Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Agenda Man Is Itching For A Fight

Since it would appear that this City Council has been exposed as having violated some rather significant state laws regarding Prop 218 during the water rate hike notification process by having "forgotten to mention" $23 or so millions in previously unpublicized water bond debt, I expect the Gang of 4 to be especially cheerful tonight. Since it was a rather festive weekend with the Taste of Sierra Madre and all, they are certain to have much joi de vivre to share. And why not? After all, it's not like there are many consequences for such people in a state like ours. You're either on the inside of it all, or you are not. They live with different rules, and have a quarter of a million dollar a year attorney to protect them and their interests. One that we pay for. So why shouldn't they be happy? They live in the perfect knowledge that they'll never be touched and can continue doing as they please.

The meeting starts off with a Closed Session. During sessions just like this one members of the Sierra Madre Police Department will often see their lucrative lawsuits against the City move forward. Ironically, later during this very closed session, the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association will begin their negotiations for another pay increase. One that will also require a tax hike to fund. It's how things work in this town.

The Consent Calendar will consist mostly of the reading of the City Warrants. This time the spend is a double duty sum of $1,897,617 (and 32 cents.) This is because one City Council meeting was skipped over because it was vacation time. Yet the march of our dimes went on. We should probably also include in this sum $85,000 for our helpful Axontech consultant. Which leavens the total haul to nearly $2 million big ones. The Sierra Madre Spend Watch has been updated.

Item #2 ("Congestion Management Program") involves some State and County nuisance report about development and traffic congestion. This is basically an outgrowth of the vast bureaucratic car hater culture which would prefer us all to live in small stacked boxes and take the Metro to our green jobs at the solar panel manufacturing plant. That is, if that plant hadn't already left California for Tennessee where businesses are not subjected to the idiocy of bureaucracies like the ones that require cities to do reports like this. Joe will probably tell us how important this is to "the process." Without, per usual, quite telling us what "the process" actually is. A complete and utter waste of time.

Item #3 ("City Wide User Fee") is all about the fees we pay for everything. You know, like $80 to reserve a City picnic table for your kid's birthday. Or a dog license. The last time this was done was in 2005, so it has been a while. The notebook that accompanies so important a matter is around 3 inches thick, and since this is to be the first 2010 City Council look into the situation it will likely be tabled for a little bit. Public hearings will be held, all that rhythm. Remember, fees must cover our costs yet never turn a profit. So naturally an increase in fees will need to be mirrored by an increase in costs. Which shouldn't be a problem.

Item #4 ("Appointment to the Community Services Commission") They need somebody because a person left to concentrate a bit more on their day job. 2 people applied.

Item #5 ("Tree Advisory Commission") 3 vacancies, 4 applicants, many trees. Local celebrity Tim Hayden is among the hopefuls.

Item #6 ("Senior Community Commission") 3 vacancies, 4 applications. Another round of musical chairs could be called.

Item #7 ("Canyon Zone and Moratorium") The Gang of 4 is adamantly opposed to any of our local communities maintaining control over the development practices used in their area, so naturally their need to do in the Canyon Zoning Committee and its work is great. The interests of their cronies must be protected. And finally the kind of opportunity that appeals to their craving for passive-aggressive solutions has arrived. And all it involves is timing. The Canyon Building Moratorium ends on October 9th. The Planning Commission, which will finalize their approval for the Canyon Zoning Committee's work, meets much earlier than that. But the City Council, which has the final say here, cannot meet on this matter until 10/12 due to noticing requirements. So unless the City Council extends the Building Moratorium a little bit tonight, the Canyon will revert back to the R1 Single Family Residential area it was before this all started. At which time all the usual characters can go back to happily wrecking the place. And all the Go4 has to do to make this happen is absolutely nothing. Something they are eminently equipped to do.

Item #8 ("General Plan Update - Timelines and Milestones") Another fine exercise in passive aggressive management is sure to be displayed in this little vignette. Denise Delmar will rise to the occasion and valiantly explain to the four sourpusses both her on-going plans and how she can get them done in something like two years. "Two Years" being the key here as once again Joe Mosca, with his usual parrot-like intensity, will repeat those words over and over again. Joe has somehow tied the General Plan updaters to this phony timeline because if they don't meet it, he can then hire the six figure consultants he knows will give him the big development General Plan that he and his patrons require. Of course, the more this "two years" straw man becomes the topic for discussion at meetings like this, the less work will get done. Which is the point, I'm sure.

Item #9 ("Public Facilities Fees") Developers pay us money for costs incurred by the City through their building. Water pipes and sewers being examples. The Houses Of Ho being built up at One Carter are the kinds of development that cause such checks to be sent to City Hall. Our fees are high, however, and some people would like to see them lowered. Not every developer is building the Taj Mahal, after all. This impacts the little guys as well. The matter is way up in the air, and I doubt anything will be resolved. Staff has asked for some direction, and the City Council will say "South."

Good night.

74 comments:

  1. re: timelines and milestones for the GeneralPlan Update -- watch Joe and John again try to micromanage the committee by insisting Denise change the committee's timeline to match theirs. Of course, Nancy will have time to make some sort of pre-arranged motion, which this time she has written on her hand to remember what she's supposed to say.

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  2. Item 8 should be called "The Brown Act Special." It is where the gang of four's collaboration is always the most obvious. Sandy will do nothing, of course.

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  3. The General Plan Update Steering Committee meets for about two hours once a month. In 24 months that will be about 48 hours. Can't we just send them to the Westin for a weekend? This is our punishment for not joining their silly clubs and sipping their cabernet at the Villa. Just what's wrong with a nice jar of Valpocella, anyway?

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  4. It's good that the GPUSC wasn't given the assignment to write the Declaration of Independence... we'd still be paying tax on the tea.

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  5. Yes 6:21, but only if King George was in charge of their meeting schedule.

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  6. Last night's water information talk at the YAC began with 5 community members in attendance--increasing by 3 or 4 by evening's end. One of them asked why his meter charge was $40 when Pasadena residents only pay $15 (bi-monthly?). Bruce, Karen and Elaine gave the power point presentation that many of your readers have not seen even if they went to earlier presentations because the handout (the power point program in print) contains alot more information. Maybe folks might want a copy of the power point program in print. The program is entitled: The 411 on H2O.

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  7. The GP timeline requirement by King Joe is his way of setting a trap for the committee. If a complete time line is submitted the current Committee of 5 will be said to not be including the not yet named new members in the process. If the Committee waits for the new members imput they are told they are ignoring his edict. Damned if they do and damned if they don't.

    What determines the timeline is the ability of the Committee to meet and how much effort the newly named members and friend of Josh and Nancy are are actually willing to contribute. Based on their friends showing up at the GP meetings and the Outreach meetings....I am not expecting much.

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  8. Did I read you right, Agenda Man?

    Tim Hayden wants to be on the Tree Commission?

    The same Tim Hayden/piss-ant developer who MURDERS OAK TREES that happen to be in his way of a building?
    Tim, over waters the trees until they die, and he can have them removed. He has been doing this for years in the canyon, which is one of the reasons he is so disliked by canyon residents.

    NO to TIM THE SERIAL TREE KILLER!

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  9. In reference to the Fee Study "City Wide User Fees". The Community Services Commission reviewed the proposed fees pertaining to the parks and facilities. The Commission recommended that many of the fees be reduced from the amounts the City was proposing.

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  10. Mosca big approach on the GPUSC is to stall. Rather than say what he really wants, he's just going to wait them out. That way he can deny that anything was his fault. Very passive aggressive indeed.

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  11. Y'all keep an eye on item #2 about the traffic.
    Some inspired past Sierra Madrean had the "No stoplights" rule put in the general plan, and it has been a pesky stumbling block to development.
    The downtown specific plan environmental impact report had a lot of information about the traffic in SM - including the projected impact of the dsp'ed build out (it warn't good)
    Traffic is one of the problems prodevs like to solve as part of the gift giving to their investors.

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  12. Trees emit CO2. Tim is saving the world from global warming.

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  13. Nope trees emit O2. General Science

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  14. The 2003 Water Bonds needed to be public knowledge, not privileged knowledge. Sierra Madre is not supposed to be an oligarchy.

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  15. The House of Ho is very interested in fee reductions for infrastructure - currently set at about $40K per unit. Want to scrape a lot clean of its old house and overbuild a McMansion? It'll cost you $40K in infrastructure fees. The developers are whining.

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  16. There were voices warning the residents about the calculated future bankruptcy of Sierra Madre, but they were ignored, while Bart Doyle and Rob Stockly led the charge into the beginnings of financial ruin.

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  17. Trees release co2 at night, oxygen during the day, General Science. The do it night because they don't want anyone to know.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/questions/index?qid=20080412013342AA3ILKH

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  18. Sadly, 8:54
    Oligarchies have become the major form of government in our world today.
    Oligarchies are fine, provided they are made up of integrous people. Unfortunately, most are not.
    If they consist of people who have no self interest agenda, the most intelligent and honest citizens who will represent the best possible solutions to challenges......they work.
    Sierra Madre is an oligarchy. It's made up of 5 people (six if you count Bart Doyle) and only ONE MEMBER is integrous and works for the people.....MaryAnn.
    The others work for development interests and/or their own special interest.

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  19. Why doesn't city hall try to save money?

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  20. Water Rate Increase ProtestorSeptember 14, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    The ...Water Revenue Parity Bonds, Series 2003 document is almost 200 pages long and written in bond-ese which can only be competently interpreted by professionals. Copies are circulating within the resistance. Or, call City Manager Elaine Aguilar and demand that a copy be made available at the library, today.

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  21. It will certainly be entertaining to see who the council majority puts on the GPUSC. As the majority wants to "preserve through developing" the town, they'll have to find 4 people who are good at doublespeak.

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  22. Start popping the corn! Tonight's City Council Meeting will be a doozey. Join us in Council Chambers at 6:30 pm, or tune in to SMTV3. But in person is best to fully enjoy the experience of riled citizenry fighting back!

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  23. 9:00 a.m., doncha think the Capital Source/House of Ho LLCs, Carter & Stonehouse, agreed to the 40 thou in the package of setllement issues?

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  24. Doublespeak? I don't think so. All they will need to do is gaze off into space, wiggle their ears, and then breathlessly intone, "The Process!"

    Works for Joe.

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  25. The fee restructuring appears to have several angles in there, as reported out by the S-N. It would behoove residents to ask for actual costs to provide the services, and which costs are subsidized by taxes and which costs are subsidized by fees, and what's covered by property taxes. Police/Fire isn't mentioned.

    There's also a fee auto-update provision in there. It's tricky because the rate of inflation changes and the auto-update does not.

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  26. I feel sorry for the people on the general plan committee.
    What a drag to be fumbled up all the time with the mushy thinking and irrelevant demands of this dim council majority, and the scrambling by city staff to please Joe, and protect themselves.
    Talk about pushing water uphill.
    It's amazing the committee gets anything done at all.
    And now that very nice capable young woman, who innocently came to town and signed up to volunteer, gets to be interrogated again tonight with artificial questions designed to simultaneously forward and hide agendas.
    Yech.

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  27. John, is that an actual picture of you under the headline today? That broken clavicle must have been hit with a Kryptonite meteor. Hope it didn't disrupt your X-ray vision.

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  28. 9:17, pretty good call.

    Nancy Walsh will sit there with her mouth hanging open bobbling her head yes to Buchanan and Mosca or try to remember what she was told to say.

    Josh will sit there looking demonic, grinning and insulting residents at the podium. Of course bobbling his head when instructed to.

    The other two "attorneys" will do what they do best, working hard for SPECIAL INTERESTS and LOBBYISTS.

    MacGillivray will keep telling the people of Sierra Madre the truth and make it through the meeting, again. SIGH

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  29. I would point out that Joe and John were on the City Council that appointed the current five members of the General Plan Update Steering Committee; add an additional four and J&J are now responsible for all nine members of the GPUSC. They can't let it fail! And, they can't afford to let it disband. J&J and the bobbleheads must be able to say they brought a committee to its conclusion. A very thin line to walk.

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  30. channel 3 watcher 1stSeptember 14, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    9:31, regarding Moran's behavior, you are leaving out the part where he sort of bursts into personal speech in the guise of frankness, and acts like he's talking to an ex girlfriend, sharing his personal process. Wildly inappropriate.

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  31. Emotionally Moran is damaged goods.

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  32. According to the city web site general plan update information, only 2 parts of the general plan are legally required to be updated, the housing element and the EIR.

    So what's the big rushing panic about?

    The 1996 plan was good so far, and would have been even better if it hadn't been ignored a few times.

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  33. Freedom of Information ActSeptember 14, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    Will Joe take his 9:00 pm break?

    Why does he take it?

    Where does he go?

    What does he do?

    Who does he talk to?

    If he doesn't get it...what will happen to him?

    Inquiring minds want to know?

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  34. The Housing Element is done and the EIR will be done by a consultant. So two years seems eminently do-able, even at two hours a month.

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  35. Torches and farm implementsSeptember 14, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Agenda Man, about the bypassing or violation of 218 specs, do not your trusty city attorney swear that the procedures they were following were in compliance with the requirements of 218, are you saying she lied liked a rug to the common folk? Also there should be actual invoices to match the warrants or bond money balance and to whom it was paid. The sooner these politicians that turn their heads or endorsed a project for private gain, get their asse'ett's seized for defrauding the municipalities or the governing entity they received the money from with intent to receive and deceive and defraud the better!!
    Ms. Delmar has my deepest respect, as she valiantly struggles, to present her input to the sourpusses!!

    Arnold off to do the gulliver thing in Asia, is
    not making me proud of CA right now.

    What say you itchy agenda man? They probably love the terminator in Asia.

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  36. As of 11AM we're at 782 unique page views on the Google Stat Tracker. Yesterday overall we had 1,157, so we're off to another strong one. I guess we now know where Sierra Madre goes to get its news! Love the Stat Tracker.

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  37. Ya gotta be there to get the full affect. The camera only shows who is talking at the momment. It cannot catch the expression and sidward slithering glances of those proporting to be listening. Also, it helps to catch the mood of the audience in attendance who are never shown unless you haplessly sit in the rows not covered by the podium and the speaker stading there.

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  38. The EIR does not have to be rewrittn in full. It can be updated from what has been written before. In projects in the past in Sierra Madre this was called 'tiering' and I imagine that this process still holds true.

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  39. Watch for Joe's mood change after his return from the 'break.' Can't see this from home, though.

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  40. Yeah you can see mood swings from home. At least I have.
    More than a few old timers won't go to meetings unless they're paid to be there.

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  41. To be there (at the council meeting) is to see all the winks and nods between the gang of 4, which you can't see at home. An election can be won or lost by viewers only seeing part of the action. Those who swore that civility was the only way to go did not see half of went on in that fateful meeting in March before Joe's melt-down.

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  42. That room is like the clash of two cultures. On the one hand you have the slick boys from the corporate world trying to sell the city a pig's ear, while on the other you have the people who remember a time when government was authentically on the side of the people, and the independence of town life was respected.

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  43. You might have too much faith in the residents of Sierra Madre 12:04. At the swearing in, the ernest jubilation, the glow of self righteousness that now things were in their proper order, the rescue of the sincere underdog who had been so unfairly treated and was now elevated to the mayorship he'd been cheated out of. I kid you not. It was a complete inversion of what was true - and we're slogging through the consequences. Don't underestimate the ability of the citizens to look right at something and not see it.

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  44. We musn't forget what Kurt Zimmerman said. Politics can change very quickly in this town. We might just be seeing that happen.

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  45. I agree with 12:16

    Mosca has always been the "wolf in sheep's clothing"
    All the downtown dirt old ladies think he is "such a sweet boy"
    Harri S. Henderson promotes this lie on a regular basis.

    Be careful old bats, that cute little lamb may just bite your leg off one of these days! For sure he'll pick your pocket. So will his evil twin, Harri S. Henderson.

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  46. Henderson knows how to fleece a flock.

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  47. I think 12:16 misunderstood what I was saying. Prior to Joe's meltdown, a citizen got up and said some very malicious things about Don Watts. As Don tried to turn on his mike to protest, Mayor MacGillivray signaled to him to keep quiet, it was the citizen's time to talk. Don not only didn't say anything, he pushed his chair back to get away from the mike. This was not seen on camera, only by the audience. For Joe to keep talking and talking and making a scene it was the only thing for the Mayor to do but to gavel him down. This was used by the pro-poor-Joe crowd that saw it on camera as a very uncivil thing to do.

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  48. Speaking of which, Buchanan's messenger boy Bill Coburn has something up on his site about Don's comment from yesterday. Doesn't deal at all with the water bonds in question being left out of the Proposition 218 process, of course. Just who knew what, and when.

    Looks like the Go4's shiny new red herring has been let out of its fish tank.

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  49. To follow up on an earlier AM post regarding a certain gentleman whose modus operandi is to clear out those pesky trees by over watering.All of this to enable him to build his shacks for sale.Example, the west side of Vista Circle Drive where you can view a shack down a driveway filled with tarps,cars and an ill assorted mess of junk..Great view for the Locals to view every day.Yes,I believe he fits well into this City's current expectations for a cheap,tawdry,self serving public servant.

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  50. 1:32 is telling it right here, friends.
    Very well put!

    Just another cheap, tawdry, self serving, public servant.

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  51. Wow. Rooster even changes the name of The Tattler article. I guess we know what his "general plan" is all about.

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  52. 1:24, the point is that many Sierra Madre voters can have the facts laid out before them, and not get it.
    As in the last election.

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  53. Susan Henderson's euphemism for flat out lying is "having a different opinion." Last election there were a lot of "different opinions" out there.

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  54. Ground Control to Tattler... stand by for major attack from "media sources"... Coburn, Henderson, Miller, and the gang of Mountain View News columnists and former columnists will no doubt descend like swarm of hornets on Watts and Crawford... Aguilar and the Council will issue statements... none of it will change what the record reflects...

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  55. The fact that Coburn doesn't even get it should alarm us all.
    Between Harri S. and the Volunteer Fire Dept and the Police, with the help of their pals in the canyon, Dapper, Packer, Moran, et all.....they really spread a pack of lies about the last candidates in the election. According to what people up there were told:
    Crawford, Alcorn and Watts were going to do away with the Volunteer Fire Dept, do away with the Police Dept. This was all fallacious but very cleverly spread all over that area by the above mentioned and their dirt pals.
    Dirty tricks. You betcha!
    I just don't know what it will take, Tattlers to wake people up to the truth.
    We are all being had. We are being cheated, we are being lied to, we are being robbed of tax money.
    When is enough, enough, Sierra Madre? When?

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  56. Yeah, 2:11.
    I hope those a-holes do try to invade the private property of the Crawford family and the Watts family.

    They will end up in the Los Angeles main stream media, as in KFI-640.

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  57. Does anyone actually believe Bill Corburn is capable of identifying, researching, and forming an opinion on the long term indebtedness of Sierra Madre? What is far more reasonable that the City regularly reads the Tatter and went batsh** crazy over the $23 mil post and sent the rooster to do battle all dressed up in the trappings of a financial guru.

    Bill is the only "media outlet" that can get the story to the public (both of them) within 24 hours. Already the phone lines are buzzing with staffers calling everyone on the telephone tree with, "Did you see what's in the Sierra Madre News Net today?"

    Bill can prattle on about the data being in the budget but he is incapable of understanding the impact of the bond default and the accumulated principal and interest that makes up the total indebtedness -- $23,000,000.

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  58. Coburn is a bottom feeder.

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  59. Mr. Coburn fails to see that neither the Tattler article nor Mr. Watts' statement mentions the total long term indebtedenss being missing from the budget. What we are talking about here is the way in which the Water Rate Increase was presented to the rate payers and the property owners. Show us where it says in the City's FAQ about the rate increase that the total long term debt is greater than $23 million dollars. $23 million is greater than $18 million; $23 million represents principal and interest on debt. $18 million is the estimated cost of the infrastructure repairs according to the City. Apples and Oranges. Lies and Obfuscation.

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  60. Ah, Buchanan the lawyer rises to the occasion. Answer a question that wasn't asked to throw them off the trail.

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  61. Are you saying 2:33 that the water department needs $41,000,000 over the next few years just to stay solvent and repair the pipes? Not counting the cost of salaries, equipment, purchased water, and maintenance?

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  62. This is the steady diet of garbage we get from Buchanan and
    his people.

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  63. Wow, according to the Star News article, new business licenses are going up 95-140%; business renewal licenses are going up 50-70%. If the gang of 4 approves this, they will be seen as liars and cheats as they ran on a pro-business platform. Instead of giving businesses incentive to coming to Sierra Madre, this will do the opposite.

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  64. Tonight they'll duck this one. They need to find a solution that
    doesn't involve them taking responsibility.

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  65. Didn't the article also say that some fees hadn't been raised in 15 years? I'd say if the businesses didn't come during those 15 years of cut rate fees, they're probably not going to not come because the fees are going to be raised.

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  66. Just Call Me Clem....September 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Sir Eric,

    Yesterday's column must have really hit a nerve with City Hall. Surely Bill can find his own news to report rather than "lifting" your news.

    Keep up the good work.

    PS. Most of the audits were recently finished and they do not spell out the entire bond debt or
    interest due. Fuzzy math I guess.

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  67. Okay, who is going to print out yesterday's Tattler column and do a city wide mailing?

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  68. Clem - they'd have to do an audit specific to the bonds in question in order to get that kind of information. You know, how the money was raised and - more importantly - how it was actually spent. The kinds of audits done recently would have only read the label on the can. You need to get into the guts of the matter, and I don't think that has happened. We might find out soon, though.

    Bill basically prints press releases. Once in a while he does PR damage control for his cronies, but largely he's just a typer. It is why his site attracts only a small margin of the traffic we get here.

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  69. Meeting is starting kinda late. Wonder what is going on behind closed doors? Water bond discussion, maybe?

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  70. Jesus God this fee consultant lady is boring!

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  71. Just left CC meeting.

    Sick. Why do they have a consultant? Who is paying them?

    Why can't a person/persons in City Hall do this?

    Disgusting that we are paying big buckos for what???

    And who decided this?

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  72. Josh got his friend on the Community Service Commission instead of naming a more qualified person.

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  73. How interesting. So, California law requires that the Owners of each parcel be notified of the actual water fee increase. Instead, of being given such notice, our City Hall sends the Owners a different notice asking them to estimate the increase based on the diameter of the water meter and whether they fall within the definition of low income. Absent in the notice is any explanation regarding how to determine the diameter of the meter or what "low income" actually means.

    Talk about hiding the football.

    Thanks Kurt and John for writing that letter to the City Council.

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  74. Coburn and Buchanan two step tap dance dog and pony showSeptember 14, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    I just read the Coburn article, song and dance,
    there sure is a whole lot of if anyone calls me back, disinfo, only to have who, Buchanan claim Watts was in office in 2006, it took a lot of work to find those 1998 bond figures, and little redfaced crowcocked rooster Coburn is gloaming on to a recent three year quick search and recent 2009 budget as the foundation for averting his public from looking into the real matter of the mismanaged 1998 to 2003 bonds.. Sierra Madre should have goldpipes and flowing fountains for that much money.

    Could it be his Bauman engineering interests benefited from said existing bond indenture?

    How dare that walking ham bone suggest Mr. Watts was not his credible ethical self, like he even had a right to quote Mr. Watts or John Crawford. Perhaps it was the involvement of city newspapers part of Mr. Watts, that tweaked his tail out of joint and made him seek the aid of a chamber friend, John "edison" Bucholic, perhaps it is time to observe the workings of the Chamber of Commerce..

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