Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Agenda Man Kicks Back

Agenda Man is tired. Too much walking, and entirely too much talking. This getting signatures for the water rate protest has been no easy task, even for a Superhero. It certainly isn't a job for the weak. And now that the evening is done he has decided its just got to be kick back time. At least for a little bit. And while Agenda Man is getting some well deserved rest, here is something that should give you, the gentle reader, a chance to reflect upon deja vu. All over again.

Sierra Madre Sees a Real Surge in Its Water rates -- by 182% (Los Angeles Times -September 08, 1994) Water bills began arriving this week at Sierra Madre residences and businesses with a whopping 182% increase to pay for years of undercharging and poor accounting in the city's water department. The near-tripling of water rates by the City Council in July will increase the average household water bill from $18.50 a month plus $3 for a meter to $52.25 a month plus the meter charge, making it one of the most expensive districts in the Southland.

Including the meter charge, the same water usage in Arcadia and Azusa would run $28, in San Marino and Duarte $38, in South Pasadena $37, and in Los Angeles $48. The city's businesses and its few large-acreage owners will see hundreds of dollars heaped on their bills, according to city officials.

"We haven't increased the water rates in years. Foolishly, we cut them last year," said Councilman George A. Maurer. "The water department has been existing on money from the city and redevelopment agency. And now has come the time to pay the piper."

"Hmm," mused Agenda Man. "They haven't increased the water rates in years. Now where have I heard THAT ONE before?"

Oh well. Might as well get on with the Agenda Report.

The Tuesday, July 13, 2010 Sierra Madre City Council meeting will convene at 6:00 PM with a secret session having something to do with the Community Redevelopment Agency. Now we cannot know what is going on there because it is secret. But per a decision by the City Attorney we are allowed to speculate. My guess is that they found a previously unknown cache of gold coins placed under the floorboards of the back mop closet by His Excellency the Governor Pio Pico. Having left no instructions on how this money is to be used, identifying the appropriate fund for this largess will require an expert consultant be hired to study the matter. Something that will cost approximately the value of the coins.

Open Session: Call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance, invocation, inspiration, approval of agenda, and approval of minutes will all take place. They always do. Mayor Joe Mosca will give the invocation, and I suspect it will be a prayer that the seething mob attending this evening's get-together will leave the feathers in their pillows.

Mayor and City Council Reports are next. In the past this was the time when City Councilmembers discussed activities that involved things beneficial to the community they were elected to serve. However, that doesn't seem to be the case with this particular Council. Look for a spirited finger painting session, followed by a "lightning limbo" challenge.

Public Comment and three presentations are up next. One of these presentations will be given by Richard Roche of AT&T Wireless. I suspect he too will pray that the feathers stay in their pillows. Or at least he should.

Action Items (so-called) start here.

Consent Calendar Item #1: $461,749.08 will be spent in Round A. $397,520.73 of it on salaries for the people who tell you to look it up yourself on the City of Sierra Madre website, with another $24,621.94 going to the Library. Round B features the flushing of an additional $2,874.72 down the CRA. Round C will be a fascinating second look into the topic of Safety Assessment Placards. I can only hope this matter isn't concluded so we'll get to hear all about it again in two weeks. My vote is for primary colors. Round D could very well mean the retirement of our classic 1979 GMC Water Tender Fire Truck. Rumor has it this retirement is a forced one due to an inappropriate squirting of kids with water at the 5th of July Parade without having first filled out the necessary legal paperwork.

Consent Calendar Item #2: This is a Public Hearing on the matter of Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Assessment Districts. Basically what this means is certain areas are charged by the City for certain services. Lighting, lawn mowing, landscaping, stuff like that. By law no more money can be charged for these services than it costs to produce them. A few years back too much money was collected, and these districts haven't had to shell out anything for a bit. Apparently that money has now been spent and bills are about to be put in the mail.

Consent Calendar Item #3 - Ordinance #1312 Adjusting Water Rates For Fiscal Years 2010-2015: Bring popcorn and your signed protest forms. This one could get wild. The people of Sierra Madre are taking their government back, and the Gang of 4 will not be happy. Democracy might not always be entirely congenial, but it is the best this old world has to offer. And trust me, it will be practiced tonight.

Consent Calendar Item #4: This one had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Apparently what is to be discussed here is the "Sierra Madre Municipal Code Regulating the Community Arts Commission Composition and Powers and Duties." I understand that this means the City Council is authorizing these people to seize any and all Velvet Elvis and Mr. T paintings within the borders of Sierra Madre. Also any wall hangings depicting dogs playing poker. Needless to say, they'll only get mine when they pry them from my cold dead hands.

Consent Calendar Item #5 - General Plan Update Identification Of Technical Advisory Committees/Areas Of Expertise: Basically what this spider's ball of governmental jargon means is they want to hire consultants rather than taking on volunteers to staff the General Plan Subcommittees. Which is ironic when you consider that Joe and John oozed such sincerity about putting their volunteers on the General Plan Steering Committee such a short time ago. This, along with the attempt to hamstring the GPSC with overzealous Brown Act enforcement and heavy handed legal department interference, is just the latest Gang of 4 attempt to kneecap volunteerism in this city. At least when it comes to the truly important matters.

Consent Calendar Item #6: The City Council had a retreat where they talked about some strategic stuff. Then they wrote a report. Now they want to receive and file it. So receive and file it.

Consent Calendar Item #7: Here City Council members get to discuss all the muckery they observed at the Federally funded redevelopment enforcement regime known as SCAG. Chances are pretty good that once again only MaryAnn went to these meetings, which will spare us some pontificating from the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem on this glorious central planning authority's latest historic 5 Year Plan. Which this time they apparently based on the reading of chicken entrails.

Consent Calendar Item #8: This one might be a big bad wolf in little sheep's clothing. Which could be why it was saved for last. Entitled "Reaffirmation Of City Council Action Of July 9, 2010 Regarding Emergency Waterline And Street Repairs On Sierra Madre Blvd.," what this could mean is empowering the City Manager to continue spending some serious cash on Eyewitless News's favorite SGV sinkhole. If so, it needs to be rejected. The $35,000 spent last Friday was necessary, but any further spending at that level should not be automatically authorized just because meeting in emergency session interferes with someone's social life. Each instance needs to be considered as a unique event. We should never want to see that level of spending being authorized by anyone but elected officials, and in an open session.

Tattler Tip: If you want a decent seat this evening I suggest you get to City Hall early. Some Sierra Madre history could very well be made.


  1. Jimmy, Daily Planet Editorial DepartmentJuly 13, 2010 at 7:34 AM

    Thank goodness you've arrived on time, Agenda Man... I am baffled by the geologic fact that we receive a good portion of our H20 from right off the mountains behind us via gravity flow. This water is free from Mother Nature until it gets into the hands of the water department. So WTF? Why do we have the highest rates in the SGV?

  2. The mountains are a privately owned corporation, and they do not give up their liquid essence without some compensation. Oftentimes Director Inman can be seen walking back into the wilderness with basketfulls of greenbacks. Somehow it is never enough.

  3. Council Member Walsh's reportJuly 13, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    I went square dancing these week on behalf of the city

  4. Josh Moran's Report on his Council activitiesJuly 13, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Well.......I went to the 5th of July Parade...I hung out for 5 hours at the Beer Garden...I closed down The Buc on Friday night....I was there for first beer pour at Lucky Baldwin's on Sunday morning....I shopped at Rite Aid in Monrovia, oh I meant in Sierra Madre...I almost read the Water Tax hike info but the World Cup was on so I'll rely on Johnny Boi to tell me how to vote...that's it

    Oh yeah, I forgot one thing....Party On Dude!

  5. When Buchanan writes his report of what he did to benefit the city, he has to edit it and remove "my employer" and insert "Sierra Madre"

  6. Actually she will talk about her adventures in Palm Springs last weekend. As the kids say TMI -Too much information

  7. Joe's report will state that he went to several social occasions where people told him that he is a wonderful person and that they really support him.

  8. Everyone sign the protest and bring it TONIGHT to the City Clerk Nancy Scholenberg.

    Tell your friends if you did receive any letter DO NOT mail it, BRING it to NANCY tonight at 6pm.

    And, everyone who can, show up tonight. Your presence speaks volumnes. Free speech also means the right to stand up silently and let the City know that you do not want a tax increase on water without an explicit accounting and time to understand where and how the money will be spent.

  9. If you don't bring a signed protest form, the city will take it as a sign that you support the rate hike. The only way you can say that you don't support it now is to sign the form and bring it to the meeting tonight. The drop dead time is less than 9 hours away.

  10. You got it AC.
    I am very disturbed that the city did not insert these slips to protest the rate hike in the water bills! It borders on subversive.
    I am also disturbed that a neighbor went into city hall a while back and turned in a protest slip, and asked if they could put a stack of slips on the counter at city hall. The clerk went and asked Elaine Aguilar, City Manager, and she said no. So much for fairness.

    I had already mailed my protest in to city hall....I will check with City Clerk Shollenberger and ask her if she could please verify that she got my letter.

    Sierra Madre City Hall is not fair and I'm very aprehensive about this whole thing.

    I do trust elected City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger and I trust her Honor, MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    Very sad, that's it.

  11. Do you think Sandy Levin knows what an inspiration her "they'll never get the necessary signatures" remark has been to so many people involved in the water protest?

  12. I wonder if the council majority sent out invitations to their supporters to be there tonight, the way they did for the re-organization.

  13. Their supporters are a bit on the entitled side. They expect to have their needs met without having to do too much of the heavy lifting themselves. And we should never assume that they favor the water rate hike. My guess is most of them believe it shouldn't have to apply to them.

  14. I do not assume that anyone I elect for public office is entitled to govern without my input, and am completely baffled by the Sierra Madre citizens who do so.
    Do they regard themselves as incapable of reason and action?
    They must not see the severe limitations of some of their representatives.

  15. If people don;t care about national govt, can't even name their Senators or Congressman, how can you expect them to muster up the curiosity and energy to understand the shenanigans going on in City Hall? That is what the Johnny Joes are depending on, ignorance and lethargy.

  16. Disgusted with the CityJuly 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    I wonder if the YES vote will be willing to pay the increase for the people on fixed incomes.

    Perhaps Susan will also pay. Since she thinks all of this is just fluff. Ah, that is when she pays the Dunns and her housekeeper.

  17. I voted for Josh and thought he was a Sierra Madre kid who was going to protect me.

    Guess I just got my answer. Never heard you say
    "why do we need this increase? Can we explain it more to the citizens."

    I am a single mom. Thought he was the child of a single mom.

    Guess he does not represent hard working moms.

  18. Josh is a bit on the slick side. Remember, he peddles home loans for a living. A profession that makes selling used cars look like something Mother Theresa might do.

  19. Who steals my money will never be forgotten a la the BardJuly 13, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.

    Othello Act 3, scene 3, 155–161

  20. Pasadena Star News article just hit the 'net. "Sierra Madre to discuss proposed water hike tonight."

    Nancy Schollenberg is quoted: "We have a lot of people on the street collecting signatures. There is a real outcry in the community today."


  21. We are all now having buyers remorse for voting for the three who are now in the process of destroying our whole democratic system. Three minutes per speaker at all council meetings, outrageous water hike, street assessments coming up, what next? What Is Joe's agenda anyway?

  22. Funny thing about democracy. Just when you think it's toes up, suddenly it comes roaring back.

  23. Well, I noted the contrast between the 1994 water rate hike and this one: Prop 218. While I have been astonished at its weakness, I have to concede, it's there and even if it unfairly puts the burden on citizens opposing a rate hike, it is better than what we had in 1994: Nothing. At least we now have the chance to do our own home-made ballots to tell the CC that we do not want a water rate increase.

    For sure, the honeymoon is over between the 4 and the rest of the city. Too bad people didn't wake up before the election.

  24. OVER 1,800 PROTESTS!!!!

  25. 1,941 protests have been submitted. WE WON!!

  26. Get more because they will do everything possible to "disqualify" the number needed and snatch your win from you.

  27. petition carrierJuly 13, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Thank you Dr. S.
    We are walking still, gathering signatures....

  28. I wish the pro-development side would come up with a better argument than "You better do what we want now or it will be worse later"

  29. Paul Hoserepian seems emotionally affected by this water issue.

  30. To everyone who got a signature,
    congratulations, and keep walking your talk.

  31. Hey, did you hear that excellent speech Bill Coburn made???????

  32. Rock 'n Roll Rooster was true to the interests of his peeps.

  33. channel 3 watcherJuly 13, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Best speech so far Mr. Bush and his math - showing that the tiers will not bother the people who consume the most, and will hurt those who conserve. Great exposure of all that consultant doublespeak.

  34. Carol Parker is rocking the house.

  35. Joe has had a "learning experience."
    Maybe that just because he smeared his way into office, not everyone is ready to roll over.

  36. Somebody better explain to Councilmember Walsh that her side lost.

  37. The "listen to the citizens" thing seems lost on Cha Cha Nancy.

  38. channel 3 watcher when it's workingJuly 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    Oh-oh, time to channel hop. Buchanan will be saying "You better or else......." but it'll take him 7 minutes.

  39. Johnny B says, "Blah blah blah blah blah de blah de blah blah blah."

  40. Nancy might be a cha cha champ, but nobody can tap dance like John Buchanan.

  41. It was mighty big of John to say the city gave the people 57 days instead of 45. Bet he regrets that.

    It's not over yet.

  42. If they try and overturn the obvious will of the people on some sort of legal nicety, there will be quite a reaction in town.

  43. What happen with the resolution giving the city manager the right to go over the $35,000 cap for repairs and letting her access funds to repair any or all of the piping on Sierra Madre Blvd. No manager should have absolute power and each repair needs to go before the city council and if a major repair that needs to be allocated and go thru a major process. I hope that was shot down too (that was the emergency resolution from July 9th so called emergency meeting )

  44. How did the City Council manage to get its work done without Josh being there?

  45. To all the Sierra Madre water customers who signed our petitions or sent in letters:

    THANKS YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!