Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Colantuono & Levin News. Plus Tomorrow Is SCAG's Job Evaluation Day?

So we've all heard about Physician Assisted Suicide, but has anyone been overheard talking about Lawyer Assisted Suicide? I haven't heard any such conversation, at least not as an intentionally provided service. But if you want to fight the Sacramento cabal on such things as RHNA numbers and the right to control development in your own City, you really need to make sure you get the right lawyers for the job. And if you just want to be a surrender monkey about it, then maybe you'll want to hire Colantuono & Levin for your town. Because the kind of advice you're going to get could suit your need to cede perfectly.

This from a recent article in the Whittier Daily News:

La Habra Heights officials, residents to fight state rules requiring affordable housing - Officials in this tiny city - a population of little more than 6,000 - are gearing up to fight state rules requiring zoning for affordable or multi-family housing. State rules mandate the city provide for 223 new housing units, including 85 for people with low - and very low - income and another 48 for moderate-income levels. To meet these goals, Beth Stochl, a city consultant, proposed that the city rezone the four-acre Heights Christian Preschool for multi-family and provide amnesty for illegal second units.

But residents and council members objected during a study session Thursday, saying it would cost the city its rural lifestyle. "This law is not right for our city," Mayor Howard Vipperman said. "It makes my teeth grind that we might have to rezone property (for multiple-family housing)," Vipperman said. "Over 20 percent of our city would become rental units. I'll resist this with every fiber of my body."

Pretty good, right? Another small City gets hit with an insane RHNA number, and the people and their elected officials decide to do the right thing and fight. And, of course, when La Habra Heights goes on to fight this great battle they'll have a tough City Attorney who will be there by their side every step of the way, right?

Well, not exactly.

But resistance could come at a cost, City Attorney Sandra Levin said. If the city doesn't have a state-approved housing plan, a developer or housing advocacy group could sue and force its creation and La Habra Heights to pay their attorney's fees, Levin said.

Talk about your buzz kill.

Of course, there are cities that have been through this all before, and they just don't care to hear it anymore. To the point where they will release hitherto secret documents on the topic of redevelopment no matter what the situation. This from a City Of Yorba Linda City Manager's Report, dated June 3, 2008:

Recommendation: It is recommended that the Yorba Linda City Council consider whether to release the following documents pertaining to the Town Center project which were withheld from a Public Records Act request pursuant to the attorney-client privilege.

1) An unredacted copy of the document containing handwritten notes (The "BIA Agenda").
2) Unredacted billings from Best Best & Krieger LLP
3) Unredacted billings from Colantuono & Levine (sic) PC

Backround: In September 2005, the City retained Michael Colantuono of Colantuono & Levin PC as independent legal counsel to represent the City Clerk to advise her regarding her responsibilities with respect to the initiative known as the "Yorba Linda Right to Vote on Land Use Amendments" or "Measure B."

In December 2005, the City Manager attended a meeting with a litigation attorney from the City Attorney's office. The meeting was called by the Building Industry Association (BIA). The BIA prepared and distributed an agenda for the meeting. Several months after the meeting took place, a citizen made a California Public Records Act request for a copy of the agenda. The only copy of the agenda in the City's possession contained handwritten notes that the City manager asserted were privileged. The City Council asserted an attorney-client privilege to the notes and released a copy of the agenda with the notes redacted. The City Council now wishes to consider whether to waive the attorney-client privilege for the limited purpose of allowing the public to have access to the handwritten notes on the agenda.

Apparently this C&L advised City Clerk had gone on to recommend that the petition to put Measure B (the Yorba Linda Land Use Amendments Initiative) on the ballot be ruled invalid, which would have effectively removed it from voter consideration. Coincidence? Well, that apparently was what the concerned citizen who filed the Public Records Act request wanted to know more about. So was the agenda document along with its previously sanctified handwritten notes ever released? As far as I can tell it is still an ongoing process.

And by the way, Measure B was put on the ballot, and the voters of Yorba Linda did the right thing and approved it. Something that later helped inspire our Measure V here in Sierra Madre.

Tomorrow Is SCAG's Job Evaluation Day. And You Are Invited To Help!

This really looks to be a golden opportunity. And while this fine looking invitation (linked below) obviously wasn't sent to The Tattler (I found it on the bus hugger L.A. Streetsblog site), it does apply to any of us who might wish to attend and speak out. And what makes it really sweet is this Federal Review of our SCAG pals involves the topic of the "transportation planning process." Something the Sierra Madre City Council discussed in depth (link here) not that long ago. You remember, where Commissar "Iggy" Ikhrata and his vaunted L.A. Abacus Brigade (LAAB) attempted to force us to accept job and housing projections that surpassed even their usual absurd levels? A process that inspired Don Watts to coin the memorable phrase, "Where fantasy meets absurdity."

Anyway, here is your invitation!

Southern California residents urged to provide comments in the Federal Review of the Southern California Association of Governments' (SCAG) Transportation Planning Process

The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Authority will begin conducting a review and evaluation of Southern California's transportation planning process. To provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the transportation planning process carried out by the Southern California Association of Governments and its partners, the two Federal agencies are hosting the following public listening session:

Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Location: SCAG's Main Office
818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor
Los Angeles, CA,90017-1800
(213) 236-1800

Oral and written comments may be presented at the meeting. Written comments can also be sent via e-mail to cert.review@dot.gov.

Public comments will be accepted through December 15, 2009. For additional information about the SCAG Federal certification process or the December 2 public listening session, please call (213) 202-3953.

Well there you go. It's our turn to give the Feds an earful about the SCAGGIES they so thoughtfully fund out of our tax dollars. And since it has been such a SCAG intensive couple of months here in Sierra Madre, complete with a visit from the Commissar himself, shouldn't we have a lot of opinions to share? I know I do. I've already forwarded a couple of Tattler articles on this very topic for Federal review.


  1. I fear this may be another "receive and file" event, but people who can attend should "vent"
    their frustration over the loss of local control to the central planners orchestrating these mandates.

  2. Thanks for being on this, Sir Eric. You write:

    "It's our turn to give the Feds an earful about the SCAGGIES they so thoughtfully fund out of our tax dollars. And since it has been such a SCAG intensive couple of months here in Sierra Madre, complete with a visit from the Commissar himself, shouldn't we have a lot of opinions to share? I know I do. I've already forwarded a couple of Tattler articles on this very topic for Federal review".

    These organizations like SCAG are NOT to the advantage of anyone but developers and the politicians who get kick backs from them.

    They have NEVER been on the side of residents of these towns they so cheerfully sell out to hideous organizations like the BIA.

  3. It will be interesting to see how the Feds take the anger that will
    be thrown in their faces over SCAG's bullying and dishonesty.

  4. Why is Colantuono and Levine PC still the City Attorney?????? Is this "until death do we part?"

  5. They're a bad habit. Like smoking. And just as good for you.

  6. Good memory skillsDecember 1, 2009 at 9:19 AM

    Michael Colantuono made every argument he could in favor of the developer of One Carter.
    Night after night in those endless public hearings, when Sierra Madre citizens showed how many alternatives there were to the total surrender to destroying that part of our hillsides, Michael twisted everything they said to come from the developer's perspective.
    That rotten city council was ultimately responsible for that rotten decision, but they had him whispering fear, doom and gloom into their ears.
    What was the big threat?
    Did Colantuono and Levin win?
    Did they resolve them in a timely manner?
    What WAS the REAL threat?
    Fire them.

  7. Nice to see the Feds are concerned about the people who have to put up with their henchmen. Better to anticipate future "problems" I suppose.

  8. I read Ms Levins history, isnt she the city attorney for La Habra Heights? Doesn't Sierra Madre share her with that city? Her history while asute is highly prejudiced toward redevelopment, part of her bio claims she is highly experienced with the Brown Act, not a good sign. And isnt that her law firm also? Watch out for city attorneys, El Montes city attorney, E Clarke Moseley aka Pindar has been lapping the cream of City deals and car contracts for years, or since it is christmas he has put his thumb and pulled out most of the plums of the El Monte Pie.

    Now about that invitation, you know there is an express bus to LA (foothill transit is cheaper, but runs every twenty minutes to LA from the main El Monte station, for 5 bucks you cant park your car at the station can enjoy your round trip ride and not have to worry about parking, if you are inclined to attend the SCAG
    meeting to give them a good scolding. You can cruise down the hill to el monte by taking baldwin to valley turn left until you get to santa anita turn right and the next light is the station turn right.

    For the MIPS, guess whos bankruptcy is on the El Monte 11/17 city council agenda online closed session coded JT? I believe it is chapter 13 where your creditors force you into it...

    Merry Christmas Sir Eric and Merry Brave Tatts..

  9. 12:18 - would that JT be Titan?

  10. Who do Colantuono and Levin speak for?

    We are making them rich with all of the legal fees that stream their way every month, and why would they want to stop that cash flow? They are not motivated to resolve anything.

    If people knew how much our legal bills really are, there would be change.

  11. Sir Eric,
    you are the best jounalist in the area.

    I have learned so much reading the Tattler.
    I feel like I'm an insider, on the honest side of course.

    I know all you Tattler readers in Sierra Madre know how lucky you are. You're an inspiration to all of us outside of Sierra Madre.

    To the good people of La Habra Heights:
    Keep fighting. We're with you.

  12. Where's the independent audit?December 1, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    How can we find out what our legal bills are?Freedom of Information act?It would be very helpful to know what we've paid for legal servuces in the last 5 years.An independent audit might do it.

  13. Poster X @1:22 --- I agree with what you've said here, but compare the amount of interest in today's topics versus yesterday's controversy surrounding a coffee table history book. Sierra Madre seems to be very backwards looking, and not that concerned about the very significant dangers it faces today. Can it be that its best moments are now behind it, and are only suitable for a debate over historic matters?

    I for one am very worried.

  14. 1:35 INDEED....But not just one audit but on everything that has been going around during the last decade and even beyond!unrealistic..maybe but we have to begine somewhere.Lets demand we take that 1st STEP!

  15. Bart Doyle's BIA and crooked politicians in Sacramento have got us in a tough spot.
    A decade of corruption in Sierra Madre takes time to correct.
    We have the right representitives in Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray.
    We need to add one more HONEST VOICE on our council and get rid of lobbyist Joe Mosca.
    I have confidence we will do just that.

  16. Didn't the cost of running the city go from something like 5 million to 12 million in the shenanigan years? So how much of that increase was due to our lawyers. And those are the lawyers who have said throughout the Carter/Stonehouse throw-downs that "We have every confidence we will win." Yep. Every confidence.

  17. People are always complaning about how much money is spent and I agree.
    But there are things we should spend on.
    AN AUDIT DONE BY SOMEBODY FROM OUTSIDE THE CITY (and none of the usual folks either)

  18. Lawyers always get rich because people pay them. When will the people of this town demand we stop paying Levin? I keep hearing she costs us too much but nothing is done but talk. Thanks for this great post, Sir Eric. Time we all took more action on your investigative reporting!

  19. Colantuono and Levin have been a disaster for Sierra Madre.

  20. People need to realize that we're looking at the biggest challenge we've ever faced. Look at who SCAG is meeing with tomorrow. The US Department of Transportation. The guys who fund them. They could wipe everything we've ever done off the board with their pinkie finger. It's going to take a whole lot of cities banding together to stop this one.

  21. anonymous 12:54 yes yes yes yes...

  22. Interesting. Thanks for the tip!

  23. Hey hey! Ho ho! Colantuono & Levin have got to go!

  24. Bart Doyle should be exposed once and for all in this town.
    This man has been behind the downfall, all his minions, Mosca, Torres, Stockley, Hayes, Lambdin, Karma Bell, Sue Lavoe, Webb-Martin, Kathy Childs, Colleen McKernen and pals should be called to task on what they tried to do to Sierra Madre.

  25. PS
    How could I have forgotten another follower of Bart......Edison Lobbyist/Green fraud, John Buchanan, also known as Windbag and Smut?

  26. 5:32 They were all exposed, especially Bart Doyle, along with the DSP. That's how Zimmerman & Watts got elected and why Tonja Torres and Rob Stockly were humiliated out of office. But, I don't think any of them have paid for their sins, so to speak.

    Any ideas?

  27. Yeah, 5:52

    They were exposed, but they still got in Mosca, through lies and deception. He was a traitor from the get go.

    The people of Sierra Madre MUST SUPPORT, WORK FOR and VOTE FOR Zimmerman, Watts and the third candidate who will be the very BEST we can put up there.
    Zimmerman and Watts will be returned to the city council. The superior third candidate will win easy, putting a 4/1 majority against Buchanan. The wimpy, lying Mosca will be sent packing just like his counter-part, Tonja Torres.
    Buchanan won't get help from his major political party, because Sir Eric exposed that practice as illegal and we will put a stop to it.
    The current majority council has got some very important things done. They are SUPER councilmembers. The 2010 council will be even better because we'll be rid of that idiot, Mosca.

  28. "Whose the leader of the gang
    that's made or you and me?"

    - From The Moscateer Club
    theme song.

  29. Is anybody going to the SCAG performance review tonight?

  30. The bills for all the attorneys fees especially Colantuano and Levin are public record and can be attained through the city clerk of Sierra Madre. Colantuono's firms bills from 2003 to 2006 cost the city a fortune!!!

  31. Thanks 12:43.
    This is important information. I for one am sick of the people who don't live here spending our money like it's free.


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