Monday, August 9, 2010

Agenda Man Has Some Issues

Agenda Man didn't feel like writing the City Council meeting preview article this week. He is not sure why, but he's really not into it right now. Things haven't been going all that well at work, and this has begun to affect his overall attitude. Wonder Agenda Woman says Agenda Man has been "a bear to deal with lately." So maybe there is a little trouble in paradise as well. "I sure hope he'll start dealing with his issues, and soon," she added. "I really don't know how much more of his crap I can take."

Nope, doesn't sound good.

So while Agenda Man sits on his back porch with a cooler of Bud Lite and stares out into the quaint Sierra Madre greenery for hours on end, Agenda Traffic Cone has consented to fill in for the angst-ridden superhero. The only proviso here being that he's asked to be recused from any discussion of traffic lights as they pay his employer.

Oh, and one other thing. It must also be pointed out that Agenda Traffic Cone is not exactly known for having a sunny disposition. Years of being run over by thoughtless drivers having skewed his perspective on the goodness of this world. Doctors at the National Center for Decorum Studies (NCDS) have diagnosed him as suffering from chronic Civility Deficit Disorder, or CDD, an untreatable condition known to cause uncomfortable social situations and gratuitous mellow harshing. Needless to say, he can be somewhat abrasive at times.

That said, here is Agenda Traffic Cone's report.

Hello and welcome to the Cone Zone! I got a copy of our August 10, 2010 City Council Meeting Agenda. It is filled with all the usual devious and oblique language you've come to expect from such documents, and I've seen a lot of them over the years. If you're willing to get your information from a talking traffic cone, then I am willing to share what I know with you. Just don't hit me with your car, OK? It makes me very angry, and there could be consequences. I do have a cape, you know.

This one kicks off with a closed session. It's closed because they don't want the likes of you being there. You make the lawyer lady nervous, and she really doesn't trust you guys. You could say something bad to the Stonehouse fellows. And if that happens they might not let us have some rocks we want, or something. They could go also and embarrass those supposed "Slow Growth" guys on the City Council and build the Taj Mahal up there. Or maybe 20 Taj Mahals. Who knows?

After they've finished with the lawyers and developers, the City Council will then turn the lights back on and go through the rigmarole that always kicks off these meetings. They'll act all pious and caring, mug for the camera, tell really dumb jokes and laugh too much, repeat the same heartwarming stories about the same 10 or so people they always talk about, and then pretend for a moment that they think God hears them. Which I sincerely doubt. You can only pray that God has better things to do than listen to the Gang of Four.

Next come the "presentations," which means public comment, and an introduction to some new volunteers to the Fire Department. Which I guess means Terry Miller will be in attendance. Even more newly hired cops will be introduced (an almost monthly event around here), a VFW donation to the SMPD (probably donuts) will be made, and then something about "Emergency Preparedness Month." Which I think boils down to keeping lots of canned stew and band aids in the house. Oh, and a talk about the AM Radio Station. More on that one later.

We then will move on into what they call Action Items. And if watching paint dry is your idea of action, then you'll have come to the right place. They also call it the Consent Calendar, but I haven't the foggiest idea why. I know I personally wouldn't give my consent to practically anything these guys do. But then maybe I'm not their target audience.

1. Consent Calendar

Item a) Spend more money than many people will make in a lifetime. This time they'll be shoveling out $1,603,000 big ones for City Warrants, the Library, and payroll. I looked up how much money they've spent at some previous meetings, and these guys must think we print the stuff. On July 27 the figure was $902,000, then on July 13 $884,000. On June 22nd $741,000 was spent, and just over a million dollars on June 6. It's like Crazy Eights Night at the Morongo Casino and Resort every time these guys get together.

Item b) Authorization of payments on behalf of the CRA. The only letter missing here is "P." Add that and you'll have a good idea of what $4,240.62 is going to get spent on. California is probably among the very few societies in this world where cities pay rent on buildings they own.

Item c) A TUP for your trash. Hazardous waste must be disposed of properly or the bad guys win.

Item d) La Salle High School wants to use our pool. Apparently this takes a lot of paperwork. Everything takes a lot of paperwork. Maybe that's why we're spending $700,000 on payroll this week. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just get a doormat for City Hall that says "Buzz Off" on it? Sure, let the kids swim at the pool. But please, spare the trees.

Item e) Recommendation to destroy police personnel records. This one has got the look of the first of many cave-ins to the SMPOA we'll be seeing from the Bobbleheads. After suing us umpteen times over all the Mickey Mouse stuff these jamokes do to each other, they now want to make like none of it ever happened. Just burn the paper and fuggedaboutit. I'd say all those papers should be turned over to The Tattler instead. Could make for some fine reading.

Item f) Award a new contract to the guys who screw up SMTV3 on a regular basis. Apparently in Sierra Madre bad service is always amply rewarded. $35,000 will now be forked over to Community Media of the Foothills for doing an awful job broadcasting things like our City Council meetings. This is just so ridiculously typical of how we do business in this community.

Item g) More retirement benefits for City employees. While people out in the private sector look to potential retirements in places like Slab City, the special boys and girls that work in The Palace continue to get the very best benefits our taxes can buy. In this case it's an amendment to their 457 Plan (click here) that allows them to borrow against their retirement without any early withdrawal penalties. Which I guess makes our pension contributions an extra paycheck.

Item h) New Sierra Madre personnel rules and regulations. Don't date the people you work with. No graffiti in the johns. Tell people they can "look it up on the website."

Item i) Emergency and public service radio broadcast policy and guidelines - Ever since Elaine Aguilar let it be known that she wants to use our newly minted emergency AM Radio station as a venue for broadcasting government water rate increase propaganda, my enthusiasm for this station has virtually collapsed. What's next, a Susan Henderson talk radio show?

Item j) Cash for the insurance company that pays off all those SMPOA lawsuits - Another ton of money that will get spent.

Item k) Pedestrian access easement over a portion of Lot C - The developer at One Carter needs to build a sidewalk there on his own dime. Probably so public transportation riding house cleaners and maids can walk to the McMansions that are to be built there.

2. Dr. Sami's Parking Problems - a medical facility is better than what some people want to build on that stretch of Sierra Madre Boulevard. And such a thing is not out of character for a town that first came to the world's attention as a haven for those suffering from tuberculosis. On the other hand, the Planning Commission's decision to blow this one up because of inadequate parking was a good one. This stretch of street is a traffic nightmare sometimes, and we hardly need people jackassing in and out of parking spots being added to the mix. That is, if they'll even be able to find one.

3. General Plan Update - Many people have joined the discussion groups that will help give shape and meaning to the new General Plan, making it truly a peoples' document. Rather than a SCAG bag of Sacramento driven consultant managed centrally planned city killing fascism.

4. Discussion - Introduction of new utility bill format. The Water Rats want to make sure we get to see how fabulous the "Tiers" will look on our utility bills. The fact that this item is labeled as a "utility bill" discussion rather than what it really is, something designed to help push forward water rate hikes, is a good sign of how important this is to the long tailed little buggers.

5. Appointment to the Library Board of Trustees. Apparently there is an empty deck chair on the Titanic. Hopefully the City Council will find a large enough seat to occupy it.

6. Consideration of Public Facilities Fees - Anything that charges people attempting to build high density multi-unit housing in Sierra Madre lots of money has my support. This might be on the agenda because the BIA's former lawyer has told his Gang of Four Bobbleheads to kill it. The possible sneak attack of the evening.

7. Minutes Approval. This was moved to the end of the meeting for some reason. Can't say I remember why. Or if I should even care.

Then it all stops.


  1. That would be interesting if the City Council cut the fees developers have to pay on multi-unit housing construction while at the same time claim they really need to raise everyone's water rates. Quite a message they'd be delivering.

  2. Agenda Man, be assured we're with you through whatever you're going through. Just don't abandon us! You are the bright spot every other Tuesday morning, not that Agenda Cone isn't welcome. But somehow he closely resembles the Council of Four and I'm very suspicious that there's a genetic link between them...

  3. So KFC is closing its door and the Masonic Hall is up for sale? More changes or should I say more opportunities for our homegrown developers?

  4. I love the new feature: Sierra Madre Headlines!

  5. That junk food franchises can't survive in Sierra Madre is a pretty good sign for this town. That people here actually care about what they eat is quite an indication that this is a town that knows better. See you later, Colonel!

  6. I'm sure the usual nitwits will start galloping around in circles proclaiming that the closing of a chicken stand means the end of Sierra Madre.

  7. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

  8. Kentucy closing after all these years should be a head up to the new owner of the Steamers Property with his city ripoff parking. I won't go to any thing in town that is a chain or corporate. Long live the small owned business.
    KFC will not be missed just like Cold Stone is not missed. If you want a down town, support your downtown.

  9. The Bobbleheads seem to be of the opinion that chain retail is the salvation of Sierra Madre. And that since they seem bound and determined to spend the city into insolvency, we must do everything we can to encourage them to come here so that we'll reap a bounty of sales taxes. That Includes turning this place into Little Glendale.

    They're clueless and dangerous.

  10. Let's see... Curves and Starbucks are "chain and corporate" yet they seem to be thriving...

  11. Downtown businesses are our white elephant. This is a residential community, and that is where almost all of the tax revenue comes from. I'd say turn the Mason Hall into low income apartments. The KFC shack should be plowed under and cactus planted in its place.

  12. I don't do Starbucks and as far as Curves goes you get a better work out walking around town and the scenery is much better. Run the streets like shirtless Pete.

  13. Why would you have to pay to exercise when we live next to the most incredible foothills anywhere?

  14. It must be said: Ms Henderson, in her egregiously inaccurate and sometimes lying editorial has to be corrected. Following is the exact wording of the letter that was sent to the owners of properties that were listed on the water billing list.

    "Dear Water Customer of Sierra Madre,
    you no doubt have received a letter from the City of Sierra Madre indicating that there will be a raise of water rates in the City of Sierra Madre. According to the letter, there will be a new three tiered system whereby the customer will be charged according to water meter size.

    "Given the average size meter and rate proposed, the raise will amount to an increase of approximately 16%, and WILL accrue to an increase of 40% over the next four years. In order to protest the amount of rate increase, the property owner must (Underlined) send a letter of protest saying that you protest the water rate raise. This letter must be in the hands of the City Clerk by the end of the hearing meeting on July 13. 2010.

    THERE IS NO OTHER FORM OF PROTEST. Please detach and sign the following letter including all of the addresses where you are being billed for water service and mail it to: Sierra Madre City Clerk."

    All of the volunteers going door to door used the above facts and figures to discuss with the residents. All Of the 30 plus volunteers were instructed to be careful about presenting the facts and nowhere was there a letter prepared by the group that listed the inaccurate facts listed in Ms. Henderson's paper. If Ms. Henderson saw such a letter, it was either tampered with, or sent to sabatage the efforts of legitimate letters.

  15. The "water rate increase - reachout to the community" that Mosca talks about will also be accompanied by a Swiftboat campaign. This has always been a BIA operation, and that is how they do it. They have to win this, there really is no other option. They can't develop Sierra Madre without massive water infrastructure work.

    Henderson is, of course, just obeying orders. It's what she does for a living. She is nothing more than, as today's article put it so well, a "water rat."

  16. Sorry, an omission on 11:18 entry. The letter cited was sent to all out-of-town owners listed and to p.o. box rate payers listed who were thought to be owners of apartments or living out of town. This amounted to approx 500 letters sent.

  17. CDD sufferers were brutally stigmatized during last April's election.

  18. Great new youtube connection!
    A replay of Shirley Moore is better than a cup of coffee.

  19. Thank you Agenda Cone for pointing out all the money that gets so casually dispersed at the beginning of the consent calendar in every meeting.
    This is indeed a wealthy community, just as the LA Times characterized it,
    "Wealthier cities did not necessarily pay their executives more. Like Bradbury, Rolling Hills, Hidden Hills and Sierra Madre all paid less than average."
    So the next time you notice just how many old cars, or bottom of the line economy cars, people are driving here, or how simply many people live, or how many houses are held together with sheer will, know it's just an illusion.

  20. I need more explanation about this:
    "destroy police personnel records"

  21. The myth is that Sierra Madre is a town of all rich people. It isn't. Though there are those
    who hope to make it one.

  22. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesAugust 9, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    You have to wonder what percentage of the residents in this town make less than our well compensated city administrators - don't forget to include their excellent benefits and that spectacular deal on their retirements. We are perceived as wealthy because some wealthy people here tip the 'average' in that direction, and because we fight like tigers to keep the town small.
    People don't realize that we've succeeded in preserving Sierra Madre because we'll fight for it, not because we bought our way out of overdevelopment.

  23. People with money live here because the town is small. And they pay the most property taxes. Watch them flee the place if Moscanan turn the place into Glendale.

  24. Feb 23, 2010 the City Council voted to "Recommendation that the City COuncil direct staff to wait until an additional $9, proceed with the EMERGENCY AM RADIO STATION...

    The "water education" program is not an emergency. People did not donate to this project to have it be use for city propoganda.

  25. The lists of money paid out on those consent calendars are a trust issue.
    That's the stuff most residents, even the politically involved ones, just say 'uh-huh' to, and hope the council is minding the store.


  26. The Emergency Radio Station would be just like the city funded Looney Sue's Views, all one perspective only. I wonder why the city feels they need that? Are they at war with the people of Sierra Madre?

  27. Are any of the franchise owners of "chain" businesses local residents of Sierra Madre? Thank you.

  28. 8:45, I find your remarks to be cone-ist. Just because I am wide on the bottom and narrow up top does not mean I resemble the "Council of Four." Obviously you are in need of some sensitivity adjustment.

  29. 11:32 is right, this was not a "stelth" campaign. Letters were sent to out of town owners because 1)that was the only way to reach and could not be reached by going door-to-door and 2) they were included in the 50% number. The One Carter agent was called because they were included in the count for 50% of owners. It looks like the gang of four plus others are already using the mvw to start their dirty campaign for 2012.

  30. Or, 2:08 pm, the Mountain Views News is using the Council to further an agenda of hate against the citizens. Remember, the MVN is a throwaway paper with no investment in the town or its people. It's no more than a commodity to be sold. All it has to do is portray "a campaign against the Council by some disgruntled residents" and it has a story.

  31. Delicious irony that the pronounced-guilty-as-charged-in-a-court-of-law MVN owner Henderson got into town and set herself up with that very same group of disgruntleds....

  32. Anybody know why Stonehouse is in a closed session?
    Thought the settlement was done, what with the millions we've paid our attorneys.

  33. Henderson just goes where the money is. She sponged off the Dunns and chirped the Measure V line dutifully. Then after she wore that source out she flip-flopped over to the other side. Just like she did in the mid 90's when she went from the GOP to the Dems.

    She stands for nothing. Never did. All she cares about is getting paid so she can sit around on her butt all day.

  34. Retreat to RepeatAugust 9, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    There is just so much an agenda man can do. I suggest that Agenda man take Wonder Agenda woman on a vacation. The summer is almost over.
    Both agenda man and dear Sir Eric must be exhausted over fighting the good fight.

    While I love reading the column everyday, I would gladly release the writer from the very heavy burden that comes along with political crime fighting for a week or 10 days, in the hope that rest, and/or removing oneself from a situation will allow a new perspective. Renew your spirit, go hang out near some refreshing waters. Us Tatts can man the ship, Leave a "Vacation Blog" sign and we can kvetch about anything we want, if something big happens, the editor can imput but not have to be responsible for composing fresh material every day.

    Take a break, get out of the state of CA, you are a hero, nobody here would say otherwise.

  35. Question: Did KFC shut down due to the loss of a lease or was it a profit issue? If it's the loss of a lease, I am beginning to wonder if the landowners are creating blight to support new projects.

    Also, please note that the super powerful pro-development crowd (and the bald ex-mayor) have long favored Starbucks' and its big-corporate-coffee brand of hospitality. Though I have not spied them bouncing around on the equipment at Curves, I suspect the poster is correct in noting they favor corporate chains to home grown entities like Beantown.

  36. That's where my money goesAugust 9, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Some of the warrants for 8/10/10:

    Colantuono & Levin
    Legal Svc/6-10 $16,018.00

    Dapeer, Rosenblit
    Legal Svc/Municipal $3,187.49

    Liebert, Cassidy, White
    Legal Svc $9,132.57

    RBF Consulting
    Prof Svc/1 Carter Dsn $12,271.65

    Warner Associates

    Western Highway Prod.
    Traffic Control Supplies $5,241.62

    Axontech LLC
    Software Licensing, Computers, etc.

    CalPers Educational Forum 2010

    Fire Engines

    City of Glendale
    Verdugo Fire Communications Semi-Annual

    Portable Radio/PD & FD

    Lewis Engraving Inc
    PD/FD Radios Engraved

    GC Mapping Service
    Map/Canyon Rd

    Don't forget the CRA Warrants:

    CRA Meeting

    Colantuono & Levin
    Legal Svc $2,400.00

    Warner Associates
    Housing Element

  37. The warrants are definitely interesting but what is missing is the supporting documentation, i.e., the invoices and back up that have been submitted in order to issue a warrant. Just remember that all of these payments have either been 1) budgeted, or 2) approved by Council. It all goes back to Council - either they approved the budget or they approved the expenditure!

  38. Parasitic spending.

  39. 9 employees of Bell subpeonaedAugust 9, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    So are they Masons moving out of Sierra Madre or just getting rid of the hall? What is the matter don't they like being happy? I was researching the other day, and saw pictures of Sierra Madre's Masons, are they greek or armenian? I was over at the city of Bell website, and perused the new transparent minutes of council meetings from January 2010 to June 2010, I think in April the Free Masons presented the city with a strategic plan.??? Whoa!! In June a lot of people like 15 or 20 all spoke out against that Joint Authority Policing deal. Not to go backwards but as early as January or February, they were negociating with Rizzo, with a labor attorney.
    From his picture, Rizzo doesn't look well to me,
    but he still found time to have a lot of community development grants and issues discussed. Federated Investors has California Community Redevelopment Agencies, on a list of Ultra Short Funds. I am not a fan of Masons personally, whatever strategic plan they had for Bell, probably aided in it's demise.

  40. I would like to know the hourly billing rate for Colantuono and Levin, as well as the other law firms. The radios were approved at Council not too long ago when it was brought out that the communications were so poor that police and fire couldn't talk to each other during an emergency because they used different systems, with one using cell phones which of course don't work so good in Sierra Madre.

  41. I couldn't agree more 2:42. Sir Eric has given more than most to the preservation of Sierra Madre.
    But I was hoping that instead of an 'on vacation' hiatus, he might put up a selection of the best articles from years past. The struggle has been depressingly consistent, so the great majority of the articles are still relevant. Each day of vacation the readers still tuning in could peruse previous work and gain fresh insights.

  42. Colantuono and Levin probably includes Sandy for Council Meetings, as well as work on the water rate increase, Scott Porter for Planning Commission, and the water rate hearing at the Council Meeting when Sandy was unavailable. How long does a Council Meeting last? Four to six hours on average? What about a closed session? How much does it cost for Sandy to draft the motions that the Council can's seem to frame on their own? It's the Council! And two of them are lawyers, for God's sake!

  43. So the warrents are showing us the partial payments - i.e. Karen Warner & the housing element under the CRA - we pay her the fifty thou in many different installemtns, or?

  44. I understand Levin/Scott are on a contract bases, not hourly. But I don't know what the terms of the contract are.

  45. Kentucky Fried chicken ..did they lose their lease or what. If you look at the map of proposed development of the downtown in the Downtown Specific Plan the corner where the KFC was to be development with an overpass to get to the south side of Sierra Madre Blvd. Also Happys' Liquor was sold a few years ago...a newer owner of the gas station on the NE corner of Baldwin...and of course the owner of Howies. Think they are preparing for the DSP again . You Bet! and if there is not enough parking ffor Dr. Sami's and the new Steamers projent and they pay in lieu of parking fees that will get put in a fund for that Parking Structure (4 stories) that was proposed in the Mariposa parking lot that was also on the Downtown Specific Plan. They are getting ready to cream Sierra Madre and you can't tell me the previous investors of 2003/04/05 have not been waiting with bated breath!!!

  46. So if Walsh, Mosca and Moran all claimed they were "slow growth" when they ran for office, should they be recalled for having lied about their true agenda, which was development?

  47. Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha, 4:27, if all politicians could be recalled for having lied about their true agenda, we would have a recall every election time. It seems it's rare to have a politician tell the truth these days - truthful ones don't get elected.

  48. Mayberry Mosca hasn't spoken a true word in years. And yet he got by far the most votes. Maybe people don't want to hear the truth, they just want to be lied to with civility.

  49. 4:46, if people are made to feel like they are helping the victimized, taking the moral high ground against bullies, they'll be easily satisfied, and won't really examine the issues.
    With clear consciences, the voters put a liar in office.

  50. Ironic, isn't it? Political correctness has now become a tool used to great effect by predatory corporations looking to get people to vote against their own interests.

  51. Downtown DemolitionAugust 9, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    You're freaking me out 4:19 because I think you're right.

  52. So does DSP stand for Downtown Specific Plan or Downtown Sucker Punch?

  53. Let's say Mosca and Buchanahan are successful and they get a couple of unremarkable mixed use garbage development projects built on Sierra Madre Boulecard. Was that worth 8 years of their lives plus all the abuse they took to make these things happen? What a waste of their stupid lives.