Monday, August 2, 2010

Post No. 500

"You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty." - Jessica Mitford

So I guess it is an occasion of sorts. 500 posts and thousands of comments later, we're here. At least for the moment. Time will invariably drag us along with it, because that is what it does. And in the twinkling of an eye we'll be at no. 1,000. Too bad we can't read the next 500 posts now, because then we'd know how this will have all turned out. Hopefully the news will be good and we'll be able to look back at where we are today and have a fine laugh.

Now when you hit a big milestone like being at a post number that is evenly divisible by 100, you want to deliver a truly important statement to properly honor the event. Unfortunately I can't really think of anything that would fill the bill at this moment.

However, there is someone who posted on Friday's entry (#499) who had something to say that might get the job done.

The key to understanding politics and government in Sierra Madre is knowing that most everything is connected to real estate and development, which means money. Be it the water rate hike, repaving the streets, or the City Council's burning need to dominate the General Plan, it is all pretty much the same. So if it seems that people are talking about different things here, it doesn't necessarily mean their conversations are off topic.

I have often thought that the motives of this City Council are best understood when reviewing the things they've said that are clearly different from what the evidence shows. Like with the nearly 40% water rate hike that they suddenly realized was politically untenable. The steady drum beat coming from City Hall is that the water rate hike has absolutely nothing to do with development. How they were going to institute an $18 million dollar water infrastructure project without it in any way impacting new building projects would have been quite a feat, both legally and technologically. And I for one cannot recall the agendizing of any ordinances that would have prevented new swaths of mixed income six unit housing being supplied from recently laid water mains located under Sierra Madre Boulevard.

Of course, by then they'd have gotten everything they wanted, and would be able to do pretty much as they please.

For those who prefer their evidence anecdotal, I recall an exchange between Kurt Zimmerman and John Buchanan at a City Council meeting last year on the topic of development and water. Kurt pointed out that obviously there just isn't enough water to sustain the kind of SB 375 enabled LULUs Johnny B was bloviating about. Something that caused Johnny to lower his brows, stick out his jaw, and growl:

"Oh, don't you worry. We'll find enough water alright."

Which to me is yet another arrow pointing from this water rate debate and straight towards development. Kurt was right, it is obvious the systems and supplies we have in place will never be enough to supply the DSP style stuff that the Gang of Four and their heavily invested friends still hope to build. In order to construct Sierra Madre Candyland Estates (or whatever) they'll need to both retrofit our water systems and dig new wells. Which indicates to me that the Go4's denials should be taken as further proof that it has been about development all along.

If a Rooster crows but nobody hears, is he talking out of his tailfeathers?

Rooster Coburn is ruminating again about water rate hike and City Council related issues over on his News.Net site, but as usual he is getting nothing in the way of comments. Which has got be a blow to his ego. As the self-anointed "man of reason" about town, the total lack of interest that his opinions are generating has got to mean either nobody is as reasoned as he, or the residents here have concluded he is a bit of a nincompoop. And Lord knows there is reason enough for thinking so.

However, I find Rooster's "editorials" to be important because they are as good an indicator of where the City Council and City Staff are going next as you can find. Since the powers that be can never openly discuss their true agendas, mainly because people here would then get out the tar, feathers and railroad ties, they have to rely on (to use a politically correct term) marketing. And since all they have to choose from to deliver their sales pitches are either the verbose Rooster or irrational Pitbull Poole, they're obviously forced to go with the chicken.

Here is Rooster's bell ringer (so to speak):

As much distrust as there has been of this Council, and as much anger as has been stirred up by this increase and the way it was handled, this Council should have stated collectively that they would allow the ratepayers and parcel owners of this town the opportunity to protest the proposal they come back with. It would have gone a long way toward opening up the lines of communication and toward helping to build up some trust. And after all, having already taken the extraordinary action of listening to the protestors (sic) even though they weren't legally required to do so, this would have just been an extension of that action.

I cannot see how a now supposedly humbler City Council acknowledging the opinions of the people of Sierra Madre is something to jump up and down with joy about. That is what they are supposed to be doing, coming down off their thrones and listening to the people who pay the bills around here. And please, the reason the City Council took what The Rooster has so tendentiously referred to here as an "extraordinary action" is because they are keenly aware that unless they get this situation under control and fast their next water rate proposal will end up on an election ballot quicker than you can say Dicken's Village.

Which, unless they can do better than they have been doing so far (and I include in this the absurd Public Relations ploy Rooster is flogging here), will happen. Because let's face it, had the protest not been limited by the difficult water rate payer protest restrictions of Prop 218, we could have easily turned in over 3,000 signatures. Which is more people than usually bother to vote in this town.

One more item

Former Sierra Madre Cumquat contributor Terry Miller has now become the editor of the Beacon Media family of newspapers, which includes the "Sierra Madre Weekly" masthead. The previous editor, John Stephens, is rumored to have been eased out for somehow managing to sink below that organization's already nearly non-existent journalistic standards.

In a long multi-page article celebrating this momentous occasion in his life, Terry uses words such as "I" "my" and "we" an incredible 63 times. Which leads this observer to conclude that never has someone been so incredibly impressed with himself through receiving so little. Besides, is the San Gabriel Valley really in need of a self-aggrandizing Terry Miller fanzine? I doubt it.

There you go, Post No. 500. Tomorrow will be 501.


  1. First-time poster, long-time resident.

    I read everything I can about Sierra Madre always, including your blog, Bill Coburn's blog, all the weeklys, etc. I find a little enrichment or entertainment in all of them.

    The thing I found puzzling about a year ago, John, and continue to find puzzling probably one year after it first occurred to me, is why so many of the people you chastise (Susan Henderson, Bill Coburn, Joe Mosca, etc) are visible and available to me around town for conversation or hello's, and yet the Tattler crowd seems completely non-existent. I pride myself on civic involvement, as I know you and your readers do, and so I attend the parades and the ball games, I eat and drink regularly in our many restaurants, I go to church here in town and sent my kid(s) through the public school system here.

    Over the years I've become friendly with many people around town, including real-estate salespeople, and many local businesspeople, parents, church members, and so many more. Still, when I watch the city council meetings on TV and watch the parade of Tattler readers it occurs to me that I never see these people anywhere else in town. They don't seem to shop here or even walk around here. It's puzzling to me.

    I'm not as eloquent as you, but recognize, please, that I read and enjoy both your comments and Bill's comments and generally 'lurk'. The fact that Bill isn't receiving comments doesn't mean no-one is listening. I pride myself on being open-minded politically and have voted on both sides of most of the issues that concern the Tattler, but I think that as long as the Tattler's readers seem to be so aloof to the rest of the town (that's probably not the right word, but I'm trying to get across the idea that by appearing publicly only at City Council meetings and not in other ways around town they necessarily are distancing themselves from what is important to me personally), they necessarily are faced with being seen as 'outsiders' to the many concerned people who live here and are out on our streets every day trying to make a difference.

  2. "The Tattler crowd seems non-existent." By that you mean the folks who collected most of the nearly 2,000 signatures that were received for the water protest?

    Yeah, you must get out a lot.

  3. There does seem to be two distinctly different Sierra Madres. There are those 75 or so people who have the limitless free time to hang around downtown all day (and therefore have convinced themselves that they must at the center of it all), and then there are those other 10,425 invisible people who go to work and raise children.

  4. Maybe that's why people don't shop downtown? The haughty quotient
    is too high?

  5. First time poster. If you only hang out at the Buck, Webb Martins, and Lenora Moss, you are right you will not see the Tattlers. But if you go to Commission Meetings,attend SCAG meetings more than some of the council members do, Fire Safe Council Meetings, Friends of the Library, Mountain Conservancy walk with petitions, attend concerts in town, coach youth sporting teams, Clean Up in Bailey Canyon, volunteer at every city event, work on the float, etc. Then you will see us. We are the 100s of people in Sierra Madre that you see everyday on the streets who want to keep Sierra Madre a family friendly low density town. We volunteer to get the jobs done. We do not have silly events to honor our own. Only some of us attend the Council Meeting. And by the way those that do attend the meetings, are some of the best volunteers in town and yes the do shop and eat in town when they are not working. Come up to us and say hi. We are actually very friendly and will not bite you.

  6. John Crawford and the little Crawfords are always in town, when John isn't working.
    They ride their bikes everywhere.
    Many of us walk around town all the time.
    Other people I always see around town are Barbara Cline, Teryl Willis, Carol Parker, David Darbyshire and many others, maybe you just don't know many of the finer citizens of Sierra Madre,7:20.

  7. There are Tattlers at every public event, eating and drinking downtown, serving on commissions and committees, speaking at the podium, and chatting with friends and neighbors. Do they wear a scarlet T on their chests or a tattoo across their bums? I hardly think so. Do you not think, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, that there is some irony in making your first post without a name while heaping scorn on Tattlers who choose to remain politically-neutral while watching their sons and daughters on the athletic field or walking their dogs in their neighborhoods?

  8. My initial reaction poster 7:20 was to accuse you of being a troll. After all, your claim that Susan Henderson, Bill Coburn, Joe Mosca, etc are visible and available serves to misdirect the conversation away from Mr. Crawford's article.

    But upon further reflection, I actually agree with you. Let me explain. The three individuals you mention don't hold down traditional 9-5 jobs. Notwithstanding what the Star News says about Joe beng an attorney for Sempra, he's actually a PR guy with plenty of time on his hands to spend in the ol' SM. The same can be said about Rooster and Harriet Poole (I mean Susan Henderson ).

    If you don't see me and some of the other Tattler types around town much, it's because we live in SM but don't work here and put in 50+ hours per week to make ends meet.

  9. Solve Sierra Madre's problems: Eat cake.

  10. Congratulations, John. I really admire your style of writing and enjoying reading your blog. Yes, sometimes, your commentors can be a bit over the top, but I still enjoy reading your topic du jour!

  11. If, Mr./Ms. Anonymous @ 7:20, you paid attention to the City Council election just a few short months ago you would have seen what happened when Tattler's banded together to elect candidates sworn to transparency, decency and fiscal responsibility. The DIRTS pulled out all the stops to the extent that the local media and clergy lied to elect their BIA, Realtor, development and utility driven slate. Alcorn, Crawford and Watts were libeled and slandered, as was Mayor MacGillivray in a brazen attempt to keep honesty at bay.

    I'm voting for a troll at 7:20. What a gift for a naive Tattler to just blurt out the names of our intrepid band of brave hearts. I'm guessing the troll is the newly "elected" editor of the Sierra Madre Weakly. Von Rees doesn't elect; he appoints.

  12. Mr. Anonymous: I stood at Kersting Ct 10-12 days in a row with protest signs with 2 other women from appx 4 7 including July 2,3,4. I also stood mornings at the Albertson's and the Donut Shop next door with another woman, sometimes 2.

    I myself, like other political activits, love Sierra Madre and shop, eat, excercise, beauty and meet here. I even saw Elvis last night and 2 people asked me if I was not the lady who did the water protest. They were complete strangers. I also saw many dear friends I have know for years and years. Great program, great reunion.

    Yes, I work full time, and make time to volunteer for my town. The other people I volunteer with are bright and dedicated.

    I suggest you come to a meeting at City Hall as quickly as possibly to meet the volunteers. You won't be dissapointed.

    In fact, come on Tuesday night to sign up to volunteer for a committee on The General Plan.

  13. 500 hundred posts, I don't know how you do it dear editor. I know when I read your articles, I am seeing one of the greatest minds on the planet assemble words and thoughts that actually are the truest well intentioned acts of common sense observation. The kind of subjects we all think about, but are seldom given a chance to voice. A sounding board, to discuss the rampant misuse of the corrupt political aspects attendent to small towns everywhere.

    Thank you for the 500 treasured postings, thank you for your spirit. It is a long road, thanks for walking it, thank you for allowing me to walk it with you.

  14. It would seem that with all the entitlement 7:20 exhibits comes the right to claim that all that self-indulgence is done for the good of the town. I really do need to go dig out my dusty old copy of Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt soon.

  15. 7:20 How could you miss the 3 women protesting?
    And, the other's walking door to door, and shop to shop? What do you do to reach out to citizens?

    And, where do you see Susan Henderson? You are one of the rare people who see her. She must be your friend. Hmmmmm

  16. Blind leading the blind, lurkers make me nervousAugust 2, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    You know things that lurk, do it in the dark.
    Tattlers don't do "things that are important to me" we discuss the issues that are truly good for the greatest number of real people without a power or profit motive. I am not getting that feeling from you. "Aloof" and "outsiders"
    come from people with low self esteem. You are apparently without a life, aloof in your mediocrity. Smug in your superficial friendships with superficial brown nosers.

    I feel sorry for you. But you can tell a tattler by the spirit that shines in them and out of them. I am afraid you are drawn to the dead shark eye types. Thanks for your opinion, though.

    lurked, lurk·ing, lurks
    To lie in wait, as in ambush.
    To move furtively; sneak.
    To exist unobserved or unsuspected: danger lurking around every bend.

    Tatts use your MIPS today, hell hath no fury as an embarressed congregation.

  17. 7:20 your comments about the tattler-types being outsiders and not really involved in town are similar to the fabrications leveled against Zimmerman during the Measure V campaign. Didn't work then and won't work now.

  18. Wow, 7:20 it's interesting that you never see any of those who care so much about our city that they take time out of their lives to attend and speak at the council meetings, commissions and other city activities. I see them everywhere, everyday at youth sports, commission meetings, committee meetings, activities, in the park and in the restaurants and shops. If you would take time to get to know these very active and interesting people, you would have a better understanding of their concerns. Come to the General Plan meeting and volunteer. Go to the library and volunteer. There are many, many opportunities to get involved. Do it. You'll see all of the tats there.

  19. Getting back to the water issue: When attending a neighborhood meeting about the Stonehouse project as they were considering how many houses were to be built there, one citizen mentioned that his main concern was the increased demand on our water system. Mr. Buchanan stated then to not worry about the water, there is plenty to go around.

  20. As pointed out by Zimmerman, Buchanan calls for water conservation unless he is advocating development. in the latter case, he always claims we have enough water to go around.

  21. The only green John Buchanan cares about
    is the kind you can fold and put in your

  22. Bill Coburn writes an article stating that it's extraordinary that our current Council actually listened to residents.

    Can you say Freudian slip!!!!!!! Hahahahahha

  23. The Council doesn't give a rat's a___ what the residents think when it comes to the rate hike. They're just hoping their advertising campaign will change enough minds to avoid another Measure V-type initiative.

  24. Almost 2,000 people sign protest forms and the city council actually rethinks their plans a little. Almost makes you wonder what they have planned next.

  25. Mr. Crawford, congratulations!
    You are a writer and a gentleman.
    Thank you for being the only true free press in Sierra Madre.
    And how fitting that the first comment to article #500 was from a perky and polite troll (handily demolished by 8:47).
    Long may you write!

  26. Smilin' facesAugust 2, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    The city council made it quite clear what they are going to do:
    They will increase the water rates limited only by the top percentage on the mailing that went out, and they will institute the tier system in October.

  27. Hearing this from Mr. Buchanan is no surprise:

    "Oh, don't you worry. We'll find enough water alright."

    Remember this is one of the guys who facilitated hillside development of the Van Heflin estate and One Carter, and then had the gall to put a tree on his re-election campaign sign.

    And his other famous remark, during the DSP debates?

    "Never 4 stories. Maybe 3."

    As if those weren't enough, he went to the mat to withhold from the public the Environmental Impact Report on the terrible downtown plan.

    And oh yeah, there's always his ringing endorsement of the pornographic website .

    He's our next mayor.

  28. Sierra Madre must be the Chicago of the Foothills.

  29. I don't read Mr. Coburn's site just because i find it so scatterred, like a lot of early to the internet sites, when people thought they had to put everything on one page. But this remark is right on:
    "this Council should have stated collectively that they would allow the ratepayers and parcel owners of this town the opportunity to protest the proposal they come back with. It would have gone a long way toward opening up the lines of communication and toward helping to build up some trust"

  30. You need not worry! Our Legal Expert commented in front of the Council Meeting that "The Prop 218 thing is a complicated mess" after she had conspired with Council to build our water tax on the "complicated mess". We have such outsdanding legal advice. Muddy Water Brings Murky Decisions at which she is an expert.

  31. channel 3 watcherAugust 2, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Yes 3:30, the council should have done that.
    They did not.
    We are going to have to take action.

  32. The problem with Coburn is that he is just a town hall water carrier. Obviously the CC screwed up with the rate hike, so he really isn't going out opn any klind of a limb here. To say that the CC did everyone a big favor by listening to them, though, is really too much. They listened because they didn't have a choice. That is the only reason they backed off. You can;t tell me otherwise.

  33. I think the City Council is playing politics with a possible protest period on the second go around. They'll give it back as a kind of gracious gesture after they've rolled out their new proposal. I think they believe it will help hold of a ballot initiative. "Protests are free, so why would you want to go after an expensive ballot intiative?" will be the reasoning.

  34. I saw the meetingAugust 2, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    3:47, but why do you think they backed off? All they did was stall a bit.
    They just decided to help you out of your state of ignorance, because of course if you don't agree with them, you are just ignorant.

  35. still read the papers, but not that oneAugust 2, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    At least Coburn is more precise about this mess than the other city-hall-our-taxes sponsored outlet, Henderson.
    Henderson can't make it through one article without ad hominem attacks.

  36. Of course. 2,000 people signed protests because they didn't know any better. Nothing in the least bit paternal about that!

  37. 3:56, I strongly disagree. They were shaking in their boots - one and all surprised that our numbers were so high. Don't forget, there are controversies about

    1) the accuracy of the target number. Where the hell did Levine get that number if the list was the shambles they all said it was?
    2) the validity of throwing out votes/protests.

    The council IS NOT IN THE CLEAR on this one, and they must know it. They will not be themselves at further risk by opening up to the community for a protest again.

  38. Levin stated that as long as the cumlative amount of the rate hike did not exceed the amount that was initially proposed, the rate gouge was legal and no further notice was necessary. So Tattlers, the city will propose what will appear to be a smaller increase to begin, but get out your calculator to see what the end rate will be in five years. My guess is the final rate hike will be almost 40% as proposed.

    LA LA LA We can't hear you.

  39. The CC has the same pompous attitude as the CC of Bell towards their people: Let's use them, they are stupid lackey's.

  40. Nothing this council does isn't calculated
    and thought out. Their problem is they think
    they're smart enough to fool everybody.

  41. And they wonder why nobody trusts them. It's like being downwind from a skunk.

  42. How do we find out if our protests were counted?
    Has city hall released a list?

  43. "his ringing endorsement of the pornographic website. He is going to be our next Mayor."

    Oh, no. Not when we all reveal his nasty little disgusting mind. Wait til we get this FACT out to the LA Times and the Cable News outlets.

    Cyberabuse big time.
    Do Sierra Madre's Children need to know THAT?
    Supporting Pornography?

  44. The Tattler needs to discuss the Cumquat again. Too many of those involved are getting positions of importance.

  45. Rumor has it that Buchanan is actually smart. The others? They have other gifts, like peppy meet and greets.

  46. I can see the headline now: "The Return Of Mayor Smut."

    We really have so much to look forward to...

  47. Peppy? I'd say lounge lizards is more like it.

  48. Whatever 5:11. They meeted and greeted their way into winning the election.
    Circled the wagons against the Meanies.
    If you don't smile pretty and say something nice, they don't want you at the campfire.
    All you grumpy old truth speakers were shunned.

  49. Hey 5:14, who you calling old?

  50. 5:13, the glad-handers get their mojos working at the social times.
    Jokes, laughter, lots of sincere gazes and arm touching.
    Working the crowd with a lot of energy.
    You'd think they were salesmen.
    Oh, right.

  51. No intelligence, no critical thinking, no wisdom.

    No education to bring to their jobs. Just greed.

    thank you Mrs. MacGillivary for you. How would we

    ever do without you.

  52. The water rate notice that was sent out to the residents was missing one very important piece of information telling the people how thier protest would be counted "one protest per parcel (lot)". It was not in writing in that notice so the water rate increase was noticed incorrectly. The city needs to renotice wait the 45 days and count again. A formal protest must be filed regarding the written notice.
    If the public had been informed correctly that only one protest counted per parcel they would have had a different number they had to gather to have enough protest. Other citiis water notices mention how the protest would be tabulated Siera Madre did not.

    To make it more clesr if you had 3 water meters on a lot(parcel) and all the water paying customers filed a protest only one of those protests would be counted (one per parcel). This is very important information to withold from the public. File a formal protest and contact the propet authorites at the state level.

    Don't give in they noticed the mailer incorrectly!!!

    A citizen can file a written complaint about the way the water protest were counted and how it was noticed and that will stop the process or make them show all the votes (They are copied). Put it in writing to the city and the attorney and find out who you send it to up at the State Capitol.

  53. I haven't seen Susan Henderson around town for quite a while. She only appears at functions where she can control the questions or be able to run away from questions.

    ? Did the city provide a list and copies of the protest signatures or forms that were rejected and for what specific reason? Heaven knows we can't take City Hall and Mosca/Buchanan at their word anymore.

  54. John Buchanan and Joe Mosca.

    Often wrong.

    Never in doubt.

  55. 3 min Joe, puff puff John, oo la la ? and Chan Moran(fu man chu facial hair). Its like Kabuki Theater. (no insult intended to our Japanese friends) Antagonist Mary Ann go after them. They are no more than actors for a predetermined agenda. Legal Levin is making sense of Prop 218 "complicated mess" her words, but never mind she will make it work for Sierra Madre. A tax hike based on a "complicated mess" Wow she is magic when we need it!

  56. 9:06 The complicated mess is that according to the auditors report we found the other day, they made a contractual agreement on a water tax hike that had not happened. They owe San gabriel valley municipal water some money from the previous 20 million they spent on infrastructure and they knew it required a vote. They tried going the back way and the manipulation blew up in their faces. They lied with intent, the 37 and a half percent they want is the same profit posted at CAl American water to its shareholders. Sierra Madre should have gold pipes with fur linings already. Again, this should be paid by the water company as repairs for the infrastructure they profit from, do you get dividends for your investment?

    It is complicated because they won't tell you the truth. Truth is simple straightforward, lies and deception are complicated, do you really think they are giving you time so you can be outreached? Which outreach group are they going to use? Search water outreach education programs, there is one run by a Beth Stern, could she be related to Andy Stern, SEIU union leader? Somebody needs to take that auditor report and read it outloud to them,at the council meeting, it is under long term debt.

  57. "This Council should have stated collectively that they would allow the ratepayers and parcel owners of this town the opportunity to protest the proposal they come back with."

    The preceding remark, which everybody is attributing to Coburn, was actually a demand that Kurt Zimmerman made to the Council the night of the last City Council meeting.

    Don't give Bill credit where it isn't due.

  58. So shocked I'm having vapors!August 4, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    We are seeking to refinance at the super low rates the Obama recession has brought us. So we had the friendly appraiser out yesterday. It's going to be tight. So, I thought I would peruse the comps on the local Webb Martin website. Though I would never use them because of a surreal encounter with a crazy big lady with short white hair that the wife and I had when we were seeking to move to this crazy town five years ago.

    Anyway, Webb Martin now boasts that it has signed what they refer to as the "next generation webb martin realtor" - the self proclaimed "ONE" - the great JOSH MORAN.

    Hey, far be it from me to complain that a young feller wants to cash in on his office. Heck, look at Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters. But I specifically asked this guy what he did for a living and all I got was this "account executive" crap. If he was going to zone and sell the town parcel by parcel, he should have told us. Isn't there a conflict issue in virtually any issue dealing with real estate in this town?

  59. It is an old dead site. Webb Martin was sold and with it have gone many of the people that used to work there. Josh's real estate ticket has lapsed as well.

  60. Over on the Sierra Madre Weekly website there is a picture of Terry taking a bath with firemen. It must have been a big moment in his life.