Saturday, June 5, 2010

Your Weekend City Hall Shenanigan Review

<--- (Ed: click on this box and you will see the protest form now being filled out by Sierra Madre residents outraged by the massive up to 40% water rate hike being pushed by Mayor Joe Mosca. Print it out, fill it out, and mail it in to the address provided. It could save you a whole lot of money in the long run if you do.)

The development plans of the Moscateers are now in full motion, spinning as quickly as the wheel in a hamster cage. The massive water rate hike, the movement to undo the work of the General Plan Committee and, rising from the grave like zombies at a Saturday matinee movie double feature, the very expensive and consultant driven "Housing Element Study," are all indications of a City administration getting ready to put into play plans for some very major development here.

Now those who have been following Sierra Madre affairs for the last few years or so should not in any way be surprised. It has always been the position of the Moscateers that the requirements of SB 375 must be met by this community. And that when SCAG issues its CARB dictated RHNA numbers, the City of Sierra Madre must be ready to accommodate the large scale high-density development being called for by Sacramento. Which shouldn't be a problem for a Mosca led City Council as it is what most of them want anyway. This is hardly a secret, and unless you have been living in a cave up somewhere in the Angeles National Forest, you know this already.

On June 17 Karen Warner and her Housing Element Study will be dusted off and given new consideration by a City Council much more sympathetic to her unimaginative and cookie cutter development strategies than the previous one. As you might recall, this costly plan calls for the razing of existing single family homes in order to create multi-unit condominium projects in areas adjacent to our downtown. Something that will come as an unpleasant surprise to the people currently living in those houses. It will most likely be pointed out by either John Buchanan or Joe Mosca that this is necessary in order to meet the RHNA requirements being forced upon us by Sacramento through SCAG. What will not be pointed out is that Mayor Mosca belongs to the committee within SCAG that establishes these excessive RHNA numbers, something that makes "Housing Study Element" reports like this one necessary.

If Karen Warner's report is voted upon and approved by this City Council, it will mean that the three recently elected members will not have been telling the truth when they claimed they were for slow growth development only. This is the foundation of what will be some very large scale building projects here in town, and can only happen with their support.

But this is not the only shenanigan being cooked up in The Palace right now. On Thursday, June 24th at 6:30PM, there will something called the General Plan Study Session. This will be where the City Council discusses where to go with the work already being done by the General Plan Committee. This decidedly pro-development City Council will want to include within our General Plan elements that will allow for the planning of large scale development. Under the guise of "process" (but also because state law doesn't allow for such topics to be discussed in private), the inevitable conclusion will be that the $300,000 a General Plan consultant would cost us must be spent. Something that flies in the face of what was being done by the current General Plan Committee at zero cost. Of course, the consultant selected will be one that will put fat development planning elements into our General Plan. Which is why Mayor Joe Mosca will be entertaining precious little input from the General Plan Committee at this meeting. He wants them gone.

As an aside, that this unnecessary $300k spend is roughly the same amount of money the City spent for the now discredited Downtown Specific Plan is no coincidence. Once this process is completed we will be seeing something very similar to what the voters of this city rejected at the polls a few years back. Again, it appears that the slow growth claims of certain members of this City Council were made for election purposes only.

Elaine Aguilar, who apparently has taken on the bad cop role nobody on the City Council wants to play, is now down on record as claiming that those residents out fighting the up to 40% water rate gouge are passing "misinformation." This is, of course, utter rubbish, and can only indicate that The Palace has become painfully aware of the growing outrage here in town, and fears the possibility that the residents will shoot down this huge rate hike. It has always been about the potential costs to Sierra Madre ratepayers caused by the massive Joe Mosca water gouge. I mean, isn't that reason enough to be outraged? That Elaine is putting herself at the middle of this debate is inappropriate to say the least. If the City Council wants it, they should have the guts to defend it. This is not the time to send out surrogates to do the dirty work like they did during the election.

But if you want to know about some real misinformation, how about the claim The Palace is putting out that this isn't in any way a backdoor Utility User Tax hike? If you are raising water rates by approximately 40%, you are also raising the taxable amount in the water portion of the UUT at an equally stiff clip. Which makes this very much a tax hike that City Hall is attempting to prevent you from voting on. Despite state laws to the contrary.

55 comments:

  1. I understand the General Plan Committee will not be involved in this "Study Session" on the 24th. Wasn't this study session supposed to be one that brought the new council members up to date? How can they be brought up to date when the only person that will be involved in the study session is former mayor MacGillivray. None of the other council members have ever attended a GP Committee meeting, nor have they had a review of what the Committee has done so far. Let's hope that the two freshman council members will at least get a version of what the proposed changes will be (and read it) so they can ask intelligent questions at this session.

    Please, readers of the Tattler, put this meeting on your calendar and attend! This is important to our city.

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  2. Elaine should not be attacking the honest resdients who are fighting to keep their water rates at an affordable level. Who does she think she is, Susan Henderson?

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  3. It isn't a surprise that the Mosca regime is fast forwarding the Housing Element Report. The RHNA numbers will soon be coming up at a SCAG meeting held the first Thursdays of each month. I'm sure Joe would be pleased to bring his condo-laden report to SCAG at the first opportunity.

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  4. I'm surprised how many neighbors of mine don't know about the water hike.

    And with the massive circulation of the Mt Wilson Whatever, you'd think everybody would know about it

    I'm still not undestanding why I need to inncrease my rate when my usage has gone down?

    Joe and John are basically idiots as far as I'm concerned.

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  5. does Elaine even live in the city?

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  6. Elaine was a dirt hire. Nobody should be surprised that she's going pit bull over the opposition to the water hike.

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  7. How can this not be a tax hike when we will
    be paying higher taxes?

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  8. Off topic, but Rooster Coburn is running a "Yes On 16" ad on
    his website.

    Figures, doesn't it?

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  9. The Mayor of Pasadena, Bill Bogaard, has an op-ed piece in the Star News today condemning Prop 16 and how it would contribute to higher utility rates all over the state. Something that would hit seniors very hard. I wonder if our Mayor want might to speak out on this issue? Or would the utility giant he works for frown on that.

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  10. Miss Don and Kurt yet?

    You will soon enough.

    Let the outrages begin!

    You fools who voted in this council deserve what you are about to get.

    That's not much consolation to the rest of us.

    Please stay on this horrible city council as long as you can stand to, MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    We count on you to tell the residents the truth.
    I pray it will still matter to them.

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  11. This week's city council agenda looks like a veritable SCAGfest. An "energy partnership" between SCAG, So Cal Edison, and Sierra madre - too bad that John Buchanan will have to recuse himself.
    That's item #5
    And then, hey we get to participate in the LA County Energy Program!
    Great to hook up with these larger regional failures.

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  12. So the city council is ready to say go ahead and spend 370,000 on streets repairs? Did I miss a previous discussion.

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  13. Great. I guess Tuesday we get to watch as John and Joe begin the process of allowing Sierra Madre to get swallowed up by the regional government. All hail the corporatist future!

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  14. It looks like Edison's investment in Johnny B is finally going to
    pay off for them. More development meaning more electricity
    sales, of course. Cha-ching!!

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  15. The proposed water rate hike IS an outrage, especially when city hall shows no sign of downsizing its swollen staff to serve this small city.
    GET THE MONEY FROM DECREASING THE EXPENSE OF RUNNING CITY HALL

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  16. What do they do with all the money they get from our water bills now? Anybody know?

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  17. Anybody know what the "Information Technology" expenses for the chamber of commerce are about?

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  18. 12:19, I do not know exactly what that money is for, but i do know that I pay a whole lot for the water.

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  19. 12:44 ~ MY UNDERSTANDING IS THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS UPGRADING FROM THEIR ROTARY DIAL PHONES.

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  20. 8:39 I did not see an ad for prop 16, he is opposing it. I think we are opposing it because of the CEO bragging on Wall Street, that if it passes it will enable P and G and E
    to monopolize its territory versus alternate energy small start ups to compete. I coined rooster coburn, but I did notice an interest in retrofitting on that first prop he mentioned since he is vested in structural engineering, Baumann, cock a doodle do, dont be a fool, I saw a recent ruling in Illinois, that made a commenter vulnerable to exposure and litigation, in this case she accused someone of taking a bribe, that did not they took exception and got judgment.

    Aguilar is the city money maker, she said that you guys would not get enough votes. It would be great to see you prove her wrong.

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  21. Congrats!!to the Tattler..You called it early.Regretfully you were unable to reach those hoodwinked guileless provincials who voted to insure for themselves higher cost,urbanization of the "Village",increased population,larger infrastructure to mention a few items.Lets not forget ,the need for a "Real"Fire Dept and Police Dept.

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  22. I predict:
    It may eventually mean the begining of a recall effort in order to save this town from the development council.
    I give them 6 months, and they will alienate most of the town.
    Moran will move back to Monrovia, Walsh will have to change her identity, and will only come out at night.
    Buchanan will start a failed campaign for higher office.
    Mosca's promised position in the Democratic oligarchy will come through, leaving town for Sacramento, (if the Democrats maintain a grip on Sacraspendo.)

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  23. Someone should ask Inman how much is currently in the Public Works slush funds.

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  24. Coburn runs Google ads. He has no control over what they put on his site.

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  25. The $50,000 date to take on the housing element was hired way back, so while there will no doubt be many shenanigan moves with it now, it wasn't set up by them alone.

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  26. Jon & Ken endorsed Mickey Kaus for Senator today.

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  27. The money for street repairs on the agenda is for E. Alegria, Lowell and part of San Gabriel Ct. They were top of the list for paving this year and it is in the budget. Hooray, Alegria finally gets paved -- its about time!

    It looks like regional things are coming fast and furiously now that Joe is mayor - a year late, I bet the only reason he was upset last year of not becoming mayor is because the green issues were waiting in the wings. Almost more than we can keep up with. Hope you have lots of midnight oil, Crawford.

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  28. That's good news about those 3 streets - especially the already budgeted part.

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  29. Elaine Aguilar is a relic from the Good old Days when Bart's placement servant "found" willing lackeys to be hired as City Manager. No matter how "nice" she seemed in the last go-round, she was just playing politics as only a city manager can. She's going to relish serving up a 40% tax hike and the fact that the City Council has to listen to No votes is a minor miracle of Prop 218--otherwise, they'd have passed this and ridden off into the sunset, high-fiving all along.

    We're in deep trouble. It's going to take a righteous screw up before people wake up to the misery this City is likely to generate. I personally don't have the stomach for more development screw ups. Isn't One Carter enough?

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  30. Anyone know how it is that CM Aguilar knows what the letters say since they are supposed to be sent to the City Clerk? What's the deal here? I thought the process was that the protest letters were to be given to Nancy who would then count them and announce the outcome at the July 13th hearing.

    Anyone?

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  31. Everyone needs to turn those letters in to NANCY, personally.

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  32. It is just the same old tired tactic that is being used here, 7:45. When City Hall isn't getting the response they want out of the residents, people like Aguilar start coming out with the "they really don't know what they're talking about" garbage. The message being that they are the wise parent figures, and we disobedient children unwilling to do what is really best for us. It is degrading, dishonest, and since we're the ones that have to come up with the money, insulting.

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  33. Nobody working in city hall who doesn't live here should be
    in a position that includes among its powers pushing for fee,
    rate, or tax hikes. If they don't have to pay it themselves, how
    can they really know what it means to those who do?

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  34. Casting a vote in the privacy of the polling booth--sign in as the property owner/water bill custumer--is the only way to honestly hold this vote to raise water rates (an of course raising the added Utility Users Tax which we got to vote on in the fisrt place). Anything less seems to be very undemocratic. If it is "known" by the City Manager that people are "confused" over the usage of this increased water rates, then she knows who sent in these letters of protest. Is she going to go back to them and explain their confusion? I object!

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  35. The water rate hike would impact the amount of taxes paid
    to the city. Therefore it must be voted on. The city's sit back
    and hope nobody notices strategy is not legal.

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  36. If the CM thinks the people are confused, it is because her staffer, the Public Works Director, didn't adequately explain and describe the need for a rate increase.

    An honest approach would have been to say we have $10 mil in grant funds but 40% must be matched with city money, because that's what this is about - getting the rate payers to put up the matching 40%, not for some amorphous infrastructure blah blah.

    And this s**t about an emergency (read earthquake) trying to scare the residents is a crock.

    We're not that stupid!

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  37. 10:37, it's against the law to compel city workers to live in the city where they are employed. Prior to about 1965 (give or take a couple of years) it was the law. However, the law was found to be unconstitutional.

    The City of Sierra Madre does not pay its employees enough to buy a house within city limits thanks to the real estate/developer cartel. I suspect most Tattlers couldn't purchase their homes at today's prices.

    So, get off the "if they don't live in the city" bs unless you are suggesting a significant increase in the rate city staffers are paid.

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  38. I am heartened! My neighbor, a resident of many years, who never gets involved in local politics, told us this week that he read about the water rate increase on the Tattler (which he also said he never reads) and sent in his letter.

    The blog is awesome, John Crawford! You are awesome. And so are the Tattlers. We may be few but we are being heard!

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  39. 1:14 - Elaine Aguilar is paid close to $140,000 a year. She can well afford to live here. She shouldn't be allowed to flog a water rate hike without having to pay it herself.

    The myth that this is a city where only rich people live is a dangerous one. There are many living here who eke by, many of them retired and on fixed incomes. They are the ones that get hurt the most by things like increasing water rates.

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  40. The only time this city cares about low income people is when they use them as an excuse to push for development. Outside of that they couldn't care less.

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  41. Elaine doesn't have to live in the City to know that the way they presented this water rate hike was a screw-up. I want to know, what was their hurry to get the notices out that they didn't plan enough time to adequately inform the public, address their concerns and answer questions. No wonder people are suspicious of City Hall. No transparency AT ALL. Is this Joe's plan to get everything he wants done in the year of his mayorship so he can send out another postcard claiming he accomplished everything done in the city while he was mayor?

    I'd go for a modest increase - say the adjusted inflation rate. The inflation rate is an average of 2.5% for the past 15 years. Last year it was a minus. I'm signing my letter since City Hall is not listening to the People.

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  42. Gee, maybe the residents made a mistake voting for Mosca, Moran and Walsh?

    Maybe they were just giving the foolish public a line of bs?

    Maybe the people might start wishing they could take their votes back?

    Yep, think so.

    Don and Kurt.....we MISS you!

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  43. Hey, haven't you heard? We're all rich here in Sierra Madre! We can pay tax raises any time they send one our way. Parcel tax? Sure, I love kids! Water rate hike? Oh why not. Trash hauler cost increases coming our way? Oh goodness, I guess we'll have to pay. Cops going to want another raise? Give is another UUT hike! Roads a little bumpy? Oh hit us with some big time bond debt. We're all rich here. We print money in our basements! Bring it on guys and girls! We just love payiong more and more and more.
    Please! Don't sign a protest form. It would be uncivil!

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  44. Hand the letter to NANCY PersonallyJune 6, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Dontcha get it: the people at City Hall wanted joe because he is controlled by big money and they are all in collusion. Who honestly believes that when the mailman hauls in the mail, and nancy is NOT there that some of the city employees DO NOT rumble through the mail and ah, eh, um, sneek off with the mail ADDRESSED to NANCY regarding the water hike, just kinda of, sorta of put it in their pockets, bags, whateva and it just "dissapears" !!!! Who is afraid of the crime of Felony? Not if your not caught!!

    We are not stupid nor confused, but the dirts are going to control the letters and do everything they can to win THEIR self-serving battle to over develop Sierra Madre BART DOYLE'S
    way.

    Everyone colleting protest signatures, just keep copious notes on who signed the forms and the address.

    Elaine has doth protested waaaaayyyy tooooo much about the people of Sierra Madre, whom she is supposed to represent, and stoooood up for the
    Developers!!!

    HAND YOUR SIGNED PROTESTS TO NANCY DIRECTLY>THE HANDWRITING IS ON THE WALL: TAXES, TAXES, TAXES!!

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  45. I am going to go out on a limb here, the proposed water rate hike was probably in development during the last council, now if accusations are being made that this information of the rate hike was suppressed until after the election in order to benefit certain candidates, most likely incumbants, then one is to assume that Don, MaryAnne and Joe may have known that a possible rate hike was in the works, my question is...who knew what and when did they know it?

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  46. Fair question. But then you also have to ask why is it the water hike was only trotted our after the reorganization. And I don't think you can automatically assume that everything the city's staff is working on is always shared with the elected officials. At least until after it is considered ready for their attention.

    Timing being everything, you know.

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  47. 10:44, good question and I'm sure Don, Kurt and Mary Ann would answer honestly.

    But based on the deception of our staff in the past and their obvious disdain for "us" residents, it wouldn't surprise me that it was done in confidence or just in case of a council shift towards pro friendly development and big government.

    We do realize that the more resdients we have the more job security for city staff and they can hide more easily from the public and work on a Sacremento agenda.

    Our problem is that our past and probably current City Manager's are always looking for the next gig and they have to work as if they work for a larger city and build experience that isn't beneficial for Sierra Madre but only pads their resume.

    Same for Joe Mosca and John Buchanan.

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  48. The hatred and ignorance on this blog is mind-blowing. Many of you anonymous people live in a world most would could dream of, and by that very state of being are simply insular in your thinking thus sadly devoid of any compassion for your fellow man. All that seems to matter is your almighty greenback. Very sad reflection on Sierra Madre indeed!

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  49. Oh dear. Yes, we owe eveything we have to the world. We are the bright shining city on the hill, and we need to fling open our doors and give it all away to the oppressed of Los Angeles County.

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  50. You ever get the feeling that there are people in this world who hate us? Anybody who stands up to the state now faces the fanatical loathing of these people. It is scary.

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  51. Can somebody translate 11:34?

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  52. Don't know 5:17, but it sure does explain the teeth marks on the carpet.

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  53. Perhaps there's a blog confusion. That remark @11;34 would could make much better sense on the Sierra Madre News Net site.

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  54. I don't know. The spelling might have been a little too accurate for an SM News Nut reader. I'd say this could have been a free range poster.

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  55. 11:34 is translated "DIRT".

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