The tragedy of Joe Mosca is that in the end he sold out for very little. An engaging and obviously talented politician, he swept to victory here in 2006, receiving more votes than any other candidate in that election. And he seemed destined to go on to greater things. I supported him, and displayed his sign proudly in my front yard. I believed at the time that he could have gone on to become something truly important, perhaps even the first gay governor of the State of California. The thought that he would have come from Sierra Madre made me feel a part of something good and right. And I know a lot of people who shared that opinion.
But after he was elected Joe turned his back on the voters and the promises he had made to them. He flipped to the position of a relatively few moneyed real estate investors on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) question, a scheme that would have turned much of the Sierra Madre Boulevard area into a cookie cutter replica of the oversized mixed-use condominium complexes that can now be seen half empty and unsalable in places like Monrovia, Glendale, and Pasadena. This became the most polarizing issue in recent Sierra Madre history, leading to an expensive special election, numerous lawsuits, and a recall attempt. And because of this betrayal Joe Mosca now finds himself in the political fight of his life, desperately trying to hang on to his small town City Councilship by any means possible.
Talk about squandered potential.
Just before the recently reorganized City Council began its fateful deliberations on the Downtown Specific Plan in early 2006, newly elected City Councilmember Joe Mosca released a statement that reiterated something that had been a theme of his successful election campaign. And that is he supported the right of the residents of Sierra Madre to decide the future of our downtown area with their vote. Here is a part of what he had to say. (The entire statement can be accessed by clicking here, and scrolling down to article #8.)
Once the DSP has taken shape and the process has been completed in the coming months, it will be put to a vote by the people of Sierra Madre, hopefully with our County elections this fall.
As a City Councilmember who represents all of Sierra Madre and also believes in preserving our jewel of a community here, it is my hope that through the DSP and with voter approval, we will be able to restrict development and promote a plan that preserves our downtown.
There is a lot of misinformation and fear being spread about the DSP and some correct information. I encourage you to please get involved and attend meetings on the Downtown Plan, so that we can shape the eventual document into something that will preserve our community and also be something we can all be proud of.
In the end, I hope we are successful in shaping the document into something that will protect and preserve our community. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Sierra Madre to decide. I believe in and will support a city-wide vote on the DSP.
And that is what we believed Joe Mosca was all about when we voted for him in 2006. A stand up guy who, though very new to this town, understood our love for this community and the need to save it from the wrecking ball. The Downtown Specific Plan was radical in design and would have brought a massive and highly negative change to Sierra Madre. Which is why the City Councilmembers supporting it were resoundingly voted out of office in 2006. The voters overwhelmingly disapproved of this plan, and fired those responsible.
There has been a lot of speculation over the past few years about exactly how the Downtown Investors Club got to Joe Mosca. That is, if they didn't already have him. Some say that he was a plant all along, a Manchurian Candidate recruited from the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats organization and brought in to serve as an emergency monkey wrench should the DSP supporters on the City Council fail to be reelected. Others have said that Joe was little more than a glib and shallow opportunist who saw this issue as a way to get elected, and exploited it. Only to sell out to the blandishments of well-financed DSP investors later on.
But that Joe Mosca turned his back on the people of Sierra Madre, and in the process broke the promises he made on the DSP vote question, there can be no doubt. On the Neuroblast Films website there is a video of Joe Mosca delivering the infamous speech he gave on June 13th of 2006 before joining the majority in the 3 to 2 City Council decision to deny the DSP vote to Sierra Madre's residents. The same vote he promised with such seeming sincerity when he ran for election. It is a shoddy and dismaying performance by someone who had at one time been a hero to many here, and about as stark an act of political betrayal as this town has ever seen.
You can find this video on the Neuroblast Films site by clicking here. Scroll to the 2nd video in the column to the right, the one entitled "Joe Mosca Flip Flop In 4 Minutes." It is the smoking gun.
In viewing this video you will see that the parsing Joe practices is lawyerly enough, but the message is still unmistakable. He was no longer in favor of giving the voters of Sierra Madre the decision making power over the fate of their downtown. Instead he had now switched over to the side that lost the 2006 election, that elite group of people who had invested so heavily in the Downtown Specific Plan. People who knew that the DSP would never survive a citywide vote, and therefore had to stop it. And Joe was there to help them.
If you think back to the events of the last 4 years, you can see that Joe's betrayal on the promises he made to the people of Sierra Madre had a very destructive effect here. The Measure V election, which cost this City 10s of thousands of tax payer dollars, was held because the people had overruled their City Council and used the power of the petition to get back the DSP vote that Joe reneged on. $170,000 was pumped into this town by corporate pressure groups in the failed attempt to deny Sierra Madreans their downtown vote. Lawsuits were filed against vote supporters, and those subjected to them forced to pay for lawyers out of pocket to defend themselves. Our recent Mayor Kurt Zimmerman being one of them. Pornographic websites, including the one then Mayor John Buchanan praised in the Pasadena Star News, were created to demoralize and defame those who supported a vote on the DSP. Neighbor no longer spoke to neighbor, the town was divided into two camps, and to this day there are people who refuse to talk with those on the other side of this question. And a petition calling for the recall of Joe Mosca was circulated, and had a few hundred additional signatures been gathered that too would have been the subject of a Citywide vote.
All because Joe Mosca could not keep a simple and basic promise he'd made to the people who elected him a City of Sierra Madre Councilmember. And if he didn't honor the promises he made a few years ago, how can we believe anything he is saying now?
Like I said, Joe would prefer that you don't think too much about that one right now.