Thursday, October 29, 2009

The City Council Meeting Nobody Saw

Well, still no City Council meetin' airing yet on SMTV Channel 3. But there is a notice up on my TV screen that bespeaks of their great regret, and then blames it on the weather. And judging by the gritty clouds blowing from the One Carter Dust Bowl Tuesday night, maybe they do have an excuse. After all, this meeting was practically run by candlelight. But then again, given past occurrences of SMTV3's phantom broadcasts, is anybody going to buy it?

Now as a public service to the community, the Maundry Institute for Paranormal Studies (MIPS) has been trying to piece together what happened at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. And maybe it was the strange weather, or the wind driven clouds of ash from the Station Fire. Or perhaps even the lack of lighting properly powered by the soothing electronic coal-fired emanations of Southern California Edison. But there was something unsettling about this meeting. Probably because almost nobody except the actual participants have actually witnessed it. So what you will be reading here is based on phone calls, personal opinions, rumors, and hunches. And until the real thing comes along, I'm afraid that is the best I can do.

It started off innocuously enough. Apparently an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy is all about abrasive toilet paper. In the metaphorical sense, of course. That being, if an item is made with recycled materials of a certain percentage, it then becomes "environmentally preferable," and that should be the reason we buy it. Now the quality might not be as high, and not unlike the toilet paper a now departed Eurasian megastate of note used to proffer, a bit abrasive. But it is kinder to the Earth, or so we've been assured. This passed by a 5 to 0 vote, which means that the next time you need to use public facilities, forgo Memorial Park and make your way on over to Starbucks.

The next item on the agenda had something to do with appointing a new person to the Library Board of Trustees. Now up until recently this was pretty much the place where those disappointed by the outcome of the last few elections went to find solace and renewed purpose in their lives. Which I suppose explains the lack of discussion on exactly who departed to create this opening. The DIC being a most secretive bunch these days. Fortunately 60% of the City Council settled on Lita Bushloper who, unlike some previous Library Board appointees, actually has library management credentials that extend beyond buying wine by the glass at fundraising socials. That plus two Masters degrees and a reputation for being tough on people who don't return books on time. Which is what you need to make a Library work in my opinion. Otherwise people will just never return those Jude Deveraux and Diana Galbaldon novels.

"The Appointment of Youth to the Community Services Commission" thing apparently got a bit heavy. Perhaps John Buchanan promised somebody that he'd give their boy a fine position on the CSC, and then felt he needed to deliver? Whatever the cause, it led to a rhubarb as some on the City Council felt that both of the available candidates were qualified to serve the great cause of Youth. This triggered a question about why one can't have the vote and the other still get to participate. Which is apparently what won out despite the mysterious motivations of Mr. Buchanan. You'd think that with all the important issues facing this City, spending that much time and energy to deny some kid the chance to experience Sierra Madre government up close would seem foolish and a bit ugly. Apparently for John that was not the case.

The Dapper Field tree removal question was approved over the objections of the Tree Commission. Ash trees have apparently been getting rowdy over there at Hal Dapper, tearing up the field and causing some of the walkways to buckle. Now as any fan of the game can tell you, wooden baseball bats are made out of ash. So perhaps after these trees are cut down they can be turned into bats and given out as momentos at the next big Little League bash? Or sold to raise money? We could call them Sierra Madre Sluggers. Or (forgive me) Dapper Whappers. Those trees being removed would be replaced per City law.

Next up was the SCAG Regional Transportation Plan insanity. SCAG, as you know from our previous insightful articles about this organization, seems to think it can predict the future. And so insidious is this mental conceit it has apparently convinced some on City Staff that they can do so as well. And we're not talking about what is going to happen in the next year. No, these enabled seers are talking about employment and population increases in Sierra Madre up through the year 2035! Like anybody 26 years from now is going to give a damn what people all the way back in 2009 thought.

But SCAG apparently is where the mad go to secure government paychecks and power, and since they are backed up by both the Feds along with those jokers in Sacramento, we have to spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out ways to bamboozle them. Because if we don't then they will tell us how many jobs will be created here over the next couple decades, and then how many new housing units we will need to plan for in order to board those people. People who won't actually be here to work jobs that only exist in the mind of some droll Soviet emigre' named Ikhrata. You see, when it comes to SCAG, it is always about demanding new development. And they never let logic or rational thinking get in the way.

Now our City Staff, who apparently seems to take this former Soviet planner and his crackpot organization seriously, went back to the year 2003 to try and deduce some sort of trend that will help them create a picture of what Sierra Madre will look like in the distant future. The old "past is prologue" shuck and jive that keeps so many planners employed. Unfortunately, if you only go back to the year 2003, what will emerge are numbers that are grossly inflated. Why? Because those were the superheated housing boom years, a time when banks apparently lost their minds and lent all their money at below cost. So why didn't City Staff go back a few years earlier than they did to get more realistic numbers? Because then you are into the Shenanigan Era, and that data doesn't exist. So absorbed were our elected officials with enabling stuff like One Carter and the DSP back then that they forgot all about keeping credible records.

The argument that apparently emerged at this City Council meeting was whether or not we should play SCAG's game. One school of thought says they're obviously off their rockers with their numbers, so why should we even entertain taking them seriously? Their outcome is predetermined and their math obviously suspect, so why not call them out on it and give them a realistic answer. Like zero. The other side stating that unless we throw them a statistical bone, they'll be mean to us and we'll end up having to plan for an additional 100 or so housing units instead of, maybe, 89. My take is that since we're talking years into the future, let's just do the right thing and tell SCAG that they're out of their minds and we have no time for their nonsense. Just weather the storm. After all, our population isn't growing, we're actually losing jobs and businesses, nobody is building anything anywhere in this town, and hardly anybody working here can afford to live in this town anyway.

Don Watts had a better solution, of course. We should tell them that we expect 150,000 new jobs here in the next decade or so. That way SCAG would immediately demand that the County of Los Angeles build us a subway. Kurt Zimmerman added that since we will then be larger than Burbank, we should also ask for an airport.

The discussion on Sierra Madre Strategic Plan Goals & Objectives was shelved for another time. Apparently the City Council's need for fantasy having been fulfilled by the previous item.

If you feel the need to check up on my improvisation, may I suggest you call City Hall at 355-7135 and inquire as to the exact time this City Council meeting will finally be broadcast? I recommend that you go straight to the source and ask for the City Manager. That way she'll be able to properly sense your concern. And when you do find out, please let the rest of us know?


  1. So if we join SCAG in making predictions about housing and job
    growth in Sierra Madre 20 years from now, do we get to wear
    matching straitjackets? Just askin'.

  2. Thanks for the city council report, Sir Eric.

    I'm really hoping all of you will call Elaine at 355-7135 and ask for a replay. I heard it was taped.

    Don Watts and Kurt Zimmerman with their pithy comments should be recruited by Saturday Night Live! LOL

    I guess we missed all the fun! Call City Hall!

  3. Good morning Tattlers,
    Here is a copy of the enforcement section of SB 375.

    SCS/APS ENFORCEMENT• SB 375 does not specify any penalties for failure to achieve the regional targets or failure to implement the SCS or APS.• SB 375 does reserves state transportation funding for projects that are consistent with the RTP/SCS.• Regional MPO board members (local elected officials) make most transportation funding decisions.• Transportation projects programmed for funding on or before December 31, 2011 are not required to be consistent with SCSs

    RHNA ENFORCEMENT•Cities and counties must
    report to the HCD on their actions to
    comply with the RHNA. This report must
    be presented at a public meeting and allow
    for public testimony/comment.•If a
    jurisdiction fails to rezone as required,
    it will be restricted in its ability to
    disapprove or condition ahousing
    development project with at least 49% of
    the units for low/moderate income
    households. •Any disapproval will have to
    be made with written findings in the
    record showing a specific, adverse, and
    unavoidable public health or safety
    impact.•If an action is successfully
    brought against a jurisdiction for its
    failure to rezone as required, the court
    shall issue a judgment compelling the
    rezoning and may issue sanctions on the
    jurisdiction forcontinued non-compliance.

    There are a couple well placed big IFs in there, If...the biggest word ...for two letters.

    Neuroblast Films

  4. Click S.C.A.G. open space above to view their open space policy via a short 5 page pdf

    or copy and paste what's below.

    Neuroblast Films

  5. Yep, Sacramento is basically removing all local control over development and concentrating it into their own hands. The better for them to peddle their influence to the big development lobbies, I guess. I've been trying to come up with an historical precedent for this, and the best I can come up with so far is Mussolini. He formed a similar alliance between dominant central government and powerful corporate interests back in the 1930s. Now all we need is for Arnold's hair to fallout and the picture will be complete.

  6. the tree huggers are out of their minds. If you walk around the backstop at Dapper, the concrete is broken and jagged due to tree roots, but the tree huggers would rather a kid break his neck than cut a precious tree

  7. Sure urban foresters are up against a great deal of poor planning when community groups planted donated trees without any understanding of their growth patterns. This is not just a Sierra Madre concern. So down through the years you get a Dapper field bleachers/snack bar area broken concrete problem. Too bad thirty some years of tree growth was not able to continue for another 40 or 50 years. Sure kids can trip on uneven surfaces, which can sometimes, but not always, be fixed. I haven't been to a youth baseball league game for many years but I do remember game-related injuries that had to do with running. Have they been eliminated too?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. 9:36 - Look, if you want to talk about tree removal, be my guest. But please leave out the juvenile insults. This isn't the Cumquat, you know.

  10. I have posted a short video on the state of the sidewalks on the North side of East Montecito, dangerous to say the least.
    link here
    or above in the name section

    From the time I uploaded that short, I have been told the south side is just as bad. Dangerous sidewalks are a problem when we invite people to come to our Wisteria Festival, and The Fourth celebration. They tavel up and down our streets all day. Let us be proactive and make it a priority for our city.

    Neuroblast Films

  11. It is too bad that Sierra Madre is so cash strapped. Other communities with tree-sidewalk problems have been able to solve these problems without having to cut down the offending trees. Ficus trees, which given their huge side walk 'heaving' problems would not be planted anywhere in a sidewalk area today, have been salvaged in Los Angeles, Pasadena and even Duarte along Huntington near Target, through sidewalk repair and root shaving (the shaving with great care and a process that will not always be possible). Sometimes it is the underlying soil subsiding and not the roots that cause the problem, but still you need funds to make the repairs that could possibly save the trees. Then again, if people don't know what tree type to choose for what soil type and/or growth space, you will be chopping down the offending trees long before their time is naturally up.

  12. 8:51
    you sound like "shirtless Pete".

  13. Back in the day it was the parents that maintained the Little League field and sandlots... but I can tell you this, if an elderly grandparent or a preggers mom trips on the ill-maintained sidewalk or roots it'll cost a bundle to settle! Has anyone else heard that a Dapper is putting together a campaign for City Council?

  14. Try to watch channel 3October 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    OK Old K. Or let's discuss the playback schedules more....So this week it was an act of God and all, but what about last week? There were no playbacks of the council, at all, during the week, and surprise! It was shown twice on Sunday back to back.
    This has been going on for years.

  15. Okay Old Kentucky, from the landis book, and the studies there in, they can statistically say 32 children will be born, in Sierra Madre in the next how many years, that is a statistical truth, but to manipulate it.. and present that... when it will take the kids 20 years to grow up and maybe they will need a house then... is wrong.

    I would ask for a breakdown of those figures.....

    Sir Eric, you dont need to be a MIPS, (although in my heart I am one) to see the dust blowing..It reminds me of tornado weather..

    Don't scoff, there were two tornandoes in orange county, about two years ago..

  16. I know that's true 11:52, but what's the solution?
    Heather Allen has been bringing it to the council's attention for a while, and even she can't make an impact.

  17. 2003? The staff is referencing 2003?
    Has anyone told them or SCAG that the American economy has undergone some, uh, devastating 'corrections'?
    ('Corrections' like that scary butler guy in the movie The Shining recommends.)
    I need to hear staff's presentation before I say more - they cannot really be as out of touch as that - can they?
    They must have a good reason for picking 2003, even though at first glance it looks like pure idiocy.

  18. 12:12, youtube,
    The Shining Bathroom Scene

  19. Sir Eric, if I may, I disagree with your characterization of 2003 as not firmly in the Shenanigan Era. Should you care to take a look, here's a council agenda from 2003:

  20. Holy crap, that SCAG guy really was a Soviet planner! So that is what California has come to? We have old communists telling us what we can and cannot do with our property? I thought we won the cold war!

  21. Old timer, right you are.
    The mayor in 2003 was.......Bart Doyle.
    The city council was Stockly, Torres, Hayes and Maurer.

  22. Old timer....

    I have to agree with you! By my account the Shenanigan Years started in 1996 when Bart Doyle beat Lee Cline for the City Council by 8 votes and ended (hopefully) in 2006 when Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts were elected to the Council.

  23. Hear, hear Curmudgeon.
    While there were still some honest people serving on the council, it seems like with the arrival of Mr. Doyle, word went out to the development community that we were open for business. A very different message than the "Sierra Madre is more trouble than its worth" message that we had previously been known for.
    Thanks for the back up.

  24. That's right Another Anon,

    From April 2003 - April 2004, while Bart Doyle was Mayor, Sierra Madre took on an unprecedented amount of debt, both for the General Fund and the CRA; the goal being to bankrupt Sierra Madre out of existence and eliminate local control.

    That also happened to be the year that Doyle, Hayes, Torres and Stockly decided to fire Charles Martin in favor of Colantuono & Levin. Since then the City's legal fees have gone from $2,000- a month to between $40,000- and $50,000- a month. It wasn't long after that, that faithful, long-time (union) City employees were forced out in favor of much more expensive, contract labor from the BIA and CAR.

    Next time anyone tells you the City is going broke, ask them if they know why. If they're running for City Council, ask them what they're going to do about it.

  25. Anyone know if they are going to replay the council meeting?

  26. Haven't heard anything about it. Maybe they forgot or something.

  27. Greetings Tattlers,
    KGEM Monrovia has a Stickcam accnt.
    I recomend you sign up for one as well.
    They will be streaming live broadcasts, and all who have signed in will be able to comment in real time!

    Here is the KGEM page

    the home page is - for sign up.
    or click the link above.
    See you there,

    Neuroblast Films

  28. Thanks Neuroblast!

  29. Old Curmudgeon @2:57, wow.
    Thanks for that precise summary.

  30. As someone who knows a little bit about Trees and because one of the items on the agenda was concerning Trees, and because there were some ridiculous statements made on this posting in regards to the Trees, I am compelled to comment. Some of the comments show an absolute ignorance of the issues regarding Trees and the horrible removal of the large Ash Trees at Dapper Field. Why have a Tree Commission and ignore their educated and studied evaluation of the situation? Yes, Trees have roots, some more pronounced than others, and yes, the Ash Trees in particular have an extensive root system. If there is broken concrete walkways, they should have been removed and not the Trees. After all this is a Park, and people do walk around Trees in Parks all of the time. Ridiculous to remove healthy Trees because of broken concrete. The shade that they provide and the natural cooling of 10-15 degrees without the help of Edison should be reason enough to retain them. What about the carbon sequestration, CO2 reduction and O2 generated by these Trees? Is this something you can do? Hell No! What about the ambiance and beauty these Trees provide? Or would you prefer a neutered landscape? Might I suggest Barstow? Dirt storms coming off of 1Carter and the foothills should certainly be sufficient evidence for the necessity of maintaining a healthy urban forest. Rather tragic that there seems to be more concerns for cheap lousy concrete than for a living entity that provides us with so much and actually sustains our very existence.

  31. Treelady, if only there were more people like you.
    Thanks for another great post.

  32. Anybody thinks the meeting will go on SMTV3 today? Did they lose the tapes? Maybe City Staff can reenact the meeting by reading Nancy's notes?

  33. 8:53, my estimate for missed playbacks is around 50 this year.
    It would be great if they would always put up a placard, saying "No Playback"

  34. Well, we're not looking for a playback this time. What we're asking for is the original showing. Which makes this time unique.

  35. Tree Lady, u should be complaining to City Hall.

    The Pony League has been asking for several years for the city to repave and work around the trees but they've done nothing.

    The tree roots were unsafe - nobody with the baseball league was demanding the trees be removed. Since Dapper has players from other cities it was ignored but the Little League field was pristine and safe.

    Is it a surprise that the LL has a city employee on the board who was in charge of field maintenance and a council member kids play in the league.

    The baseball families at Dapper wanted the trees for shade etc.

    The city public works has stopped the improvement for several years, part of a petty feud between a city worker who didn't like the coaches.

    Now there is a new group running the field and they want to make it safe and bring in new families to the community to enjoy the city.

    It is something of noteworthy "hmmmmm" is that now that the Little League power brokers have moved onto to Pony, now they want to make it safe.

    Still ur issue is with the city public works dept.

  36. also, the city public works water dept refused to fix sprinker leaks and other safety issues and demanded that the Pony League (a non-profit with zero money) pay for all repairs regarding the concrete, pay to trim trees and pay for everything.

    the problem was within the public works dept.

    the baseball families want the trees, the city is taking the lazy and cheap way out.

    Dapper Field can be a prime asset to youth baseball and has been for many many years.

  37. Been there, done thatOctober 30, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    A problem with Public Works?
    What a surprise...

  38. no kidding, nice to know our Public Works was ignoring a serious liability for several years and their knee jerk response is to cut down trees than working with the environment

  39. LOL Anon @ 11:19

    The City Administration has been ignoring serious liabilities for years. The reason, in my estimation, was/is because the City was diverting 100's of thousands of dollars every year to pay consultants for the Downtown Specific Plan. Now that money is paying for a bloated, over-paid and under-qualified administration staff.

    Foe some reason, they always have extra money to hire additional staff, but never enough to maintain the City's infrastructure. As easy as it might be to blame Bruce Inman however, the problem starts higher up the chain of command.

  40. City Hall is Bart's little clubhouse. Out of towners whose loyalty is not to the people paying their salaries.

  41. 1:13, beautifully put.