Friday, September 10, 2010

Under the Knife

"If you work with them you'll eventually end up working for them." - Anonymous poster

So as you might or might not have heard, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting bicycle accident last Friday evening. Somewhere down Sierra Madre Boulevard in Pasadena the world suddenly became quite bright for me, and then got very dark. A warm and fuzzy kind of dark, of course, a place where I was made to feel very comfortable even though I was sprawled out on the side of a busy thoroughfare. I don't have much of a recollection of the concrete details involved, or at least the concrete that I didn't land on, but I do recall a lot of light. Like walking a red carpet several yards behind some currently favored Hollywood darlings of the paparazzi.

But I remember very little else that went on.

The end result being I have a collar bone (or clavicle as med-speak has it) that has been broken into 3 rather ragged pieces. Something that a surgeon will somehow nail back together for me at around 7 AM this morning. The surgeon I was fortunate enough to interest in my predicament (thanks to the help of an amazing Doctor who watches out for me) is the Team Physician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams, along with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. In other words, a gentleman highly skilled in the art of repairing broken bones. So the chances are pretty good that I am going to get past all this.

My eldest son put it into the best possible perspective. "If you have an accident like that and you walk away from it, it's the 'X-Games.' But if you don't? It's 'MTV's Jackass the Show.'" He makes me proud.

King John and Prince Joe?

This is a very sweet rumor that came my way earlier today. The very best rumors might not always be completely true of course, but they sure do sound like they could be. Apparently "the process" has now gotten underway to do away with those inconvenient "term limits" our City Council members have traditionally labored under. Which, unless I am mistaken, is two 4 year terms, or 8 years total. John Buchanan now being at the rear end of his second term.

So what this would seem to indicate is that John Buchanan and Joe Mosca, our very own teeny town tribunes of the develop until every bank in America drops dead cabal, would hope to assume a Mayor Richard Daley kind of permanence here in the Gem of the Foothills. Or Kim il Jong, depending on your perspective. After all, turning Sierra Madre into Pasadena Patio Adjacent (PPA) will not be accomplished in a single day, and their steady and guiding hand will need to remain on the wheel until our little City is transformed into the kind of generic BIA redevelopment boilerplate you can see practically everywhere else in California. These truly ARE men with lofty goals, you see.

There could be another purpose to all of this as well. Given the rather low calibre candidates the Downtown Investors Club was forced to run this go around (the lamentable "bobbleheads," as they are now known, being the result), it appears that the talent pool available to them is about as shallow as a Bruce Inman water well. The thought of a Mayor Josh Moran running this City without a Councilman John Buchanan there to mind his mittens must be keeping at least a couple of DICs awake late at night. After all, those investors won't be making much money if this place is run down into something approaching Dogpatch.

Are we putting just a little too much hope into the General Plan Update Steering Committee?

I was going to post something yesterday on the General Plan Steering Committee meeting that was held earlier this week. I had two of my best correspondents on the scene taking notes, and I was quite ready to post their observations. But do you know what? It was like they had been at completely different meetings. I just couldn't reconcile the two reports. So I left the page blank.

But there was an observation in particular that I took a bit of a shine to. This is what one Tattler correspondent pointed out:

Amidst all the shouting at Mosca it seemed that the message was that the Council should maintain a hands off policy regarding the GPUSC. But no one brought out that the GPUSC is only an ADVISORY to the City Council - clearly stated in their mission statement. The ADVISORY position is going to become a hot potato sometime down the line.

You see? There lies the problem at the heart of all this. The General Plan Update Steering Committee is kind of like our British House of Lords. They can sound off on their opinions, make plans, have meetings, do all the usual stuff committees do. But when it comes time to make the real decisions, the ones that actually account for something important, none of this will matter very much. The City Council could hire a ration of their favorite 6 figure consultants tomorrow, or enact a Nancy Walsh "4 or 6 new committee members" brain loofah any old time the spirit moves them. Or even toss out two years of hard committee work in 2012. And there would be nothing the GPUSC could do about it. The only reason it even exists now, in my opinion, is because John or Joe see some public relations advantages in keeping it around. Maybe they think it makes them seem nice.

The only things this City Council would really be concerned about are recall petitions, legal documents, and ballot initiatives. Their panicky reaction at the massive outpouring of opposition to the cynical and bond-driven water rate increases being the best possible example of what it is they actually worry about. As one poster put it yesterday: "If you work with them, you'll eventually end up working for them."

Watch out that it becomes all you do. There are no effective compromises to be made when those holding a monopoly on power are both essentially dishonest and don't really give a damn about your opinions. Their agenda is far different from yours, and to believe that carefully crafted common sense solutions will modify their behavior is not realistic. In the end this is really all about money, and in that equation most are nothing more than a marketing problem.

I will be back soon and let you know how everything went. Oh, and I will have a very nice surprise here for everyone next week. I personally think you've all earned it.

You won't see it in their yards, but you might notice it in their eyes.


  1. Your journalism is what we all need in town, dear John. Hopefully you are not in pain and that you have recovered from your accident. Unfortunately, your Tattler is not the hard copy to be seen by all instead of Susan's Rag.

    However, the City knows because of you, that many of us are onto them. Care or not, they are threatened by our knowledge. Knowledge is power, and we have more of that then them.

    Recover fast. We need you and have missed you.

  2. Anonymouses all everwhereSeptember 10, 2010 at 7:01 AM

    It's 7:00 am on the clock! Our thoughts are with you for a safe and quick surgery and a speedy recovery. Who knew we'd miss your wit and humor so very much?

  3. Crawford!
    Gosh, it sounds like you had an "out of body" experience when you crashed and burned?

    My family wishes you a very speedy recovery.
    I know all your loyal Tattlers are thinking about you this morning.

    Crawford had to have typed today's column with one wing (the non-dominant left one). Good job. Get better soon, John.

  4. Did anyone get the license number?

  5. As Dirty Harry said, "A man's gotta know his limitations." Get well quick ole chum.

  6. A broken clavacle? I know it takes minimum of 3 months for a broken bone to knit. I am very glad you choose not to go into that light. It happened to me once, I felt like being whooshed toward that light and remember saying no, it is not time yet, I am not done here, and then back to conciousness.

    You are in surgery probably right now, glad you have a great doctor. The above is a great story with lots of issues to comment on, but I admit I worry and cherish your well being too much right now. Hugs and comfort to your family, all good in me sent in your direction. I know God would say this is my son in which I am pleased, from god's lips to your ears dear editor.

  7. Mr. Crawford, thank you for bringing a free press to Sierra Madre.
    You are an indispensable source of clear thinking for the residents of this town.

  8. 8:29!

    No, the question should be: "did Crawford get a speeding ticket"?
    Sorry you got hurt, John.

  9. Yes, the GPU Committee is an advisory committee, but they were formed to advise the Council, not have the Mayor tell them what to do. Yes, there was shouting at the Mayor, and one could hear the frustration in the room as he went on, and on, and on, and on, and on, ....

    For all the delay tactics they pulled this past year as the committee tried to get started, they are now in a panic mode that it won't get done before John leaves office. Perhaps there might be at least two new persons on the council who will not stand for throwing out the work of the Committee even though they will not be in a majority.

    The biggest problem now is to wake up the citizens of Sierra Madre for them to get involved and make their voices heard. There has to be more than the 25-30 or so who have come forth to volunteer. The silence is deafening.

    Where are all of those who had yard signs for Josh and Nancy? Why haven't they come forth to volunteer? Hmm

  10. It's time that some hard copies of the Tattler articles hit the street. Let's cough up some green paper so we can put out a graypaper broadsheet that is backed by research and real journalism.

  11. After the General Plan Steering Committee meeting I overheard Scott Porter talking to someone and he said that currently you had to be off the Council for one term. Intereting that he would be up on that random tidbit of information unless someone had been asking about term limits. Who in this town would term limits apply to except John Buchannan?

  12. right from the city web page

    Elected Officials
    A five-member City Council governs the City. Municipal elections are held every two years. Two or three council seats are elected every two years. Each member serves a four-year term. Although the City has not adopted term limits, traditionally, Council Members serve no more than two four-year terms.

  13. We got Crawford home after his 3 hour surgery to repair bone.

    He's in pain, but hanging in there.

    Thanks for all your well wishes, Tattler friends.

  14. Here's to John, hope you have miraculous powers of recovery! And I do agree with the previous suggestions about getting printed copies of the Tattler content circulated in the community, possibly on a weekly basis. As I recall, the adjudicated paper is up for renewal?

  15. If the city council lied about the reasons for the water rate hike then we have clear cause and a duty to recall thsee bums.

  16. Crawford is a tuff guy - he'll have some aches & pain & be back in the ring in no time. You can't keep a good man down.

  17. 9:07 you are so right. The biggest problem in this town is the great uninvolved mass of citizens who don't want to take the time to figure out what is going on.
    How many people really understand what the DSP was?
    Just that alone, that consultant hatched, BIA driven, ruinous plan should be enough to educate folks as to what these dimwits want to do.
    But again, they will not participate unless you got to their doors and put the proof right under their noses.
    Very frustrating, and more than a few good people have left Sierra Madre in exasperation.

  18. Sierra Madre is a small nice place because first of all, people weren't all that interested in it, and then when they ran out of room to build elsewhere, they noticed the town, but a few dedicated preservationists stopped them - have held back the over-development that the present council majority dreams of, but it's a lot to ask, and civic fatigue is a real result.
    Wonder how many of those who like SM but don't help in the fight would like the town if the council majority got its way.

  19. Thank you, Old Kentucky appreciate the update.. Glad it went well.

    Leung is back in town, insidiously sniffing for project crumbs. I say crumbs since it appears no one will let him sit at the big boy table in CA again.

  20. Anonymous @3:52, the Downtown Specific Plan is a great example of terrible governing, but the water rate hike scam is a great example too. Something along the lines of "Let's scare the folks into believing that all the pipes will go, and that it costs 18 million dollars to fix them." That's rotten, and more than just the preservationists you talk about figured that out.

  21. That is one of the things that is hardest to take about some of the councils the last couple of decades. They think they can just take our money and do what they want. They imagine a mini Santa Monica here or something, and they need our money to pull it off, but there are plenty of people living here who don't have that kind of money. The council people are supposed to be thinking about all of the people, and that means the people who don't have a lot of money too.

  22. with all the scams going on in Los Angeles County......

    we should really question the motives of the gang of 4.

  23. Let's see, $6 mil to pay off the bond; $7 mil to pay off the interest on the bond; $5 mil to replace the pipes; isn't that about $18 mil? It's all very simple.

  24. I watched America's Got Talent and there's a contestant who has the perfect name for Joe Mosca.

    Prince Poppycock.

  25. It is hard to believe that this council thought they'd get away with the water fan dance around the bonds.
    Oh that's right, THEY DID GET AWAY WITH IT.
    Don't forget that the protest numbers fell short and the city attorney said loud and clear that the council could increase the rates up to the announced amount any old time, as long as they didn't change anything.
    Your fresh new tiered bill is coming in October....

  26. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesSeptember 10, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    John Crawford should win the Sierra Madre citizen of the year award. Get well fast Crawford.

  27. Best Tattler comment of the week:

    "If you work with them you'll eventually end up working for them." - Anonymous poster

    It's like the naive idea of "if we're nice to them, they'll be nice to us" Well, it depends on who you are talking about.
    We must consider the types of criminals we are dealing with here in Sierra Madre. What are their motives? I can guarantee you that their motives are not in the resisents of Sierra Madre's best interests.

  28. The Gang of 4 does nothing but look like they're smelled something bad when Denise or any committee member speaks. Too bad the only stench in the room comes from their own decayed selves,

  29. Speedy recovery, good Sir.

  30. Hello, There is a General Plan Outreach Task Force meeting Monday night, Sept. 13th at 7pm at Ascension Church. I thought I would get involved. I have read the City of Sierra Madre Development Services FY 2009-2011 to get some of the official factual background for the General Plan Advisory Committee's (GPSC) role. I also found this site in my Google search:
    I would like to go and learn more so I may contribute based on what I learn and think about the community I would like to age-at-home in...I send you Good Wishes for a full recovery and speedy return to writing. Take care.

  31. When did the public referendum (or some such voted upon ballot measure) get rescended? It was non-binding, but the then sitting City Council put it into place: Serve two consecutive terms and then off. Any one can then run again, which could be two years later. This was adopted to like-wise have commissioners serve only two consecutive terms. Since they are not elected and do not have a two year wait cycle until another election, people who had been commissioners could apply again after being off one year if it was to be back on the same commission they had just served on.

  32. And Sir Eric, did I fail to congratulate you on your selection of Roz Chast as your cameo this morning? She's awesome. One of the great cartoonists of today. Not usually political but very clever cultural commentary.