Sunday, July 25, 2010

Your Sunday News Report

Here at The Tattler we don't only take care of our spiritual culture, we also put it into homily sized and easily consumed portions. Then we serve it up in a way that befits the fast food ambiance so prevelant here in the California car culture. And no, we never want fries with our order. We ask for the salad.

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.


  1. It was the building industry that pushed through SB375, so it is not a big surprise that a Real Estate exec. would be placed on such a powerful board.
    Another note: Pasadena has been highly touted for its development along the transportation corridor while no one mentions that Pasadena has a budget shortfall and many empty buildings along the same corridor.

    We should all work hard to pass the initiative on the November ballot that will place a moratorium on AB32. It is being advertised as being supported by "big oil" but it was the little people like the ones in Sierra Madre that got our water rate protest letters that got the signatures to get it on the ballot. The building industry will work vigoriously to get the initiative defeated.

  2. Look at those legal costs!!!!!
    Fire 'em.
    It is an employers' market.
    There will be a lot of attorneys wanting to do the work for reasonable compensation.
    And then have the citizens oversight committee watch.

  3. If the council of 2010 (with the exception of MacGillivray) wants to illegally play with the results of the water rate protest, prompting some of the propagandists they employ to kick something up, I say,


    The council majority will lose, and maybe it will join the walk of public disgrace CNN style.

  4. Great post 11:50 am.

    We need to get rid of AB32.

    We have a grand chance as well, so work hard folks.

  5. I would take down the picture -- it is offensive and, to me, takes aways from the substance of the post.

  6. Since we've only had one council in the past 20 years or so whose members actually represented the residents of Sierra Madre instead of those poised to make a grand profit off the town via ill-advised real estate schemes, I think the time has come to limit our city council's budgetary decisions over a specific dollar amount. I do very much like the idea of a ballot measure to do just that.

  7. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesJuly 24, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Excellent post 2:05.
    I am sick of all the financial threats our shenanigan councils make.
    If they can't figure out how to cut costs, we must.

  8. The scum will riseJuly 24, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Yes, CNN covers the news with facts, truth and dignity. They covered BELL and they should cover us soon. No drama, no tears, mo made up facts and no school of history for people who do not read and are not accustomed to opening their minds to looking at both sides of an issue.

    Stay tuned. The CC are drowning themselves. Except for MacGillivary who speaks for the people. Again, thank you MaryAnn.

  9. Fallen? Nice trend, but they haven't fallen far enough to suit me. But we can always hope--and work.


    (Recommendation that the city council provide direction)

    ***So what direction is that if they did not provide the parcel numbers along with the water customers list to the City Clerk and are trying to knock down the majority protest numbers. Parcel lists are not that hard to acquire (and the city manager is saying she can not supply one to the city clerk). So they are validating the signed protests in their own way (the city clerk is the elected individual who should certify the protest)...would Elaine Aguilar have an agenda not to have the count turn out to be a majority???. Were the citizens informed correctly how their protest would count ....only one protest per parcel or lot??? No they weren't!!!!

  11. The City Manager is being directed by only 4 of the CC and it is no one's responsibiilty but the CITY CLERKS job to tabulate the water rate protests.

    Come on Tuesday to Protest the City Manager and the CC trying to invalidate the people's protest. The City Council will not get away with this!!

  12. I'll provide a little direction.
    Thank the citizens for giving the council such a clear mandate and move on.

  13. And where is the council's new and improved approach to the General Plan on the upcoming agenda?
    You don't think they'll try to have an enraged populous vent all their steam on the water duplicity, and then just quietly sneak in the GP 'improvements', do you?

  14. Article: Sierra Madre picks top executive
    Article from:Pasadena Star-News Article date:August 1, 2007 Author:Molly R. Okeon Pasadena Star news:

    SIERRA MADRE - Elaine Aguilar, assistant to the city manager of Glendale, was chosen Tuesday as the new top executive for this city of about 11,000 residents.

    "Elaine impressed me immediately with her problem-solving reputation and her breadth of experience," Sierra Madre City Councilman John Buchanan said. "Not only do I look forward to working with her, but I see a bright future ahead for our city."

    Aguilar, 47, of West Covina was appointed in a 4-0 vote of the council, which met in a special session Tuesday. She will begin on Aug. 27.

    Councilman Kurt Zimmerman was called away for work-related emergency during the meeting and was unable to cast a vote. …

    Notice who is praising Elaine Aguilar (well the person who recommended her John Buchanan, coule the picture get any bleaker for this little town?)

  15. Were headed for a crisis in Sierra Madre. The people want a "constational government" the "piroted City Council" wants to advance "special interests". The City Mgr and Staff want to be hired elsewhere for the "outstanding job delivered in Sierra Madre, but are handicapped by the Council. The Government of Sierra Madre is just so much C__P.
    Like in Bell lets get a movement going that cleans house and a start from scratch.
    Who throws who under the bus? Lets see.

  16. 1:45 - the picture is of Aditya "Romeo" Dev. He us 2 feet 9 inches tall and is world renowned as the world's smallest muscleman. He tours the world with other body builders, and has become quite a celebrity.

  17. Mosca and Buchanan may be the new "poster boys" for "Bell City" now Sierra Madre. "Take what you can and run". We have a major problem in Sierra Madre. Promete the outside interests and ignore the residents. AT ANY COST! What a fine Council we have. "Tiptoe through the Wisteria" and trample the hilsides and downtown.

  18. speaking of the City of Bell, does anyone know how much our top City employees, including the City Council, make per year? Just curious.

  19. The City Council doesn't make much, just expenses. However, some of them seem to be in deep with organizations that stand to make a ton of dough should Pasadena style development be brought to Sierra Madre. This is more about the allegiance of corporations and local government than anything else. The taxpayers just being the chumps in this equation. Which is why we're lied to so much. The big money and their experts have absolutely no respect for the residents in this town. And given the royal asses we've elected, why should they?

  20. The battles never endJuly 25, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    The legal payments made to Charley Martin and Coluantono & Levin, while attention grabbing, are not the complete picture. Mr. Martin, during his long tenure with the city, frequently acted as a manager outsourcing cases to other lawyers. Coluantono & Levin handle much of the negotiating and litigation within their own firm. Additionally the city is represented by other law firms in the handling of personnel and employee actions, real property transactions, and other issues for which C&L, for whatever reason, may not be the best choice. Yes. C&L make the decision to outsource when appropriate. While Charley Martin may be a local hero to many, and his billing rate was much less than C&L, the complexities of what Sierra Madre now faces in its ongoing battle againt SB375, AB32, SCAG, and the forces of development are too much for an octogenarian. His last lamentable act was to hold both the City Manager and City Attorney positions simultaneously for a local municipality. He was removed by Council action from both.

    Keep digging Tattlers!

  21. And speaking of Sunday homilies, what relationship does the newly resurrected Steamers have to the Congregational Church? Did the City ever receive the church's master plan? Was the illegal "school" ever resolved? Is the expanded coffee shop going to be owned/managed by the Congregational Church or one of it's members? I see this as a way to get around the master plan requirement, around the parking issue, and another milestone in the circuitous path to the accomplishment of the DSP. Ever hear of "divide and conquer"? Little bits are coming to fruition; where the citizenry balked at the overall RBF makeover, very little resistance is being encountered in the march by the DSP supporters toward realization of the new Village fit for the castles on the hill.

  22. I don't think anybody is saying we should bring back Charlioe. What is being said is we are paying out the nose for legal advise that isn't really in the interest of the taxpayers. Rather we're getting Sandy Levin's open hostility to things like fighting the insane development water rate hike.

  23. The City has declared the need for a water rate increase on the basis of a failing infrastructure. It is not up to Sandy Levin to look beyond to a thinly veiled attempt to attract development. It is Sandy's job to make sure the process is followed to increase (or not) the water rate increase. If she advised the Council and City Manager as to the process and they have made up the rules to suit their own ends, we cannot expect Sandy to turn her back on the city to come down on the side about 50% of the citizenry to dump the increase. What we can do is challenge the City's decision to move forward with an increase -- if that is in fact what the Council decides to do.

    Tuesday night will tell the tale. Will the white hot ascendency of young Joe Mosca's political career go into hyperdrive when he calms the troubled water by declaring the entire process flawed and directs staff to come back with a new plan to engage the residents, rate payers, parcel owners, and agents acting for parcel owners? He could announce that the City did not do a good job of educating the public on the need for the rate increase and therefore the results of the just completed protest count are null and void. He could do that. Or he could commit local political suicide by accepting the City Manager's alternate results and put the protestors on the road to the voting booth and a recall attempt. It's a hot summer; we've got the people to walk; and we've got the attention of the voters. It's definitely a possibility.

    Be there Tuesday night to support the protest - to send a message to the City Council - that 50% + a very significant one believe the water rate increase to be illegal.

  24. Under cover outta sightJuly 25, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    A quick read in draft of the Looney Tunes News tells a tale of a small foothill village infiltrated by rabid seniors intent on roasting and eating a City Manager (Yes! Cannibals!!) who mismanaged a blatant grab of the water rate increase protest by shredding about 500 protest letters while trying to save her butt after promising the newly minted young Mayor and his followers that the protest would never reach the level necessary to pass. It's widely reported by deep cover operatives hidden inside the citadel that Ms. Henderson has been given exclusive access to the story and was spotted trying to snap shots of the City Clerk's deputized assistants to give weight to her expose.

  25. I hear the new name for 1 Carter is "Stone Gulch"

  26. The issue is this: Can the (at will at the Council's pleasure) City Manager refuse to give the duly elected (by the people) City Clerk the list of Assessor Parcels and then make that list the protest criteria?

  27. The Looney View News is, of course, funded by the very same individuals pushing for the water rate hike. That being the City Hall types whose sustenance comes from our taxes. Making it our local version of Pravda I suppose.

    Here's a question - can anybody remember a single instance of Susie opposing a tax, rate, or fee hike? I didn't think so.

  28. I'm still having trouble figuring out how nuts like Henderson figure they're going to whip up a frenzy of hatred against those who saved Sierra Madre from this ridiculous rate hike. Then again, I don't drink Bart's Kool Aid.

  29. There is a new property owner for the old steamers. They along with architect/Planning Commissioner Pendleberry really made a fool out of the city when the got around the parking requirements by paying $2,0000 each for the 17 parking places they were short. If the city does not use the $34,000 to obtain more parking the owner of the 3 new corporate owned chain eateries, the owner get his money back. What a joke the over paid development office is. In liue of parking has been on the books since the 1990's and they did not know it.

  30. Poor Susie. she would lie for Joe to see her own family hung. and we all know it. And,then she would say "it isn't my fault."

    Susan, how long after you arrived here did you plot your attact on Katina, or did you know you were going to committ your dirty little tricks before you arrived?

    It is no irony you and Joe arrived in Sierra Madre just around the same time and then stabbed people in the back so well just about the same time.

    Not much kool-aid left, huh?

  31. What is going to be at the New Steamers?

  32. Looks like Susan's swiftboat has sprung a leak.

  33. 9:39. The City Council makes $250 /month plus expenses.

    Mosca is infamous for "attending seminars" and "conferences" on the City's dime.

  34. Susan's swifboating is pretty pathetic.

    She suggests that former Mayor Zimmerman approves of the proposed rate hike because he "commissioned" a water consultant.

    In point of fact, it was the entire Council that approved of the retention of a water rate conultant.

    More importantly, Zimmerman has come out strongly against the hike.

    So much for truth in journalism.

  35. channel 3 watcher when it's workingJuly 25, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    9:59, restaurants - sounded like 3, a sandwich shop, coffee shop and ice cream. The owner said it would offer residents a cheaper alternative than all the restaurants we have, have seating inside & out, & he talked about people picking up food & taking it to the park to eat. Could be some unexpected company in that last bit.
    The parking will be something to see - add to that Dr. Sami's expansion & you've got a mess.

  36. The General Plan update is #4 on the agenda, right after the "Water System Public Outreach and Education Program". The GP update on the agenda calls for the identification of a technical advisory committees which is a fancy name for the latest power grab by the council. We can't let this happen. These committees will in every sense of the word take the place of the sitting committee, leaving them with no power, and no task. If you are coming for the water rate protest, PLEASE stay for the GP update and voice your disapproval of the way the council is railroading their plan through.

  37. Every time a comment is made on the Tattler, an angel gets their wingsJuly 25, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Good Day I saw a website where Ms Aguilar has an interest and is/was on water committees/boards. Someone better check for extra income from those special boards like the council in bell was getting.

    Dear God, Thank you for the mind and spirit of Sir Eric and all the truth seeking Tatts.


    Now lets eat, I never had any roasted city managers before.

  38. Doesn't the city have a policy of all employees disclosing outside employment? If Ms. Aguilar is indeed sitting on boards and taking pay it should be a matter of pubic record. Let's ask her!

  39. Don't ask the city manager - ask Moran, Walsh, Mosca and Buchanan.

  40. They're trying to steal the water protest, they're trying to reduce commission volunteers to bobble headed doofuses with Mickey Mouse hats on, and they want to bring in consultants that will turn this town into something quite compliant with Arnold's Fourth Reich. Though it will be "green, of course." Oh, and of course they want us to pay for it all.

    Recalls, anyone?

  41. Did you wonder if the Looney Tunes News is trying to gain acceptance for the water rate study by linking it to Zimmerman, or trying to make Zimmerman the scapegoat for an almost $35K "study" by a consultant. And throwing a bone to Little Billy Coburn at the same time, underlining his daring demand for the "real" numbers. Actually the piece is almost very close, as a matter of fact, to responsible coverage. We're seeing a new page in the DIRT play book. Appear to capitulate to the villagers while attacking on a new front. Are you ready for the GPSC battle on Tuesday night?

  42. Sierra Madre, under the mayorship of Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray has badly battered the DIRTS, SCAG, the BIA, the ARA, and local partisan political groups in the process. Perhaps Mosca and Buchanan have been taken to the woodshed and admonished to appear to play nice. Watch out for sneaky snakes in the leaves. There is still much to be built downtown and in the foothills. Can't have the locals gaining too much power, now can we?

  43. It seems to me that the Mayor and the City Council owe Elaine Aguilar and Bruce Inman quite an apology. Elaine and Bruce carried out to the letter what they were directed to do, deflecting the town's anger from the Council. (Well not from the Bobbleheads; one can't be mad at the disabled, now can one?) It was a good try. If the water rate protests fell short, the City government won. If the protestors reacted negatively (which they did), the Mayor could let Elaine and Bruce dangle for a while then declare they hadn't made a good faith effort to educate and inform the multitudes of folks in various categories who may or may not have been eligible to register a protest.

    Thank heaven for little girls, at least diminutive super heroines like MaryAnn MacGillivray and Nancy Shollenberger. Never could we have stood up to Mosca and Buchanan without them. Hip hip hooray for MaryAnn and Nancy!

  44. Hip hip hooray indeed!
    And maybe that is why Bruce and Elaine make such big paychecks and get such splendid retirement packages - falling on their swords is part of the deal.

  45. Hankerson's Looney Views review of the water rate "controversy" reads like it was dictated by the City Manager. Complete with the "maybe it's nobody's fault" bit. Remember, they want to develop the crap out of this town, and they can't do it without our money. So the best thing to do is just not give them our money. Starve the rats out.

    So now they're going to "educate" us? Let me guess. They're going to hire outreach consultants?

  46. I knew Coburn could only be reasonable for a short period of time.

    The only controversy happening at the Looney Views is when the truth gets in the way of Henderson's brainless rants and taunts.

    The City Manager is wrong about the education. We were educated pretty quickly that the tax hike was a sham for building out the water infrastructure for helping future developers and we were educated that the stories being spun by City Hall and Henderson were flat out lies.

  47. Whomever thinks that truth in journalism or journalistic ethics should be expected of Susan Henderson is sorely mistaken.

    Henderson, who is a proven liar about her past and was fired fron the Democratic party for credit card fraud/stealing wouldn't know ethics if it came up and slapped her in the face.

  48. Parking in lieu of... was delberately not taken off the city's codes because the in lieu of will be a pitch and now a need for a parking structure in the Mariposa Parking lot. Yes the same parking structure that was pictured in the downtown specfic plan. So they let the owners/developers of Dr.Sami's and the Steamers build without enough parking spaces for their buildings and pay a fee which goes to the parking fund structure which will eventually help to build that Mariposa parking structure. You notice while Kurt Zimmerman, Don Watts and Maryanne G. were on together no developer was trying to get away with this parking in lieu of. So Planning dept. approves it, it still has to go before the city council and the rats are in now so they have the power to ultimately approve these projects.

  49. Rooster is really showing his catty side over Nancy at the News.nut site, isn't he? He claims the controversy is ridiculous, yet there he is a-huffing and a-puffing to get something started. Still no comments, though.

    Starting to think the only way Rooster will get noticed these days is if he paints his fanny blue and runs naked down Baidwin. That is, if Bart lets him.

  50. A cowboy was herding his herd in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

    The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy,
    "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"
    The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers,
    "Sure. Why not?"
    The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.
    The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says,
    "You have exactly 1586 cows and calves."
    "That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says the cowboy.
    He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.
    Then the cowboy says to the young man,
    "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"
    The young man thinks about it for a second and then says,
    "Okay, Why not?"
    "You're a consultant" says the cowboy.
    "Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"
    "No guessing required" answered the cowboy.
    "You showed up here even though nobody called you;
    you want to get paid for an answer I already knew;
    to a question I never asked; and you don't know anything about my business."

    ". . . Now give me back my dog."

  51. Friend, you made my evening. That was hilarious.

    Thank you!