And it must have looked to Joe like some of his most eloquent tormentors had shown up to make his Tuesday evening less enjoyable than he'd hoped. And that all of them were residents who had strongly supported him in 2006 must have made it even more harsh. Nothing worse than the loss of old friends. The consequences of his poor faith were arrayed like vengeful angels seeking recompense for messing with their wings.
Now the forum where these remarks criticizing Joe were delivered was the "Public Comments" portion of last night's City Council meeting. This is the time when the residents get to speak freely about their concerns as long as the topic is not an agendized item. This is freedom of speech at its very best, and City Councilmembers are required to listen thoughtfully and keep their observations to themselves. It is the peoples' time. Besides, they get to talk all they want for the rest of the evening.
Now several speakers honed in on Joe, and his many failures to deliver upon promises made were carefully detailed for all the town to see live on SMTV3. It was a veritable Joe Mosca roster of wrongs. The first to speak at length on Joe's shortcomings was Teryl Willis, and her topic was Joe's betrayal on his 2006 promise to his supporters for a public vote on the Downtown Specific Plan:
In the spring of 2007, I came to a council meeting to address you, Mr. Mosca. You were not at the meeting that night. I think you were on a trip to Sacramento. I wanted to tell you that I voted for you, because when you were asked if you were in favor of a public vote on the Downtown Specific Plan, you said "Yes." The candidates who said "Yes" won that election. The candidates who said "No" lost that election.
After your election, you voted "No" on the resolution for the citizens' right to vote on the Downtown Specific Plan. Previously you had said "Yes" and at the June 13th meeting you voted "No."It was then I knew that I had made an error in supporting your campaign and in voting for you.
Here we are years later and you have never owned up to your destructive and costly reversal. You could have said,"I changed my mind,"or "I am unsure about the DSP," or "I don't know what to think," or many other statements that would have explained your decision to vote "No"on the resolution for the citizens' right to vote. Instead you have chosen the path of evasion and denial.
During your campaign, you never said anything about an "advisory" vote rather than a "binding" vote. You never said anything about "other ways to take the pulse of the people," as if there were any better way to take the pulse of the people than a public vote. You said you would vote "Yes" and then you voted "No."
We have your words on record, and thanks to a Sierra Madre film company called Neuroblast, we have the ability to look at many clips from Council meetings on YouTube. Also, any Council meetings discs that a resident may be interested in researching are helpfully available in the library.
I realize Mr. Mosca that you have not been in Sierra Madre for very long, so you might think it is normal for so many different residents to stand here through the years and tell you how you failed to keep your promise, and how deeply you have disappointed them. It is not normal in this town. You might think it is OK to say one thing during a campaign, and the opposite after the campaign. It is not OK in this town.
How can we ever believe what you say?
I trust the voters of Sierra Madre will study your remarks, examine your voting record, and understand where your allegiances lie. You went back on your word, and you have never apologized.
Joe was visibly upset by what he heard here, and in the first of his outbursts during Public Comments began to rail at Ms. Willis and how untrue all the things she had said were. Blanket denial seeming to be his only recourse as any conversation on specifics would have only dug the pit deeper. He then proclaimed that it was all politics, and not appropriate to Public Comments. Which is kind of like saying hot dogs are inappropriate at a baseball game. And then, as Ms. Willis was returning to her seat, he told her that the place where such things should be said was during his private meeting time. Which many found to be more than a little patronizing.
Joe's outbursts kind of reminded me of George W. Bush's famous statement about there being "too much freedom on the internets."
Fay Angus delivered a staunch defense of the long standing Sierra Madre tradition of nonpartisanship during Sierra Madre municipal elections. She gave many reasons for this, and if I had the transcript of her speech I would publish it here. But Joe having accepted the endorsement of the Los Angeles Democratic Party Central Committee is an obvious affront to long standing Sierra Madre political principles. It was intimated that the embattled City Councilman did it because of the many dubious benefits it could to his bring campaign. Political machine muscle, phone banks, robo-calling, out of town canvassers, and, of course, money had to have figured strongly in this risky political gamble. Advantages that were severely diminished by these public revelations regarding his abandonment of the century old Sierra Madre tradition of nonpartisanship in our City elections. Here issues pertaining to our government come first, and there is little place for the strong arm politics and irrelevant concerns of the Los Angeles County political machines. We would prefer our elected officials to be beholden to us alone.
But the speaker that caused Joe to lose it in a truly unseemly way was Shirley Moore. In a town with many impressive speakers, Shirley stands head and shoulders above most in my opinion. She couples impressive speaking abilities with concise and forcefully written language, and the combined effect can be deadly. Joe's later reaction being eloquent testimony to that.
I'd like to say a few words about City Councilperson Joe Mosca and his current campaign for reelection.
Please don't let this candidate fool you. He lied shamelessly to his supporters, including me, four years ago to secure his Council seat. The very foundation of his political career has been built entirely on falsehoods and his current campaign material bears further witness to his unforgivable penchant for continuing to try and hoodwink the electorate. He has taken full credit for achievements during his term as Councilperson in which he was, if anything at all, only tangentially involved. Mr. Mosca has done nothing to protect or fight for the rights and interests of Sierra Madre residents (except for a very small profit - and development - centered group of investors) against the wolves of overdevelopment huffing maniacally at our doors. He has instead joined their ranks in his efforts to sacrifice what precious little we have left of our small town ambience to the great moneyed gods of development.
He supported the excessive development potential represented by the Downtown Specific Plan four years ago, after pledging to bring the DSP to a citywide vote and then betraying that pledge almost immediately upon taking his seat.
Mr. Mosca was inexplicably absent for nearly four years from the SCAG meetings to which he has been designated to represent the city's interests, and yet he insisted on the city's compliance with SCAG over new RHNA numbers, when abject compliance would have been overly detrimental to the City's best interests. It was only through the attendance and efforts of Councilmembers MaryAnn MacGillivray and Don Watts at SCAG meetings for the last few months that Sierra Madre was spared adherence to unreasonable development numbers imposed by this organization.
He supports SB 375, a recently passed, wholly ignominious, development industry backed measure which strips small towns of their decision making power over what kind and quantity of development that can occur within their city limits. Many California cities are filing lawsuits against the State of California in response to the passage of this bill.
His most recent offense is his pursuit and capture of a Democratic Party campaign reelection endorsement for his upcoming Sierra Madre City Council competition, an event every two years that has been traditionally and intentionally NONPARTISAN. In seeking this endorsement, he was required to apply to, and subsequently interviewed by and pay fees to the Democratic Party for the privilege of its support. He has now also employed out-of-town party members to canvas door-to-door for his re-election. Something he also did four years ago. I can only hope that in-town Democrats would find this kind of strategy repugnant since local politics revolve around what would be in the best interests of the city's residents, not around what would be best for a political party or candidate of that party.
Mr. Mosca has proven by his actions over the past four years that he does not treasure the best interests of Sierra Madre as much as the grossly self-inflated interests of his self-proclaimed political star on the rise. For Joe Mosca, political integrity is an oxymoron; in fact, any association of integrity with Joe Mosca is a ludicrous stretch of the imagination.
If you have been misled into casting your ballot for this master of mendacity, please reconsider, unless the destruction of Sierra Madre for private gain is high on your agenda as well.
All of this seems to have struck deeply at the core of Joe's being, because he basically lost control. Again the blanket "none of this is true!" and "it's all rubbish!" denials were heard. Because the statements deemed offensive by Joe were delivered during Public Comments, and because a City Councilman loudly berating a resident for exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech is entirely inappropriate, the Mayor began to attempt to gavel the irate fellow back into line with recognized meeting decorum. But Joe seemed to be having none of that. His displeasure was evident, and he was going to let his anger flag fly. Mayor MacGillivray then began to openly threaten Joe with removal from the Council Chambers if he couldn't get himself under control. And, punctuated by the repeated rap rap rap of the Mayor's gavel, he continued to vent.
Now something that was not visible to anyone watching on TV were the actions of Chief Diaz. Her role at City Council meetings is to make sure that order and a proper business atmosphere are maintained at all times. And, as Joe's outbursts and the gavelling continued, she rose from her seat at the back of the room and cautiously backed out into the lobby, all the while keeping a wary eye on the disruptive behavior coming from the visibly agitated Councilmember. There other members of the SMPD, dressed in street clothes, quickly huddled with her. Joe's forcible removal from this City Council meeting seemed, at that moment, a very distinct possibility.
I believe it was the sight of this possible SMPD intervention that finally caused Joe to reel himself in. As embarrassing as this must all have been for him, I think he must have realized that being dragged out of a City Council meeting kicking and screaming would not have been his finest moment.
One other note. During one of his outbursts Joe said something about being "the only candidate going door to door" in this election. This is not true. I can't speak for any of the other candidates so unceremoniously thrown under that bus, but I personally have been through quite a bit of this City, and will hopefully be able to finish the job during the remaining few weeks of this campaign.