Apparently Nancy, along with those she has been running with, have been getting an earful about over-development and just how much the residents of our town dislike that sort of thing. So the message adjustment must have been seen there as necessary.
We can see this roll out in Nancy's "slow growth" message by examining three very distinctly different and chronologically issued statements by her. Each one following the previous by a couple of weeks. It is an interesting evolution, and in some ways almost flattering. Because to me this indicates that both myself and those who share my opinions are on the right side of the issue, and support for our position is so strong in the community that the Three Moscateers have been forced to try and co-opt it.
But then, and far more telling in my opinion, we will get down to the real nitty gritty, which is nomination petition signatures and who actually signed on to the Friends of Nancy Walsh campaign. It is by identifying those who support her campaign that we can best discover where her true allegiances lay. Some of those signing her nomination papers were no friends of Measure V, and most of them remain indifferent to the notion of saving this town from the developer's wrecking ball.
Of course, the best way would have been to follow the money. That is, who has been contributing their dollars to fund such things as Nancy's pamphlet, mailing, and baby blue yard signs. State law recognizes that campaign financial contributions are a telling political statement in themselves, and therefore must be shared with the voters. But even though these filings were legally due two weeks ago, no such information from her campaign has been made available. At least as of this posting.
The first chapter in Nancy's slow growth evolution comes from a February 14 Pasadena Star News article entitled "Seven file for three seats on Sierra Madre City Council." Here is how it reads:
She (Nancy) said she voted for Measure V, but "I never thought it would paralyze the town and discourage business from coming in. Businesses don't want to come here," she said. "They feel discouraged. They feel the people of the town don't want them here."
Now I suppose that one reason businesses don't want to locate in our downtown is because certain leading lights in this community do not speak very highly of it. And I personally have never been able to figure out whose purposes are served by badmouthing the place. Myself, I love downtown Sierra Madre, it is the kind of bike-able and walkable place a Burbank or Glendale can only dream of having. But that said, blaming the economic situation on Measure V, when the effects are clearly due to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, is naive at best. The real key to making our downtown prosperous is getting residents off their sofas and spending money there, not engaging in politically driven claims that it's all the fault of people who love this town and want to preserve it.
The next statement comes from Nancy's "Leadership For Our Future" pamphlet that was mailed out a couple of weeks ago. Here her position on the "slow growth" issue softens somewhat from her trenchant Pasadena Star News claim, but it still has the distinct aroma of Sacramento's planning agendas.
Over the years, I've also come to appreciate how our town has retained its aesthetic values by saying "no thanks" to development that's out of scale with our small-town charm. Now we're at a crossroads. There's a temptation to go for short-term cash flow to our treasury by bringing in over-development - at the cost of ruining our tradition of sensible growth. It's my strong feeling that there needs to be realistic planning before things are irrevocably changed. And anything oversized needs to go out for a vote. We need to go forward with a common vision.
Correct me if I am wrong, but is Nancy actually stating here that she would be promoting a process that could lead to planning for "oversized" buildings? I am sorry, but hearing the prospect of something that potentially divisive from a candidate who has claimed to oppose unpleasant conversation is a bit jarring. Starting a planning process that calls for large scale construction in this town could lead to something far more explosive than "bickering." This sounds more like the kind of shadow talk we heard from the big development crowd in 2007 than a candidate who is authentically "slow growth."
Which, if what I've heard is correct, is exactly the kind of feedback Nancy received from her mailing. People were concerned to hear that she could very well be advocating expensive special elections on the kinds of development people clearly don't want. As long term supporters of Measure V know, the vote requirement was put into that initiative as a kind of "nuclear option." It was called that because we believed nobody would ever be daft enough to even think about using it. But who knows, maybe that is no longer the case.
Nancy's last known utterance on the topic came at last Thursday's candidates get-together at the Sierra Madre Woman's Club. And it was here that Nancy delivered a statement that I myself would have been very comfortable making. That being we need to keep the character of this town as it is, development must remain within the parameters of Measure V, and while a town must always be willing to evolve, we don't want to make the same kinds of dreadful mistakes Burbank, Glendale, or Pasadena made.
Of course, the difference between Nancy and myself is I've been saying these things for years now, whereas Ms. Walsh's mid-campaign conversion is less than a week old. Making her something of a recent arrival to the concept in my opinion.
While this is, I believe, a useful exercise in understanding exactly where Nancy Walsh is coming from (and on one of the most important issues this town faces), there is also something else that must be looked at. And that is who actually signed her nominating papers to run for Sierra Madre City Council.
The number of people who autographed that petition is 25, or 5 short of the maximum of 30. And out of the 25 who signed it, 12 (or almost half) were either visible supporters of the "No on V" effort, or come from the families of those closely associated with opposing something Nancy has made a centerpiece of her campaign. That list includes both John Buchanan and Joe Mosca, two of the most prominent opponents to Measure V, and therefore the slow growth persuasion here in Sierra Madre as well.
And out of the 12 Measure V opponents who signed Nancy's nominating papers, six were either somehow connected to - or actual signatories of - the most famous 2007 "No on V" broadside of all, linked here.
Beyond Nancy, who signed her own petition, there were no purported Measure V supporters past or present to be found on her nomination papers. Or at least I didn't recognize any.
We will be able to finish this all up by examining the Friends of Nancy Walsh campaign financial filings when they become available. But until that time the evidence seems to point towards Nancy Walsh's slow growth claims as being for political convenience only.