Monday, July 19, 2010

Mayor Mosca Tips His Hand

"Mosca has been Mayor for 4 months. Is there anyone who doubts that our city government is now in a state of chaos?" - Rez

I'd like to say that we planned things this way, but it just turns out to be one of those fortunate occurrences that turn up when you are doing the job you're supposed to be doing. Rather than just sitting around on your tookus and waiting for things to come your way.

The topic du jour is the press release that I received from City Clerk Nancy Shollenburger regarding the findings of her office and the final tallies of the water rate hike protests. Using just the limited information that City Hall has been willing to provide to her, it appears that the protest has indeed carried. Which is what her press release stated.

Now there was a bit of a kerfuffle yesterday regarding this matter at Rooster Coburn's somewhat neglected Sierra Madre site. Seeing that I had this press release but he didn't, Rooster apparently issued some angry e-mail expressing his indignation over having been passed over for this important information.

Of course, his site gets little traffic these days, probably because beyond pictures of the usual suspects drinking wine or wearing colorful historic clothing, there isn't a whole lot going on there. And even then between July 12th and July 17th he posted absolutely nothing new. Be it pictures or news. So why would anyone want to go there? Forgetting to send him a press release is more than understandable.

There is another reason that I got this press release and he didn't. I asked for it. As anybody who has been following this story will tell you, Nancy Shollenberger had promised to issue a report on the protest verification process to the citizens of Sierra Madre within 5 days. And since the City Council Meeting where her promise was made took place last Tuesday, five days would be Sunday. I made the call, he didn't. Snooze, you lose.

Here is how Rooster expressed his indignation yesterday on the News.Net site:

City Clerk Issues Press Release re: Vetting of Water Rate Increase Protest Signatures - The City Clerk has apparently issued a news release regarding the vetting of signatures for the protest of the city's proposed water rate increase. I have requested a copy of the press release from her, and when (if) I receive a copy of the release I will publish it.

All of which seems a bit taut. But here is where things get a little edgy. Apparently my having asked for (and received) this press release ahead of the neglected Rooster caused some consternation on the part of water rate supporters as well. As few as they are. To the point where Rooster actually got a statement from Mayor Joe Mosca on the matter. It is quite revealing.

"The City Council and City Manager were not informed of any press release regarding the verification of the water rate protest letters. City Council's direction on the matter was for the City Clerk and City staff to work together to verify the results. It is my understanding that the process is still going on and that the final results were due to be released on Tuesday of this week."

First of all, the City Clerk is an elected official who can issue a press release any old time she sees fit. Neither Joe Mosca, and certainly not a salaried hire like Elaine Aguilar, has the right to tell Nancy Shollenberger what she can and cannot do. If Nancy wants to issue a press release, it really is none of their business.

Secondly, let's dissect Mosca's statement a bit. The original direction coming from the City Council was that the City Clerk would tabulate the results and issue her findings. And everything the City Clerk has been working towards is to fulfill the requirements as they were originally laid out. Now it almost seems as if Mosca has become frightened of losing control of a process that is, for whatever reason, extraordinarily important to him.

But for the Mayor to actually state that the "City Clerk and City staff " are working together? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our City Manager has been remarkably uncooperative when it comes to working with anyone on this matter. Despite repeated requests for important information such as that contained in the now infamous "Assessor's Parcels Number List," very little has been forthcoming. And even the list that was provided to the water rate protesters, the one containing the names of those who receive water bills from the City, was done at the cost of considerable chastisement from the City Manager when the identities of the culprits were exposed. People who were only responding to a legitimate request from the taxpayers.

The sad truth is the City Manager has done nothing but throw up roadblocks every step of the way in this matter. And not just in the tabulating procedure, either. As an example - when residents went down to City Hall to obtain copies of the water protest form, they were told that no such thing was available there. And when those involved in the effort to stop this nearly 40% rate hike attempted to drop off blank forms for the benefit of residents looking for them, the City Manager refused to allow them to do so.

So for Mayor Mosca to actually say that it is his impression that the City Clerk and City Manager are working together on this matter is either disingenuous or just plain clueless. I personally feel that the City Manager's evident desire to do everything she can to thwart the wishes of the residents of this City on the water rate protest has been done not only with Mayor Mosca's approval, but his encouragement as well. In the end even this City Manager wouldn't have acted as she has without that level of sanction.

Any other City Council, or at least any whose agenda is aligned with the wishes of those they are supposed to serve, would have realized by now that the will of the people has been plainly heard. And then they would have gone back to the drawing board and worked out something all can agree on. But it seems quite obvious that behind the scenes the long knives are out, and these individuals are doing everything they can to kill the water protest. You can only wonder why this is so very important for them. It certainly can't all be about repairing some old pipes.

Another thing. Is Rooster Coburn dealing from both sides of the deck here? Tuesday evening he stood before the City Council supposedly voicing the opinions of business owners in their almost unanimous opposition to the water rate hike. Yet yesterday it almost seemed as if Rooster had joined the side of those like Mayor Mosca and the City Manager, two people apparently working very hard to stifle the water protest.

I think that if I were a business owner here in town, I just might have to think again about who is speaking for me on important matters like this one.

One more observation. Joe Mosca has now been our Mayor for four months. To finish the quote from a poster I cited above - Is there anyone who doubts that our city government is now in a state of chaos?


  1. I was in City Hall council chamber the night that MacGillivray and Shollenberger won the city wide election in 2008.

    I was standing near the back of the room and saw Elaine Aguilar walk by Shollenberger giving her a mean glance, never congratulating her on winning the election. I felt sad for Nancy, as I know she noticed this.
    What was that all about Elaine?

    Then, fast forward to last April when Mosca, Moran and Walsh won, two residents were standing in city hall when Bart Doyle (BIA/BIG DEVELOPMENT BART) gleefully walked up to Elaine Aguilar and CONGRATULATED HER ON "her" WIN?

    Again, what is that all about.

    City Hall is NOT a fair place. It was briefly a fair place when Kurt, Don and MaryAnn were on the council. Now it's back to big shady business as usual.
    Very unfortunate for Sierra Madre.

  2. City Hall is now at war with its own residents. They never expected the water rate protest to succeed, and they are now doing everything they possibly can to stop it.

  3. Sir Eric, This shows that Bill C reads the Tattler for his information. LOL

  4. Maybe Billy should be charged a research fee?

  5. Headlines you don't see oftenJuly 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Bill Coburn Outs Himself

    Admits to reading The Tattler for information available no where else in the San Gabriel Valley.

  6. Hey, give the old Rooster a break!

    He did speak against the outrageous water rate hike, oh be it, he had to do it for the Chamber business owners.
    A tarred and feathered Rooster would not have been a pretty sight.
    Rightfully so, the business owners had every right to complain about the unfair tax. While it would have hurt all us residents, it would bankrupt many of the downtown buisness.
    By the way, thank you business owners/Chamber and thanks, Rooster, for joining the Sierra Madre taxpayer revolt of 2010.

  7. An observation from the City Council Meeting. Bruce Inman is a pretty spiffy dresser. He has carfully coifed hair and his persona is "tidy and precise". In short he cares about his appearance. And he takes copious notes, tablets full. Yet when quized about the cost of the Water Rate (tax) Consultant fee he claimed igronance leaving the meeting to search for the requested information. He reported back that he couldn't find the cost information. You bet!

    His fastidious personal style does not match his public inept style. Odd very odd.

  8. With this much iregular activity going on at City Hall, you wonder when one of the players will decide to throw another "under the bus"?

  9. How can you tar and feather a Rooster? Don't they have feathers already?

  10. Finding out what the City paid for the water rate consultant is easy - go to the contract/purchase order file and look it up by the consultant's name either on-line or in the file. These things are not unknowable. If you are a resident and want to know that very same information, fill out a public records request. They can't not give it to you.

  11. 9:56 My point was not that the informaion wasn't available, it was that the man responsible for that consultant fee would not or could not disclose a Council Meeting and on Channel 3

  12. 10:19 My point is that you are correct...he should have been able to access it immediately by opening a file drawer. What's he trying to hide.

  13. Of course Sierra Madre's government
    is in chaos. It's now being run by
    the Marx Brothers.

  14. I have a question. Who's hand is holding those cards?

  15. The city manager is not in charge of validating the water rate protests. According to the guidelines set out on the city website under Tabulation of Protests

    1. The City Clerk shall determine the validity of all protests. #1 then lists 5 conditions she should follow.

    4. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the City Clerk shall complete the tabulation of all protests received, including those received during the public hearing and shall report the results of the tabulation to the City Council upon completion.

    I see nowhere in the Guidelines for Submission and Tabulation of Protests where the term "City Manager" is used.

  16. If I were running a competing blog or news website and I saw that you had a release I didn't have, I would have not announced to the world that I'd been scooped, I would have quickly copied it and posted it on my website. Does the public need to know how/where you got it?

    As for the City Manager and Council -1, it's high time we recognized that there is definitely something bigger going on here besides rusty pipes, as you say.

    Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

  17. I think it is safe to say;a growing number of Residents are beginning to realize that,"Something is Rotten in Denmark".

  18. Maybe Coburn thought he'd get a pat on the head.

  19. Folks we've talked with today at the Sierra Madre Citadel (formerly City Hall) are reporting a seige mentality. Doors are closed; loud angry voices coming from within; residents are demanding accountability; the Mayor has taken Aguilar to the woodshed for a come-to-Jesus talk; and, so I'm told, you should get ready for another whopper of a billing from Sandra Levin as she extracts the Councils' and City Manager's collective butts from the fires of misfeasance and nonfeasance, and occasionally malfeasance. Oh my goodness! What has been wrought by the protesting citizens?

    If the Moscateers had a lick of sense they's quietly accept the protest vote and start over. On the San Diego model, with plenty of time for review, a proper protest response, a clear unambigous guideles for protest talley and validation.

    Can you say Special Emergency Closed Session?

  20. Rumor has it the Mayor and the City Manager have been in closed meetings for much of today.

  21. Hey! Sierra Madre (or at least the citizens thereof) just received our 2nd "Mouse That Roared" Award" on the Greensward Civitas!

    Check it out!

  22. So who's running Sempra if Mayor Mosca's taking the day off?

    By the way, has anyone caught sight of the Moran boy? Is it the hospital or the lock up?

  23. Do not tar all City Hall employees with the same brush! We have very powerful allies who risk their positions if they're discovered.

  24. Yeah, exactly what kind of business trip does an account executive take? Meet with a client, sure, reschedule so you can attend the meeting of the city council to which you have been elected to represent the city, attend the planning commission meeting to which you have been assisgned as liaison for that same city council.

  25. Laurie Barlow's website is the greatest!
    From the fantastic

    "Sierra Madre residents have just won another battle with those who would like to devastate its character for profit. The current City Council, with the lone exception of MaryAnn MacGillivray - the past Mayor - has attempted to push a significant water rate increase through without justifying these increases or the scope of the water system repairs and upgrades. Through a manipulation of the process, the Council attempted to make it seemingly impossible for residents to engage in a process of protest. However, the citizenry has once again pushed back at these tactics by mounting a successful walking campaign to get far more than the sufficient required protests lodged with the City Clerk. On Sunday July 18, the local Tattler blog posted the press release from the City Clerk, certifying that the protest was successfully carried out.

    Interestingly, the Tattler also records this comment:

    The City Clerk did not have access to the Assessor's Parcel Numbers List/Owner's Names. If this list is made available to her, she will be happy to check the list again.

    Which was a bone of contention throughout the entire process, and seems to have been withheld from everyone. This may become the grounds for some kind of City Council challenge by the residents to the whole intentionally obfuscated process. It's a shocking demonstration of how developers are seeking to control a city for the opportunity to build large projects that require more water allocation. So much for regional control and coordination of local needs and resource allocation, that's simply a development steamroller. It seems to have set in motion again the citizen revolt that resulted in the earlier Measure V which halted planned major development in Sierra Madre's downtown, another local resistance to the building industry honchos vested in Sacramento.

    The mouse is a dangerous beast."

    Thank you so much L. Barlow.
    Please everyone check out this website, it has some great articles.
    You all need to bookmark it along with the Tattler!

  26. Perhaps Mayor Mosca will ask for Elaine's resignation. After all he can assign Dancin' Nancy to do temporary duty. She was elected because she's got "budget experience".

  27. John Buchanan's Refrain as he reflects on his choice of running mates:

    "Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still
    And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
    Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
    Ground control to major John, your circuits dead, there's something wrong
    Can you hear me, major John?
    Can you hear me, major John?
    Can you hear me, major John?
    Can you...
    Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Council Chamber
    City Hall is blue and there's nothing I can do"

  28. i wondering how Mosca has so much free time from his real job to devote to this Mayor gig?

    It's amazing that he's always available and has nothing better to do than be overly wrapped up in this issue, same with Buchanan.

  29. If the city overturns the water protest tomorrow then we do 2 things:
    1) Put it on the ballot with 1,200 signatures
    2) Recall the person who tried to sneak through t he water hike despite the outcry against it. Joe Mosca.

  30. Where does Elaine Aguilar get off trying to take over the tabulation. Telling the City Clerk what or what not to do is not in her job description. She has no authority to tell the Mayor, Council Members, Treasurer or City Clerk what to do. They are elected by the voters. She reports to the elected officials not the otherway around.

  31. The most alarming thing about Mr. Mosca's words are that they reveal........he can't count. Tuesday plus 5 days Tuesday

  32. Elaine is simply following orders.
    Don't blame the messenger.

  33. Elaine takes direction from the City Council. If she's trying to take over tabulation, it's because Mosca/Buchanan instructed her to do so. Our beef is with Mosca/Buchanan and the City Attorney who advised them in what to do to defeat the proposed water rate increase.

  34. Sierra Madre residentJuly 19, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Laurie Barlow, thank you again for caring about the struggle to stay slow growth in Sierra Madre!!
    Just wish the Buchanan/Mosca supporters would read your work.

  35. That's right, 3:16 and 3:20! Aguilar and Inman, as well as Sandy Levin, don't actually work directly for the residents -- they work for and are directed by the City Council. The City Council is elected by the voters of the City of Sierra Madre. If Aguilar and Inman, and Sandy Levin, aren't doing what we want, then it's time to recall some Councilmembers. I make a motion we recall Mosca, and the missing in action Bobbleheads. Second anyone?

  36. The city manager's job is to keep the city going, and to feed it with all the money it needs.
    Don't kick her for trying to do her job.
    She didn't create the Frankenstein of city hall - she's just the temporary monster feeder.

  37. Elaine is, I'm sure, caught between a rock and a hard place. If she does what she has been asked to do, she earns the anger of the streets. And if she doesn't do what the mayor wants? She'll be fired.

    In other words, her position has suddenly become the job from Hell.

  38. worked on the recallJuly 19, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    We didn't recall Joe when we had him red faced in a lie, on video for one and all to see. Don't forget, he has sold people on the moral justice of being on his side - championing the underdog, helping the victim, being on the side of righteousness, ad nauseam.
    Any revelations about Joe are seen as attacks on an innocent wide eyed guy who only wants to preserve our village.

  39. Don't underestimate peoples anger on Joe's possible overturning of the water protest tomorrow. We're talking about money here, and even Bambi wouldn't be forgiven for that.

  40. Guard your chickens...The foxes are in the hen house

  41. The Rooster is telling the foxes where the chickens are hiding...

  42. I loved the Greensward write up. Thanks Old Kentucky for posting it here. Isn't it amazing that a person on the outside can have a look at what's going on and cut through all the baloney that's been dished out by the CC -1 and cut right to the chase? She nailed it easily. But think how many people in the Sierra Madre milieu are in denial, objection, blindness, etc. and can't just get their minds around what's happening. Unreal.

  43. For what it's worth, I don't go to the news net site because it's just too confusing.

  44. Maybe its the heat that has cut down on new content at the site. Most of the people pictured there don't venture out much on hot days.

  45. Gotta love this:
    "The City Council and City Manager were not informed of any press release regarding the verification of the water rate protest letters."
    Translate to real speak:
    "The City Council and City Manager are dufuses who forgot that it is the job of the elected City Clerk to announce the verification of the water rate protest letters."

  46. Speaking of the City Manager, apparently she has been burning the City hall midnight oil over the water protest.

  47. What was the cost of the study?
    I have tried to get it online, but the city documents no longer open on my computer. I know some others have had this problem too. City hall changed the way it uploads documents.
    So somebody, puhleeeese, got a dollar amount for what we paid Bucknam?

  48. I overheard a DSP supporter yelling at a water rate protestor "Just wait until all your pipes burst! It will take a lot more to fix them later!!" His remarks would have carried more weight if he weren't going to be a much richer man had the DSP come through.

  49. sick of shenanigansJuly 19, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Barlow's description is right on target:

    ...the whole intentionally obfuscated process. It's a shocking demonstration of how developers are seeking to control a city for the opportunity to build large projects that require more water allocation

    We are sustainable now, we are environmentally balanced and aware now, why are the majority on the council trying to ruin that????

  50. Ask any member of the Gang of Four if the $18 million water infrastruction project has anything to do with laying the pipes necessary for development, and they immediately deny it.

    Which is good enough a confirmation to me.

  51. @ Dr. Staccato

    I've had a lot of local experience with political takeovers of communities and Boards, as well as experience on State Boards for the building industry. As you can see from my Greensward blog, this has engendered much strategy to change these corrupt practices and align policy with true site and water management strategies that are "net zero" demand as well as actual sustainable actions.

    Google Ian McHarg's "Design with Nature" and its GIS implementations for more information. Part of this involves standing up to the BIA development steamroller, which is destructive beyond belief. To the point where the greenwash SB 375 tries to use it as a justification for additional urban density for solving traffic problems. The real issue is the tremendous burden of GHG's created by building more and more structure, as well as the resulting traffic that it generates. All square footage generates traffic, period.