Thursday, February 5, 2009

Deja Voodoo: Is John Buchanan up to his same old trick?

Of course you've heard the adage about teaching an old dog new tricks, right? Who hasn't. But even an old dog should be expected to know more than one. So has John Buchanan become so tragically limited in scope that he would attempt to trot out the very same ruse as the last couple times? And can we call it Deja Voodoo?

It would seem that there is a bit of earnest competition on the City Council regarding the eventual fate of our beloved Skilled Nursing Facility. And while everyone understands that something needs to be done, there could now very well be two schools of thought on the matter. The first says that the Skilled Nursing Facility would provide an essential service to the people of Sierra Madre if it was turned into an Urgent Care Center. The demographics of this town trend decidedly older, with more than 36% of the folks living here at age 50 or above. And with nearly 12% over 70! But also, and equally important, 10% of our population is comprised of accident prone small children. 

That a city of this size should be without an Urgent Care Center really is a bit of an embarrassment. And as good as our paramedics are, that extra 10 to 15 minutes it now takes to get a patient in crisis to a medical facility could mean the difference between living and dying. And our esteemed Skilled Nursing Facility is already configured for most medical requirements, and could easily (and quickly) be transformed into just such a place. 

Seems pretty logical, right? But John Buchanan, who in the past has shown small concern for much beyond redevelopment, might actually be pushing a decidedly different agenda here. And what would that be? Could be the same thing as the last time. Allowing some really large development downtown.

The brainstorm making the rounds says that we should build a big new Library on the Skilled Nursing site, and then give the land where our existing Library stands to the developer currently allowing the SNF to so poignantly decay. A "Land Swap" if you will. But don't we already have a Library? Seems pretty nice to me, and I know my kids like it. So why would we need to tear it down, build another one up the street, and then let the Dark Knight of Blight build a rack of condos in its place? What did he ever do to deserve such a reward?

Another consideration. This is a cash strapped community, and the costs of maintaining our current Library are edging upwards towards $900,000 a year. Remember when there was talk of shuttering the Library because we just couldn't pay for it anymore? So can we really afford to foot the bill for an even larger building? And the redevelopment propaganda du jour - GREEN! - is not going to impress anyone familiar with the Top 20 Failed Green Technologies, Designs & Innovations outlined on the always enjoyable WebEcoist site. Being the guinea pigs for some new air conditioner and insulation technologies is probably not in our best interest. And such innovations could end up costing us a lot more than advertised. If it's really all that important I'm sure we can put some nice solar panels on the roof of the old one.

But listen, even if it isn't John that is floating this nonsense, you do know it has to be for the same old reason, right? And that would be money. Because it's always about money. Under this plan we're talking about two big new development projects, and the cash to be made from building them. Rather than giving Sierra Madre the medical facility we really need, all this plan would do is take care of the usual suspects.

Of course, the question remains who exactly would fund this twin pack of boondoggles. There just isn't much borrowing cash around these days, right? Maybe some grant money, but how far will that go? But look, that's probably why it was brought up at a special City Hall meeting dedicated to figuring out how to get our hands on some of that $800 billion dollars in borrowed capital Washington is about to ladle out. Sad to think that the taxpayer's hard earned dough might be funneled into projects as poorly conceived as this "Land Swap" fiasco.

We have an election coming up in a little more than a year. What do you say we let the voters decide? New library and condos, or an Urgent Care Center. Put it on the ballot and let Sierra Madre make the call. I think you know what the result would be.


  1. Run away development has destroyed California.
    It creates real blight, foreclosures and an impossible strain on cities to pay for it.
    After the developers take the money, cut and run.....we the people are left holding the empty bag.

  2. Sir Eric?
    Do you think we would be looking at an up in the air Howie's site and a boarded up SNF if the dirts hadn't originally assured the developers, they would pass the DSP?
    Not ever dreaming the citizens would organize and fight?

  3. Also, the cost of maintaining a large staff at a new library would be exorbitant.The existing library is very charming. Urgent or senior care would be very useful.

  4. I think the term would be 'no brainer.' An
    Urgent Care Center would probably take
    about 90% of the vote.

  5. So let me get this straight. Tearing down
    2 buildings and shipping the debris off to
    a landfill is "green," and using all new
    materials to build 2 new buildings is
    "green" as well? But recycling an old
    building and in the process giving the
    community something it needs is not?
    Where is George Orwell when you need

  6. The dirts have big investments in these development projects.
    It's naive to think they won't spin this via Buchanan and Mosca anyway they can.
    Facts, figures, ethics be damned.
    Beware, citizens of Sierra Madre.....these dirts are out for blood. They will stop at nothing to win back control of the City Council so they can move forward with these plans.
    But fear not, citizens.....Sir Eric will expose them.

  7. Wonder why the dirts aren't coming out in droves to run for office? Sierra Madre's Conflict of Interest requirements would expose just how deeply invested in the local ponzi schemes (Howies and the Skilled Nursing Facilities) the local realtors, civic boosters, and bon vivants really are. And they don't want you to know!!!

  8. Small town hustlers and govt careerists. Not a very pretty picture.

  9. They love to spend other people's money especially if some of it may going to the "friends and family program."

    As for $8M for a new library and $35M for the school...who are they listening to and what are they smoking?

  10. Building projects are great. Having said that, as Pasta pointed out, the school is already a huge building project in the city. I thought that would abate the hunger somewhat, which now appears to be insatiable.
    Why don't city leaders just work on keeping what makes Sierra Madre a great city - the people, police and fire services, cleanliness, good water, search & rescue organization, and a vital downtown. (What the heck exactly does the Chamber of Commerce actually DO? Does this group report to the city on a monthly basis? How much money do they spend, and on what? City decorations are kinda sloppy and unimaginative. Why not let Creative Arts Group do the holiday and seasonal decorations?)
    By the way, great new cycle shop downtown, on west Sierra Madre Boulevard.

  11. ultimately you can divide the citizens and leaders into two categories one being those who benefit in some way from the decisions they support and lobby for and second those who serve for the good of the city and its people its that simple look at people and what they advocate for and see what perks they get out of it
    if you see that it involves money or position or a prime location in town or a new vehicle or patronage from the dirts at their business then you have your answer

  12. Enid Joffe's Goldberg Park is a good example of that. Her pals got top dollar for a patch of land and they later contributed to her campaign for city council. The park was touted as if it were the next Disneyland. More pals got the landscaping contract. The Goldbergs kicked in maybe $10,000 - can't remember - and got the patch NAMED AFTER THEM and they didn't even donate the site. Usually something is named after you if you DONATE it.

  13. Joffe almost got away with it, except she wasn't re-elected. Lots of people are quiet in this town (wonder why?) but they notice things and they are not stupid. Kudos today to Sir Eric, Mayor Kurt Zimmerman, Mayor Pro Tem Maryann McGillivray and the wonderful citizens who support them.

  14. Council Member Don Watts you are nobody's puppet, remember that, and remember why you were elected and what you stand for. You are brave for serving through health issues etcetera and we send lots of love your way. Don't forget us!

  15. Although, it is sometimes fun to poke fun at politicians we already know are corrupt (ie Mosca and Buchanan) I think we really need to start paying attention to the "Dirts in Disguise" that will run for City Council in 2010.

    Don't forget, Mosca was a "Dirt in Disguise" when he ran 3 years ago. We may be more skeptical of carpetbaggers now, because of him. But, we should also be wary of those that have been in Sierra Madre for a long time that have managed to conceal their hidden agendas and pro-development biases.

  16. From your mouth to God's ear, Ben. We need to focus on the next election and, this time, make sure that people's walk & talk match.
    Is there any chance we really could put the SNF choice on a ballot? As Curly wrote, it's a no brainer- and I bet it would be more like 98% yes.

  17. So who represents the 2% against a functioning health center, and for a big new museum, or er uh library, and MORE CONDOS?

  18. The DIRTS. All the people who supported and/or contributed to the vile downtowndirt websites.
    They don't want a health center.....they want library with mixed use condos.
    Not a chance, dirts.

  19. How many signatures does it take to get something like this on a Sierra Madre ballot?

  20. Remember the SNF is private property. Although the majority of the community including me would love to see it as a medical facility, we can't make the owners do what we want. We need to support Maryann so hopefully she will be able to make it happen. Everyone needs to show up a the council meeting when it is on the agenda and show your support by speaking in favor of this type of use so the property owner will see the community is behind the project.

  21. Sierra Madre business ownerFebruary 5, 2009 at 5:51 PM

    And so it begins - another residents' movement to force the council to act in the town's best interests.
    Also Anon, your earlier refernce to Orwell was terrific. Great double speak double think!

  22. You're right, pasta. Developers don't seem to have much of a knack for "win-win" but surely they would like "My project will be done and profitable sooner"

  23. Pasta is right!
    this is private property. We can only hope the owners will decide on a medical facility. We should all wish them good luck in swinging a deal! We want everyone to win/win on this one.

    This issue will be discussed on Tuesday night at 6:30 pm at the regular meeting of the city council.
    Please come and show your support for Don, Kurt and MaryAnn. They work very hard for all of us, often times at great sacrifice, both personal and financial. It is important for them to have our support.
    Remember they have all kept their promises to the people who voted for them. Least we can do is to show up in support of their efforts on our behalf.

  24. If this idea of a land swap ever gained any traction (with the developer or the council) it night be worth putting it on the ballot. I think it would go down in flames. The reality is that there isn't a market for the original building as planned (scuttled partly due to DSP defeat and partly due to the devastated real estate market). If it were only the DSP's demise affecting the picture, we would have seen the same projects, but just a little smaller. It's market forces and John Buchanan can struggle all day long trying to manufacture a profitable project for these guys and isn't it sickening to think that the City of Sierra Madre--too poor to build a big fabulous library--can somehow aid development so as to resurrect an unprofitable project?

    As for the library--remember the previous plan to build a new fabulous library? How much money was spent on architects for that? I'm recalling on the order of $100,000. Another Bart Doyle plan. Remember, politicans (especially dirts) want to have something tangible they can point to and claim. A library always looks good on someone's political resume.