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DISAPPOINTED IN COLUMBIA SPACE CENTER, DOWNEY FIRES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

THE NEXT FRONTIER: Space Center's revelations include include how to take a dump in space

FROM ERIC PIERCE / DOWNEY PATRIOT

Eight months after presiding over its grand opening, Jon Betthauser has been fired as executive director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, where city officials complained about poor fundraising and the fact that the center is not even fully operational yet.

“The bottom line is the center is currently average and it should be exceptional,” said Scott Pomrehn, a deputy city manager who has assumed Betthauser’s duties. “It really needs to be outstanding.” READ MORE

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RETURN WITH THE BLASTERS TO THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH—RECORD STORE, THAT IS

BY PETER THOMPSON

Subject: “I don’t like music I haven’t heard before”
 
Yeah, someone really said that. We wish we had her name so we could attribute it. But instead, we held her up to ridicule by writing the quote on the infamous felt letterboard that greeted each soul who entered the hallowed grounds of Middle Earth Records in Downey.

These were the ’70s, the peak vinyl years, and Middle Earth was the place to go to feed your music addiction. Punk landed early here, finding fertile ground among the prog, rock and folk freaks who made up the staff. The Ramones made an in-store appearance here. Middle Earth was the home store of the Blasters, as well as Richard and Karen Carpenter, and bands passing through L.A. made a southeast detour to Downey just to search the imports. (And our parents thought Downey was a SAFE place to raise their kids!)

Today, 30+ years later, we’re searching out those who either drew a paycheck from Middle Earth or simply wasted away their youth and hard-earned cash on vinyl, magazines, and other “things” we sold back in the day. For more information, check out http://www.facebook.com/middleearthrecords

WHAT: A Tribute to Middle Earth Records featuring The Blasters
WHERE: The Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd, LA 90026
WHEN: Saturday, June 19, 2010; doors open at 6:30
FOR MORE INFO: attheecho.com

ELON MUSK IS … BROKE? COURT FILINGS SAY YES

June 2, 2010 4 comments

ELON MUSK: BUSTED! (Photo: Brian Solis, http://www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us.)

BY ERIC PIERCE / THE DOWNEY PATRIOT

Elon Musk is broke and has been living off personal loans since October 2009, this according to court filings reviewed by online magazine Venture Beat.

“About four months ago, I ran out of cash,” Musk wrote in a court filing dated Feb. 23 and reviewed by the website.

More from the story:

According to the filing — part of his pending divorce case from sci-fi novelist Justine Musk — Elon Musk has been living off personal loans from friends since October 2009 and spending $200,000 a month while making far less.

Tesla, likewise, is dealing with its cash flow problems by borrowing money from a friendly source — the United States government, which has eagerly backed cleantech startups through a Department of Energy loan program. READ MORE

PANTS ON FIRE! ERIC PIERCE’S POST-MORTEM ON TESLA MOTORS’ PHONY FLIRTATIONS

May 28, 2010 2 comments

PINOCCHIO'D!

COMMENTARY BY ERIC PIERCE / DOWNEY PATRIOT

And just like that, Tesla Motors is gone. Downey fell for Tesla’s phony, flirtatious come-ons like a pudgy teenager speaking to the pretty cheerleader who needs homework help. We fell in love with the ambitious promises, the lofty technology and the national media attention. We fell for it all, hook, line and sinker.

But don’t blame Downey.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and chief executive officer, lied. Tesla lied when they told city officials and state lawmakers that they were not considering any other location besides Downey. You can’t blame Tesla for accepting Toyota’s offer: after all, business is business and $50 million is an impossible amount of money to turn down, especially when you’re a start-up company. But Tesla didn’t have to lie about their negotiations with Toyota. They didn’t have to string Downey along like a puppet, to the point where city administrators were flying to Sacramento, testifying before lawmakers. READ MORE

ELON MUSK WRITES THAT ‘DOWNEY IS AWESOME’—AND, PRESUMABLY, HOPES IT HAS A BITCHEN SUMMER

May 25, 2010 16 comments

ELON MUSK: 'DOWNEY IS AWESOME' (Photo: Brian Solis, http://www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us.)

FROM ERIC PIERCE / DOWNEY PATRIOT

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has written a letter to City of Downey officials (title: “Downey Is Awesome”) that is apparently intended to soothe their feelings (typical reaction: we were “stabbed in the back”) after he stunned them with his May 20 announcement that his company would not be manufacturing cars in their town. 

The letter, written for Musk’s personal blog, was e-mailed to city staff members and council members Saturday, two days after news broke that Tesla would build a Model S assembly plant in Fremont.  In the letter,  Musk says he was prepared to build his plant in Downey before Toyota came forward with its $50 million offer, which was finalized Wednesday (May 19) night.  The letter does not reveal how long Tesla and Toyota had been in talks. Musk also recommends Downey “for any company [that] is considering a place for a major operation,” and says he will consider Downey when he needs to expand SpaceX or starts an electric jet venture.

Here, on the site of the Downey Patriot, is the full text of Musk’s letter:

Also, Musk and Downey officials were interviewed on Monday by Warren Olney on KCRW’s, “Which Way, L.A.?”

TESLA CHOOSES FREMONT–AND, SAY ANGRY DOWNEY OFFICIALS, MILLIONS IN CASH

May 20, 2010 2 comments
FROM ERIC PIERCE / THE DOWNEY PATRIOT
Instead of formally ratifying a lease amendment with IRG, one of the final steps before Tesla Motors could begin work on its Model S assembly plant at Downey Studios, the Downey City Council on Thursday instead took turns blasting the electric car company for what Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez termed “underhanded negotiation tactics.”

Downey officials found out at about 2 p.m. today that Tesla will build its Model S sedan in Fremont. Downey was made aware after a reporter with the Associated Press called Councilman Mario Guerra for comment. Guerra said he confirmed the news with Tesla, and said Toyota was investing $50 million in Tesla to have the electric car maker come up north.

Downey officials were skeptical that such a deal could have been consummated on short notice.
READ  THE ENTIRE STORY IN THE DOWNEY PATRIOT

DOWNEY CITY COUNCIL CONVENES SPECIAL MEETING TODAY TO ADOPT “URGENCY ORDINANCE” RELATED TO RECRUITING TESLA

May 20, 2010 6 comments

FROM ERIC PIERCE / DOWNEY PATRIOT

The Downey City Council will convene a special meeting today at 4 p.m. to adopt an “urgency ordinance” to related to amend the ground lease between the city and Industrial Realty Group, operators of Downey Studios and potential home of Tesla Motors. Details of  the meeting are vague; the agenda is short on details and no supporting documents are included.

But IRG and Tesla have been in negotiations for several months to have the electric car company open a production plant at the former NASA site. In recent weeks, city officials have been testifying before lawmakers in Sacramento on behalf of AB 2065, a bill that would designate the studios a redevelopment district “that would help finalize our hard work to bring Tesla to Downey,” Councilman Mario Guerra said in an e-mail sent out two weeks ago.

MORE INFORMATION IN THE DOWNEY PATRIOT