Sunday, March 1, 2009

More City Mouse: Sierra Madre Planning Commissioner Contradicts Himself

(In the March 2006 edition of the Sierra Madre News, the investigative reporter City Mouse went on to uncover even more City Hall shenanigans in the Congregational Church's attempted downtown land grab. Check in here as we continue our build-up to City Hall's upcoming investigations into the breaking Congregational Church/Downtown Development Scandal. A scandal whose roots lie deep in what we will be reviewing all this week.)

Sierra Madre Planning Commissioner Contradicts Himself: Commissioner Ron Brandley refused to recuse (excuse oneself from a case because of a possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality) himself and voted to approve the Sierra Madre Congregational Church CUP earlier this month, stating he had no financial interest in the SMCC Project. Now did the Commissioner lie or simply forget that his campaign statement in the City of Sierra Madre Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet proclaims to voters that his occupation is "Family Business Owner?" He further goes on to state that he has a ".. family business with my wife Judith and my daughter Lorie. I am a member of Sierra Madre Congregational Church." Now if that wasn't enough, City Mouse has learned that the Sierra Madre Congregational Church is Ron, Judith and Lorie's floristry (Leonora Moss) business's mainstay customer!

Stinky cheese! Either the Planning Commissioner has sniffed one too many Stargazer Lilies, or he is trying to pull the wool over the voter's collective eyes in order to position himself as a City Council member to better serve the Sierra Madre Congregational Church's mission. City Mouse disagrees that Ron Brandley is ".. the right person to help shape Sierra Madre's future while respecting its past."

(So you might ask how these kinds of revelations were playing with the Vast Downtown Development Conspiracy at City Hall at that time. According to City Mouse, not very well.)

City Hall Beat: Staff Warned About Confidentiality -- City Mouse has it from a number of sources that the City Manager and department heads issued thinly veiled threats to staff about cooperating with investigative efforts by outsiders after the February/March issue of the Sierra Madre News hit the streets. Since that time other San Gabriel Valley papers seem to have had an epiphany, actually sending reporters to City Council meetings and to interview City Council candidates.

(Of course, in an effort to deal with the sudden rush of curiosity regarding city affairs, it wasn't all that much later that the Downtown Dirt website and message board was created to deal with these sorts of issues. That this crude attempt at message control would backfire horribly - leading to repeated electoral defeats for the opponents of Measure V and open government here in Sierra Madre - is a story for another day. Over the next week or so The Tattler will continue its series on the events of our recent past as a build up to City Hall's developing investigation into the breaking Congregational Church/Downtown Development Scandal. We do respect the tradition of investigative reporting here in Sierra Madre, and feel it is our duty to bring everyone up to speed on how we got to this point.)


  1. "The Congregational Church/Downtown Development Scandal." So now it
    has a name. Love it!

  2. Love the picture, Sir Eric.
    Brandley is looking at Mosca strange. Wonder if he is thinking of saying "you lied or I would have been elected to the council"?

    Keep informing us of this developing shocker.
    Thanks, Sir Eric.

  3. If he was not quilty, why did he not answer the questions?

    Brandley Resigns From Sierra Madre Planning Commission

    By Bill Coburn (posted 4/19/07)

    Planning Commissioner Ron Brandley has tendered his resignation to the City Council. Brandley, who has been on the Planning Commission since 1999, stepped down after choosing not to respond to questions from the City Attorney regarding the possibility of a conflict of interest, questions raised by an anonymous phone caller in a voice mail message left for a member of City staff. Brandley’s term was to end in June, 2007.

    When contacted Brandley stated that an anonymous phone caller had left a message at City Hall wondering if the revenue that Brandley’s wife’s flower shop, Leonora Moss, received from Congregational Church didn’t represent a conflict of interest for which Brandley should recuse himself from participating in the review and vote upon the Congregational Church’s Conditional Use Permit to redo some building on its property on the North side of Sierra Madre Blvd.

    Brandley said that this was a matter of principle for him, that he didn’t feel he should have to respond to questions raised by an anonymous caller. “I originally responded to the City Attorney’s questions, but then decided that no one should respond to someone who doesn’t have the courage to ask in person…There has to be a line drawn.” Brandley also stated that he did not feel there was a conflict of interest, or he would have recused himself, noting that much of the product that the Church receives from the shop is donated.

    City Manager Don Hopper confirmed that there had been a complaint about a possible conflict of interest, and noted that it’s the City Attorney’s job to follow up on such complaints. …..”I think Mr. Brandley took offense that someone could make an ‘anonymous call’ that would initiate a review by the City.” Hopper added that he felt that the City “in the long term loses by not having some one like Ron who has long appreciation and enthusiasm for this community.” Hopper added that “now that the election is over, I hope the people of this community will take a long look at what they want this City to be in the future, not bricks and mortar, but how they treat each other, and the spirit of the volunteers that put in so many hours and do so much work for the good of the this City.”

    City Attorney Sandy Levin, while noting that she could not comment on communications with the City Attorney and Commissioners/staff, also confirmed that Mr. Brandley’s “wife does have a flower shop in town and there were some questions raised about the relationship between the flower shop and the Church. No conflict of interest was established, but there were some questions raised.” When asked if it was ordinary for the City Attorney to investigate based on an anonymous call, Levin responded “Oh absolutely, whenever there is a question about a conflict of interest, then the City is obligated to follow up and find out if there is a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is something that exists whether or not there is a complainant to pursue it or challenge it, and so, whenever we learn that there might be a conflict of interest, there’s always an obligation to follow up and find out if there is.” When asked how far the investigation had gone, or if the investigation had basically stopped when Ron said he was going to resign, Levin said that that was not something she could comment on

  4. Pasta,
    thanks for posting that.

  5. Pasta rules! Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

  6. Captain Feathersword's LackeyMarch 1, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    Judith and Lorie are very talented florists, its a wonderful shop.
    I think this fact must be kept separate from the activities of the wayward Ron.

  7. This whole thing has the same odor that emulates from Chicago City Hall!

  8. So many city halls... good to have the citizens so engaged.

  9. Re: 10:02

    If only ol' dad could have kept things separate.

  10. True 10:34. This is very serious. Remember to check the reruns of city council meetings so they aren't "edited" as they sometimes are. Or voices garbled, etcetera.

  11. Yeah, Open Government. This whole Cong-gate thing is revolting. I smell a quid pro quo--the dirts give up some of their precious downtown "mixed use" space in exchange for the Congs' support for the DSP. And have you seen the schematic's for the DSP lately? They just don't show all the church building. Not there on the picture at all. So the city was heavily involved in selling a plan that was not adequately described. The F word (fraud, that is) comes to my mind. Disgusting. Thanks for posting this, Sir Eric. This is going to be a very unpleasant civics lesson in California Planning law and open government.

  12. Mary Margaret MuseMarch 1, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    CONG GATE PERFECT...........only churches can house such lost lambs dressed as wolves praying on their knees preacing to the ignorant starving masses....

  13. Mr. Bradley loves to walk arouond town so pompous and arrogant acting as if he is above the law of the land and the Law of God, and he will be if he is allowed to get away with all of this. He joins the ranks of Anne Coulter and Bill O and thrives on their rhetoric, and we watch their vile behavior destroy the democracy our country was built on......we must not let this happen. There really is a BIG difference between CHURCH AND STATE. This must be made clear to the City and the Congretational Church.

  14. roia, interesting comment you make.
    Do you think the Dirts would have double crossed the Congs, had the DSP been approved?
    We're talking Bart Doyle, Glenn Lambdin and company.
    I think they might have.
    There were only two churches in Sierra Madre that were strongly supporting the dirt's No on V campaign. The CONGS and Ascension.
    I know SMRRD canvassers got signatures for Measure V and support from St. Rita's, Bethany and Methodist church members. We didn't get many signatures from Cong members, but in all fairness, there aren't many members who actually live in Sierra Madre, most are from out of town.

  15. 11:29, we also must make sure the Democratic Party stays out of Sierra Madre elections, something they have not been doing for the past two Council elections.
    Remember, they called all the registered Dems and told them not to vote for MacGillivray?
    MacGillivray got elected anyway.
    Major political parties have no place in Sierra Madre local government. This started with Joe Mosca and it has continued.
    Needs to stop.

  16. Isn't Kurt Zimmerman a former Federal prosecutor or something?
    I'd hate to be in the shoes of the City Hall collaborators when they
    have to stand in front of the City Council and explain their B.S.

  17. Anonymous at 11:46 a.m. -- The dirts double-crossing somebody? Hey, I can't argue against that!! But we'll never know will we?

  18. One day I went to the Pantorium and while I was
    getting my dirty shirts out of the trunk I noticed
    this white haired old dude staring at me like my
    feet stank. Big time Stinkeye all the way. Up until
    now I had no idea that was Ron Brandley.

  19. 1:48
    Ron Brandley is a rude, arrogant man.
    A lot of the Congs do that kind of stuff.
    A few years back, we took one of our kids to the Cong youth hut, because they had a cub scout troop sign up.
    There were nothing but Congs there, and they were very rude to us and our children. They looked at us like we were trailer trash.
    When we left, my friend said, "we're never coming back here again" One of the little boys replied, "good".
    I've worked with the cub scouts at Bethany Church and the people there are real nice and friendly. Same with St. Rita's groups.
    The Congs are strange, I agree with the poster who called them a "cult".

  20. roia,
    dirts, as you know, have a history of double cross.
    Forrest Harding and Margie Simpson come to mine.
    So does Joe Mosca.
    Good to see the folks finally getting wise to them.
    I'm sure the dirts would have betrayed the Congs. There is no honor among thieves.
    Would you ever trust Bart Doyle or Glenn Lambdin's word on anything?....... Neither would I.

  21. I have always had pleasant interactions with Mr. Brandley, though we disagree on probably all political matters. Also it is quite true that the shop is excellent. That is to their credit, but irrelevant. What is relevant is the lack of recusal.
    However, most puzzling is the erratic application of the recusals - so Brandley does not recuse and there is all this reaction, but how about Stockley? Why didn't this issue come up about Stockley? He was on the council, voting on development issues, when he was working for a bank that had a financial relationship with a developer who was strangling the town. Huh?
    Isn't policy supposed to be applied across the board?