Saturday, January 23, 2010

Controversy Roils the MPOs: The Head of SANDAG Now Makes More Money Than His Counterparts at SCAG and ABAG

Let me tell you, when it comes to unabashed excitement nobody brings the whoopee like our California Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Every time you turn around these dudes are turning up the heat and setting the world on fire. You just never know what they're going to do next. Be it projections of vast population increases that turn out to be completely in error, to schemes that proclaim that the way to fight Global Warming is to build massive condo complexes near bus stops, these guys just don't know the meaning of "chill out."

And just because they are immersed in the work of saving the world through exciting new trends in planning doesn't mean that they can't monitor the office tennis courts as well. When ones world view is as all-encompassing there is little that escapes your attention. So does that now include what your counterparts in other regions are making? This from San Diego's North County Times:

SANDAG exec's raise OK'd despite debate - Gary Gallegos, the head of the region's publicly funded planning agency, was rewarded Friday with a contract extension that will boost his $240,000 salary by $50,000 over the next five years ... The deal was approved 14-5 by the San Diego Association of Governments' board of directors despite strong concerns by some that it was rushed and will damage the agency's public trust.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations such as SANDAG, SCAG, and ABAG live predominantly off of our Federal taxes, with the balance augmented by money from Sacramento. They are most famous for cooking up housing allocation (RHNA) numbers designed to jam development into communities that do not want it. Something that forces cities to spend millions of dollars in scarce local revenue each year attempting to resist these draconian Sacramento and Washington generated demands. Originally conceived as groups that would give communities a voice in regional projects, MPOs have in recent years become little more than policy enforcers for the increasingly empowered central state and federal planning authorities.

So giving a $50,000 raise to the head of SANDAG is no small thing in some concerned circles. And their considerations were boldly stated at this meeting, and in no uncertain terms.

Still, several directors said without more review of Gallego's total compensation, they couldn't favor the new deal. No information was provided in an agency staff report about his benefits or the compensation of other top planning executives in California.

"This really indicates to the public that we don't give a damn what they think," Art Madrid, a long-serving SANDAG director and mayor of La Mesa, told his fellow leaders just before the vote held at SANDAG's downtown San Diego headquarters. "The reality is we're going to be losing credibility with the public. This is not the way you run an organization."

Mayor Madrid does have a point. Using tax payer money to give a raise to the head of a planning bureaucracy whose purpose and performance is something few are really all that crazy about, and during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, could be a problem for some.

And while the staff at SANDAG couldn't find it in themselves to do any research into what other MPO heads might be pulling down, North County's reporter for this story, Chris Nichols, made the calls and brought home the story.

A phone survey Friday found the heads of the Los Angeles-based Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Oakland-based Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) each make less annually than Gallegos does now, at $229,192 and $210,000 respectively. SCAG touts itself as the nation's largest metropolitan planning organization and covers six counties, including Los Angeles. ABAG covers nine counties, but has a more limited planning role than Gallego's agency, conducting only land use planning, its spokeswoman said.

So there you have it. As of this week the new president of ABAG will be the 16 year Mayor of Union City, Mark Green. His third place standing in the great MPO salary race must have come as an unpleasant surprise to this newest of the big three MPO heads.

And the President of SCAG is none other than our good friend and City Hall podium pounder Mr. John Edney. Now last December 5th we posted a laudatory article here on Susan Henderson's favorite blog The Tattler called "SCAG President Jon Edney Is Our Compass to the Future." In this article his many accomplishments were pointed to, including his work as a City Councilman in the troubled desert oasis known as El Centro. And that he has found so much busy work for our Joe Mosca there at SCAG is a good thing as well. Anything to keep him off the streets.

It will be interesting to see how Jon Edney reacts to this unpleasant news out of SANDAG. Hopefully it won't cost us too much.


  1. $290K to do what? Some days I just wonder why I do it - it being get out of bed, go to work, pay taxes, read the news, try to make a stand for the right thing (whatever that seems to be that day). This morning reading the Tattler seems almost as depressing as reading the NYT or the Herald or, oh well, what does it matter. I like fighting mailbox bombers and silly sausages in ribbons pedaling square footage in overpriced boxes. I like to fight the good fight on the steps of City Hall. When I can isolate the Huns and Vandals to three square miles I feel I can make a difference. I think I'll just pass over the greater metropolitan area tomorrow. Tell me what's happening at the Congregational Church, please Tattler.

  2. The problem with SCAG is they are within our three square miles. And one of them actually sits on our City Council, and lobbies for their positions constantly.

  3. 8:59

    Correction, TWO of them lobby for SCAG.
    Mosca and Buchanan.
    MacGillivray, Watts and Zimmerman lobby for us, the folks!
    So does John Crawford aka Sir Eric Maundry.

  4. Tired: what the Tattler is doing here is exactly "fighting the good fight". You have city councilmen who are lobbying for these well-paid hucksters who are using real muscle from Sacramento, to attempt to destroy Sierra Madre as we know it (and you don't have to live in Sierra Madre to love it, everyone in the whole valley loves this town, for what it is). The three square miles has to expand when the Huns, are coming from the state.

    I might add that small towns are particularly vulnerable to being strong-armed.

  5. Sierra Madre didn't just happen by magic.

    And it is worth fighting for.

  6. Thank you for posting Virginia Hoge at 11:24.
    Right you are, many folks from Pasadena, Arcadia and Monrovia come to Sierra Madre to visit our small cafes and shopping area. It is a welcome change to the malls.
    We really treasure this, and I've has so many people comment to me at Santa Anita racetrack how much they like Sierra Madre and what a shame it would be had the DSP passed. We had calls and comments from all over California just how impressive winning YES on MEASURE V was! Our little town and group of activist citizens aided by Councilmen Zimmerman and Watts and resident Kevin Dunn and SMRRD did it. WE DID IT!!!!!!!
    Thanks for your kind remarks, Virginia.

  7. The voter counts more than the corporationJanuary 23, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Yes we did do well on Measure V with our grass roots money. Now that the Supreme Court has said corporations have the rights of people lets see how we can keep "people" on our council who are real, not paid for by corporations and special interests. Go to FAIRELECTIONSNOW.ORG to see how we can make a human difference in Sierra Madre, not a corporate difference.

  8. I'm sure corporations just love Joe Mosca. He
    is their kind of guy. Compliant, eager to please
    power, and ambitious.

  9. This is kind of weird. Why is the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce having its "February Mixer" at a restaurant in Pasadena? I like Robins and all, but shouldn't a business organization like that be doing their business here? We have some good restaurants in town. I don't get it.

  10. 2:06--likewise, oddly the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce is taking their commercial dollar down the road to host the Citizen of the Year banquet, but don't isconstrue this as a criticism of the actual Citizen of the Year, I do support the selection of Paul and Louise Neiby. Mrs. Neiby is in the unenviable position of accepting her and her husband's recognition so soon after his death. He supported public safety with sponsorship of CERT graduate's equipment bags and the emergency radio tower. Public safety is non-partisan and support for the public's well being should have no quarrel from us.

  11. Robin's is a member of SM's CofC, duh! Their advertised special today is Chicken and Waffles (ala Roscoe's in Pasadena). It'll probably turn out that the CofY banquet is also at a member establishment, otherwise what's wrong with the Women's Club and a caterer?

  12. Dr. Neiby also supported the Susan's Looney News to the tune of several thousand dollars.

  13. How about Cafe 322?
    Surely the Chamber could figure out a way to celebrate Sierra Madre in Sierra Madre.

  14. Anybody seen the MtnV.News yet? Saturday, right?

  15. The disgraceful waste of our taxes has a very bad cumulative effect, in that it discourages the participation of the fair minded, and encourages the participation of the rapacious.
    There is also the drawback that those kinds of salaries distance the office holders from the majority of the citizens that they supposedly work for.
    Same principle holds on the national level. Want good health care reform? Give congress the same kind of health care the majority of Americans have. They'd figure out what to do pretty quick.

  16. Applying the same logic, the heads of this and that regional-metropolitan-transportation-corridor-developement-uberdense housing ought to have to LIVE IN IT.

  17. What an idea! What would the El Centro version of the Stuart look like?
    BTW, the Stuart is advertising its rental vacancies all over the place.

  18. Anon 2:06

    Of course, the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce takes our money to patronize businesses in other cities. You can't expect them to invest it in town. After all, how would they create the blighted conditions necessary to justify redevelopment, if they're actually investing in local businesses?

    Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce = Death to Sierra Madre Businesses.

  19. I read somewhere that the Chamber gets some of its money from the City. If true, is it right that our taxes should be spent with businesses that are not in Sierra Madre?

  20. Good question, Just Askin'

    Anyone got an answer?

  21. Changing the subject, but several months ago, the City Council tasked City staff with contacting the Sheriff's Dept. and the Pasadena Police Dept. to see what they would charge to provide police services.

    City staff has not responded to that directive. What's the deal?

  22. 3:53. City staff is waiting for Zimmerman to step down. He's the only one with he guts to stand up to the City Manager on the issue.

  23. Anon 4:02-- You betcha said that Dr. Neiby supported Susan Henderson's newspaper efforts early on in her "business split-up" and was kept serious off balance by her grifter leeching. How she kept her claws in him is anyone's guess and no truthtelling will ever come from her. Goal should still be to see she is exposed so we can be rid of her. Sierra Madre is being flimflammed by this so-called "news"paper and it is anybody's guess as how soon it will end.

  24. Seniors need to be warned about Susan. This is a serious problem.
    Taking advantage of old people is evil.

  25. Susan Henderson and Joe Mosca are the two WORST people in this town.
    It's no coincidence they are both liars and both sociopaths.
    Bad, bad people.

  26. One more to add to the WORST people in town: Bart Doyle. We have no one to blame but ourselves and now that we know we should never be so stupid again. If I think about it some more the list grows by at least one: Glenn Lambden.