There has been some talk recently in Sierra Madre of a possible ballot initiative that would restrict the ability of the City Council to spend crazy money. The idea being that any large expenditure being considered ($50,000, or maybe $100,000) would have to be put to a vote of the citizens. Kind of like Measure V and building height requirements. Go over 2 stories in your planning and you'll need to ask the permission of the people who actually live here. Something that has yet to happen.
Now this might not be the fiscal panacea some believe it is. And it could be something the state might challenge on Constitutional grounds, as a buzz killing example. But it certainly could be quite a conversation starter, and given the revelations coming out of the City of Bell, a timely little issue as well.
If you're looking for a reason as to why we might need to do such a thing, here is a good example. Back when there was the Ad Hoc Finance Committee, they looked over all of our expenditures. This was all part of an effort to build up a rationale for the massive UUT increases that were later voted into existence by Sierra Madre residents. And one of their more piquant findings was just how radically our City Attorney costs have gone up. Here is how those figures broke down:
Fiscal Year 2002 - 2003: Charles Martin $38,250.00
Fiscal Year 2003 - 2004: Charles Martin $35,615.00
Fiscal Year 2004 - 2005: Colantuono & Levin $294,852.42
Fiscal Year 2005 - 2006: Colantuono & Levin $249,799.53
It seems to me that if something like that would have had to be approved by the voters first, it would never have happened. Or even been proposed.
Our Dear Friends At Majestic Realty
They certainly do seem to be well-connected with Der Ahnold over there at Majestic Realty. Not only did the big oaf step in to help waive any pesky CEQA reviews back when Big Ed Roski wanted to build his City of Industry shrine to the National Football League (who seems to have turned its collective nose up at his love offering, by the way), now The Austrian Oak has given the Majestic ones perhaps the influence perk of all. Check this bad boy out:
Gov Appoints Controversial Real Estate Exec To CA Transportation Commission - This week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Fran Inman, Vice President of Majestic Realty Co., to the California Transportation Commission. This is the second public boon for Majestic Realty in the past 12 months. Last October the Legislature and Governor handed Majestic an unprecedented exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act for a 75,000 seat football stadium in the City of Industry.
Inman's potential position with the Commission could prove highly profitable for Majestic Realty. The Commission is responsible for allocating funds for the construction of highway, rail and transit improvements throughout California, and for advising cabinet officials and Legislature. Majestic, it so happens, owns much highway-adjacent property including the site of the proposed football stadium.
Transportation and the construction thereof is at the very heart of SB 375, the lobbyist bought development boondoggle designed to breathe some life back into one of California's last remaining industries, construction. That Sacramento seems to have sacrificed the independence of cities like ours in order to make this happen has made things such as the AB 32/SB 375 axis controversial locally.
Speaking of which ...
There is a great article up on the Cal Watch Dog site that literally tears the PC poppycock being used to oppose Proposition 23 to shreds. Called "Going Green is Becoming Irrelevant," and written by Katy Grimes, it highlights the exodus of skilled high paying jobs in this state as corporations flee for sunnier business climes.
Now we have often heard Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Green bring up his idealized notion of bringing "green jobs" to Sierra Madre. He never goes into much detail on what exactly these color specific jobs would be, but does speak as if he assumes that this is a notion that all agree upon.
So he probably would note enjoy observations such as this one:
Incredibly, in just two days already in July, California lost three company headquarters - Globalstar Inc. is leaving Milpitas for Louisiana, eEye of Irvine will move to Arizona, and TriZetto Group will leave Newport Beach for Colorado. In just the first half of 2010, 85 companies left California, nearly double what occurred through all of 2009.
Vranich says that the exodus has reached such an alarming point that California ought to declare a "state of economic emergency." He added that "unless there is a reduction in the hostility California directs toward businesses, we will see more commercial enterprises calling site relocation companies for help in finding friendlier states in which to locate."
The farce of "green jobs" is almost funny, except politicians all over the country are buying into it. There are not millions of green jobs being created in the way Jones claims. Most companies merely have to get green certified to be able to classify employees as "green" in order to play the "green" game. Jobs are not being created - just reclassified.
Katy Grimes then goes on to make this pointed observation:
The obvious question is why is government pushing an industry when the free market is not? If green jobs were really so profitable, then tens of thousands of business owners would be scrambling to get into the game. Instead, guys like Van Jones travel the country giving speeches, selling books and lecturing people about how they live. Guilt does not drive change.
Good point. If there was actual money to be made in so-called "green jobs," California would probably not have the 12.5% unemployment rate it has today. Something to consider when Johnny Green leans on the General Plan Committee to include things such as "green enterprise zones" into this city's blue print. We really don't need to include was is basically political propaganda into a document that is supposed to be a reality based road map to the future of Sierra Madre.
And Finally ...
Rooster Coburn launched on his somewhat cluttered News.Net site what I guess was supposed to be a big initiative challenging the tabulation of the water protest signatures by the City Clerk's office. To me it pretty much smacked of the "swift boat" style attacks this fellow engaged in during the recent City Council elections, and I was going to challenge some of his loonier premises. But you know what? Nobody seemed to give a damn about what this guy had to say on the topic. And as of this typing Rooster has yet to receive one single reader comment to his bellicose claims.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.