Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sierra Madre Tattler Goes On Vacation!

Well, we're shuttin' down operations for a couple of weeks. The dog days of summer are upon us and I don't really see myself writing about dogs. It's hard enough writing about people. Or at least some of them.

After 519 posts in 21 months I've decided it's time to take a couple of weeks off. Recharge the batteries and get ready for the upcoming excitement that is sure to follow once September arrives. Plus I have a big stack of books I've been wanting to read. I used to do a lot of that kind of thing. Not so much lately.

Not to say that the blog is completely shut off. You can still comment if you choose to do so. Moderation might take a little longer than usual, but we'll be checking in from time to time.

But before I hit the hammock I'd like to share something with you. A bit of information to mull over for the next two weeks. In the latest issue of AARP Magazine the president of that estimable organization, W. Lee Hamilton, fielded a couple of questions from the membership. And a question about AARP's (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) top priorities was asked. Here is his reply:

"Our advocacy priorities include strengthening Social Security and ensuring that Social Security benefits aren't cut to reduce the deficit, protecting Americans 50 and up from utility rate increases, lowering prescription-drug costs, making sure older Americans can find doctors to treat them, expanding job opportunities for older workers, and combating age discrimination."

Did you catch that? AARP's #2 priority, according to the president of that organization, is "protecting Americans 50 and up from utility rate increases." Of course, that was one of the main arguments we made when we forced City Hall's nearly 40% water rate hike back into its spider hole. That retired Sierra Madreans on fixed incomes would be hurt by this large a rate increase seemed obvious to almost everyone but the Gang of 4. Then again, maybe it was because they just didn't care all that much.

It's nice to know that we aren't the only ones fighting that good fight.

Look for The Tattler to return on Tuesday, September 7. Until then enjoy what is left of the summer. Like everything else it sure went fast.

And as for this post, consider this one to be a 2 week long open thread.


  1. He's just playing to his constituants, tell 'em what they want to hear. That's even more insidious than a politician saying things that are unpopular........have a nice vacation!!

  2. Nice to see the AARP recognizes the obvious. Unfair rate hikes are a national problem. We're not alone here.

  3. What happened to KFC?

    Please visit a new article on

  4. It laid an egg and flew the coop.

  5. Interesting that the development drones are in total denial about the economic viability of their mixed use dreams. It's like they're living in some sort of 2004 time warp.

  6. Stonehouse InfernoAugust 25, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    New Home Sales Fall to Lowest on Record

  7. I wanted to post on the walkability of towns, such as ours, but I was away for awhile (have a nice vacation Sir Eric) and missed the thread--so hear goes: most of the walkers in Sierra Madre with grocery bags are out walking their dog and are not carrying groceries as they toddle along behind their pooch. Well, it is a by-product of a grocery product--we do feed out dogs very well! I did all my grocery shopping via bicycle to the morning market in a tropical country for two years time while a Peace Corps volunteer. It was time consuming but it was what everyone did. Along with the issues of water (when was the last time you carried water from the well?) or other utilities (chopping wood, carrying 5 gallon cans of kerosine) we are a pretty "have it easy" bunch of folkss.

  8. Good for you dear editor, hope you have a restful break and look forward to your refreshed return.

  9. Did you see the Bell City Council news today? Paid for sitting on boards that seldom met, one not having met since Jan. 2005, and these stipends added to their City Council stipend added up to $1.575 per month. Read the details, page 1, Los Angeles Times.

  10. City governments seem to feel they are safe because residents do not seem to have any curiosity whatsoever about what they do. Bell is the most extreme example. But others have problems as well.

  11. We can say that Bell is the most extreme example that has been discovered to date...

  12. The weak economy will most likely curtail a lot of these grandiose development plans of Buchanan's Bobbleheads.

    That said, the residents for slow sensible growth should remain very watchful.

    We look forward to the return of the Tattler in September. Thanks for keeping them honest, Crawford. Thanks for keeping vigilant Sierra Madreans informed.
    You and the family have a nice vacation.

  13. Sir Eric takes a much-deserved break.

    And he doesn't even get PAID for this, unlike a lot of other folks in City Government that we know.

    I'd say he deserves knighthood, except it sounds like he's already got that going

  14. Sir Eric, have a nice break. It's going to take more than a couple of weeks to get over the disgusting behavior of Sierra Madre. Good luck with that and enjoy your time off. We'll miss you and eagerly await your return.

  15. Anonymous yesterday

    Great stuff......Thanks for posting.

  16. Are the Dirts taking time off too? Sharpen their claws?

  17. They're sunning themselves on rocks.

  18. Is Lee Hamilton any relation to Hale?

  19. Martin Luther KingAugust 27, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    "Our Lives end the day we become Silent about things that Matter."

  20. Sincerely hope this wave of transparency keeps moving north.

  21. The good deeds and rhetoric of MLK are being twisted by those who do not care about others. That same twisted thinking is going on in the foothills of our town.....let's make money at the expense of others. Who cares what is right. Let's just do what we want.....and twist around the rhetoric.

    What has happened in Bell, City of Vernon and today in DC is called propaganda. SMCC thinks we do not know. They try to twist the truth and sound honest. People are well educated and do not need to have history re-written. Just follow Sir Eric. He knows the lies.

  22. Our city council is 4/5s pure liar.

  23. And another one bites the dustAugust 28, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    HALF MOON BAY -- Between budget losses and lawsuit payments, Half Moon Bay's financials have become so dire that if a local sales tax measure doesn't pass this November, officials say they may have to disincorporate.
    City leaders have been using the "D" word for a few weeks now as they try to persuade voters to pass Measure K, a one-cent sales tax increase that would help the city balance its budget with an extra infusion of $1.4 million per year for the next seven years.
    Dissolving Half Moon Bay -- handing the city's budget, operations and services to San Mateo County -- would be an absolute last resort, but the city may not have many other options left, City Councilman John Muller said.
    "The council has done everything in its power to keep the city whole," Muller said. "If it doesn't pass, we could seriously not be in business much longer."
    At first glance, disincorporation could save taxpayers some money: no more city administration to support. Police services would be contracted out, and the county would cover planning, building and public works projects from its offices in Redwood City.
    On the other hand, county officials said there is a chance that locals would end up paying more than they do now for fewer services.

  24. Will Bart Doyle's 2003 $6.75 million bond debt debacle drive
    Sierra Madre into insolvency?

  25. An appreciative citizenAugust 28, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Half Moon Bay, Bell, City of Vernon, Bart Doyle and his cronies. All delivered propaganda to the locals. Just like Susan Henderson.

    The water protest was only the tip of the huge overflowing iceberg. We have watched our CC. They think they know more than us. They do not understand that we are watching. Thanks Sir Eric for your persistence to tell the truth and being a man who understands progress and going forward is not always easy and popular.

  26. Lonely morning readerSeptember 1, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    Another week? I can't stand it! Haven't you rested enough? Dear Sir Eric we miss you. My morning latte is so inadequate without a strong dose of the Tattler. Do you miss us?

  27. Another example of "Out of Control" California.

    The State of California continues to lose its way and is living in a fool’s paradise on ways it is spending its money. The latest fiasco involves a new school which had been built in Los Angeles at a cost of $585 million to house 4,200 students. Some are calling the new school a ‘Taj Mahal’ because of its outrageous price and the luxurious interior. In one article it also stated that the new building cost $130,000 for each student seat. In the article it also states that:

    “New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”

    At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex’s namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.

    Partly by circumstance and partly by design, the Los Angeles Unified School District has emerged as the mogul of Taj Mahals.

    The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation’s costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.

    The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation’s second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation’s lowest performing.

    Now we know why that the California educational system ranks in 49th place out of 50. These people are short of cash so they build a huge school instead of getting better teachers that would improve education. How many building do you know that will actually improve students’ test scores?

  28. Hi all, here's the problem. Facilities monies, both for new and maintenance, are out of a separate bucket as determined by the State, not local School Boards. There's no contest over funding sources, OK? Teaching and education supplies are totally separate from building funds.

    Sacramento has starved the teaching funds which are generated from the massive reduction in Prop 13 funds, while making up the construction funding in Bond money. People are OK with physical infrastructure, needed or not!!!

    This forces school districts to levy retrograde parcel taxes and other Foundation funding to make up for the State's lack of revenue under Prop 13, which sent all the reduced funds to Sacramento rather than to the local School Districts as was done previously.

    Race to the bottom.

  29. What the hell happened to the "California Lottery will go to schools" that was touted back when they passed this scam?
    Did the schools ever get the money?
    If not, who did?
    Now these idiots in Sacramento are trying to get "Exchange betting" in at the racetracks.
    This is not just a SCAM, it's an outrageous SCAM!
    California is controlled by criminals.
    So are many cities in California.


    The owners of one of the STONE HOUSE lots at 723 Camillo are asking for a Variance to be located within 100 horizontal feet and 50 vertical feet of a prominent ridgeline.

    We have the HMZ to protect the ridgelines. OK Planning Commission...."JUST SAY NO"

    Remember a Variance is given because there are unique circumstances that would prevent the property owner from using the property....not jsut cause they wnat it.

  31. The roadside attraction express is back in town. The Grand Canyon, which I'd never seen before, is the largest anything I have ever seen. If you hate heights don't go. An ancient and malevolent hole is how I'd describe it. Very humbling.

    Working on new stuff for the blog, some of which will surprise and delight. Depending on your perspective, of course. I have a feeling the autumn is going to be quite momentous around here.

  32. Good to hear from you Crawford!
    Great trip to the Grand Canyon!
    The first time I ever walked over to the side of it....took my breath away! AWESOME AIN'T THE WORD!

    Welcome back to Sierra Madre! We sure miss you!

  33. Grand Canyon is meant to be hiked and rafted, incredible canyons and falls that you never see from the rim. Did you catch the Mary Colter buildings (Watchtower, Hermits Rest and Lookout Studio)?

  34. Caught the Watchtower. Problem is this was a family trip that included young children and a mother-in-law from Queens. None of which could brave the rapids of the mighty Colorado or the 8 hour round trip hike up and down the burro trail. This one was all about retro roadside attractions and local eateries. And I have the rubber tomahawks and cap guns to prove it.

  35. wonderful, new residents at Stonehouse are already prima donnas stomping their feet and wanting...whining for a variance


  36. The Gang of 4 will fold like an old suitcase and the Stonehouse residents will get whatever they want.

    But Joe will invite everyone to join him on his Facebook page. His supporters will really appreciate the generous offer because it will give them an opportunity to let some of the air out of their heads.

  37. If you have hiked down from the south rim near Peach Springs and seen the magnificant Havasu Canyon and reservation, multiple falls framed in tropical plants and serpintine green water held in circular rock bowls, beneath cascading 70 foot waterfalls, all of which come at the end of a 13 mile hike that must be started before sunrise to avoid the extreem heat before you reach the floor of the Canyon. Belive me it is worth the hike. Its glorious nature at her best.

  38. Update from Bell... LA Times today. The Bell Sewer Tax increase was passed without voter approval. A clear violation of state law. Also the City Administration conducted City Business via Email also a clear violation of the Brown Ace. Any of this sound familiar like "no resident vote on the water tax?

  39. Sounds like the new "residents" who you say are PRIMA DONNAS are planted here by Joe John and the g4. Who in the world would move to lovely Sierra Madre and be so entitled and know they were going to fight an up hill battle.

    Only people who knew they were going to win....?

    It has all been planned. Ya betcha. wink wink...

  40. Thank you Laurie Barlow for telling the truth and taking the heat off schools and the gossip away from teachers.

    I am sure the students who attend these new schools will benefit immensely from being in new buildings with teachers who are prepared and excited about having a better learning environment. All children deserve a "Corporate" Environment.

    Too bad Education does not come first in our society and teachers are not paid triple.

    Wake up people. Check out California Standards and see what goes on daily with our children. And, go volunteer with your local school. You may be pleasantly surprised!

  41. My problem with the entire education structure in this state is that what started out as locally-funded education facilities and programs was taken over by the state buried in a "tax revolt" measure. This has mushroomed into a monstrous bureaucracy at all levels that has no accountability despite a myriad of testing schemes that seem to only document deterioration.

    Then to try to fix it, local communities end up double-taxing themselves as well as floating Bonds for which the interest must be paid out of future local revenue streams. Assuming the revenue streams are there in the future.

    Shell game. Saw it up close and ugly with every school district I've had to work with as an architect, which is why I don't do that work any more. The responsibility and accountability should be at the local level where you don't need a ton of standardized tests because the parents know how the kids are doing by being involved and dishing out a little discipline.

  42. The Bell Sewer Tax was an assessment, and as such it would fall under the 218 measure that required not only notification to the residents, but as an assessment, they needed to enclose a "protest" card. Obviously they did neither. An assessment is different than a fee, which was what our water rate raise was that didn't require a protest card. Whatever it was, though we lost, and we all know that our water rate is going to go up by big numbers, probably as soon as October.

  43. As one very wise man put it, "It isn't over until it's over."

  44. The other horrible part of education is the textbook scam. go look at the joke of your child's textbooks, and the pacing guide. They are bought by local districts and look great on the outside.

    But, teacher's have 10 extra books crammed down their throats and have to teach all of the supplementary material, MUCH LESS UNDERSTAND IT! Not to mention the DVD's.

    And, all in a 55 minute day. And, teach to the lowest to the highest. We were not all created equal. Most children try really hard. Each child deserves to have information repeated more than once.

    7-12 classrooms have up to 36 in a class. The teacher works with what they have. Then the State tests the child. How many people do you know who have a realistic view of education in public school?

    Children need a full day of school. They do not need to be home on video games, tv, eating or hoochie-koo in a home where parent's are working. They need to be involved in educational, physical, and artistic activities all day.

    We pay too much already for jails, ignorance and health problems.

    Thank you Laurie. When will the public wake up that we really do need scholarly leaders in our country, (not folksy sooth Sayers who cannot speak complex compound sentences, and are un-aware of the contribution of all races in our country,) and that History does repeat itself, and our children must have more opportunities?

    Education must be fought for, just like everything else in America, but by supporting the teachers and volunteering with them.

  45. From the Sunday blogsSeptember 5, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    There is a lesson to be taken from this piece on why Sierra Madre's General Plan Update could use some professional help. Overlook the lesson at our peril citizen:

    "A reader writes:

    I'm a management consultant. In particular, I help companies grow and find new business opportunities and launch them. Consultants are reviled in the business community, in the media, in movies, and often in the businesses we've been hired to help. We're seen as highly-paid professional hit-men who come in and snidely boss around people who know their businesses best, and who are we to tell them what to do? Worse than that, there are companies who are laying people off, but still hiring us to come in and do our work. So naturally there is resentment within the businesses themselves, "Why did you lay off my friend and hire these consultants?" I get it.

    But what so many don't get is that there is no way on God's green earth that the vast majority of our clients can do for their own business what we can do. They don't have it in them. They are focused on working on the same thing for years at a time, so for them to stick their necks out on proposing a bold new business? Not. Gonna. Happen. I've seen it time-and-time again. Sure, the Apples & Googles of the world know how to launch new products, but the great majority of companies do not. These companies do not have the internal ability to innovate and then bring something new to market with the same people who are stuck doing business-as-usual.

    I get the question all the time: why would a company hire you to help launch a new business when they can just do it themselves? Dirty secret of the business world: because they can't do it themselves."

  46. If what you do and say are true, Please volunteer to do your magic with the City Staff, especially the Personnel and Community Services Department. They continue to add people give raises. That department now does what volunteers used to do for free.

  47. The City website continues to run pleas for volunteers, for committees, for commissions, and for volunteer staff as well. There is even a Secretary of Volunteers. So where are the volunteers? These people that gripe about the City and the Council and Commissions, why aren't they volunteering to fill vacant positions? Seems to me like the same dozen or so individuals show up for everything. It's like the rest of town sits on the phone lines as if they are crows complaining about the state of the city. but never do anything to make a difference.

  48. Considering the awful treatment the City Council laid on the General Plan Steering Committee a few weeks back it is no wonder people are now turning their backs on volunteer service. Under the New Order there is no longer any room for independent thought on volunteer committees, just bobbleheads.

  49. Disgusted with the gamesSeptember 5, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    We do not need any new people on the General Plan.
    REPEAT: We do not need any new people on the General plan: they will be more of Joe and John's bobbleheads and all of the SM residents know that and are on to the big scheem.

    Management Consultants cost money and the money that Joe and John use they better watch out for since Bell is on the hot seat SO ARE YOU!!

    No one bought the lie of Josh and Nancy "my friends were not represented" because after 2 meetings a busload of YOUR friends did not crowd into the meetings........

    The attacks from the g4 have to stop against the present General Plan. After the water protest, SM knows that the CC is being investigated for too many unethical past behaviors. You know you cannot get away with this this long...

  50. No one would volunteer because you have to have a lawn sign that supports Nancy or Josh. Who would admit to that after how they have embarrassed themselves?

  51. Water protest signerSeptember 5, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    If I signed the water protest I would never get a chance to be on the General Plan. they would be sure to oust me.

  52. The Gang of 4 represents corporate interests. Developers, utility companies and realtors are all they care to hear from.

  53. Josh's yard sign comment and Nancy's my friends are too afraid to volunteer comment were meant to intimidate all of the volunteers that are working so hard to keep Sierra Madre great. I guess they don't know that we won't be intimidated, and we won't back down.

  54. Well there is another Out Reach meeting Tuesday night at the Accession Church. Will Nancy's and Josh's frighten friends show up there?

  55. Maybe Nancy's friends are afraid of bursting pipes. They are a pretty simple bunch.

  56. What Church? Where the minister spoke with such Christian principles about MaryAnn MacGillivary?

    Wonder who thought of giving him any time or space. How insensitive as a city. Not surprised. But just think about it people.

  57. Tuesday night is the General Plan Steering Committee's monthly meeting and will be held in Council Chambers beginning at 6:00 pm. Don't be misled by dis-information.

    Much work to be done! Come and support the Steering Committee as they put together the timeline for the General Plan.

  58. The Tattler will start publishing again tomorrow.
    Look for coverage of the GPSC meeting on Weds,
    and the Water Bond Scandal Thursday.

  59. The Church of the Ascension is the one and only one whose pastor disgraced himself during the election. I'm told it was our current mayor who arranged this meeting venue for the outreach group. A slap in the face, but then, our mayor has never been very sensitive to such matters.

  60. The sheer meanness of developer wannabes in this town is hard to explain. They come off as sounding like losers.

  61. GP Outreach Church meeting is on Monday the 13th not Tuesday night. Joe arranged it. Surprise surprise.