Saturday, August 7, 2010

Did Sierra Madre's City Council Violate the Brown Act When It Delayed the Water Rate Hike?

One of the more noted commenters on The Tattler these days is a poster who goes by the name of Gilman. His incisive and at times pungent commentary often has a legalistic edge to it, and the insight he offers is the kind you might receive from someone with considerable training in the law. He has become a valuable member of the community here, and his generosity is always appreciated.

I received two emails from Gilman over the past few days. He had been spending some time reviewing City documents and news reports on our water rate hike debacle, and found something that he didn't think looked quite right. Here are the relevant portions of those emails:

(Aug 5) I have been following the goings on with the proposed water rate increase and stumbled on something that might be worth researching ... On the Sierra Madre website, a notice from the City Clerk is posted. It is an official press release dated 7/27/10 and indicates it was received about 2pm. In the release the City Clerk states, "the city council has decided there needs to be an educational program and that will follow in the next two months." The strange part is that the Council did not "meet" and reach that decision until later in the evening? Either I am missing something or it would appear that the Council held secret meetings where they reached a decision outside the view of the public.

(Aug 6) I can't find any record of the actual Council action taken at the 7/13 meeting related to the water issue ... nothing posted on the city website or TV replays. It would be important to find out exactly what the official action taken stated. If it was to simply take no action until all the protests were tabulated and then re-visit at the 7/27 meeting, well, I think you can clearly show, based on the official press release, that members of the Council were meeting and taking action in secret.

Now if you go on over to Rooster Coburn's "Sierra Madre" website (last updated over a week ago) you can indeed find Nancy Shollenberger's official Press Release on the failure of the water rate protest to come up with the necessary amount of signatures. And contained within the body of that text you will also find the following statement, which was made 6 or so hours before an official decision had been rendered by the City Council.

The City Council had decided there needs to be an educational program in the next two months. Due to the overwhelming response from the residents, the City Council will not be raising the water rates at this time. Another proposal may follow.

In Nancy's defense it was pretty common knowledge in town that the City Council had decided it would need to go on a charm offensive before hitting the obviously unhappy residents in this town again with a nearly 40% water rate hike, and during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Mayor Mosca had intimated that such a thing would happen at the July 17 City Council get together. It is also my understanding that this Press Release was fully vetted by the City Manager before it went out. Which would also indicate - assuming proper procedures were actually followed - the participation of a City Attorney as well. After all, and at Mayor Mosca's insistence, this was a collaborative process involving both the City Clerk and City Staff.

Most understand how slack City Council standards have become under the stewardship of Joe Mosca. He is at times obviously overwhelmed by the rush of events during public meetings, and his ability to cope with some of the more nuanced material that comes his way is suspect at best. Mosca's strongest suit, politics, would seem to have dictated the need to get a handle on the public anger created by the ham-handed way in which this rate hike was presented. Certainly development agendas have been threatened by the way this process was mishandled.

Which in the opinion of this observer is what this "educational program" is really all about. Politics became the overwhelming priority, and legal requirements could have been forgotten in the mad rush to further what is basically a public relations effort. The Bobblehead Council needs to put the city back to sleep. After all, the water rate hike is only a first step in a long development process. There is so much more to come.

The so-called "education process," along with a delay in the water rate hike, was indeed approved by the City Council during their meeting on the evening of July 27. Elisa Weaver, Director of Community & Personnel Services, gave the world this news in a rather skewed press release dated July 29. Here is what she had to say on the matter:

At the July 27th regular City Council meeting, the Sierra Madre City Council decided to defer any increase in city water rates, even though the majority protest that would have been required to prevent a rate increase was not achieved. During the meeting, Sierra Madre City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger stated that a total of 1719 valid protests were received, compared to the required majority protest amount of 1847.

Although the Council has the legal authority to increase water rates, the Council decided to defer any increase pending education, outreach and dialogue with the community. Mayor Joe Mosca stated, "It was clear that a significant number of community members had concerns with the current proposal."

(As an aside, is it only me that finds this "pending education and outreach" talk to be more than a little bit patronizing? It is as if The Palace has declared that nearly 2,000 people signed water rate increase protest forms because they didn't know what they were doing. Isn't it just possible residents here are on to what the City is actually up to, and that is why they signed?)

We will have more on this story as it develops.


  1. The outrages of the "bobblehead" regime continue!

  2. Well, of course. Path was charted out years ago, just bumbling along as best they can, what's a few laws? Collateral damage, I guess

  3. Mosca's city govt is like a dinosaur. The brain in its head has no idea what the brain on its other end is doing.

  4. Calling Dr. S.

    Check in with the board on this, Doc.
    Gilman just may have found a smoking gun.

  5. Looks to me like that gun is smoking, and the Mayor is jumping
    up and down on one foot.

  6. what?

    we are surprised that Mosca and Buchanan are lying to us again?

    leave it to Mosca to decide that he is the Council and issue orders to staff like they are his personal assistants

    maybe Mary Ann is keeping quiet because she may be the hinge that unravels all Mosca, Buchanan, Moran and Walsh are secretly trying to sneak by the people

    what the press release should have said, "the Council decision makers and gurus Mosca and Buchanan, have decided amongst themselves that an educational process is required because being the brats they are, Mosca and Buchanan cannnot believe that the freeloading people of Sierra Madre are opposing their development agenda that benefits both of their employers and that the people of Sierra Madre have the unmitigated gall to not heed to whatever Buchanan and Mosca deems appropriate that benefits their employers and personal images of self grandeur...."

    what a bunch of idiots the 4 Council members have become

  7. So you're saying Mosca's attempt at damage control caused even more damage?

    Makes sense to me.

  8. If anyone reading this board this morning, voted for this Mosca?

    Now do you understand why Kurt Zimmerman, MaryAnn MacGillivray and Don Watts did not want this person to be the Mayor?
    Do you think, now, they might have known something you were misled about?

    Check out that video of the crooked Bell City Council, we're not that far removed from that type of crookedness.

    More is going to come out, Sierra Madre, it will shock many of you.

  9. Crawford?
    I know you warned of a lot of this, but I have to ask you.
    Doesn't these latest outrages even shock you?

    Isn't Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh and Moron even worse than we thought they would be?

  10. Our city council is being run by stupid children.

  11. It's true that Mosca is always playing catch-up. He simply does not understand the quick witted when they speak, either on the council or in the public. I figure he's usually about 3 thoughts behind the flow of information. That's why he's prone to statements like "OK folks, we need some order here" because he needs to be spoon fed.

    So, who is really doing the thinking?

  12. I sure hope this is a smoking gun, because I have NO DOUBT at all that this council violates the Brown Act. My guess would be they do it serially, so let's say, Buchanan gives Mosca the game plan, Mosca contacts Walsh, then Moran, bingo, Brown Act violation.It couldn't be any clearer that Walsh and Moran don't know what's going on most of the time. Remember neither of them came to city council meetings until they were in a campaign.
    But didn't the council discuss and agree on the enlighten the poor peasants plan at the end of the hearing on the 17th?

  13. It was discussed as part of the City Clerk's report on the protest signatures, 10:32, but not agendized and voted on. That didn't happen officially until 27th, as celebrated in Elisa Weaver's press release. Just because Mosca discussed it 2 weeks earlier didn't make in an edict, or in anyway legal.

  14. During the election, Joe Mosca took credit for everything the city did during his term of office - excluding other council members and city staff. I think that fact has come home to roost. He should now take credit for every decision the council and city staff make, including a violation of the Brown Act, or even a perceived violation of the Brown Act. He wasn't qualified to be mayor last year, and he isn't qualified to be mayor this year.

  15. 'Enlighten the poor peasents plan'
    Makes a pretty good acronym.
    The council wants to Eppp us.

  16. Thank you Gilman

    "If it was to simply take no action until all the protests were tabulated and then re-visit at the 7/27 meeting, well, I think you can clearly show, based on the official press release, that members of the Council were meeting and taking action in secret."

    So what's in order is a careful review of the 7/13 meeting.

  17. All that was discussed at the July 13 meeting was the possibility of considering a Plan B. Mostly from the mouth of Joe. Nothing was legally done until the 27th.

    Plus on the 13th everyone thought the protest had won. So how could the council have discussed what was approved on the 27th when nobody knew the real situation?

  18. Maybe Joe has ESP. Did you ever think of that?

  19. An Initiative to require all fee and tax increases be put to a vote needs to be started NOW.
    Reading into what our elected officials reasoning is, it's obvious they wish to manipulate the people again, and again until they achieve what they want. The people must lead, and not be "lead". Who is in control anyway?

  20. Start it, 11:44.

  21. We need to stand outside of City Hall Tuesday night with a banner protesting the City Council's Brown Act violation. This is serious.

  22. 12:14, the effective procedure is to turn 'em in, notify a governmental agency -is it the Fair Political Practices Agency, or....?

  23. Truth is a better form of water outreach educationAugust 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Ahhh Tatts they knew it should have been voted on, they have a promise to pay payments deferred until July 2011, on those bonds from 1998. The auditor report for june of 2009 being posted in January 2010, was given to and reviewed by the sitting council people in January 2010, the two new folks being Moran and Walsh, they should have had it on the election ballot in April, but I think they were so busy being civil at the time it was not put on the ballot because, they cannot not have the water rate increase pass. The little pie charts on the water rate report in May shows they will be totally upside down in 2014. I have no doubt that they thought they could slip it through, or rather slip it to the citizenry.

    A protest, oh my gawd, a wrench in the cog, a civil uprising!! It is your fault and now you are going to get a good water education outreach!! You unruly peasants. You educated well read terrifically informed rabblerousers!

    While there are grants available, the excuse and coverup for the needed increase, to get matching funds is secondary and cheap tactics.

    Retreat to repeat.

    Big Hugs Gilman. Glad you are here.

  24. Hey 12:29! Join Us!

  25. 12:34 I have never left you. I sent my id to the editor in June or July 2009. I had coffee with a group of Tatts. Still have my Crawford sign.

  26. 12:14.....great idea~

    "We need to stand outside of City Hall Tuesday night with a banner protesting the City Council's Brown Act violation. This is serious".

    Tattlers and MacGillivray constituents? How about it, volunteers?
    Soon as we get the okay from our attorneys (the good ones) let's go for it.

  27. How many people would really be willing to protest in front of City Hall?

  28. Just takes 2. One on each end of the banner. Just like the unions in LA do it.

  29. I'd rather have the appropriate authorities contact the miscreants on the council and have a hearing, or whatever they do.

  30. On the City Council agenda for Tuesday there is something about approving policies for the Emergency AM Radio station. Is this where they announce the Susan Henderson Show? I hear it is scheduled to come right after the Bruce Inman Water Rates Hour.

  31. Ancient Skullduggery and Turn of the Century Political Observer Ambrose BierceAugust 7, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Ambrose Bierce is a fasinating story, I read Chickamauga, the first day I saw his name on the Tattler head mast, I thought a bit dark but true. Today, I went to the Society click here and read their stories, then I search Mexico 1913, then Mexico 1914, very possible that he went on a joint british, american spy mission as Mitchell Hedges was also a writer, the society has him as a spy, but another piece of the story is the Skull of Doom, when I searched that it adds more pieces to the story. The british museum has two skulls. Why Hedges held on to the repty green one named The Mitchell Hedges Skull for thirty years, from 1914 to 1944, and won't reveal the circumstances of it's discovery at all is spooky enough. While the daughter claims she found it my mips want to say they used the archeology mission as a cover or as a catalyst (if you consider the use of the skulls)to gather information by the two adventurers at the behest of the two governments, for intel purposes I feel that Mitchell Hedges deserted poor Ambrose, and took off with both the skulls, either before or after Ambrose was executed, for being a suspected spy of the American government or for ownership of the skulls. Of course holding the skulls without proper intent, could possibly drive an already genius manic over the edge, maybe the psionic message changed him. so while sent to contact Villa, the federales thought he was just a wild crazy old man and they were just tired of troublesome american representatives that promised help but never delivered. Of course the british spy could have hit him over the head and buried him where the skulls were found. Now I have two questions for God, who shot Kennedy and what happened to poor Ambrose Bierce?

  32. Had lunch with a couple of Tattler readers at The Only Place in Town.
    One man wanted to know if the Tattler could make caps, baseball caps, that say
    I told him I would post his idea.

  33. I think Bierce would be absolutely delighted that his death is a genuine mystery.
    My favorite works of his are The Devil's Dictionary (in spite of the occasional bouts of fervid and loathsome misogyny), the short story The Damned Thing, and his most popular legacy, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
    He wasn't just a very perceptive cynic, he also was an artist with a unique imagination.

  34. Fraud has a signatureAugust 7, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    OH OH, Tatts, have you seen the stories on Rizzo!! today in the LA times!! The bonds, the very bad bonds, the millions of dollars in development! Thierry Martiny of Dexia sounds fishy, and the unnamed european bank, Told you Hugo, somebody used my liberty bell comment too.

  35. has anyone noticed that school on Canon is being totally demolished and a condo complex is going in, how did this happen?

  36. You, 7:40 pm, may be the only resident in Sierra Madre that doesn't know that Sierra Mesa Middle School is being renovated. Or, as I suspect, you are a troll trying to foment unrest on the Tattler.

  37. Scarlett T Shirt is better than a baseball cap to meAugust 7, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Here is some real insight, on Bell, Dexia credit Local, Dexia is the parent Bank Belgium French,and municipal water sewage bonds, it was too big to copy and paste, search Corrupt Leo's pale in comparision - Conspiracy of Banks rigging states came with crash.. it was under a simple Thierry Martiny search.

  38. Here's the scoop on procedural means of dealing with Brown Act violations.

  39. RBC Dexia Leung, search it..
    Federated Investors search it. More later

  40. Litchenstein? Good one,

  41. Hilarious Henderson is at it again in the Looney Views News today. She completely misunderstands how the accumulative math behind 5 years of steady water rate increases would make your water bill considerably larger than 37.5% by the end of 2015, and then she howls with a red tailed baboonish rage over what Nancy Sholleberger gets paid. Which is $3,000 a year.

    The question must be asked: Did Susan get hit in the head with a golf ball?

  42. Wow. I know Susan is an ignorant old fraud, but she can't even do basic math? No wonder she has to borrow money all the time!

  43. I think I'll head downtown and pick up 6 copies of Henderson's poop rag and toss in the trash

    she can't be as dumb, spiteful, hateful and just plain ignorant as she acts and writes can she?

    but then again...

  44. for someone who uses the word "LIES" in her rants, Henderson certainly speaks from personal experience, as a well documented LIAR.....

    same person who made up her resume and lied about her college degrees to her business partner and many of us straight to our faces about her "law" degree from Berkley and other degrees from Ohio State

    the same person who was fired from the Democratic Party when she falsified expense reports and misued corporate credit cards for personal items until she was caught and fired for the fraud

    when Henderson uses the word "lie", she speaks with utmost personal authority

    now if she could only multiply and add like a fifth grader she might get the math right with the water tax hike she supports

    didn't somebody say she rents her home so why is she even tossing her 1/4 cent worth of opinion into the discussion?

  45. Susan claimed advanced degrees, and was outed by the Hearst Newspaper Chain no less. High air rises, but when the balloon is punctured, the liar falls to earth.

  46. Mountain News?? Only Susan's ViewsAugust 8, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Does Susan have vertical slit eyes? Does anyone hear a hissing or a rattlesnake tail shake when close to that woman? My take on the article about salaries that she has it out for Ms Nancy. No if's and's or but's, about it, Of all the salaries, the clerk does the most work for the least pay. If tatts are a cross section percentage, of public opinion and I have not seen anybody do anything but support Ms Nancy here, I am thinking she pulled that story out of very thin air. But she mentioned the public financing authority and the redevelopment agency, do those meetings get covered in the 3,000.00 stipend mentioned on her chart? I saw that Bell gets covered with extra money for those positions on top of their stipend, does anyone know? The other story about the protest organizers, painted very black aren't they? She took pains to examine the protest letters, when the protestors did not get the opportunity too? Not kosher who gave her access to them and by who's authority?

    I don't give her writing any credence, I doubt anyone else does either. The more she writes the more her puppet strings show.

  47. Susan Henderson writes what the people who pay her tell her to write.
    And that's a great question 8:57. How did she have acess to those protest letters? Freedom of information act, or somethng a little less formal?

  48. Henderson is a con artist, plain and simple

  49. it's interesting that Henderson never attributes her sources or interviews - which makes me believe she makes them up, like her past.

    a real journalist would identify what business owner was upset about being duped by the protest signature collector and if it were an actual business who was upset, you'd think that person wouldn't have a problem with identifying themselves

    we all know that Henderson makes up her stories like the time she said she was assaulted by some Jewish grandmother

  50. The voices tell her what to say.

  51. Has there ever been a tax or rate hike that Susan Henderson has opposed? Or does the city money she gets ensure that there is nothing they want that she won't go to the mat for? And since what she says is so entirely nasty and untrue, why is it Joe Mosca or Elaine Aguilar have never told her to stop publishing such garbage? Can it be they like it? Looks to me like they all share the same fleas.