Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bell and You

"Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist." - Richard M. Nixon

The City of Bell and its high paying ways have become a topic everybody is talking about lately. Or at least those of us daft enough to care about such things. Some folks discuss it with a kind of "I told you so" glee that stems from their personal belief that things are quite rotten in the not so hallowed halls of government, and have been for a while now. And the people who work in those halls laugh when they talk about Bell as well, but in a nervous sort of way. As if they aren't certain that we don't believe they're not that different from our wayward neighbors down the road.

And it keeps getting worse for the once well compensated officials from the City of Bell. It's not just the ridiculously inflated salaries anymore, or the fact that they were leading lives of out of town suburban splendour on the back of that city's struggling and largely minority working class poor. It could very well be that they kept their elective offices through election rigging and fraud. This from yesterdays Los Angeles Times:

Lawsuit against Bell suggests voter fraud in 2009 election - A lawsuit filed Monday by a former Bell police officer makes a variety of serious allegations about city officials and suggests voter fraud in a 2009 election.

According to the lawsuit, filed by James Corcoran, off-duty police officers in Bell distributed absentee ballots in a 2009 municipal election and told would-be voters which candidates to support. The former police officer alleges in the suit that he was forced out of his job of 25 years in retaliation for informing state and federal authorities about the officers' actions and reporting alleged misconduct involving City Administrator Robert Rizzo and other city officials.

Corcoran alleged that in 2009 he reported to the California Secretary of State and the FBI "that off-duty police officers were taking absentee ballots and providing them to voters to fill out" and that officers were instructing individuals how to vote. He also asserted that ballots were filled out for people who were dead.

There has been some speculation that there are similarities between Bell and our very own Sierra Madre. Of course, we're not talking about salaries here. Even Sandy Levin's part time position here doesn't pay quite that much. But the way the two cities are set up, and how they are both managed and run, do have a few interesting similarities. It apparently is a government model developed many years ago, and shared by more than a few cities here in California.

Here are a few paragraphs from a very insightful article on the California Planning & Development Report site that shed some light on this idea. Entitled "Bell: The Latest 'Suburb of Extraction,'" its author, Bill Fulton, a former elected city official from Ventura, shares these thoughts:

Much of the blame, of course, lies with the individuals involved, who have taken a highhanded approach with taxpayer funds and, at least so far, seem pretty unrepentant about it. But much of the blame also lies with California's Byzantine system of local government, which gives officials in a small, poor city - elected and appointed - what detectives might call opportunity and motive to misbehave.

The motive lies in California's squeaky-clean, progressive-era approach to local elected service, which assumes that you can, as it were, de-politicize politics. Elected officials are supposed to act like a board of directors, not like political hacks. Governmental managers are supposed to be highly trained professionals, not political cronies. Managers should be well-paid for their efficient, productive work; and electeds should be viewed essentially as volunteers, as if they were serving on a nonprofit board.

Pretty much describes what we have here, both in its best, and worst, possible incarnations. Our General Plan struggles can be seen as a great example of this dynamic in action. Professional staff puts pressure on part time elected officials to bring in expensive consultants (who work in a way that city staff finds compatible) to do the job, effectively removing the governing process from citizen control. But residents, sensing that their priorities are getting shoved aside by those who answer to outside forces with potentially hostile agendas, also lean on the City Council. And it is when the elected officials decide to partner with the employees and other associated interests rather than the people they were elected to serve that we begin to see the distrust and even hostility to government that exists in Sierra Madre today.

Of course, in Bell that motivation was simply money. Here in Sierra Madre it is, strangely enough, slavishly serving the interests of developers, big energy corporations, realty concerns, and Sacramento. And I say strangely because I've never quite figured out what it is that motivates these people to work so tirelessly against the wishes of the very people they were elected to serve.

The California system also discourages constituents from being watchdogs in that both governmental and financial system is cumbersome and bafflingly complicated. Different city governments provide services in all kinds of different ways. Some have a police department, some contract with the sheriff; some run fire departments, libraries and parks, while others are located in a special district where the city has nothing to do with providing fire, library, or parks service. So its hard to know what your city does or where your tax money goes. And all California cities are subject to thousands of laws that even the most assiduous city attorney has a hard time keeping up with. A complicated system belongs to those who understand it and, frankly, makes it possible for the insiders to game the system.

Gaming the system being a full time passion of our friends in the Downtown Investors Club.

The notion that city government is too complicated and difficult for the average resident to comprehend, and that everything needs to be done by specialized and highly paid experts who know better than the taxpayers, seems to be endemic in cities such as ours. That was the notion officials in Bell used to justify their salaries, and it is also what is used as the rationale for much of what we see coming out of our City Hall. Of course, these matters aren't really all that hard to understand, and honestly I think that whole "Wizard of Oz" man-behind-the-curtain routine has become pretty hilarious myself. All you need to do is put in the time to unravel the nonsense. Because that is what most of it is.

One more thing. On the latimes.com site there is a thoughtful piece on access to public documents. As someone who spends a lot of time scouring the internet looking for information to use on this blog, having cities put more of their documents on-line seems like a pretty good idea to me.

On the media: Let's put more public documents online - Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know more about the war in Afghanistan than about how much public officials are paid in Los Angeles County. Some private companies and citizens are trying to change that ... (later) The only shame is that we have truckloads of needed detail about a war half a world away but only the barest clue about government hanky panky right under our noses. Think the recent salary scandal in Bell, which paid its top officials like junior executives at a Fortune 500 firm. Is there any reason why every city in California shouldn't put up a Web posting with the salaries of top employees and elected officials? How about a state law that says the information must be posted online?

I personally think that is a marvelous idea. An example of how this would be of great use here in Sierra Madre would be with an aspect of our ongoing struggle to contain City Hall's endless enthusiasm for a huge water rate hike.

On the City of Sierra Madre website there is a brief discussion about the $10 million dollar matching grant we would receive should the city raise $8 million through the water rate increase. Originally the City website identified the source of that grant as the Federal Environmental Protect Agency. The EPA, like many Federal agencies of that kind has, under the Obama administration, been an advocate for things such as Smart Growth. Which is a kind of woolly notion claiming that we can build our way out of things such as Global Warming. This is, of course, the core notion behind SB375. I believe it is also what informs John and Joe's water rate hysteria. We wrote about this here on The Tattler a few weeks back. Which must have had some effect because, if you go back to that same place now on the city's site, you will see that "Federal EPA" has been changed to read "Federal Agency."

If Sacramento were to pass a law that would require City Halls such as ours to put its documents on-line, we would be allowed to read the Federal (or is it EPA?) documents about that grant and what strings - in any - are attached to obtaining this cash. Federal money is often used an inducement to get the folks receiving the cash to adhere to Washington policies. Which in this instance could very well be decidedly big development oriented.

So is that the case here? Will this $10 million in Federal money come with an obligation that we accommodate SB 375 style so-called "Smart Growth" development here in Sierra Madre? To know that for certain we'd need to look at the Federal grant documents. And that is the potential smoking gun we have not been allowed to see.

73 comments:

  1. What happened in Bell is immoral, but was it illegal? Less tha 500 people voted in a city of 38,000. Perhaps they got what they deserved. Too many people asleep at the switch. This should be a wake up call for this city. Look at what happened in our last election...a bunch of unqualified people with a special interest agenda behind them got elected and are now they are calling the shots. Low uninformed voter turnout.

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  2. Bell would never have happened had the people there not been asleep. We need to make sure we watch our guys a whole lot better than they did.

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  3. For years the residents of this sleepy village of the foothills were not paying attention and that is when our problems started. Laws and codes were quietly changed and published in full view of the sleeping public. You snooze. You loose.

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  4. Lifelong CanyoniteJuly 29, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Our wonderful city has unfortunately been using outside consultants for years and years. The use of costly consultants is a waste of our tax dollars. The problem with the way that the city is run is not with our part time city council. All five individuals are doing a good job. It is with the city staff who work full time at city hall. We have a lot of turnover in city hall. Individuals use our city as a stepping stone in their career paths. It is too bad that we could not hire people who live in the city, but that would be impossible.

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  5. Yes there are strings to the EPA Grant. Back in 2003/2004 Kurt Christensen Sierra Madre's our Community Development Director (that's the Planning Dept Director) promised Cathy Creswell (the Deputy Director of the CA. Comunnity Housing Dept----SCAG) to enable monies for the downtown build-out, that Sierra Madre would provide 140 low income units on East Montecito. This was all encompassed in the the East Montecito Specific Plan (Baldwin to Mountain Trail) which when the wind of the Downtown specific Plan got to the public mysteriously faded off the agenda of the city council.This is the main reason why our low-income unit requirement count was so high for such a very small city because of Kurt Christesen obligating us for that count. But our we still obligated when the East Montecito plan never came to fruition. Except did Sierra Madre already receive the funds from the government for this build-out based on a Specific Plan that never was approved??? Want to guess who was on our City Council during the push for the Downtown Specific Plan. Stockley, Hayes,Doyle, Torres, Maurer then on to Buchanan, Mosca ( both less tha 6 month residents when they ran for city council)Enid Joffe(who's business is involved cng fuels and solar energy & we now have a cng fueling station in the city yard for the district school buses that will eventually be used for the public and Enid Joffe's firm was awarded Grants for the Carl Moyer Bus Program that involved cng fueled school busses).

    If you think the City of Bell smells ...Sierra Madre has quite a tangled web with it's leaders involving the push for Downtown Specific Plan, Scag,Smart-growth & investment in pre-construction etc

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  6. I couldn't agree with you more, 7:25 and 7:35
    Thanks for today's column, John Crawford.
    I sure hope our gang of 4, led by the AUDACITY OF NARCISSISM, Mayor Mosca, gets caught if they have cheated, again. I found it more than disturbing when City Clerk Shollenberger informed the public that "dead" people's water rate votes on the city's "new official list". Thank God we have an honest official, Nancy Shollenberger, I happen to know that Nancy and her volunteer staff worked day and night to keep this fair and square.
    MODERATOR:
    I'm going to take the liberty to reprint a very early morning post from one of our favorite Tattlers, Dr. Staccato. This was on yesterday's thread.
    For anyone who missed it:

    Dr. Staccato said...
    Do I need to do it? Demand that the City Council make equal time available for Channel 3 presentation for the position against the water increase. I'm pretty sure under the law they have to give you it and they have to give you the community cable channel resources to put it together.

    July 29, 2010 2:47 AM

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  7. Lifelong ..
    What rock have you been sleeping under in the canyon? Our city council except for Maryann is not doing a good job.
    The so called mayor and vice mayor represent the building and utility industries.
    Walsh is never prepared for meetings and Josh thinks he is a standup comedian with his stupid remarks.
    The city attorney needs to go. $12,000 a month is too much . She does not work in the people’s best interest. The city attorney knew the Prop 218 count would be based on parcel count and not water meters but did not disclose that fact.
    Our city code CAN require the city manager to live in the city after 18 months but that requirement was waved for her.
    As far as staff using our city as a stepping stone, do you still work at the first job you had when you graduated from high school or college?

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  8. Remember John Gillison trying to extort the city by demanding that he be given a housing allowance so that he could live in Sierra Madre? That's what comes of the CM being required to live in Sierra Madre. The code should be updated to delete that requirement. It has been proven to be unenforceable in court.

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  9. Hey Tattlers! PSN page A5 Sierra Madre postpones vote on water rate increase by Brenda Gazzar quotes PAT ALCORN and JOHN CRAWFORD in a very good article that lays out the facts. Be sure to read it!

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  10. Be careful what you wish for re: city manager living in town. We may get someone who is really in the pocket of the developers and has been waiting in the wings to come in when the time is right for them. With a 4-1 majority on the city council, this may be the time.

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  11. Brenda Gazzar has proven that she can be a reporter we can trust. Her coverage of Sierra Madre's issues has so far been very fair. I may even resubscribe to the Star News if this keeps up.

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  12. Brenda apparently has an impressive resume. Her previous job was as a reporter for the Jerusalem Post in Israel. Pretty cosmopolitan for a pokey paper like the Star News.

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  13. No STAR NEWS for meJuly 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Why didn't Brenda quote everyone she interviewed? She seemsn to have cherry picked her comments. One lady who gathered signatures really gave her an earfull of information which Brenda chose not to use.

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  14. Well the only way the trend (overdevelopment and disregard for the residents wants and needs) that the new city counculs members are pushing cna be put to a stop is recall. Besides that they are in power to put anything they want on the agenda, with a city manager and city attorney that are in their pocket and on the same tract. There must be alot of money coming to these people through this development either in salareie , promotions or investments that are hiden and layered in LLC's.

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  15. You have to remember what it is they call news at the Star. Depth and insight are not really the goals. The template seems to be present both sides of the story in an equal balance, and draw no real conclusions. Everything is quote based, with little in the way of document investigation. The real mojo is saved for their anonymous editorial team. Whose agenda is pretty closely aligned with John Buchanan, Joe Mosca, and the rest of the BIA/CAR goon squad.

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  16. Bad Karma, you nailed it.

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  17. I suspect everyone who was interviewed gave Brenda an earful, but as Bad Karma said, it is the editorial board that can't see the truth. We have to thank our lucky stars that at least Brenda can stay neutral. Imagine how the piece would read if she were in the pocket of her boss.

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  18. If you look more into the City of Bell they had no local newspaper to inform them of the goings on of the City Council. Cannot jump to conclusions that they got what they deserve. Wonder if they were kept in the dark, kinda like us and the Looney News. Plus, they just trusted their Government.

    Walking around door to door there were some people who blank out said " if the City wants it then it must be good."

    Obviously, cities must be watched CAREFULLY. While we need work on the water, the water for us citizens is not foremost on the minds of the Keystone Koppers. They care about BIA/CAR only and their golden pockets. Remember they were stone cold when Kurt Zimmerman asked them to committ to letting go of Prop 218.

    Telling. Very Telling.

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  19. We sure miss KatinaJuly 29, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Would Brenda come to SM and begin a Newspaper here. Nuff folk would be willing to help her start up....

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  20. Please will someone tell me how the city and its coucil represent big utilities? And would someone please tell me how the attorney can be be in the pocket of anyone? As far as I understand, the attorney is there to make sure everything addressed by both the public and the Council conforms to the federal, state AND local existing laws. After all, SM is a general law city, not a charter like Bell.

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  21. Crawford, Dr. Staccato or one of our nice attorney friends, would be so kind to explain to 10:49?
    Thanks, I might have to be deleted if I try to.

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  22. 10:49 You must also live under a rock.
    Both Joe and John work for So Cal Gas Comany and So Cal Edison. John actually gets a 20% discount of his Edison bill and therefore pays a lower UUT fee as compared to someone who uses the same amount of power. Both got time off from work to campaign for office and are always seen in town during the day when working people are at work. Joe actually go to the state and Washington for his employer.

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  23. Mayor Joe Mosca works for Sempra, Mayor Pro Tem John Buchanan works for Commonwealth Edison. Both of these big energy giants are keenly aware that increased development density means more business. More growth meaning more profits for these coal burning goliaths.

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  24. Small municipalities are starting to see online pushback as a result of situations like the City of Bell. Good example is here at

    http://www.democracyornot.com/Welcome.html

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  25. I was so hoping the Tattlers wouldn't jump to the bait dangled by 10:49 Really, can anyone with half a brain not figure out these things? Some local "journalist" or "reporter" is trying to get quotes for a sleazy tabloid to fill out a piece of garbage expose under their byline. Don't play!

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  26. Absolutely 11:35.
    10:49 is just a perky troll.

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  27. Sierra Madre is a Charter City just like the city of Bell all you have to do is ask...Kurt Zimmerman & Don watts. Why do you think people have been asking for a copy of the Charter of the city. Now that is a request to put in writing to the city (be sure you have it dated and stamped). So that meand that are not tied to the states guidelines for salaries, compensation etc. It is not just the salaries put the perks, vacation , education paid for etc. that management and at will employees receive it is outrageous. Not only should the city managers salary be asked for but also her severance package I bet that is a doosey!!!! They former council gave John Gillison (former City manager 2005/2006) quite a severance package.That is their guarentee if they get booted (in other words take the fall for others) they get this wonderful severance package.All this information is public knowledge!

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  28. Blackmail, Carnage, kidnappings, and exchanging vials of liquid, propably adrenochromeJuly 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    A Rizzo "group" were very much involved with the leung titan scandal. The editor was not given the golden story, to protect him and his family.

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  29. Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts

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  30. 8:13, The players in Bell, are the same players in Sierra Madre. Take the montecito projects, for instance, they are in a lot of cities.

    A lot of cities have missing money from 2003 to 2005, I wonder how many projects Doyle was involved in, in the city of Bell?

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  31. "He also asserted that ballots were filled out for people who were dead."

    How many water bill paying customers on the city's woefully inept list were dead?

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  32. The "general law" thing is a joke. Does anybody believe that Sacramento, the pay to play capitol of the western hemisphere, doesn't peddle its leverage with California cities to the lobbyists along with everything else? Those clowns would walk over their mothers if it would get them a pair of Dodgers tickets.

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  33. Tattler, one of the best ever articles. Lucid, reasonable, well supported.
    Thanks.

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  34. One other thing that discourages citizen watchdogs in Sierra Madre, if you spoeak out you are a target for smears and slander.
    In the womens' rights movement people used to talk about being called "nuts or sluts" if they spoke out.
    Same thing happens here, but its more like "nuts and uncivil"

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  35. Shouldn't John B and Joe M be recusing themselves when development issues are discussed?

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  36. The California Leagues of Cities does not list Sierra Madre as a Charter City (see below)

    Sacramento
    Salinas
    San Bernardino
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    San Jose
    San Leandro
    San Luis Obispo
    San Marcos
    San Mateo
    San Rafael
    San Ramon
    Sand City
    Santa Ana
    Santa Barbara
    Santa Clara
    Santa Cruz
    Santa Maria
    Santa Monica
    Santa Rosa
    Santee
    Seal Beach
    Shafter
    Signal Hill
    Solvang
    Stockton

    Perhaps that is why the city did not respond to your request for a copy of its charter...

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  37. 12:16 Unions do that, grifters do that, that is why the big kabush is in the use of public record by the public. An ethical person, a licensed investigator has the responsibility to make sure the information he finds or gives to his client won't be used to harm anyone.

    It is entirely possible that the water protest was interfered with. Not in anyway with the sincere folks who got the signatures and asked qualifying questions to ensure a good undisputable return of valid protests. But,the unethical flip side being unions who will benefit from the water restructuring and submitted name of dead folks, tactics common to unions, to the unknowing trusting signature gatherers, to purposely discredit them. To make sure the protest was defeated. The "Civil" Way.

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  38. Any number of Sierra Madre widows have for whatever reason left their water bills (as well as other utilities) in their deceased husbands names. Does that make them ineligible to protest the water rate increase?

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  39. 12:40, The league of california cities is not the boss of us. City of Industry is a charter city, and it is not on that list either. We researched charter cities a while back. I thought Sierra Madre was a general law city, until someone posted Sierra Madre was a charter city. The league is only interested in promoting its only little cliche of already joined members. Am I nuts or did someone say the actual date Sierra Madre became a charter city. February 2, 1907 is listed as the legal date of incorporation, but your water company also incorporated as a non profit organization. What does the city clerk say?

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  40. Well, 1:13 pm, you are very right that the Charter City of the City of Industry is not on the list... it is a list of the Charter Cities in the category "S".

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  41. To the few dirts on here today trying to twist the facts, ala city hall style:

    This is going to start looking bad for you.
    There are too many very knowledgable people on the Tattler.

    Caution ain't the word, dirts......you may have fooled naive voters in the April election but you can't fool the Tatts.

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  42. 12:16:,

    One of the signature collectors encountered that very problem. The city clerk said to write deceased on the form and have the relative now paying the water bill sign his/her name.

    The question that remains is, did the city manager accept the new name as a valid water rate protester?

    Who knows if the letters were even viewed again by the City Clerk when the city staff finished vetting them?

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  43. You know, I'm glad we solved the problem. Corruption can only happen in a Charter City. If it isn't a Charter City, and therefore falls under the purview of Sacramento, then everything is just hunky dory. You know, Sacramento, that world class bastion of upright governance.

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  44. This is one difference between "general law" and "charter":

    General Law:
    Council Member Compensation and Expense Reimbursement
    Salary-ceiling is set by city population and salary increases set by state law except for compensation established by city electors. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 36516. If a city provides any type of compensation or payment of expenses to council members, then all council members are required to have two hours of ethics training. See Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 53234 - 53235.

    Charter City:
    May establish council members’ salaries. See Cal. Const. art. XI, § 5(b). If a city provides any type of compensation or payment of expenses to council members, then all council members are required to have two hours of ethics training. See Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 53234 - 53235.

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  45. 8:13 a.m. awesome comments from an accurate local historian.
    Glad you're keeping track.

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  46. Keep your eyes on what moves are being made about the water, and it looks like they are continuing full speed ahead, but they're planning to give you lots of kisses along the way.

    Water is the single most critical resource in development.

    Recall that Attorney Levin said if you change anything about the tiers, for example, correct the ridiculous situation of a higher user paying less of an increase than one who conserves more, then the 218 process has to start again.

    The tiers are consultant boiler-plate garbage. Demand the tiers be recalculated.

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  47. so the city finally drops that angle that the water tax increase is because every pipe in Sierra Madre is on the verge of exploding and now is casually mentioning the 10 million dollars it wants if we can raise 8 million in new tax revenue

    the last thing I want is this group of CouncilMembers (excluding Mary) to get their grubby little fingers on $ 18 million that they can spend to build an infrastructure to attract new development into Sierra Madre

    the bottom line is that the City Manager, Attorney and 4 of our Council members were highly deceptive and basically lied about the original tax hike and now they want us to just accept their new and improved sales pitch

    no thanks

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  48. Scarlett:

    Keep investigating these criminals. Things are really heating up.

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  49. anytime John Buchanan votes on something regarding development, he does so because it benefits his employer

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  50. So what was the target number announced by the city attorney based on?

    A best guess?

    An estimate?

    If that's so, then I estimate that 1,700 is plenty.

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  51. Why do you think those Edison fools keep showing up at our meetings? I love it when one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters in the world sends its rent-a-suits to instruct us on green energy.

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  52. No more financial missteps, and no to that money with all those strings.
    If the city staff can't figure it out, let my responsible teens have a whack at the job.
    They both aced econ, and have managed their own incomes like reasonable people should.

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  53. why does our city staff and councilmembers (Moran, Mosca, Buchanan and Walsh) feel the need to LIE to use and hide or distort the issue to push a very narrow and unpopular agenda?

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  54. Happy Mayor Meal, pleaseJuly 29, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Anonymous, 3:23 I would say they would not accept that as valid, the proerty tax roll would say deceased, and the property would have had to have an affidavit of death of joint tenant. As A spouse or inheritor.

    The water list could be denied unless that exact name was on the bill, it could be rejected. I can see how a person with a limited income would try to avoid changing service into their name to avoid a deposit. I can see a widow doing the same.

    But in the pettiness of the count, you can bet they were not accepted. That stinks

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  55. lol 10:49 you ask how we (the people) can even think that our Council and staff are representing big utilities?

    Ole Johnny Boy Buchanan works for Edison and everytime and only a complete idiot would actually believe that a person would earns # 250 a month as a Councilman would put the city's interests ahead of his employer financial interests. I guess 10:49, you are one of those idiots.

    And Mosca works for or represents another energy firm, or at least that what he said at one point, who knows if he actually has a job.

    Both of those guys are always available at the drop of a hat for anything while the normal corporate attorney would have to be at....let's see....what's the word....oh yeah...WORK!

    They must be really important to their employers if they can be give countless hours off....hmmmmmm....unless it can benefit the employer.....

    Maybe you were just proving a point - that we have a major problem with Mosca and Buchanan on the Council and that the citizens have to keep a very close eye on their manuvers.

    Then again, we've got Josh Moran who peddles home loans out of his trunk and his Mom is a realtor and Moran worked for Webb Martin so we know we can trust him...can't we???? yeah right.

    That leaves Ms Walsh who updates her activities as a CouncilMember with the dances that she attends and blurts nonsensical comments at Council meetings making us wonder how in the world did she get elected over Bill Tice.

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  56. I see where Coburn still has a whopping ZERO comments in response to his editorial.

    The guy only wrote about 18,000 words in his editorial and it'd take somebody on LSD to be able to wade their way through his writing.

    It was a good day yesterday. I threw away 9 copies of Henderson's paper.

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  57. Bill Coburn's role in town seems to be community stool pigeon.

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  58. 11:48 pm Post
    OOps my mistake Sierra Madre is not a charter city. Does it have a charter document it adhers too though?
    Cities within the County of Los Angeles (continued) Chronology (continued)
    City Name Supervisorial Incorporation Class
    District Effective
    Manhattan Beach 4 Dec. 7, 1912 General Law
    Maywood 1 Sept. 2, 1924 General Law
    Monrovia 5 Dec. 15, 1887 General Law
    Montebello 1 Oct. 15, 1920 General Law
    Monterey Park 1 May 29, 1916 General Law
    Norwalk 4 Aug. 26, 1957 General Law
    Palmdale 5 Aug. 24, 1962 Charter
    Palos Verdes Estates 4 Dec. 20, 1939 General Law
    Paramount 4 Jan. 30, 1957 General Law
    Pasadena 5 June 19, 1886 Charter
    Pico Rivera 1 Jan. 29, 1958 General Law
    Pomona 1 Jan. 6, 1888 Charter
    Rancho Palos Verdes 4 Sept. 7, 1973 General Law
    Redondo Beach 4 April 29, 1892 Charter
    Rolling Hills 4 Jan. 24, 1957 General Law
    Rolling Hills Estates 4 Sept. 18, 1957 General Law
    Rosemead 1 Aug. 4, 1959 General Law
    San Dimas 5 Aug. 4, 1960 General Law
    San Fernando 3 Aug. 31, 1911 General Law
    San Gabriel 5 April 24, 1913 General Law
    San Marino 5 April 25, 1913 General Law
    Santa Clarita 5 Dec. 15, 1987 General Law
    Santa Fe Springs 1 May 15, 1957 General Law
    Santa Monica 3 Dec. 9, 1886 Charter
    Sierra Madre 5 Feb. 7, 1907 General Law
    Signal Hill 4 April 22,1924 Charter
    South El Monte 1 July 30, 1958 General Law
    South Gate 1 Jan. 15, 1923 General Law
    South Pasadena 5 Feb. 29, 1888 General Law
    Temple City 5 May 25, 1960 Charter
    Torrance 4 May 12, 1921 Charter
    Vernon 1 Sept. 22, 1905 Charter
    Walnut 1 Jan. 19, 1959 General Law
    West Covina 5 Feb. 17, 1923 General Law
    West Hollywood 3 Nov. 29, 1984 General Law
    Westlake Village 3 Dec. 11, 1981 General Law

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  59. anonymous 2:16, I apologize, I went to the league site before it had good information but it had a sort of slanted agenda of its own.

    I realize that I twitch when I hear league, alliance, SCAG and Cog.

    So when I went to CA.gov and just searched Sierra Madre, the first thing that pops up is a ruling and fine against one D Barton Doyle, for conflict of interest as a council person with a vested interest in a development project he was fined 1,500.00 that is all, so these guys just pay a small fine in return for massive profits and favors. Thank you for correcting me.

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  60. 5:09, apology accepted! And your explanation is certainly understandable. Thank you for continuing to search and for posting the info.

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  61. Set a watch to my lips o lordJuly 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    11:48 I had to apologize too.

    Speaking of humility. I have to say it is about Time that Rothchild advised rag PSN, finally printed what our dear John Crawford has to say. Ms. Gazzar is obviously gaining a little political savvy. She could and will learn a lot from Mr. Crawford.

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  62. Article up on the LATimes site quotes Arnold as saying cities should be required to post employee salaries on the websites. Looks like this is going to happen!!

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  63. Hear! Hear! Apologies all round! True Tattlers recognize that in the heat of battle mis-speak occurs but all is forgiven here in the search for truth when an apology is forthcoming!

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  64. Arnold says many things... if you believe this what else will you believe?

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  65. That he'll be back.

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  66. General Law:
    Council Member Compensation and Expense Reimbursement
    Salary-ceiling is set by city population and salary increases set by state law except for compensation established by city electors. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 36516.

    So if salary compensation is set by city population how does Sierra Madre salaries stand compared to Temple City or Arcadia that have triple the amount of Population that we have. Do our mananger and staff, Police Chief, Fire Chief have a comparable salary compare to the size of the much larger city. I bet they are the same or better. The public should do a comparison and find out if we are overpaying.

    Do the residents of sierra Madre know that a City "at will " employee (non-union employee) who can be fired by the council or manager at will receives an 8 step tier of raises and a generous vacation package and paid for education.
    So since the " at will" employee does not have the protection that the union employee has in City Hall ...can you imagine how under the control of the city council or bosses they are either do to their wim or keep those wonderful perks. 8 (eight salary steps) Outrageous!!!!

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  67. From their own auditors lips, They knew it would require a voteJuly 29, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    Did you Tatts see this independent auditors report by Mr. Edward Beranek, is says june of 2009 but the report was published January 2010,
    there are juicy water parts on pages 15, 16, 17, it says since 2003 the city has spent 20 million on improvements to the water infrasture already. It also says that a vote will have to be taken according to prop 218 for a utility increase. I tried to copy and paste the juicy parts but they have a security lock on it, so I copied and pasted the title of the document. I use yahoo to search. Read this inquiring Tatts,
    it means they were told or knew that they had to submit this as a vote. Not a protest. it also gives an idea of the federal grants and bonds.

    [PDF] Microsoft Word - Sierra Madre 09
    283k - Adobe PDF - View as html
    of Sierra Madre to become more aware of the benefits and information contained ... combination of Federal and Local Grants as well as bond and interest ...
    www.cityofsierramadre.com/docs_forms/files/audit_csm2009.pdf

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  68. Ceremonial mayor, Aguilar is a CEO? Rahahaha..July 29, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    It says Sierra Madre is a council- manager form of government, versus a council- mayor government, one of two forms of municipalities. wikipedia explains the difference, but breifly the manager is the CEO. A mayor is largely ceremonial, this might make the happy mayor very unhappy.

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  69. 7:09, great link thanks, and from page 17,

    "Currently, the city is undergoing a fee study for the Water and Sewer Fund for a possible rate increase effective July 1, 2010. With City Council approval of the fee study, a Proposition 218 vote will be required to increase the utility rates."

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  70. I heard on the radio that the city of Bell has "about two dozen Police Officers." So here we are again in Sierra Madre with our 31 officers to keep the 10,000 residents of Mayberry and the occasional bear in line, while Bell, a city of 38,000, mainly lower income, some illegals, has its 24 officers. Hmm...

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  71. Top of page 47, long term debt, San gabriel water blah blah, "pending approval of new water rates" How about those LAIF's did they go the way of the synthetic derivatives? Please somebody say something..

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  72. So between the UUT voted in and a raise in the water rates in 2005 (by the way was the public inform they could have a majority protest in 2005 , prop 218 became law in 1996)why do we not have enough money for occasional repairs on our pipes. Didn't Bruce Inman (Public works Diredtor) say we have 2.2 million in the water account?????? Oh because 2.2 million would not be enough to pay for changing out all the downtown and East Montecito pipes to the larger 4 inch pipe that would accomodate all the fire-sprinlers that would be required per code in the new mixed use and retail buildings for that development that is going to line somebodie'ws pocket. And the 2.2 million in reserves in the water fund will not be enough to buy the water needed from the Metropolitan Water District to supply those new development units after the MWD puts in the connection pipe on Grandview to Santa Anita. Remember the night JOe MOsca was voted in ...in 2006 he went against Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts and sided with John Buchanan & Enid Joffe to vote in the MWD waterline (supposeely emergency) on Grandview.

    Yes the Metropolitan Water district will pay to put in that line but they will profit eternally from the water we have to pay for to supply the Grandview line that will connect to the downtown pipes.

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  73. Yikes 8:11, and it was even more in reserves. Inman said two point five million. $2,500,000.

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