And maybe it's because of the absence of available money in the marketplace this year. Certainly no local dreamers with retirement accounts to burn are going to have any illusions about getting rich quick in downtown real estate development this go around. Nor are any banks likely to start pushing the kinds of sub-prime loans that made the DSP look like a good idea to a few misguided souls several years back. Things like the housing market collapse, mass foreclosures, plus the flight of so many employers and skilled workers from California, have put a gaping hole in that hot air balloon. So that traditional cause of discord just isn't here right now.
But then again, isn't this one of the conundrums of life here on the planet floor? When bad people control the issues, they get mean. But when good people are the ones controlling the message? They want everybody to be as nice as they are. Hopefully the good side will prevail.
So has Sierra Madre entered into a new era of political peace? Have the bad old days come to an end, and taken with them the sorts of wacky things we've seen in so many recent elections? I guess we'll find out. I know that here at The Tattler we are mellow with this laid back vibe, but we'll still sleep with one eye open. I lost too many mailboxes during the Measure V election to do otherwise.
Kurt Zimmerman made the big secret public. One of the most effective Councilmen this town has ever known is packing it in and will be turning his considerable talents elsewhere. Kind of reminded me a bit of the old cowboy movie chestnut about the quiet stranger who shows up in town one day, sorts out all the bad guys that had been plaguing the place, and then, the job done and the honest townspeople saved, rides off alone into the sunset. The movie ends with the good people of Whateverville wondering who it really was that saved them, and how could they ever repay such a debt. All the while knowing they never really can, or will.
De Alcorn spoke at the podium and made what I thought was a good point. How does Sierra Madre reconcile its selfless generosity towards our Police Department with the lawsuits that followed? Has there ever been a city that voted itself a stiff tax hike in order to reward some of its employees with a needed raise, only to have the ungrateful beneficiaries turn around and sue the place over and over again? And even if there is a precedent for this, does that mean we have to like it?
Don Watts spoke eloquently about the need for respect and decency in the upcoming election, and certainly nobody could be more aware of the consequences of dirty politics than he. The cruel and well-funded attacks on people like Don during the run up to the Measure V vote being an obvious example of just how bad things can get here.
There was one droll incident that needs to be noted. Sierra Madre's highly thorough building inspector came to the podium to discuss solar power permits and issues related to the logistics of installing and properly situating solar panels on rooftops. It was a detailed review and required the mastery of some pretty technical information. When he finished Councilman Mosca, who apparently had not been listening very closely, asked a very obvious question that required the inspector to go through much of his presentation all over again.
I kept looking to see if any unknown candidates would suddenly stride up to the podium to make some points they feel are important to the people of Sierra Madre. Seems to be a bit of a tradition here. But none did. There is still that empty third slot available on the Buchanan/Mosca side of the political ledger that is in need of filling, but with just a few days left for someone to pick up one of those fine loose leaf candidate's notebooks from our City Clerk, no one is showing any indication of doing so. Very quiet there, too. You can't help but wonder about the anxiety that must be causing some.
And speaking of unexpected quiet, where is the Mountain Views News? This increasingly fluffy lifestyle paper, which claims to come out every Saturday, has yet to grace the sidewalks of our pleasant village with a new issue this week. I can't figure out what is more puzzling, its unexplained personality change, or the mysterious disappearance. And even if it finally shows up today, five days overdue, where will it fit in? Late for this week, or early for next? The big question being should we continue to compel our citizens to place their legal notices in a paper that can't seem to make it out on anything approaching a business-like schedule.
Mayor MacGillivray brought this meeting in under record time. And while the usual offenders still seem to believe that the public wants to be taken on long walks through the minutia of Sacramento funding procedures (or are somehow under the misapprehension that people marvel at their mastery of such arcane information), this meeting was over quickly. We'll have to see how long that lasts.
Like I said, there is just a whole lot of wait and see out there. Is it a new Sierra Madre we're seeing? Or just the calm before the storm.