Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Being The Town Curmudgeon Can Be Hard And Thankless Work

And then, if you have any sort of conscience whatsoever, you can be made to realize that, from time to time, there are people reading this blog who take the things they see here very much to heart. And perhaps, if they work in the downtown building with the flags, police cars, and fire trucks, they might assume that the intent here is to impugn both their professionalism and ability to do the gig they work so hard to do.

Last evening I was invited by a couple of the nice ladies working at City Hall to stop by and look over some of the budgetary numbers they've been working on. And I, always up for interesting new experiences, gladly accepted the opportunity. After 3 or so years of attempting to divine the mysteries of this city's curious fiscal practices through the study of old newspaper articles and arcane state websites, here I was being brought into the belly of the beast itself. What treasures would I discover? What evidence of duplicitous double-dealing with the dark forces that daily bedevil our quaint and cozy hillside lifestyles would be inadvertently revealed to me? I cautioned myself to be strong and to not let anything escape me. I brought my notebook.

But then, none of that kind of stuff happened. They were disarmingly nice and both conversant and comfortable with the information they were presenting. And distressingly logical as well, bringing up points that made me question a few of my previous bold assertions. (Something which I honestly found to be a little annoying.) They are people who work hard and seem to enjoy what they are doing. And they even acted happy at having to stay late to accommodate me. 

Here's the problem with dealing with the nice ladies down at City Hall. None of what we discussed in yesterday's article (or five or six others) is really their fault. And I can't blame them for much beyond challenging my faith. Quite the contrary, we now actually know about the million dollars we didn't know about last week because they finished all those impossibly late audits and discovered that mystery money buried somewhere in 2006-07. Those audits are done, the numbers are in to Sacramento, and we're not paying $5,000 per year in fines anymore. All of this being to their credit. After all, if they hadn't completed in a year and a half what previous entire generations of City Hall employees hadn't been able to accomplish at all (apparently generations had very short life spans back then), how else would we have learned of these things?

To them it must seem as if they've wandered into that celebrated place where no good deeds go unpunished and the messengers always take the blame. Which, of course, they should. But that is a theory to be discussed at another time.

And look at it this way, if the $1,000,000 had been discovered under the old regime, you know it would have been spent long ago. At least we have it now to help defray all the new Police salary and paramedic costs.

Of course, if it wasn't for the new leadership this City has these days, perhaps the challenge to complete these audits wouldn't have been there either, right? It's a synergy thing going on here. And an example of the agony of being on the winning side, which is something your Tattler editor experiences from time to time. After all, it is our guys who are now calling the shots here. And results like this are to their credit as well.

So by the end of our conversation I had decided that I would bestow upon them perhaps the greatest distinction The Tattler is capable of, well, bestowing. So Elaine Aguilar and Karin Schnaider, congratulations. You are now honorary members of The Tattler Research Team. A heady honor to be sure. And because of our "taxation only as a last resort" stance, you will not have to pay any such thing for contributions made here. That is the kind of freedom working in a cash-free environment can bring.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks, Sir Eric
    Thank God we have Mayor Zimmerman, Councilman Watts and Mayor Pro-tem MacGillivray to clean up the mess that prior city council's let get so out of control.
    Thank you Elaine and Karen, and volunteer, Anna.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, thank you! They make me want to raise my grandkids here...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Always to the point, Pasta :)
    Yes, many thanks to Elaine and Karin!
    To protect them and their hard work, and to get to the bottom of this, we need an independent forensic audit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've found Elaine to be competent, pleasant, and not filled with subterfuge. She doesn't seem to be player in underground government that has so poisoned Sierra Madre's small town City Hall for the last 10 years. Great job Tattler and a sincere thank you for taking the readers's questions to the source for an answer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pasta: The entire $1 million + was found during the 2006-07 audit. Came from such things as Franchise Fees, a big bump in property taxes due to this being the last year of the cheap loan housing boom, state use of our Fire Strike Team, and UUT revenues.Mostly one shot items.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Our past city managers, Gillison and Gates were operatives of the BIA, imho.
    Elaine Aguilar is more competent and a real city manager. She is cordial to the residents.
    Gillison and Gates treated residents with contempt.
    I don't know Karen, but have heard she is competent and polite to residents asking questions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elaine Aguilar has helped me with problems that I have had with other cities. She is a wealth of information. Thanks Sir Eric for all your work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I kind of liked it better when City Hall was Fort Apache and we were riding around it on war ponies. Can it be that Sierra Madre is now becoming...civilized? And if so, what are we going to do for entertainment? SMTV ratings will plummet, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Not yet Curly. There's some "reveals" coming our way, right?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anybody know someone that would want to model for a picture that will appear on The Tattler? It will be for our upcoming series "Symbols Of Sierra Madre Freedom." The candidate would have to be willing to stand just outside of Beantown holding a leaf blower and a cigar, and in front of a clock saying 6:30AM.

    ReplyDelete
  11. While the diesel 18 wheeler they rode in on is idling in the background...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anyone see lamdins article in the MVO?

    ReplyDelete
  13. You mean the Village Idiot?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I didn't see it, but I bet my bird did.

    ReplyDelete
  15. In my opinion, regardless of any published comments, I think the 12:00pm on sundays is little too late.....9:00am across the board and 10:00am sundays...IMHO!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The World's Largest Blossoming Plant. With Over One Million Flowers.March 10, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    You need to get your references right here. It is the "Comedian Glenn Lambdin." Also known as Sally.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Would it be possible for people to forgo tobacco and begin smoking wisteria?

    ReplyDelete