Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Agenda Man Won't Stop Clapping

In certain orthodox religious societies dancing is strictly prohibited. Along with card playing, singing, a sense of humor, and showing a little too much ankle. But apparently we as a community are not to be outdone when it comes to the prohibition of inappropriate behaviors. Because thanks to Mayor Mosca's proclamation last Tuesday evening, clapping for those speaking during public comment is now on that list of things that are just not done at City Council meetings.

Some have been taken aback by this. Certainly applause and politics go together in a hotdog and mustard sort of way. But Mayor Mosca, a man with a sensitivity for political correctness equaled by few others, has come down hard on the clapping thing. And why, dare we ask? Because it makes those not receiving any applause for their efforts feel bad.

Which as why Agenda Man has been clapping for almost the entire week. Much to the annoyance of Agenda Woman.

But this isn't what we're here to talk about today. There is a City Council meeting tonight, and some very important issues will be under consideration. So let's put aside any of this lesser stuff and get down to the real nitty gritty.

Some of the most interesting things being covered this evening will not be for your eyes. Certain matters can only be discussed in closed session, and there are a couple of those tonight. The first is the ongoing negotiations with Sierra Madre's Police Department. Given the SMPD's obvious support for the Bobblehead Slate during our last election, plus the pro-public union predilections of doctrinaire L.A. County politicos such as John and Joe, the chances of this City Council not giving away the ranch to the SMPOA are slim and more slim. While there is still a 2% cushion left before the UUT is maxed out at 12%, that might not be quite enough. Something that could lead to a voter referendum for the approval a new tax hike, one needed to cover a raise and benefits increase promised the SMPD by City Hall.

The other preliminary bout is a job performance review for our highly compensated City Attorney, Sandi Levin. The timing couldn't be better here as much of the conflict expected later in the evening over the water rate hike can be credited to some of the poor decisions advocated by the celebrated Ms. Levin. Particularly on what was supposed to the crown jewel of her professional expertise, Prop 218.

Of course, since Sandi has taken care to see to the needs of the current City Council on this and other matters (and not those of the people actually paying for her robust fees), chances are good that she will emerge from this ordeal with all flags flying. Oh, and did you know that Sandi is asking for more money? I mention this in case anyone might be wondering why Joe brought his wheelbarrow to the meeting.

After that the City Council emerges into the light and begins the public portion its deliberations. Mayor Pro Tem John Buchanan will be leading the community in tonight's moment of inspiration. The rumor I've heard is that the Mayor Pro Tem might be assisted in this by an actual Druid Priest. Though a dispute over the appropriateness of human sacrifice could put a kibosh on what might have otherwise been a very colorful moment in Sierra Madre history.

After God, Country and the City Council Reports have been so honored, the money spending will commence. During this evening's Consent Calendar the neat sum of $711,022.50 will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. The usual suspects will be the beneficiaries to this end product of our labor, including the CRA, the Sierra Madre Library (home of the largest Belva Plain collection in the Western United States), employee payrolls, liquor bills, Guatemalan cigars, iPads, all that rhythm and blues.

Also tagged onto the Consent Calendar is a hoped for approval of the Mayor's recommendation regarding the selection of a Council Liaison to the Tree Advisory Commission. This year, and for the first time ever, an actual tree will be selected to perform this important function. Further cementing this Council's reputation for being the greenest ever. I'm not supposed to mention this, but that has never stopped me before. The selected tree is an 8 foot high Knotty Pine.

Item #2 deals with appointments to the Utility Users Tax Oversight Committee. Now I had the dubious honor of serving on this turkey last year, and I have got to tell you, it was perhaps the most complete waste of this body's time in a life noted for its time wasted. What you do on this committee is pore over long lists of numbers denoting items that were purchased with money raised through the Utility User Tax. And what is expected of you is to make sure that all of that money was spent on the professional needs of the Police Department and Paramedics alone.

Try as I might last year, I could find no kegs of beer listed, no subscriptions to magazines of questionable morality, nor could I find any expenses related to donut or energy drink purchases. Much to my lasting disappointment they just weren't there.

This UUTOC deal is a relic from the last Sierra Madre Police Department raise. Which is when the City Council had to go to the tax payers to get them to approve the nearly 100% UUT hike required to meet a new blue reality. A well meaning soul at some meeting or other had asked if there was any possible way to guarantee that this UUT hike dough was used for what it was supposed to be used for, and not bled off into other things. So this committee was decided upon. And it is still with us.

My sincere condolences to whoever gets selected.

Item # 3 is the main event. That being the Water Rate Hike. Now after last Tuesday evening's joyous public demolition of the Walk & Talk nonsense that was supposed to be a critical marketing strategy in creating the illusion of some sort of public consensus on gouging water rate payers, I really don't see how they're going to make this fly. It certainly isn't the style of Mayor Mosca to come to a decision before he has convinced himself that everyone admires him for the vision and wisdom of his leadership. Which in this case has been even more sorely lacking than usual.

Plus there is also the question of whether this rate hike is supposed to help pay debt service on $19 million dollars worth water bonds, or repair Sierra Madre's ancient pipes. Maybe Joe will flip a coin and resolve this matter for us once and for all. But please, only after somebody has checked the coin first.

The key thing to look for here is the "billing rate tiers" issue. People hate those things with a passion, and ever since they showed up on our most recent water bills there has been quite a lot of poor decorum and incivility. But the problem for the Bobblehead Quadrant is if they take those hated tiers out of the mix, they will have changed the rate hike into something it wasn't before. Which means that the public will be entitled to reclaim their right to a Proposition 218 protest that was - let's be real here - stolen in an extremely unpleasant fashion by City Hall last spring.

This is something that I do not think Joe and John will dare risk. The last rather massive water rate protest took them completely by surprise and I don't believe they are confident this rate hike could survive a second uprising no matter who does the counting.

But will they have the cheese and crackers to pass a water rate hike that includes tiered billing? Or, for that matter, any water rate hike at all? Certainly that would be a little abrupt for this City Council. My money says that they will fall back on process and push this doggie down the road a couple of months in hopes that everyone will fall asleep and forget about it.

Of course, there is another option. And that is the forming of a Citizen's Water Rate Hike Commission. This would be a group of residents who would sit down and ponder just what exactly the populace at large might be willing to pay for their water. Having access to all the facts and figures (including bond debt both present and future) could help to build a consensus on this trickiest of questions. Particularly if they choose the right people, and not just folks who think our water tastes good.

Certainly this would be far preferable to more of the deception and double-talk that have typified the failed efforts of Mayor Mosca and his acolytes on this matter.

Item #4 is the last item for this evening's get together. It has to do with a meeting held at the YAC recently to discuss "strategic plan goals and objectives." This is the meeting where Joe spoke about the need for selling more bonds in order to help make his administration seem more glorious. A notion that was met with something approaching horror by City Staff. The more sober conclusions arrived at during the YAC meeting will then be blessed with the City Council's approval, then filed wherever it is such things go.

And then whoever is left in the room will file out of the building and into their cars. They will then drive home.



  1. Where's the clapping part? I only go for the clapping.

  2. Clapping makes Joe's lights go on and off.

  3. Just the facts mam.October 26, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    Someone needs to mention that the water department was once considered "The Cash Cow". Prior to 1990 monies brought in from the water billing was spent on other things, not always keeping up with repairs and up dating the system. If the city had done a FORENSIC AUDIT this information would have come out. The truth would be known that past councils had taken illegal advantage of this money and now we the TAX PAYERS are being asked to pay for past council actions by a present council pushing this down our throats without telling us the whole story. Bottom line here is we continue to pay for illegal and poor decisions made by the City Council. Go figure.

  4. Resident Fay Angus told Mosca she would clap if she wanted to, it's her right to free speech.
    Fay is not afraid of this gang of 4 bobbleheads!

  5. Mosca needs to get our bond ratings back up to AAA. He wants
    to hit the bond market hard so he can raise the cash to get the
    infrastructure work done that the developers are demanding. A
    water rate hike is most likely what the S&P people have told City
    Hall is the price of admission.

  6. Thanks Tattler. I really depend on you for the menu this council is cooking up.

  7. A must see video


  8. Such hypocrisy from Mayor Moot.
    'it makes those not receiving any applause for their efforts feel bad.'
    I'll tell you what makes people feel bad, the mayor cannot good ol' boy good ol' girl enough the people he knows, and then dead silence with others, and he may or may not know them.
    He's offensively informal 'hey you guys' or off in a daze somewhere.

  9. Mosca will need to produce a log of all those calls he gets.

    I don't believe him.

    It's a shame, and I'm sorry to say it, but his word is not enough.

  10. you're kiddingOctober 26, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    Joe advocates greater debt.
    What more proof does anyone need that the man is simply not capable of leading anyone anywhere except to bankruptcy court?

    Maybe it was the fact that he was a bankruptcy lawyer - it keeps pulling him back.

  11. Stop Big Government/Censorship JoeOctober 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    It would seem that clapping is an innocuous form of free speech. It poses no danger and is not disruptive of any legitimate activity. In fact, it is considered decorous at the sporting events and the opera. I know, because I attend both.

    This is an obvious attempt by a public officer to suppress free speech that he does not like. That the speech would hurt the feelings of those who do not receive appluase is of no moment, as the clapping (ar abseence thereof) expresses a view point on the political issue being discussed. It is therefore the most protected of all forms of speech.

    I urge one and all to continue to exercise their rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that Joe Mosca swore to uphold, by clapping (or not) at tonight's meeting.

    If the chief or anyone stops you, find a lawyer and sue the city. That, of course, assumes she does not shoot you like SPMD did to that poor guy sleeping like a baby in his Murano.

  12. Good point 9:37. He may have been overexposed to bankruptcy as an option.

  13. Mosca is just an off the chain control freak. If things aren't just as he wants them, he can't handle it.

  14. All attending this evening's meeting will be
    asked to sit on their hands. We cannot risk
    another outburst of unauthorized clapping like
    we experienced last Tuesday. Thank you.

  15. The funniest thing about the tiers was the fact that when Director Inman introduced them he explained they weren't effective for conservation, so by all means let's use them. Sort of an instant consultant template obsolescence?

  16. I believe you can get shots for the Clap...

    Maybe we can put it up on a Kersting Court banner across Baldwin.
    If we can't afford Colutuono and Levin anymore, so sorry.
    Hire some young attorneys who aren't so heavily into facilitating development.
    And Let's ask Coluntuon for the hillsides back.

  18. I think Levin has don't a far better job than her partner did, but I also agree that we need to let them go. They are just too expensive.

  19. done, not don't.

  20. 12:48 what about all the Prop 218 doublespeak?

  21. keep your eye on the targetOctober 26, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    The prop 218 doublespeak was council dictated. No doubt someone said, Attorney Levin, or more likely, Hey Sandy Girl, let's focus on the need for infrastructure repairs, ok, and not stir up a pointless hornet's nest? We know we're in debt and lookin' good.
    What's she going to do? She's going to work on her defense that the notice was sufficient under the letter of the law.
    A judge would be the one to decide.

  22. It will be interesting to see if the City Council is willing to risk another round with prop 218. they got burned last time. But do they really have a choice?

  23. Our City Attorney is paid to protect the City Council, not the interests of the taxpayers. This is interesting because it shows that the town and its government are going in two different directions. The City Council is paying their attorney with our money.

  24. Interesting that the Council is evaluating the attorney???.....suspect it is going to be a discussion about her firm getting a raise. Of course, such a discussion in closed session is not allowed under the Brown Act.

    Pay attention, if they report an increase was given to her firm or any change was made to her contract, please be sure to post.

  25. Absolutely 1:04. The city staff work for the city government, not the residents. Unless the residents' needs coincide with the city government's, they will not be addressed.

  26. gilman, what?????
    All of our city staff get their performance reviews and salary raises in closed sessions!!!

  27. Ain't none of your business. Daddy knows what is best for you. Go shopping or buy a nice lunch at one of our restaurants.

  28. Yes they have a choice 1:02.

    They can proceed with the rate hike as is, or bring it down a notch out of concern for the 'village' they want so much to preserve, and defend themselves in a law suit.

    Or they can try again, being honest.

  29. My money is on them going the committee route. Anything to avoid a confrontation.

  30. Old timers, does anybody remember a performance review and/or salary increase that was NOT in closed session?

  31. My money is on their taking credit for educating the peons about the need for the increase whichever way it comes down that our bills go up.

  32. maybe the mayor is after control, but maybe its also that he has contrary instincts, or a slow processing brain. he tends to be informal when it would be appropriate to be formal, lax when it would be better to be firm, authoritarian in realms that do not lend themselves to authoritarianism. he can be counted on to make the wrong choices.

  33. Thanks Sir Eric, this description is one of your best:
    "Now I had the dubious honor of serving on this turkey last year, and I have got to tell you, it was perhaps the most complete waste of this body's time in a life noted for its time wasted"

  34. The council has taken the attitude against the tiered system with hands over their ears and a LA LA LA LA WE can't hear you! I betcha if they cut out the tiered system we could not get another 1800 protest letters, but they're too dumb to understand that.

  35. Goddard Crowan, Son of Harold of Orry Isle of ManxOctober 26, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    A druid priest is nothing to a goddness of the golden oaks, we eat them for lunch.

  36. If you're gonna go there -
    I don't think any self-respecting Druid would associate him or her self with councilmember Buchanan.

  37. Don't forget the lobster bibsOctober 26, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Do one hand claps, enough folks doing one hand claps, ought to crunch the councils berries and make the mayor crackle pop.

    You could use hidden clap machines, and clap but appear to have your hands folded in your lap. Of course then Ms Diaz might have to frisk you.

  38. It's good you all have a sense of humor about this. I am dreading the water rate hike discussion. The tension level gets too damn high in our city politics.
    Wish the greedy would slink out of town.

  39. One thing I do know about the water rate hike. Deny them this and they won't be able to do their development plans.

  40. They're just pushing through the existing MWD tiered rate schedule BS. PUC is the supposed watchdog here. County supes are also playing this game. Water money is the easiest to flush around, particularly for salaries and "showcase" headquarters meeting room buildings under the guise of non-profit public education facilities. Entire system is corrupt.

  41. Keep Sierra Madre sustainableOctober 26, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Stop the MWD pipeline for sure. Can't afford it, don't want it, don't need it.

  42. You need to watch out for the word "sustainable." In the wrong
    hands it means "overdevelopment."

  43. Pie charts show that water is the main reason for greenhouse emissionsOctober 26, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    While I was over at the EPA website, I found a document that the 2007 bush and 2009 bam bam executive order is based on, "Greenhouse gas emmissions of water", I kid you not, this is a water shell game, that has been overlooked and not squashed or at first glance considered part of the cap and trade stock transactions gambled on before the leaked scandulous emails 24 hours before the global warming summit. Tiers is like a wedding cake before they consumate the rate/rape lationship.

  44. There is a big difference between MaryAnn MacGillivray and Mosca and Buchanan.

    Mosca and Buchanan are "authoritarians"
    Her Honor MaryAnn MacGillivray is an "true authority".

    Big difference and it sure shows.

  45. Fay asked some great questions. Obviously Joe didn't like them.

  46. Joe Mosca and his bobbleheads are an absolute disgrace to Sierra Madre, not only are they a disgrace, they will destroy this town!

  47. They're defending the tiers because tiers were in the original proposal. If they changed that proposal it would bring back a Prop 218 situation.

    The Phony Baloney 4 are full of crap.

  48. 8:45 Buchanan and Mosca have a consensus and Mary wants a vote, Buchanan reverts to a hysterical governing, blackmail, yuck, Buchanan wants those bonds, Moran is talking about the people here and yet investing in Oklahoma reverse mortgages. Looks like Mary gets her study. 3 minute break,

  49. The Gang of 4 are buffoons.

  50. How come your cameraman does not pan the audience, the public cannot see the angry mob if your cameras won't show them, I don't think mosca and buchanan are confident of moran and walshs vote or they would have tried to push it they backed down pretty fast when mary threw down the gauntlet.

  51. I can't stand it. It doesn't matter what those in the audience say, they have made up their minds and that's it. As John said to MaryAnn, the same 20 people in the audience do not represent the Citizens of Sierra Madre. Josh echoed those sentaments by saying the only ones who don't trust the council and the staff are in the audience. Those at home trust "us" to do the right thing.
    How about it Tattlers? Are the only ones who agree with the Tattler in the audience on Tuesday nights?

  52. They did not drive home, at least one of them ended up at Lucky Baldwins drinking beers. After all the crap that goes on at the meetings it would bring me to drink as well. Here's to you Josh! Hope that the PD does not catch you in your drunken state.

  53. lying pieces of crapOctober 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    They took the last money and extension from SGVMWD on this water rate being done, they knew from January 2010. They have lied their teeth out. You watched them weasel and protest the protest, they are screwed. My city is serviced by 5 water companies, they are counting on Sierra Madre Water as a monopoly. If you or I had taken money without the ability to pay we would be facing fraud charges, that is what they did they took money on a speculation this rate would be passed. That is illegal and the property 218 right to vote on this issue was not put on the election docket on purpose. You are being sandbagged, You got to kick some sand back in their faces. Maybe a complaint to the state bar over Ms Levin's unconstitutional constitutionality would at least bring her actions to light as a deliberate misuse of her authority as city attorney. The forms are online, and it is cheaper than full blown litigation.

  54. What ever happened to were all created equal. Why not charge everyone the same, but, if you use more you will pay more, simple. Charging more for larger meters is just a way to get more money. If you need 135 gallons a day to water your property why charge more if it is done quicker. Are we talking deceit or deception, looks like both.