After that article was posted I received several phone calls from persons who were somewhat confounded by Joe's assertions. And the most poignant of these calls were from people who felt that Joe was taking sole credit for things that others had played an important role in bringing to fruition. People who ordinarily do not feel the need to publicly boast about their contributions, yet probably wouldn't take kindly to having others take credit for them, either. Or so my callers feared.
So as a public service I decided that I should investigate some of these claims. And today we're going to tackle one of them. That being the Mosca campaign's notion that among their candidate's most heroic and singular accomplishments is this:
"Successfully lobbied for $3 million to cover the costs of recent fires."
This seems like the best claim of accomplishment to start with because it is the one that is most obviously absurd.
To do this I sent an e-mail to Sierra Madre City Manager Elaine Aguilar inquiring about how exactly the expenses accrued in fighting the Santa Anita Fire were eventually accounted for. These costs were fairly massive for a small city, involving millions of dollars that had to be paid to many different fire fighting agencies. And if you take in all the costs of actually fighting the fire the entire package came to roughly $4 million dollars. Give or take a hundred or so grand. The "F-Mag" (Fire Management Assistance Grant) covered 75% of that cost, or $3 million.
Elaine generously invited me to stop by City Hall, and while there she showed me the records of all the money involved in this undertaking. And I carefully went through it all, noting each name and agency as we went. And nowhere did I see the name of Joe Mosca. Of course, government documents are never quite that simple, and honestly I never did expect to see a photo of a white canvas bag with a large dollar sign drawn on it and a tag that said, "To Joe." But still the math didn't quite add up to Joe raising that entire $3 million figure, nor did any of the identifiers on the documents look like Joe's name, either.
So I asked our gracious City Manager how exactly that money was raised. And she answered my question this way. It was a collaborative effort. Each member of the City Council got on the phone with any and everyone they knew in government, be it Federal, State, or County. And Bruce Inman, along with the City Staff, got deeply involved in this as well. It was an all hands to the middle kind of situation. Or, to use Elaine's phrase for it, an "overall team effort." The need to find that money was obviously great, and the job got done through the work of many different people.
Now if $3 million of that $4 million total figure was raised by the prodigious efforts of Mr. Mosca and the mighty F-Mag, it would mean that everyone else involved would have raised practically nothing. After all, the remaining $1 million in accumulated costs is something that we paid for. So this all becomes something that not only challenges our mathematical sense, but it also defies political and governmental logic as well.
In the May 1st edition of the Pasadena Star News, a Sierra Madre resident named Kevin Dunn penned a letter to that paper's editor expressing his gratitude for the efforts of then Mayor Kurt Zimmerman in the successful fight to save our city from the Santa Anita Fire. Here is a part of what Kevin had to say:
Just after midnight Kurt called a special meeting of the City Council to declare a state of emergency so that Sierra Madre would receive additional firefighting assistance and financial support ... He spoke to our other elected officials, including Rep. David Dreier, County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, State Sen. Bob Margett and a representative from Gov. Schwarzenegger's office, to update them on the progress of our efforts to put the fire out and ensure that we continue to receive local, state and national assistance.
You see, in a time of emergency like the one we faced during the Santa Anita Fire, county, state, and national elected officials would want to discuss matters of materiel and financial fire fighting assistance with the sitting Mayor of the afflicted city. They would not go around the highest ranking authority in that town to talk with a particular City Councilman, but deal with the person having the legal right and authority to make decisions and react in an effective way.
That is pretty much how things work in the real world. And that is how it happened here in Sierra Madre during the dangerous summer of 2008.