Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Agenda Man!

I have to admit to getting a little frustrated once in a while. The things that would make this city a better place seem obvious, yet despite some very good ideas having been agendized by the City Council, they never seem to make it to the finish line. Plenty of interesting shows, occasional fireworks, but rarely do we see a payday.

Take the Downtown Blight Law as an example. The clowns who own the Skilled Nursing Facility continue to allow the place to rot right out there in public. And the obvious solution would be to fine these reprobates for creating and perpetuating this shameful eyesore. And this has been agendized, and staff was issued instructions to get something down on paper months ago so that the City Council can vote on it. But does it ever happen? Nope. And that sad building continues to deteriorate right there in the middle of our town.

Or the forensic audit that was smothered in the crib. As we've discussed many times before, Sierra Madre has a history of blown audits and fiscal incompetence. Back during the Shenanigan Years they were so blinded by the big money they were going to make off the DSP that they forgot all about doing the paperwork. And in one instance it was so bad it turned out there was a million dollars that we didn't know we had. A million dollars nobody could account for, even though it was there hidden in plain sight. And these were the numbers the voters of Sierra Madre had to use when voting themselves a 100% Utility User Tax hike. So wouldn't looking into this city's fiscal history both make sense and ease the sting of this ethical lapse a bit? And given the past, can we say with any real confidence that this is the end of it? Did you know that there is another nascent audit out there, one that we apparently can't see until next year? What's up with that? I'm sorry, but sometimes you can't see the transparency through the fog. Can't we at least get a progress report please?

And on Tuesday evening's agenda we can see that SCAG is once again taking the spotlight. We have now gone from getting out of this useless strawman of an organization to dedicating valuable City Council time to them every damn meeting. This week it looks like we're back to hearing about that $1,000 dues payment it will take to stay a member of Club Ikhrata. But look, has anything changed since the last time we put off making that payment? Outside of their sending a couple of colorful gentlemen to one of our meetings, have we gotten anything out of our stringent reappraisal? Have they backed down on their absurd RHNA demands? Not one bit. I say we write the check, but then lock it away in a safe. Tell SCAG it has been cut, maybe even send them an edited photocopy. But only when they do something to earn their pound of flesh should we invest in the stamp.

It looks like the consultant NBS has cut their price from $50,000 to $40,000 in regard to that "Professional Service Agreement" for a Fee Study. I guess it is a good thing the city went back and worked out a little deal, eh? But you know something? Where I work, out there in scary old private industry land, if I went to my boss and asked for $50 grand, only to have it later revealed that the price was actually $40 grand, my professional abilities might be called into question. Along with my continued value to the company. So why wasn't this properly negotiated the first time around? Can we really be sure it was done right the second time? Times are tough right now, and if NBS was willing to come down ten thousand dollars, chances are pretty good they'll come down even more. Assuming we even need to spend this money, of course.

There are some other items here. The City should let the Firesafe Council people use the Sierra Madre logo on their fundraising literature. That is a pretty good trade for getting an emergency radio station. Then there's the matter of issuing a Temporary Use Permit for the Candlelight Walk. Which really is quite a beautiful spectacle. Just as long as it isn't costing us that monopoly price of $1,200 in police security expenses I'm down with it. And then there is the call for an Interim Moratorium Ordinance for the Canyon. And how could you be opposed to that? Particularly in light of the recent outbreak of Snitch Lice they've been suffering up there? I don't know how familiar you are with this scourge, but just beware of anyone looking itchy. Nuff said.

Then there is an item about Assembly Bill 1881. This is a Sacramento concoction dedicated to saving water, particularly when sprayed on stuff like lawns. According to the website Chance of Rain this bill only applies to the following:

* AB 1881 is mostly aimed at new construction and commercial landscapers.

* AB 1881 only applies to single family residences that are being put in by developers with gardens larger than 2,500 square feet, or to existing single family homes where the landscaped area is more than 5,000 square feet and undergoing a changeover.

There is more information to be found there as well. Click on the cite and read the stuff if you need that sort of punishment. On the agenda it is recommended that the City Council only read the title. Probably a good thing. Though I suspect John and Joe might like to chat about this one for a while. Preserving our water supplies is always important to them, except when it has something to do with building condos.

Oh, and one other thing. It looks like they're scheduling a City Council election here for next April. And they're throwing in a tiebreaker this time, like at a soccer game or something. Anybody put any thought into that one yet? The election, that is? I hear it might be important.

44 comments:

  1. Wikipedia has a decent page on conservation in the building industry at http://wn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_building

    Among other things it notes (and cites sources for) the following:

    In California nearly 60% of the state's waste comes from commercial buildings.

    As of 2006, buildings used 40 percent of the total energy consumed in both the US and European Union.

    And as you all may have noticed, construction sites consume massive amounts of water for grading, dust control, concrete work, regular site cleaning, etc. etc. that must comply with the BMP standards now (those sandbags you see around the curb storm drain openings).

    So the water usage by sprinklers are dwarfed by construction practices as well as the massive inefficiencies of older commercial HVAC systems which can save millions of gallons a year on a retrofit.

    I also notice that these practices aren't targeted by the legislature to any extent, it all piles on to visible residential use. Probably to justify the rate increases for what is a very simple supply system to make the water available for more development. AB 1881 is a bit of a red herring in that respect, particularly since landscaped areas with native plantings are particularly effective in absorbing rainwater runoff and returning irrigation water to the aquifers.

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  2. Good point. Making a show of water conservation while at the
    same time planning for development that will increase water
    usage by the aquifer load seem quite typical for Sacramento
    and those who agree with them no matter how ridiculous the
    premise.

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  3. Good Morning Sir Eric,you crime fighter extrodinaire. I think SCAG is in a rowboat trying to paddle against the unflow of water and money.

    This is a full plate story today,just want to tell you the fight is worth it. I have to confess I drive up to Sierra Madre, went to the art festival and had lunch a week or two ago. It is such a beautiful little city, while I am there, I remember how good it was, how pretty CA was before the developer locusts came. Then unfortunately have to drive back to the lowlands to the city that can't decide whether it is the end of the santa fe trail or the emerald necklace, pleezzz.

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  4. Staff is stalling until the next election, otherwise why hasn't the CONG Church with all of its zoning issues or the Dust Ordinance which will protect the city been put on the agenda. Both items were scheduled for the early fall. Staff wants the majority to change back to the old regime.

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  5. Agenda Watcher, you have hit the nail on the head. If people don't realize it by now, expect things to go back to the way they were 4 years ago.
    The administrators are in stall mode until April, and have been juggling the agenda schedule. Notice no items to control development are on it.

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  6. Our Mayor must start insisting certain items be placed on the agenda. No one died and made Elaine God.

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  7. All reasons why we need a culture change at city hall. That we are paying people out of our tax dollars who work for developers. Along with their messenger boys John and Joe. This is just ridiculous.

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  8. Elaine IS to blame. There is a power culture going on in City Hall, and it starts with Elaine. And as 9:14 said, it is obvious there is a stall until April. Another thing, When a citizen speaking at a Stonehouse hearing questioned the increased burden on our water usage, John insisted that water is not an issue with the Stonehouse development.

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  9. Water is the issue all over California. Just ask the folks up north. A lot of water that was theirs is now being diverted south under the bill just passed by the state legislature. And why is that? Development. Nothing is ever a coincidence here. It is one big happy plan.

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  10. This just in...At last Thursday night's COG meeting, SCAG requested that COG delegate the RHNA numbers. (However, SCAG hasn't come up with the final numbers yet!) Thankfully COG voted "no" due to the fact that if COG took on this responsibility (and there were any lawsuits) COG would have to pick up the legal tab.

    Isn't that just like SCAG to request that someone else do their dirty work, including paying the legal fees? Outrageous!

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  11. Laurie Barlow, AIA
    Thanks for your informative post.

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  12. Resolution of the important issues (anti-blight law, UUT repeal, internal audit, police funding etc., etc., etc) seems to have ground to halt since Zimmerman stepped down as our Mayor.

    Any chance that he will be Mayor again in April?

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  13. Ready for the 2nd reformation!Time to say bye bye to QUEEN Elaine,MADAME attorney and JOe for starters.It's fair,in as much as they have no interest in the long term welfare of our City! Litmus test..Audit,blight,scag etc.Lets see who supports action on these issues.Thank you Sir Eric for keeping us informed and focus on the Real Targets!

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  14. Forget about Zimmerman! Bring back Doug Hayes

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  15. Sorry, not going to happen. Doug's wife said no.

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  16. There is a lot of responsibility involved in running for City Council. The commitment of time and energy is substantial. Are you sure Doug would be up to it? I mean he's no spring chicken you know. Plus there are those long hours he'd have to spend talking to Bart and John. That'd take it out of a man half his age.

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  17. No Thanks Janice.....We've had enough of you and your husband.

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  18. What other dirt names from the past can we troll this site with ....

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  19. why is "who is in charge of Sierra Madre" an on going issue, when everyone knows it is Elaine & Co and it should be the CC. When is the CC going to step up to the plate and get rid of the people who are not supposed to be in power? Seems like Shennegan years are back and agenda is in their hands. No one is objecting but Sir Eric...

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  20. Hello, has anyone caught the climategate story about the hackers that found that the scientists behind the UN IPCC have been manipulating the data, and we have not had any significant global warming for 15 years? They are saying that cap and trade is going to be dead, and I think this is going to play havoc with SCAG sustainable building numbers, It might be why they are trying to get cog to do it.

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  21. Thanks for keeping track of some of the important issues Tattler. There have been so many good ideas raised, and then they just seem to melt away.
    Like an independent audit.
    How can we possibly make decisions as well informed citizens if we don't have a clear understanding of where our money is - what happens to it, where precisely it is spent, how much there is, how much has been thrown away, what kind of mess has gone on - may still be going on. Let's see all administrative costs for this little city.
    I think good government starts with the independent audit.

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  22. The great opportunity to end Son of Shenanigan Joe Mosca's 4 years of shame is coming up this April...

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  23. This is not earth shaking or anything, but maybe a year ago, a woman got up and said that in the Turtle Park make-over, there were sharp edges on the concrete, that kids could get hurt on, so she requested that they be modified for public safety. Next time I drove by there, I saw that she was right. There are some small barriers, concrete, sharp corners, just where kids would run into them. When I went by a few days ago, they were still there, just the same. So this is a symbol of how well things are heard and acted upon.

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  24. Well 5:47, did the woman circulate petitions, organize a movement, hire a lawyer?
    Thats pretty much what it takes to be heard.

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  25. The concrete walls would all under Bruce Inman's jurisdiction in Public Works.
    No doubt he heard her comments, but was too busy surfing online like most of the city staff do during council meetings.

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  26. What are some of Bruce's favorite sites?

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  27. does Bruce just surf during CC meetings or all 5 days of every day, 4 weeks, 12 months? Another person the CC needs to dismiss? Circulate petitions, organize a movement, hire attorneys to clean up our city? great idea 5:57 to get on to the real issues of slow growth of SM.

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  28. My guess would be that Bruce's favorite site is Where to Retire as Far Away From Sierra Madre as Possible.
    I saw him walk out of city hall the night Measure V was passed. There was smoke coming out of his ears.

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  29. Why does the city staff have to come to meetings if they're not participating?

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  30. So many people in the know! What ever happened to "just the facts"?

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  31. 6:55, have you got the facts on why city staff sits in meetings that they don't participate in, and spend the time online?

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  32. I think they are there in case their expertise is needed. Otherwise it is business as usual.

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  33. Recall the "Gang Of Three"November 23, 2009 at 7:43 PM

    Gee, sure sounds like the gang of three in CC is pretty ineffective, what happened?

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  34. The three council members who care about Sierra Madre are individuals who do not plot and plan with each other or with the Downtown Investor's Club. They are guided by their own consciences.
    Must be frustrating for you 7:43.

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  35. The Gang of Three sure has the Party of Two in a box, don't they?

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  36. Party of Two! LOL!! Talk about an odd couple...

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  37. Who pays the bill? Sempra or Edison?

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  38. On odd days Sempra, on even Edison. It helps them get their expense reports honored.

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  39. Bruce could care less about Sierra Madre. He hates it here.

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  40. A lot of people have jobs they hate.

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  41. Anon @ 8:04 PM

    Voting for real change and not getting it is frustrating. Having to listen to apologists for politicians that promised real change and don't deliver is just insulting.

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  42. Purity is a luxury that only the hopelessly disengaged can afford.

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  43. True 4:10, but give the guy a break.
    Some people confuse political action with whining.

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  44. Anon 1:34, Then leave....

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