Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Civility Is Boring

The thrill is definitely gone. Those exciting nights where the Sierra Madre City Council let loose with their passions and concerns about our little town have been replaced by something else. A kind of quiet placidity that is more herbivore than carnivore. A collective chewing of cuds as it were. You keep waiting for something to happen up there amongst the elected officials, and yet nothing seems to ever quite take off. Two of them hardly ever speak at all. If it wasn't for MaryAnn MacGillivray speaking up as often as she does you'd think you were witnessing the meeting equivalent of a lard sandwich. And while I never doubted the direction the new City Council would be taking us, I couldn't have imagined that the tactic they might be employing would be quite this aggressively passive.

I suppose Joe Mosca having finally gotten the job he wanted could be having an effect here as well. His endless resentment over not being chosen Mayor having had an unfortunate effect in the past on his predilection for occasionally prickly behavior. He does not handle rejection well.

MaryAnn mentioned at the beginning of the meeting that she had attended a joint Monrovia and Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce seminar on SB 375 and has a CD available for anyone interested in hearing what went down. She described it as very informative, and we're all about that.

Public comment had two high points and a low. The issue that received the most eloquent of attention was the water rate hike. Linus Pakulski spoke about how he was mystified why funds were not being set aside for infrastructure improvements all along. It's not like the water costs anything, so how was that money spent? He briefly recapped the situation: 12-1/2% state unemployment, highest sales tax in the nation; and a $40K fee for infrastructure hook ups in Sierra Madre. He then went on to say that although the increase was represented as 16% the first year it quickly escalates to 40% within 5 years. Mr. Pakulski characterized the situation as political manipulation. He said the City Manager shouldn't be asking citizens for more money, she should just deal with the problem.

Donna Sutcliff joined with Linus in objecting to the proposed water rate hike by describing it as an extreme burden for those on Social Security and fixed incomes. Further commenting that "it" - the increase - is underhanded and unethical and the City should have included a ballot with the opportunity for citizens to protest the rate hike. She proposed that a low-income accommodation be made.

It was at this point that Mayor Mosca reminded the faithful that a public hearing on the matter would be held at 6:30 pm on July 13. Which paradoxically is also the day that objections to the hike need to be received by the City Clerk. Something that seems a bit out of kilter to me. How can people - some people anyway - truly know if they object if they haven't had a chance to observe these water rate deliberations? And wouldn't that be after it is too late to object? Very odd timing.

Tim Hayden took to the podium to compliment the City Council on the harmonious nature of tonight's meeting, and then launched into a series of his usual gripes about the Canyon Advisory Committee. This time it was something about how this now disbanded committee didn't have any members experienced with the Municipal Code. The municipal code apparently, at least in the mind of Mr. Hayden, being something that only elect and highly trained professionals such as himself should be permitted to grapple with. He then went on to recommend that once the Planning Commission reviews the Committee's work the public should be allowed to vote on it. I'm certain that the massive public discontent with preserving the Canyon as it is would lead to Mr. Hayden getting everything he wants in an election.

There was some discussion on the purchase of fleet vehicles. It looks like we'll be getting some new vans and sedans, and that seemed to meet with everyone's approval. There was some confusion about "green credits," however. How eight passenger vans could be considered green is beyond me, but maybe there was something here I missed. Air Quality Management District funds would be used, so maybe these new vehicles emit a higher quality of greenhouse gas. The matter was shelved for future revelations.

The TUP for a Real Estate sign for the "Stonegate at Sierra Madre" Development was up next. Teryl Willis spoke about how the used car lot orange flags made the place look like a circus that ran into a mountain, and hoped that they could be placed by the sales trailer rather than out front. Which is much more appropriate if you think about it. Dennis Furtig, a representative of One Carter LLC, reluctantly agreed to give up the flags. He also bemoaned the fact that they haven't sold a single lot since February, something he intimated was due to the lack of adequate signage. Which is kind of an odd observation to make given that One Carter is not exactly on a busy thoroughfare, and few folks would see them anyway no matter what they looked like. But perhaps he meant signs and flags that could be seen from the 210.

The issue of Assessment Districts emerged next, and you can see how this will be an endless "process" leading to an inevitable conclusion. It was agreed that staff would provide a feasibility study on how long it would take to do a feasibility study. At which time they will then launch into a feasibility study on doing the feasibility study, I suppose. The thing really is a hodgepodge of topics. Tree trimming, street lighting, street repair, and landscape maintenance all being thrown into this little plastic shaker and stirred. The key here is street repair. Something that could lead to something very expensive. Keep your eye on that slow moving target.

The General Plan Update Committee was up for consideration next, and again it was a fine example of people saying everything except what was really on their minds. The elephant in the room being cloaked by an unwillingness on the City Council's part to seize it by the tail and face the situation. Or something. The jargon laden term "process" was used several dozen times, always a sign of delay and inconclusiveness. A word that those who use it seem to believe gives them an air of seriousness and profundity. Mayor Mosca proposed a study session be held for the new City Council members, both of whom happily nodded their agreement. Their curiosity apparently never having caused them to take the radical step of looking into the matter on their own, or calling any of the members of the Committee to discuss. It was even suggested that they could go to one of the Committee meetings! That is, if it isn't canceled like all those other meetings.

The confab wrapped up with a discussion about the possibility of making changes to the Sierra Madre Municipal Code regulating the permitting of filming and video production in the City. Something that could actually bring in some cash if properly handled. And create a booming local industry for film extras. We do live in a character rich environment, and outside of pizza delivery that could very well become our foremost enterprise.

I'm telling you, if this keeps up SMTV3 viewership could plummet into the single digits.

48 comments:

  1. I watched. It was very civil. Tedious, dull, interminably civil.

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  2. Barbara Lee observed a marked increase in the number of observers in the audience - eight instead of the usual four.

    .

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  3. Sir Eric, Agenda Man captured the essence of the City Council Meeting a day in advance. Absolutely uncanny!

    Off topic but tangentially relevant, there has been a huge release of water this morning in the wash, actually started last night. Perhaps it's a ploy in the water rate increase. Run out the reserves and claim the rate increase is necessary to buy water.

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  4. The ghost of Silas MulreyMay 26, 2010 at 7:28 AM

    Usually what happens with water release down the wash it is mechanically diverted to the spreading grounds and thence into the aquifer.

    It might be wise to check to see if this is happening. If it is not, it's heading to the ocean.

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  5. Mr. Hayden is so experienced in municipal codes and their application that 679 Brookside remains uncompleted without a certificate of occupancy. It is rumored that he is squatting in a structure that utilizes bootleg utilities and is draped in plastic to elude the watchful surveillance of the code enforcement officer. So yes, he is certainly qualified to interpret municipal codes to the Canyon developers and real estate agents circling over Woodland Drive waiting for the moratorium to die a descent death and Mayor Mosca to declare the Planning Commission null and void.

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  6. Well, the water vote issue landed in the Star-News today, these pro-development folks are directly wired in to the Editor/shill reporters who have the English skills to lay out the propaganda clearly. The vote by Mosca to connect to Arcadia, plus the drum song to upgrade the water system (not "maintain" it) is pure setup for big development by increasing water supplies for a community that doesn't need that and in reality should be conserving water to lower demand, per the MWD mantra.

    Costs for the water itself are rising precipitously, and this water is going to be rationed. Raising rates to expand infrastructure now would be like giving public servants big raises and benefits while the tax base shrinks. It's called bankruptcy.

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  7. channel 3 watcher when it's workingMay 26, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    With the new majority on the council, the action is sub rosa, and some of them have to work very hard to pull that off. Case in point, Mr. Mosca on the General Plan. More than once he said we need to study, learn, focus blahblahblah, and then......listen to, follow, what staff recommends.
    Staff recommends more consultants, that's what staff recommends.

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  8. Walsh and Moran both long time residents and also having served on various commissions should know what a General Plan is. Mosca having been on the council and being so deserving of being mayor should have read it after 4 years. If anyone on the Council has not read and understood the General Plan they they should resign from the council because they are unqualified and unprepared to serve the citizens. The General Plan IS the BLUEPRINT and vision for the city.

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  9. I suspect Walsh and Moran remain ignorant of the current General Plan Committee's deliberations because they don't approve of the people serving on it. They're Sierra Madre socity people, and they just can't be seen speaking with people like that. What would the Womens Club think?

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  10. Mosca also said that we haven't spent anything on the General Plan, after Barbara Lee said something about 270,000 - don't know what Barbara was thinking of, but Mosca should know we've spent FIFTY THOUSAND dollars on the housing element.
    Remember Karen Warner?
    50,000 too small an amount for them to consider?

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  11. The people on the committee are locals, and smart.
    So maybe they are not a true reflection of Sierra Madre.

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  12. 8:16

    no, what would Susan Henderson and her dumb friends think.

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  13. I picked up two directions the council will move in:
    get all up in the general plan,
    tell the committee what to think and do
    and
    follow what the city manager and the director of developer servicing want to do
    SM's GP spiffed up by consultants chosen by elaine & danny

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  14. Hey the thrill isn't gone.
    Donna Sutcliffe, a very proper gentlewoman, telling the city that the omission of the protest form from the water rate hike information was unethical was pretty darn good.
    UNETHICAL and SNEAKY

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  15. Also pretty interesting was Tim Hayden's single handed effort to overturn the Canyon Code Committee's work. C'mon, that's what it was. Funny old guy with his goofy grin saying Aw shucks folks this is nice, now get the developers into the canyon code please.

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  16. Assessment Districts-

    When the housing tracts at Arno and Windwood Lane were developed the developer opted to put the street lights in. Property buyers since then are fully informed about the assesment districts and the charges. So what is the problem with the homeowners paying for the street lights they chose to have? The city assessment districts are the way that the current citizens are going to pay for 1 Carter, Stonehouse and all future high density developments.. Real cute Bruce, Joe, and John.

    By the way if we are paying for safety through the UUT, streets, lighting, etc through assessment districts, water infrastructure through higher rates. What do our taxes pay for? Overpaid staff and consultants. That's what.

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  17. Buchanan reminded everyone that election matters, and that since the council had been elected, they should helpfully inform the General Plan as the elected should do. After all the committee was appointed, not elected. So do you think he wants the council to rewrite the General Plan? Yeah.

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  18. The GP committee will be disbanded, however one will be re-appointed.

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  19. I remember when Buchanan started hitting the "We were elected" theme. It was during the Mosca flare ups that Mayor MacGillivray had to control. Then Buch came to Mosca's aid with the elected song and dance.

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  20. channel 3 watcher 1stMay 26, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Moran and Walsh seem to think they are at a Sunday social.
    Really uninformed, really unprepared.
    Looking startled, getting the serious face on and then flashing accommodating smiles.
    It's going to be a three person council.

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  21. It was clear as a bell that the council will take over the General Plan.

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  22. From this morning's Pasadena Star News article about the water rate hike:

    "Approving the new rates would also save money for residents in the long run, he said (Bruce Inman)."

    "The city has received a $10 mil federal fund authorization for water system projects, but that money is contingent on providing local matching funds over the next several yars, he said (Bruce Inman)."

    "If we can't provide that local match, federal funds will be lost and when it comes time to make improvements r if something breaks, and we have to fix it, ratepayers would have to pay that entire cost." said Inman."

    So there you have it folks... instead of being honest Inman is trying to pull the wool over our eyes using scare tactics. He's trying to accumulate five years worth of matching funds to avoid losing matching funds. Now why can't he just be honest?

    Isn't $10 mil plus 40% of current water rates pretty much what'll it take to secure development infrastructure to take us through Howies, Weasley's Wistaria Village, Stonegate One and Two, Alverno, and the Monastery?

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  23. The new council can be nicknamed the BuchananMosca show.
    Council members Moran and Walsh are set dressing, council member MacGilvrey is the voice of reason, there for comparison.

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  24. Walsh only goes to "society" events and prattles on way too long about them. When the nitty gritty comes up, she has nothing to say. Why does she even bother to show up?

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  25. By searching Sierra madre redevelopment bonds, I found a site alcala or alpaca that had a teaser line, because you have to pay 175.00 or 300.00 for the whole article, and it looks like Sierra Madre lost its bond rating back in the 2004 year it lost its anual report. But the good news is as of January 2010, Sierra Madre got its A bond rating back, good to bond buyers I guess. I say this only because of the required matching funds mentioned above

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  26. Isn't interesting that all these proposed rate hikes, happened after the election? I knew it would only be a matter of time before the "club" would get back their power. Now they need to make up for lost time.

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  27. 8:14, I noticed the same thing.Joe was saying we want to get staff's input, do what staff tells us, listen to staff.Can't remember the exact wording but I noticed he was repeating it & thought it was kind of strange that he kept coming back to that.If staff wants consultants and Joe said we want what staff wants,then we want consultants.

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  28. Of course "we" want consultants! The only one on Council smart enough to deal with the General Plan is MaryAnn. God forbid that she should be guiding the GP after all she's the enemy! Could "we" trust her to carry out the wishes of the CAR and BIA?

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  29. Water bonds have indebted Sierra Madreans in the past. Jan Maddox wrote about it in the Sierra Madre News, under the editorial direction of Jan Reed. What is our indebtedness to the recently reconstructed water tanks at Miramonte and Grove? Did matching funds from projected and on going water sales fund those projects? They were lauded as big accomplishments under past City Councils.

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  30. All of this is meant to make Sierra Madre attractive to development. Joe and John want this to be the SCAGgiest city in the San Gabriel Valley. Nice new shiny streets, plenty of water infrastructure for hooking up McMansions,condos and new mixed use whatevers.
    All that plus a compliant and green General Plan that will paradoxically turn us into just another densely packed greenhouse gas producing dystopia. This is all about money. Never firget that. Everything else is just road apples.

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  31. Anyone sitting on the City Council should do their homework including getting caught up on all city business by reading and attending meetings. (which they should have been doing BEFORE they ran for election). To waste time orientating them with a "study session" is not a good use of taxpayers money.
    Council members can come to a General Plan meeting any time Elaine will let the committee meet.
    Attending social functions is good, but attending to city business meetings should be required.

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  32. You have to read the lines. The bobbleheads don't know anything about the general plan committee because they believe it is irrelevant. This is all just a Joe Mosca "process" show designed to give the impression that things are being explored when in reality a conclusion was already reached a long time before.

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  33. When the ignorant/lazy/complacent people in Sierra Madre finally wake up and see what they have done by turning over our city to Sacramento crooked a-hole politicians, they will be in SHOCK.

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  34. Refuse to be VICTIMIZEDMay 26, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    Now where is that BIG CROWD of THUGS that brought down Maryann the night JOE became MAYOR and shouted and yelled and roared as if they were in the Roman Colliseum? Do they get it now that their taxes are going to be raisd and that their city is going to be grazed and ruined and that Joe and John and Bruce do not give a damn about Sierra Madre.

    When will the bullied realize their "friends" are the bullys?

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  35. Don't you know? They think they're going to get rich any day now. They were home checking their mailboxes for money.

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  36. Hot wool,
    I'm pretty sure those water projects were not financially bad for us, so paid for by the feds or something. Why am I pretty sure? We had a brief 4 years of council people we could really trust, and they would have told us.

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  37. Could Neuroblast put up Mrs. Sutcliff's remarks?

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  38. We need to get "No on the Water Rate Hike" forms into every mailbox in Sierra Madre. The city wouldn't do it, so now it falls upon us to help protect the rights of residents to call the shots.

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  39. Pirates with forked tongues and mindsMay 26, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    It should have been on the ballot as it requires a vote. Don't forget to mention that as well as any assessments. That is your weapon. Inman is slicker than owl shite.

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  40. Inman is just doing what he's been told to do. The strategy seems to be to make this as low a profile move as possible, and hope everybody is nappy time. Why else would they schedule the hearing for the same day the protest sheets are due? This one has SHENANIGAN! written all over it.

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  41. That has to change.
    Lawyerly friends, any way to force the city to give the residents the protest forms? More time between the study session or whatever it is and the due date for the forms?

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  42. Can somebody explain why our city manager is so set on a consultant for the general plan?

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  43. Anonymous May 26, 2010 4:42 pm
    Regarding Elaine Aguilar so big on a consultant for the General Plan ...because she was referred for the city manager job by Jouhn Buchanan. Get it. She will be looking for the build-out to step up her resume to use for the next city.They will probably Suggest RBF Consulting who did the Downtown Specific Plan for $300,000. They have wrap alot of Scag (low income housing, bonus densities etc) elements in other Specific Plans, general plans they have done for other cities. Look up their resume. Karen Warner is a red flag who did the housing element in 2003. Birds of a feather flock together.

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  44. The water rate hikes are only subject to a majority /protest (per Prop. 218)that must be written and turned in by owners or renters who pay the water bills(who is listed on the water bill). Don't forget the apartment owners and condo associations who pay for the water on their units too.Alot of other things such as assessments, taxes etc are subject to a vote ...Read Prop 218 thoroughly it's on line!

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  45. That "crowd of thugs" at the reorganization meeting need an invitation to come to city council meetings. They were invited to that meeting by our City Manager with letters written on city stationery. Otherwise, they are content to let the slate do the business of the city and not bother themselves with such important business as a city council meeting.

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  46. replay was on twice last nightMay 27, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    Something I get a big kick out of, it looks like the mayors get to pick which kind of vote call they like (from Robert's rules maybe?) and our present mayor has chosen the elaborate calls for ayes, for nays, for abstentions, and then the tag, "and I vote...."
    Little more face/voice time that way.
    Hysterical.

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  47. what the city needs is experienced, near retirement age (around 50+) that aren't looking for resume padding and the next gig

    for too long, we've hired young guns with attitudes and zero or minimal experience that generally don't live in Sierra Madre, have a disdain for the general public or service and are usually working their way up the career ladder, at the expense of Sierra Madre

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  48. Everyone seems to know Tim Hayden is building a new home on Brookside Lane except City Hall.

    Without any license of any kind he builds in violation of state, local and federal law.

    Tim builds on weekends and holidays to avoid detection and it seems to work for him although the neighbors suffer.

    I guess it really does depend on who you know.

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