary of State perjurious.
Any person considering the purchase of 701 Via Horcada, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, should carefully investigate this and other issues related to what is possibly a deliberately false filing with the Secretary of State. The home located there is also listed as 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 There may be other, even more serious legal issues that a potential buyer would not be aware of until it’s too late. No one wants to buy a house and end up buying a lawsuit.
Live by the sword, die by the pillow
April 12, 2018 § 8 Comments
That’s what it probably felt like, a gentle, soft pillow slowly but firmly pressing down, and down, and down, and then … done.
That’s how it must have seemed to Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., as the ballots trickled in like water torture, vote by vote, slowly surpassing, then overwhelming, then crushing the fucking life out of his opposition to the ballot measure that would fund the Palos Verdes Mistakes’ cop shop.
All that sturm, all that drang, all those concerned citizen groups, all those HOAs with a membership of two, all those hundreds of emails, thousands of rants, billions of NextDoor character assassinations, trillions of anonymous Internet troll handles, all of it slowly crushed under the weight of a simple process called “democracy,” where the tiny minority of loud, horrible, obnoxious, and voluble screechers were shouted down by silent little paper slips stuck into a ballot box.
Is there an alternate Urban Dictionary definition for “Ankur” somewhere, one that means “Squashed troll”?
But lest we celebrate too soon, here’s what happened, and what didn’t.
What didn’t happen
Palos Verdes Mistakes didn’t put its police department under new management and vow to roll out a transparent law enforcement agency that would fairly enforce the laws. It simply voted to keep its more expensive but locally controlled police department. It also voted to spend more money to give city employees a good living wage and a good retirement. On a human level, that’s pretty awesome.
However, there was never any question about whether or not the laws would be fairly enforced, whether under LA Sheriff’s Department or under PVE Police Department. The mandate of the Peninsula communities has always been and will always be to keep out blacks, minorities, and the poor, with a few special exceptions. Gardeners, nannies, housekeepers, and construction workers, you know what I mean.
What did happen, Part 1
The good citizens of Palos Verdes Mistakes finally had their say about Robert Chapman and his demagoguery, and they said it with crushing finality. The vote to keep the cop shop and pay more taxes was over 70% for, 29% against. In elections, getting 70% of the vote for anything typically only happens in Louisiana. That’s how disgusted the community was by the anti-Measure E shenanigans.
After being subjected to personal taunts and vile insults of every kind, after being targeted by the infamous PV hate website, abused in endless email tirades, and demeaned in countless interactions with police and public officials, the people of PV refused to cave in to this Trumpian, Hitlerian, Orbanesque style of personal assassination politicking and they repudiated Bob Chapman with a thudding, steel-toed kick to the soft parts. He’ll be groaning about it for years to come. Decades.
This wasn’t even about the police force anymore. It was about the community’s collective revulsion at seeing basically decent people get pilloried, attacked, and reviled by a mini-tyrant for simply doing their job, or for disagreeing, or for exercising their civic rights and their right to free speech.
What did happen, Part 2
Less noble, the folks of Palos Verdes Mistakes behaved predictably, although I didn’t predict it. On a policy level, they voted to keep their police department because their fear of change outweighed their hatred of taxation. PVE was built to keep people out, a sentiment which itself is built on a sentiment of fear–fear of people who are different, fear of people who are poor, fear of people who (you wrongly think) want what you’ve got.
And in repudiating Chapman, PVE confirmed what people have long known about the city, namely that it will always repudiate outsiders, and no one was more of an outsider than Chapman. He belongs to the community as a resident, but not as a member. Whether it’s the exclusive privilege to surf with the graying kooks at Lunada Bay, the privilege to serve on city council, or the privilege to mix and socialize, Chapman has always been held at arms-length no matter how rabidly he carries the exclusionary banner of “Keep ’em out!” as he tries to out-PVE the PVE locals themselves.
I once lived in a small town where in order to be considered local, you had to have grandparents in the cemetery. Everyone else was an interloper and treated accordingly.
Seventy percent of the vote? That’s a message even Bob Chapman may understand.
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Battle of the cowards, Part 3
April 3, 2018 § 11 Comments
On April 10, some voters in Palos Verdes Estates will vote on the dreaded Measure E, a property tax to pay for law enforcement services. The outcome of that vote will determine whether or not the city keeps its police force, or whether it contracts those services out to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. If the measure passes, people worth millions of dollars will have to pay an average ghastly sum of about $900 more taxes per year.
That’s about the cost of a single Ferrari front wheel rim. Ouch!!!
Although the campaign has been pressed in terms of “saving our police department” v. “no new taxes,” it’s really about two horrid policy positions whose true motivations are cloaked and virtually identical. Those who support the tax claim that the city benefits by having Mayberry, RFD homestyle law enforcement. Those who oppose it claim that a contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is a better financial deal.
Both are sort of right, neither is on point, and the obfuscation is intentional.
Back to the basics
You can’t understand the political mechanism of local law enforcement in rich enclaves without understanding why those enclaves were created in the first place. As PV Estate’s foundational documents made clear, the city was created to keep out blacks and non-whites. The demographics of 2018 bear witness to the city’s effectiveness in walling itself off from blacks, although a gradual increase in the number of residents of Asian extraction makes PVE less lily white than it once was.
Although racism was the community’s foundational glue, the modern expression of that racism can no longer be found in legal documents, which have been amended to comport with the U.S. Constitution. This motive remains alive and well, though, in PV Estates’ hatred of “outsiders.” An outsider of course is one who doesn’t own property in PVE, and includes diverse groups such as surfers, cyclists, lawn maintenance workers, and even the police and other civil servants employed by the city. That racism thrives in PV Estates is well documented in this declaration, sworn out under penalty of perjury, by former PVE reserve police officer Benjamin Siounit.
Former PVE police chief Tim Brown in a 1995 interview in The Swell Life, was blunt. In the video, Tim Brown says about Lunada Bay,
People here do not like outsiders in general … I mean, they pay a price to live here. They have beautiful views of the ocean from most of the homes in the city … so they are protective of their community as a whole, surfers or non-surfers … there is a sense of this ownership that’s really connected to their feelings about it.
Law enforcement, whether operated by the city in the form of the PVE police, or by the county in the form of the LA Sheriff’s Department, hews to the city’s fundamental purpose of keeping people out who they designate as outsiders, whether on boards or on bikes. As the voluminous documents regarding this tax measure attest, PV Estates in particular, and the entire peninsula in general, are physically safe places with little violent crime no matter who’s doing the policing.
The problem for peninsula residents today, of course, is that every cyclist and recreational fisherman, not to mention every poor person in California, has the right to enter PVE and enjoy the scenery along places like Bluff Cove regardless of color or place of residence. Therefore, the job of local law enforcement is to make sure that such non-residents exercise their rights of travel and visitation in small numbers and for strictly limited periods of time. The rights of PVE residents, of course, are considerably more expansive, something that visiting surfers and passing cyclists have found out the hard way. So it’s important to understand that at their core there is no disagreement between the opposing parties: Keep out the riff-raff!
There is, however, disagreeableness …
The policy pros and cons of Measure E
The superficial policy choice, it seems, is Andy Griffith v. SWAT. The Andy Griffith supporters are loathe to kick out the cops they have gotten to know over a period of years. At the city council level, the relationship between politicians, administrators, and the police is old-fashioned. It is personal, where everyone knows everyone else, and the cost of Andy Griffith, even to the tune of several million dollars a year, is worth maintaining those human relationships. Underlying that desire to hang onto the police department is the fear that the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, the largest one in the nation with a multi-billion dollar annual budget and paramilitary capabilities, will be too large and too impervious to develop the kind of personal relationships upon which PV Estates residents have become accustomed.
In practical terms, this means being able to direct enforcement arbitrarily, such as a “crackdown” on cyclists who run stop signs, without also enforcing laws against resident drivers who commit the same or worse violations. It means turning a blind eye to violence at Lunada Bay and allowing illegal structures to be built on public property in defiance of state law. And of course it means being the one in the driver’s seat: The police chief serves at the leisure of his bosses, the council and the city manager. The sheriff’s deputies work for someone else entirely and may not be quite as amenable to doing Robert Chapman’s bidding.
The difficulty of squaring the circle was recognized by PVE’s most recent chief of police, Jeff Kepley, who resigned after a four-month unexplained leave of absence, and is but one in a long string of people who have learned the hard way that PV Estates is one tough beat if you want to be chief of police. In short, as this email filed in litigation against the city makes crystal clear, the police in PVE simply cannot reconcile the requirement that they enforce the law with the practical difficulty of enforcing it against the people who hire them.
No amount of funding or taxation can remedy this problem; it’s as old as mankind, and it even has a name: Conflict of interest. Interestingly, none of the people in favor or opposed to the Measure E law enforcement property tax bring this up. There’s no discussion of whether or not the beat deputies of LA Sheriff’s Department will eventually be co-opted in the same manner as the officers on PVE’s police force. To the contrary, supporters of a contract with the sheriff’s department go to great lengths to assure voters that the deputies will provide the same on-the-street, local policing as the PVE police.
Lest anyone think the sheriff’s deputies won’t kiss the residents’ asses, the Bluff Cove front for Robert Chapman even claims that the sheriff’s department will hire “the best and brightest” from the current ranks of the city’s police force. Whether that’s true or not, the clear message is that residents will get the same arbitrary law enforcement and coddling that they “deserve.”
No one seems to think that what PV Estates law enforcement needs is more transparency, more independence from the city council, and more accountability outside the hands of the people to whom they will writing tickets and arresting junior for coke and DUI. Why is that? Because, as noted above, the purpose of policing in PV Estates is primarily to keep people out.
Feels like money
It’s unfortunate that the jobs of the PV Estates police are now likely to depend on an economic analysis, and even more unfortunate that the best analysis has been developed and advocated for by a group called the Palos Verdes Residents for Good Government. Unlike the vitriolic screeds peddled by “Ankur,” and the PVE hate web site, this group has members who actually sign their names to the things they believe in. Moreover, their analysis of Measure E really shows that it makes no financial sense to continue funding the local cop shop.
I won’t re-analyze their analysis, but if dollars are what move you, scroll through their mostly pro “Pros & Cons” and go with L.A. Sheriff’s Department.
Agreement in the guise of a dispute
It’s easy to see how deeply so many PV Estates residents dislike outsiders. All you have to do is scroll any of the Next Door comments about cycling and Big Orange. But it’s difficult to appreciate how profoundly PVE residents hate the other subset of outsiders, which are the people who work for them. This includes domestic workers, lawn care workers, pool care workers, construction workers, and city employees of every kind, including the police.
When I say hate, I don’t necessarily mean the direct, verbal kind, although if you scroll through the emails from Robert Chapman I obtained from a public records request and posted below, you’ll recoil at the disdain, ugliness, and contempt he displays for people who are simply doing their job in a way he disagrees with.
Yet the true measure of how deeply PVE residents despise those who serve them can be seen in the discussions on Next Door and other social media, where the outrage at police workers who make $140,000 a year and up for having a “cushy job” drives the residents insane. No one thinks to ask why having a well paid, safe, easy, not too stressful job is a bad thing. And no one thinks to ask how it is that wealthy retirees and shrub fund managers, people who do little or nothing of substance or value all day long, get off complaining about other people also having a good life.
This is where, oddly, the pro-Measure E and the anti-Measure E forces elide. Staunchly Trumpian, staunchly anti-tax, staunchly in favor of the rich and at war with the poor, PV Estates, at its core, evaluates everyone as either an insider or an outsider.
This is because it’s the good life that the Chapmans, the Jennifer Kings, the angry pro-tax and the angry, anti-tax residents of PVE so deeply begrudge their police and their city employees. Few if any of them can stand the thought that for a few extra hundred dollars a year out of their fat pockets some middle-class guy with a 2-hour commute might have good health insurance, a good job, a secure future, a good retirement, a happy life. The pro-tax advocates will argue about the efficiency of the force in jailing outsiders, and the anti-tax advocates will argue about the shock and awe of LASD, but no one will argue, ever, for the basic decency of having a little bit less so that someone else can have a lot more.
Instead, the Chapmans of PVE double down and triple down on people who they see as the worst kind of sponges, incompetent ne’er do-wells getting fat off the public weal. And it’s this evil, the Trumpian orthodoxy of “Everything for me, nothing for you,” that roils beneath the beautiful coastal scenery of PV Estates, a parsimonious, sanctimonious, jealous, and disgraceful inability to accept that the good life just might possibly, maybe, be good for other human beings, too.
Notes: The links below to Robert Chapman’s correspondence with the city reveal, in my opinion, a truly bad person. It will be impossible for you to digest the volume of these endlessly repetitive diatribes; it’s my personal opinion that the guy has severe problems. Feral cat feeding is a major policing issue? Are you fucking kidding me?
The correspondence is so full of contradictions, silliness, abuse, visions of grandeur, and bizarre claims that you would never be able to catalog the nuttiness of it all. However, here are a few lowlights:
- Chapman complains about runaway policing costs, but his type of hysterical, agitated snowflake demands are what drive up the police budget with silly phone calls, emails, and demands that the police come out and investigate a raccoon.
- Chapman rails against city manager Tony Dahlerbruch’s salary, the salaries of city staff, and the pay raises for city staff, but simultaneously demands that multiple branches of city government be tied up dealing with his petulance. This is the classic PV Estates resident: I want you to work 90 hours a week dealing with my shit, but I don’t want to pay you for it. I’d say that dealing with Chapman for even ten e-mails entitles you to be the highest paid city manager on earth.
- Chapman harps on PV Estate’s “naturally low crime rate” thanks to geography and Torrance PD, i.e. passing on the cost to the taxpayers in a different cities. This is Trumpism at its best–you pay for my border wall.
- One of his rants demands that any replacement chief of police live in PV Estates. This is the same guy who doesn’t want to pay high salaries, as if you can buy a home in PV on $100,000 per year. He also pretends to be some sort of broker for police chief applicants and invites them to submit their applications to his organization for screening. This is crazy as fuck. “Screening by the Coalition”?
- Chapman has liaised with Jim Nyman, the former mayor who caused the “problem” in the first place by creating the original parcel tax, although he assures people “We needed the money then!” and compares the city’s addiction to tax money to a kid addicted to cocaine, an analogy that so many PV parents will instantly identify with.
- In one email, Chapman claims PV is low-crime due to its “moat,” then switches sides in another email to bike-hating RPV city councilwoman Susan Brooks, asserting that the “crime wave of 2015” is continuing in a lesser form today. This is classic Chapman: say different things to different people and hope they don’t notice the difference because you have to wade through so much awful writing. Sometimes he’s attacking those attacking the Bay Boys, sometimes he’s using the class action lawsuit against the Bay Boys as evidence of police failure. Everyone sucks in Chapman’s world, except for one really cool guy, an “ankur,” to use a very hip word. To me he seems Trumpian in this profound way: Seek to destroy those who disagree, and don’t worry if everything he touches turns to shit.
- In another string, Chapman rides so far off the reservation that his horse dies when he hits the issue of license plate citations. His concern about this incredibly serious crime may have stemmed from the time he got cited by a cop, so now he insists that everyone on planet earth feel the same $35 pain he felt. When the police chief tells him that discretion is part of policing, it is like water poured on the surface of the sun.
- He is a relentless busybody snooping into construction permits, then complaining about city budgets when planning staff are hired. How is the city supposed to deal with all this whining if they don’t have employees? Chapman never says. Maybe they should just volunteer?
- In an email of Aug. 25, he claims that the trailhead coincidentally near his home is a haven for narcotics trafficking, where in an earlier email he claims that the city is safe and the cop jobs are easy. Yes, easy narcotics undercover work. Sign me right up.
- Chapman’s very small mind is filled to bustin’ with violations pertaining to illegal fireworks, illegal noise, illegal fires, illegal parties, and of course the Gog & Magog of high crimes & misdemeanors: Illegal parking. Leaping off the ledge into the deepest of deep ends, in one email he compares the situation at Bluff Cove near his home to NYC and Rudy’ Giulani’s “Broken Windows” policing policy. What NYC has in common with Chapman’s neighborhood is probably best left to a very good astrologist, or faith healer, or a Navajo sweat lodge.
- In his vein of high crimes & misdemeanors, an Aug. 19 email howls at the moon re: Side-by-side social cycling. I’ve been cycling all my life and have never heard this term. I thought all cycling with another human was social. Maybe he’s contrasting it to time trialing?
- The heat in his tiny little cranial kitchen gets unbearable as Chapman, in a June 23, 2016 email notes that PVE is internationally known as a place to break the law. Do we laugh? Cry? Take another fistful of Advil? I dunno.
- And there are hundreds and hundreds of pages like this, many documenting his ongoing obsession with barking dogs and a party rental. At one point we see him urging his like-minded neighbors to stage a call-in campaign at five minute intervals, supposedly to pressure the city and the police. Someone needs to gently tell him about “straight to voicemail.”
- Chapman reveals his methods in an Oct. 6, 2015 email, discouraging a compatriot from going to an actual meeting, and instead lauding the efficacy of phone calls and emails. Where some may see strategy, I see sloth and his cowering acceptance of reality; namely, going out in public is unpleasant when you have been rude and abusive to so many people.
In all their glory, here are the Chapman emails, replete with clunky prose, veiled threats, childish taunts, and hysterical claims all rolled into a fat slug of PDFs. You will not get far before your head hurts, I promise.
The right to use the public roads was earned by bicycles over a hundred years ago. People have been trying to kick them off ever since. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
Battle of the cowards, Part 2
March 29, 2018 § 8 Comments
In the right-wing corner we have the good citizens of PV Estates, supporting Measure E and hoping like hell that the community will foot a tax increase allowing the city to keep its police department. In the ultra-right-wing corner we have the Worst Neighbor Ever a/k/a Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr. a/ka/ Ankur, opposing Measure E and hoping like hell that the community will shut down its police department and obtain law enforcement services through an allegedly cheaper contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
But who are these two opponents?
The tattle-tale of the tape
It’s my opinion that Chapman is the person behind the Bluff Cove Homeowner’s Association, a “group” whose membership, directors, bylaws, or actual existence as a bona fide HOA I’ve been unable to conclusively determine. It’s certainly not listed as a corporation with the California Secretary of State, however, unincorporated HOA’s are also allowed under California law. The fact that Bluff Cove may simply be a #fakeHOA doesn’t mean that its goals aren’t legitimate. It’s possible that the best option for cyclists riding through PV Estates is the elimination of the police department and having the laws enforced by the sheriff’s department.
Simply because “Ankur” (better yet, “Stinkur) is the World’s Worst Neighbor doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Measure E. In fact, social gadflies all the way back to Socrates have been shunned and put to death for supporting unpopular ideas. As repulsive as Stinkur may be, and even though hiring LASD may be his worst nightmare if it ever comes to pass, his idea should be evaluated on the merits and not rejected out of hand simply because he’s the abominable next door neighbor from the planet Crapulon.
Stinkur’s race resume
At the same time, it pays to know with whom you’re dealing, and Stinkur has left a trail of Internet rubble ten miles wide. By understanding his tactics, mindset, and psychology, everyone benefits.
Let’s start with the basics. What does Chapman do for a living? He buys and sells stocks. Based on the information I’ve been able to glean, he does it very, very well. Although he’s a fourth-string scrub, more of a palm frond fund than a hedge fund compared to his idol Carl Icahn, a fourth-rate scrub lugging dirty jockstraps in the stock market world is still an incredibly smart and successful person. And note this: No one gave Chapman his financial success. He took it.
Among his successes was his assault on Vitesse Semiconductor Corp., where he correctly identified poor management and made activist-investor history by applying pressure on the Vitesse board through the use of the mandatory 13-D filing. This arcane SEC regulatory scrap of paper allows you to attach exhibits, which Chapman did to great effect by writing nasty, insulting letters and appending them to the 13-D form. In the staid world of finance, Chapman’s vituperative, arrogant, and personal attacks made waves. It’s a trait that served him well then, and a style that appears throughout the PV Estates attack web site that sure looks, sounds, and smells like Chapman’s handiwork.
Here are a few samples of Chapman’s filings with the SEC. You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom to read the exhibits, which are copies of letters written by Stinkur. My favorite line in the American Properties Trust filing is where Chapman reports that he was called a “fucking pain in the ass.”
In re: American Communities Property Trust (1)
In re: American Communities Property Trust (2)
In re: American Communities Property Trust (3)
In re: American Communities Property Trust (4)
Unfortunately, Chapman’s graphomania will get the better of you. It will beat you down into a sobbing, convulsing mash of neurons because these are only the tip of the iceberg. By using the SEC’s EDGAR search service you can pull up all of his filings, many of which were under the hilariously named “Chap-Cap” fund, imagery which makes me think of a short, tubby, bald little man waddling around with a stick wearing nothing but a pair of fake leather chaps.
But as satisfying as it is to poke fun at his grammar flubs, extra spacing, commas in the wrong place, run-on sentences, tired cliches, impressively uninventive insults, and generally awful prose, his writing reveals a lot. First, he’s smart. Second, pounding away at the keyboard is more than a tool for berating the PV Estates locals: It’s his job, which means he makes money at it. Third, he succeeded in finance by poking people in the eye. Don’t think for a moment that any amount of abuse, name-calling, or proportionate responses will calm him down. He was born angry and mean, and that’s how he’ll die. Pity the woman he calls wife and the child he calls daughter, is all I can say.
Reading a few paragraphs of Chapman’s indiscriminate spleen, whether directed at the director of a big company or some middle-class working man just trying to get by, you might get the idea that he’s a raging lunatic. Reality check: He’s not raging. This 2017 telephone interview on CNBC investing reveals anything but the timbre of a crazy person. (If you’re wondering why he chose to do the interview by phone, it’s possible that someone told him not to ever show up again in public wearing this thrift-store necktie and floppy garbage sack of a suit.) To the contrary, his cool, collected, informed, and intelligent observations create a trainwreck of contrast if all you’re accustomed to are his volcanic sewage vents on the Internet. And buried in the interview he reveals the working of his psyche: He loves opposing people, but you gotta have sound analysis.
This bodes poorly for the PV Estates denizens trying to keep their police department on life support. Chapman may truly be “Stinkur, the World’s Worst Neighbor.” But if you don’t think he has arrayed a solid and defensible set of facts, you had better redo your homework assignment. Chapman’s analysis of the attempted takeover of Herbalife was spot on, and we can assume he had at least fifty bucks on the line. What makes you think his analysis of Measure E is any less considered?
The qualities that make Chapman a good investor–solitary, introverted, bad people skills, highly mathematical–are ones that make him a flop of a corporate manager. In his brief stint as CEO at EDCI Holdings, he started off with Trumpian grandiosity, bragging that “As CEO, my primary goal is to lead EDCI’s transition into a respected, fairly valued public company by prudently and diligently applying all or part of its approximately $50 million in holding company cash towards the equity component of a small capitalization acquisition.” A couple of months later, the company was liquidating.
What does it all mean for Measure E?
The problem with Chapman’s race resume, of course, is that he has excelled in investing and therefore thinks that his intelligence and judgment automatically transfer into local politics. He may be right. Attack dog methods, smearing opponents, incorrectly citing the law, creating the illusion of organization, and relentlessly pummeling inboxes and chat rooms with thousands and thousands of words could well be what seals the deal. In any municipal tax fight, the winners are usually punishing and loud.
On the other hand, it could well backfire. Chapman writes a lot, but he writes badly. He lacks humility even in parts per trillion, and as soon as he veers away from finance he comes across as more blibber-blabber than savant.
Fortunately, my public records request resulted in hundreds of pages of emails relating to Chapman and Measure D, the predecessor to Measure E. So there’s plenty to analyze. When it comes to paying more taxes for anything, it’s hard to see a snobby enclave like PV Estates assenting to it. But when it comes to living with anything less than on-demand law enforcement against outsiders, especially those who are black, non-white, or poor, it’s equally hard to see PV Estates voting away their cop shop.
Irresistible force, meet immovable object, so pull up a ringside chair. The price of a bag of of popcorn in PV Estates is about to go up.
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Battle of the cowards, Part 1
March 27, 2018 Comments Off on Battle of the cowards, Part 1
Yesterday I was scrolling through the list of web sites that have recently linked to this blog, and I came across an unusual one: SavePVpolice.org. It’s not often that the police are designated as an endangered species, a list more often populated by things like democracy, the First Amendment, and equality under the law.
Not very intrigued, I clicked on the link and it took me to an anonymous web site purporting to support the Palos Verdes Estates police department and “Measure E,” the tax measure that PVE residents will vote for or against on April 10, and depending on the outcome, will either re-fund or abolish the city police department and replace it with a policing contract through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
This “PVE Cops Matter” web site lists the bare bones of Measure E and why you should vote for it. A more detailed impartial analysis is here, and the rabid voice against the tax proposal is here. At the end of the day it’s a bunch of almost rich people fighting over how much tax money to spend to keep out the riff-raff, so, whatevs.
But in the early part of the day, or rather the wee hours, it has something to do with democracy, with #fakenews, with Internet trolls, with the cowardice of the almost rich, and of course with cycling.
Almost three years ago the cycling hordes remonstrated with the powers that be in PV Estates and got them to put up a couple of signs stating the law, that cars must give cyclists three feet when passing. This created a backlash of incredible proportions and resulted in the mayor and her city council slapping down any further steps to enhance road safety for vulnerable users.
The fury of the almost rich people was impressive, such that the police were temporarily put on “biker harassment duty,” resulting in many trips down to Torrance courthouse to have bogus tickets dismissed. Over time, though, the unending stream of cyclists and the intensity of the political battle caused most PV Estates residents to shrug and stop caring, finally realizing that cyclists pose zero hazard to their Rage Rovers, and finally grasping that every bike rolling through PV Estates meant one less car.
“Less cars in our city.” This was arithmetic they could understand, and it happened in tandem with a lawsuit against the city, its police force, and several residents alleging all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors in regard to violence at the Lunada Bay surf break. In short, the bikers lost the battle but won the war. The cops no longer harass us, most are downright friendly, and the nastiest residents aren’t much worse than resigned to having healthful, safe outdoor activities in their non-exclusive community.
Little boy chicken
One price for engaging in civic discourse in PV Estates is, unfortunately, the risk that you might incur the wrath of Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr. Early on in the bike battle I heard whispers about this guy, mostly along the lines of “be careful,” and “he is spiteful beyond belief,” and “Bob has the world’s worst baldheaded short man complex.”
It turns out that although the first warning was needless, and the third warning was possibly true, in my opinion Chapman really is the most horrible person in PV Estates. And for an enclave whose mayor and city council hate people for riding bicycles, that’s saying something.
Who is Chapman? That’s a good question, because much of the conflict and fury that I encountered when advocating for safety for vulnerable road users seemed to be fomented by a small group of truly hateful people. After listening to the rumors, I wondered if Chapman were perhaps the Hater-in-Chief, so I made a public records request to the city to find out if he was as nasty as I had heard.
Several hundred dollars and more than a month later, the horribly overtaxed city clerk handed me a disk with all of the documents responsive to my request. Although Chapman’s name had been redacted from many of the documents since they are police incidents, given the fact that the documents were produced in response to a request for “activities or complaints regarding or connected with Robert Chapman,” it is my opinion, and will likely be yours, too, that the person responsible for the great majority of these these complaints is not someone you’d want to ever call “neighbor,” let alone “in-law.”
The police incident reports connected to Chapman are astounding, so I’ve broken them down into three files. Note that these are all public documents and available to anyone willing to make the request and pay the copying fee. They are only current through March, 2017, so if you make your own request you will likely unearth a lot more.
But these records documenting the World’s Worst Neighbor Ever are not all. Chapman is also the ultimate keyboard warrior, a guy who I’ve never seen show up to contest an issue before the city council, but who prefers to flood the world with his opinions via email and, I also believe, anonymous Internet commentary.
In response to my records request, the city also released hundreds of emails from Chapman, many of which bear his name and company logo, and others which use one of his favorite handles, “ankur.” You will get a big laugh when you read the Urban Definition of “ankur,” and try to square it with this bald, squat, middle-aged Internet tough guy holed up in an ugly house as he complains to the police about raccoons.
Many of the emails relate to the hilarious Chapman “assault” case; others relate to his virulent opposition to Measure D, the precursor to Measure E, which he now also opposes and leads the charge against. I’ll post those and an analysis of the Measure E funding bill later in this series.
When chickens battle
One of the hallmarks of cowardice is anonymity, especially when used to tear down others. The Bluff Cove HOA web site as well as the web site dedicated to attacking individual PV residents and cops (since put behind a registration wall), bear great similarity to Chapman’s writing, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that he’s the author.
But The World’s Worst Neighbor is old news in PV Estates, and he is in many ways its most representative resident. Chapman’s hostility to non-residents, his aggressive use of his copious free time to badger opponents, his vindictiveness, his shame at being rich but not super rich, and his belief that the public should be subordinate to his personal wants is what the establishment of places like PV Estates were all about in the first place, with a particular emphasis on the exclusion of blacks and non-whites. So as odious as Chapman is, he’s also a fair representative of the community and its mores, too. The violence at Lunada Bay and the hate crime attack against the Pakistani liquor shop owner in PVE a few years back didn’t germinate in a petri dish of love, acceptance, diversity, and justice.
You need look no farther than the web site opposing him and dedicated to :saving” the PVE police department to find the commonality … this web site is anonymous, too. Apparently when you are outraged and angered in PV Estates, you scurry off to your computer and let ’em have it, anonymously.
Because, you know, that’s how Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers.
Opposing and exposing chicanery of one’s neighbors hath its charms, or at least its civic value. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
Don’t get hit and then what?
September 15, 2017 § 24 Comments
There are a lot of dark stories in the world today about the cager v. biker wars. And they are wars. The bikers get killed and maimed and the cagers get a speeding ticket. The bikers put in an imaginary magic protection road stripe and the cagers rip it out. The bikers say “You’re killing us!” and the cagers say “Exactly!” Cf. Jennifer King and the troll triumvirate of Garrett Uno, Cynthia “the Beast” Uno, Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., and the unbearable heaviness of cager hate and stunted lives of those who wage it.
Maybe I will get around to expanding on this article by Peter Flax, but I doubt it. How do you expand on the universe? Read it and bleed.
However, on September 21 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Performance Bicycle in Long Beach, I will be expanding on my own tiny little universe of how not to get killed while riding your bike. If you’re in the neighborhood I hope you can make it.
Cycling Savvy, led by Big Orange’s own Gary Cziko, has been instrumental in the last two years teaching people the very best in Bee Gees riding techniques, i.e. “Stayin’ Alive.” Gary’s techniques work. There are two parts of the Cycling Savvy curriculum, however, that are either ignored or lightly addressed, kind of like not enough vinaigrette on a mountain of salad, and I’m going to talk about them at the event in Long Beach.
- What to do if you’re a victim or witness to a bike-car collision.
- How to protect yourself and your family if you or they get hit while cycling.
- How not to get hit through insane use of over-the-top lighting, day and night.
Performance is supporting the seminar with some killer deals on, guess what, lighting. There will also be covfefe to keep you awake. However, I can promise that you won’t need it, or you’ll get your money back at this free event.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.
Here comes The Sun
July 25, 2017 § 30 Comments
I was digging through the mail and came across an envelope that had actual handwriting on it. It was from a lady named Ann. She had read a letter to the editor in a magazine called The Sun. The writer was from PV Estates, and in her letter she said that a story she had read in The Sun made her think differently about bicycling.
Apparently bicycling in PV Estates has been getting a bad, or rather worse name over the last year. When you have a small community stocked with even one hairless shrub as horribly defective as Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., it doesn’t take much to poison everyone.
Anyway, this woman Ann sent me The Sun with the story by Heather Sellers. It’s called “Pedal, Pedal, Pedal.” I hope you take a few minutes to read this spectacular and uplifting memoir. It’s something that every cyclist can relate to, the story of transformation, and Heather tells it so well and with such artfulness and power that all you have to do is switch around a few names and words and the story seems like your own.
This got me to wondering why so many people have been transformed by bicycling. Maybe it’s the same with golf or basketball or any human endeavor into which you pour yourself. Maybe bicycling seems special simply because it’s so accessible, unlike golf, and the joys of full-gas basketball don’t typically go much beyond age 35 simply because your knees give out.
Whether it’s unique or not, bicycling is transformational for a whole bunch of people. Is it because cycling is the thing that most closely approximates flying under your own power? Is it because you can go long distances exerting yourself while still able to think, talk, reflect, plan, relax? Is it because no matter what your age, with proper preparation you can bury yourself physically as completely as if you were twenty? Or is it because of the funny clothes and goofy tan?
Whatever the reason, Heather Sellers got it right. Get out of the house and pedal, pedal, pedal. And don’t let the tumbleweeds get you down!
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!