Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Are The Most Powerful People In Sierra Madre Today?

Forget the Mayor, forget the City Council, forget City Staff, forget the Police, Fire Department, Chamber of Commerce, Woman's Club, or even all those guys who sit out in front of Bean Town every morning reading the newspapers. None of these people really mean that much anymore. Their time has passed and their once mighty influence in this town has apparently wafted off into senescence.

Today a new group has risen to prominence. And while it is true that they haven't done much up until now, one remarkable and singular achievement has thrust them into the very nexus of power here in our picturesque foothill village. All eyes have now turned to them in hopes that a solution can be realized, and our future prosperity assured well into eternity.

Who are they, you ask? They are the Water Walkers, 200 Strong. They took the City sponsored Walk & Talks, and have been made aware by that experience. A people whose like we have never seen here before. They've witnessed the pipes, and the pump house, gazed upon our mighty reservoirs and tasted of our sweet cool spring waters.

So what makes them amongst the most powerful people in Sierra Madre today, you ask? Folks who have more influence than all those aforementioned folks in the first paragraph combined? Not to mention the other 10,300 people who also live here? What is it that makes "The 200," those people who learned of the ways of our water infrastructure, above all the rest?

It is because tonight, at the Special City Council Meeting on the Water Rate Increase matter, the City Council will listen to the opinions of The 200 like it's the word of the Almighty.

Now you might ask how so relatively small a group of people, many of them neither rate payers or even adults, get to hold so much sway in this town. Or why it is that the 2,000 or so folks who signed water rate protest forms last Spring are not held in anywhere near that level of esteem? After all, there are 10 times more of them than there are Water Walkers.

It is because "The 200" is just some cooked up dog and pony City Hall marketing fabrication designed to bamboozle the people of Sierra Madre into thinking that there is some sort of consensus in favor of raising our water rates. Which there is decidedly not.

This is a strategy coming from a City Council that would prefer talking about a small sampling of folks who agree with them rather than such unpleasant topics as $19 million in water debt, millions in CRA debt, the vast sums of money taxpayers are expected to pay in order to support runaway empire building at both the Police Department and City Hall, plus the fact that under their leadership this town is now a couple of years away from a pretty nasty financial crunch.

Which really isn't all that new if you think about it. I mean, it isn't the first time the dogs and ponies have come to town, right?

So get a load of these bananas!

In the Agenda Packet supplied to the City Council and other assorted folks there is a grid where all the desired water infrastructure items are listed along with their estimated cost. These are the things that are supposed to made possible by raising water rates. Which apparently would also qualify us for some Federal funding. The total price tag here is $43,134,800. Or the more chill $43 million if you prefer rounding your numbers off.

While at least a portion of this mighty sum could be handled by grants from the Feds, that's still a lot of bubble baths.

Here are those items listed in the City Council Agenda Packet under the rubric of Water Infrastructure Improvements:

Auburn Reservoir replacement ----------------> est $4,052,000
Carter Reservoir replacement ------------------> est $230,000
Main Plant Reconstruction ----------------------> est $2,310,000
Replace fence at Maint/Spreading ------------> est $127,200
San Gabriel Court Main replacement --------> est $112,000
Santa Anita Court Main replacement --------> est $112,000
Water System Repairs ----------------------------> est $1,604,800
Well 7 construction -------------------------------> est $1,800,000
Wells 3-6 Replacement --------------------------> est $4,403,000
Zone 2 interconnect w/ Arcadia ---------------> est $975,000
SGVMWD pipeline --------------------------------> est $17,000,000
Sierra Vista Park Irrigation replacement ---> est $50,000
Sturtevant Landscape Project ------------------> est $50,000
Santa Anita Creek Div. Pipeline ---------------> est $200,000
Santa Anita Creek Div. Structure --------------> est $372,000
Santa Anita Dam Rehab -------------------------> est $100,000
Santa Anita Debris Basin Rehab. -------------> est $2,781,500
Santa Anita Spreading Grounds Pump Stn-> est $1,000,000
Sierra Madre Creek Diversion Rehab -------> est $85,000
Sierra Madre Spreading Grnds Rehab ------> est $1,254,000
Reconstruction of Library ----------------------> est $7,000,000
Remodel Front Counters at City Hall --------> est $50,000

All of which strikes this observer as being quite excessive. Can it be that this City has been allowed to fall into such a state of decay that everything related to water infrastructure has fallen into a state of abject disrepair? And it will take $10s of millions of dollars to undo this debacle?

There another possible scenario, of course. It could be this isn't as much about replacement or repair as was first advertised. Rather it appears that things such as the $17 million dollar San Gabriel Valley Metropolitan Water District Pipeline have a lot more to do with creating the water infrastructure necessary to accommodate high levels of new development here in Sierra Madre. Something the City's current elected leadership has seen as their mission for quite some time.

And then there is the matter of a $127,000 fence. Does it go around the new $50,000 City Hall counter?

Contentious matters to be sure. And far too important a decision to be made based upon opinions from the 200 or so earnest citizens who happened to take a tour of the City's waterworks. There are far more people in this town than that.



  1. Back in the saddleOctober 19, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    What kind of a Master Plan or strategy is laid out to justify all the water items listed? There's no coherence or reasoning laid out unless maybe there's more info in the council packet? Where are the studies and plans that justify all of these things and how are they interrelated to improve the system to maintain quality, and which items are simply expansion of the existing system (obviously Well 7 and the new pipeline are set up to allow more connections by new construction). How is the aquifer being replenished by diverting rainwater and recycled landscaping water, as well as the spreading grounds to prevent overdraft? The Raymond Basin is already going way down, and then you get the resulting subsidence. You have to replace this well water with a number of strategies, otherwise the city will be "stranded" on the very expensive MWD water supply which appears to be getting ramped up for installation and the new tier structure which comes from the MWD tiered rate charges, that's how it's passed through. You'll note that MWD rewards large users of water and charges very high rates for smaller users and residents.

    Local water is always far cheaper and is really the only sustainable approach.

  2. It's appalling to watch good people willingly allow themselves to be snookered and fleeced by a corrupt and venomous city government.To allow this bunch of unscrupulous villainous crooks to fleece the property owners to enrich others is unconscionable.There Must be Antidote to this kind of Outrage!Do we call the attorney General,recall or whatever....When will good people stop being wimps!

  3. Show up at tonight's meeting, friend. Your spirit is exactly what is needed.

  4. In view of the fact that the City council is determined to raise rates to build a library and a giant water main, I have two questions for the Moderator and participants:

    1. Is it possible to challenge the rate hike through a lawsuit based on the omissions in the prop 218 notice? If so, are there taxpayer rights groups that will take the lead on this?

    2. Is it possible to repeal the tax through a ballot initiative? Would it require a simple majority?

    I fear that "no" answers to one and two will require a recall, which is the last thing the city needs. I honestly do not understand why the council members insist on proceeding with this tax increase in the face of 1700 signatures. But apparently they are committed to going that route.

  5. I noticed that the Mosca sign was not in a recycling bin. Obviously the former supporter is not green.

  6. Didn't the "shenanigan" council back in 2005/06 pull this same tactic?
    Downtown Specific Plan 101? BS tours of downtown?
    When the people found out about it, via Tesoro's Sierra Madre News and then followed up by Katina Dunn's Mount Wilson Observer,which was mailed to each resident every week, they formed a group of residents called SMRRD (Sierra Madre Residents for Responsible Development)
    We got Measure V on the ballot and WON the vote, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interests and Sacramento and Sierra Madre crooked politicans used to fight us- WE, THE PEOPLE.
    Now our new little gang of 4, powered by the same dirty dealing special interests we saw during the Measure V fight are determined to undermine us.

    I pray you will fight, yet again, Sierra Madre residents for responsible development and win.

  7. If those are the estimates, how much will the projects really cost with cost over runs, un forseen problems, and don't forget staff time which includes their benefits and PEERS?

  8. the money is not realOctober 19, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Perhaps it is inevitable that when a person is discussing other people's tax dollars, a kind of corruption takes place, and a "million" becomes either an abstraction or downsized so that it equates to a dollar.

  9. just how stupid does Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh, Moran, City Attorney and the City Manger think we are?

    the sheer arrogance of hiding and flat out lying about millions of dollar in pork projects and overspending to build a water infrastructure to allow for large scale development is just out of control

    isn't Buchanan, Mosca, Walsh and Moran supposed to be our neighbors and were elected to serve the people?

    Buchanan is out to help his employer and the same for Mosca, neither really give a ship about the city

    Moran is a ex-realtor and sells mortages, his mom is a realtor and Moran is quite open about his disdain for those opposed to his development agenda and padding his own pocket

    Maybe we can get Moran to sell Buchanan and Mosca houses and those two can go plunder another city for their employers and their extremely massive egos

    I am sick of John Buchanan and Joe Mosca, both of have lied one too many times and this time they are out to rip apart the city, regardless of the cost

    Moran is just a grifter.

    Walsh is way over her head and maybe just once she can ask a question that shows she puts a little more thought into being a Councilmember. She has never opposed anything Buchanan or Mosca puts out and she should be ashamed of herself. But she's always nasty and bitter in Council meetings.

    Myself and I'm sure most of the city sees John Buchanan as a liar.

  10. If we put our money where our mouths are, we can do a lot, and,yes, if push comes to shove, we can sue.
    1700 protesters, 20 bucks each, should make a nice war chest.

  11. Rusty pipes, huh?

  12. Great idea.
    $20 is cheap compared to the alternative of letting these crooks get away with this!

    $34,000 to start our attack!
    Works for me.

  13. To the trenches mon friere, !October 19, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    I don't know about dirty dealing and special interests. In fact, I am pro reasonable development under Measure V. I am pro having the owners of property in town making a reasonable return on their investments. And I am pro funtioning government that has the trust of the people, and have been willing to give Nancy Walsh, Josh Moran, Joe Mosca and John Buchanan the chance to succeed.

    However, the council will forfeit all trust and good will if they flip 1700 houses (not voters) the bird and pass a tax increase in the heart of a recession to fund yet further projects that "we can't possibly live without."

    A recall would be too contentious and we might lose. Better to yet again bring an initiative to strip the council of discretion to tax in excess of a set amount and to repeal the water tax they are determined to jam down our throats.

  14. when they see them in town, maybe 1,700 households can give Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh and Moran a piece of our mind

    tell them to their face that we think they are lying to us

    obviously, John Buchanan is okay with being known around town as a liar

    Mosca and Moran revel it the glory of being known as liars and have never hide from the fact, or at least Moran has been upfront about him using the Council position to benefit himself and his friends

  15. Mon friere, you are indeed.
    An initiative to control the council's financial decisions is the most logical solution.

  16. We could put the CC on a spending cap. Anything over a certain limit can only happen if the voters approve it.

  17. jeez, we have to treat the council majority as if they are teenagers

    evil teenagers

  18. Take away city hall's money and they can't do anything. Which works for evereyone I think.

  19. 1--I carried a water protest letter form
    2--I signed the water protest letter form
    3--I went to the Water Walk
    4--I sent a surrogate to a Water Talk I could not attend
    5--I have sent out e-mails and asked people to attend tonight while I am out of town.
    6--I will donate to the law suit
    7--I will walk the next protest petition around
    8--I will vote to curtail our city's runaway spending on infrastructure that was not paid for by inadequate leadership of past city councils and past city administration.
    9--Everyone else must have a list like this, too!

  20. Very powerful post, 11:57 am. If everyone could send an e-mail or make a phone call to their friends and neighbors to attend tonight's City Council Special Water Meeting we could show the City that we mean business.

    I understand it'll be a barn burner.

  21. Watching Joe trying to make this stupid prank fly will be a hoot. Get him out from behind his sycophants and he is clueless.

  22. Ratt Tatt Tatt Water RackettOctober 19, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Right off the top, I saw a document recently I believe it was the California Integrated Debt site, if not that one one under a simple sierra madre word search at the CA.Gov site, where a connection was supposed to be forgiven, the cost of a big connector like a y type was supposed to be forgiven during the last bond refinance. It was a connector or debt supposedly incurred by sierra madre and owed to SGVMWD, perhaps it was worded in the debt document of the part you owe them. I swear, I believe it was part of the sweet offered before the current listed debt as a throw in to do the last deal the one in the 2009 released Jan 2010 audit.. A breakdown of the 17 million would not hurt, and you still do not have the work documents you asked for. I think the SEC could throw a wrench into this, because it is being sold as a bond, and that is their regulatory entity. They have to do it free.

    What if these water entities pretend to fix things and never do?

  23. Don't underestimate this Mosca creature. He is insidious.
    The public persona is far different than the private one.
    This man is arrogant, sociopathic and dangerous.
    He is a committed politician of the worst kind.
    He is hateful of people like Kurt Zimmerman and MaryAnn MacGillivray, and we can add John Crawford.
    While Kurt, MaryAnn and John are decent and honest, Mosca is the total antithesis.
    I think he controls that CityCouncil and staff like a Maoist type dictator. Mosca is calling all these evil shots, Buchanan is his back up. Moran is his evil backup and Walsh is just an old fool, and I would feel sorry for her, but according to those who have worked with her, she is a nasty person. It shows, she is horribly rude to MaryAnn.
    Get rid of Mosca and Sierra Madre will be much better off. He is Doyle, gone bad.

  24. I think outsiders who start posting about Sierra Madre politics and telling Tattlers what to do after having been on scene for a few months are a lot like a couple of council members who move here and immediately run for public office. That's what I think.

  25. Sorry in advance for getting ahead of the conversation, but.....

    I would suggest obtaining a copy of the proposed Federal grant, which appears to be part of the reason for the increase. Chances are strong that the grant money will not be used for what it is intended, like re-modeling the library. Might make sense to line up your ducks since the Council/city staff seem hell bent on passing the increase.

  26. Don't mean to interfere with the nose dive this thread has taken, but.....
    The thing that offends me the most is the way the rate hike was presented as "emergency" flavored need to fix old pipes.
    Reasonable people would say, 'Well, you need to repair aging infrastructure" and we all know that, but the city went too far, didn't it, in the amount? The amount is just too great, and no wonder - slipping things like the library in.
    Hoping no one would notice?

  27. If you don't go to another City Council meeting this year, please, go to tonight's. that laundry list at the beginning of this blog? That totals $46,668,500. Of our money - your's and mine. That doesn't include the $19,000,000 the city has finally admitted is the total of the 1998 and 2003 bond indebtedness. I don't care if Doyle's Dowagers line up 25 deep to say if the city says we owe the money, then its got to be paid. $66 million. $66,000,000. There isn't a single city staff member who'll still b working in City Hall when this mess is paid off. Buchanan, Mosca, Moron, and Walsh will be faint memories, thank God. But the property owners, our children, the children of our friends and neighbors, if they're still here, they'll still be paying.

    Come tonight. Line up with those bewitched seniors but YOU ask the hard question - WHY?

  28. How long will it take for the word to get out that if you buy a house in Sierra Madre the water surcharge will double your mortgage payment? Because that's what's going to happen in the not too distant future.

  29. okay well I called San Gabriel Valley Water Muni District and John Leung is still on the board of directors. He is district two and represents the city of Alhambra. Best go to the site and read up before the meeting. I was especially impressed by their worldheadquarters shack. And there is a pretty picture of them meeting with legislators? Mike Eng, Since your water meeting is the 411 on H20 per the city website, you might get to meet the h20 owl, they are going to be armed to the teeth, on the water district side there are only 5 board of directors and two guys in management, you might consider a no confidence to the San Gabriel Municipal Water District. I thought they made Leung resign, You cannot deal with an agency that has a man like that on their board of directors. He took 4 million from El Monte they got 400 thousand back.

  30. Water is just the beginning, 2:32. Wait'll you see what Joe is going to give to the SMPOA.

  31. Ah, Sierra Madre. The little town of magical thinking. Paper water. Bond debt. UUT to fund the Volunteer Fire Department and the Police Department. Wine and Brie at the Villa annually.

    Where will it all stop?

    Oh. I know. In Bankruptcy Court.

  32. Ditto from me, I did all that 11:57 did. And hate it that I can't be there tonight. Thanks for all who can and will speak up. We need all of you to help us stand up for our rights. Please don't rely on the regulars who get up at meeting after meeting to speak. They're getting tired of hearing from us. Let them know that there are more than 5 or 6 people who care.

  33. Look at it this way. Sierra Madre goes broke, gets incorporated into some city far less worried about development, like say, Pasadena?
    Why would pasadena care what happens in Sierra madre? Be a great way to repay some favors.

  34. Sir Eric, how long have you been waiting to use that fabulous end of the campaign picture?

  35. We're on a roll in Sierra Madre.
    The council majority a few years back was so idiotic they lost the ability to control downtown development the way they wanted to, and now hopefully this new majority will lose the ability to tax us the way they want to.
    I am all for an initiative that puts the power of how to spend the people's money into a vote.

  36. Are we seeing those two old rumors come to pass,
    1) the town is being sold out from under the residents
    2)bankruptcy will mean open for business for any developer to do anything.

  37. Does anybody know if that damn BartJoe pipeline decision can be reversed?

  38. channel 3 watcher 1stOctober 19, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    I can't wait to hear the spin on the library's inclusion on the water rate hike need list.

  39. It is going to be an underwater library, 4:15. Like the Sierra Madre finances under Mayor Joe Mosca.

  40. It is hard to explain why this city council wants to spend and spend like they do.

  41. I don't know if the decision can be reversed 4:12, but it certainly looks like there hasn't been the money to get around to doing it. Maybe that was going to come from the Crater and UnderStone Houses, though many of us recall the passionate protests from Mr. Doyle that the pipeline was for public safety, not development.

  42. It could have been reversed, Angry at 4:12.....but....the complacent voters in Sierra Madre did not get out and support Crawford, Alcorn and Watts, the foolish or the dishonest believed or started the lies about MacGillivray, Watts, Crawford and Alcorn, and voted in the worst possible candidates they could have voted for.
    Monster Mosca, Evil Josh and dumb old Nancy.
    Congratulations, Sierra Madre, you sold us down the river.

  43. So who takes the fall for screwing up all the Proposition 218 stuff? Elaine or Sandy?

    I think Joe and John will be having a "who can throw 'em under the bus quicker" contest pretty soon.

  44. good stewards they are notOctober 19, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    I've been trying to figure out that fiscal irresponsibility myself, and all I can come up with is that they are all comfortable situated in their lives - I don't mean wildly rich or anything, but doing well - or married to spouses who are doing well - and except for MacGilvrey, they seem to not understand the concept of a budget. Or if they know the word, it's in the context of "look what we get to spend." They've forgotten, if they ever knew, that not everyone in town is so well 'situated'. That's a big failing, that is.

  45. Golly, it will be a different thing to see the prop 218 excuses rain down. For the first time, no one involved can say "I wasn't here. We weren't here. That happened before"
    Different script.

  46. As relatively recent arrivals I do not think Joe or John really have that "sense of place" many living here do. So running up a collosal debt doesn't bother them so much. They can just pick up and go some place else. But people who have been here for years can't bear to witness such irresponsibility. It's like watching something bad happen to a famility member.

  47. I like that picture too, 3:59. It has been sitting in my phone since last spring. I'd forgotten about it until last night. Glad it was still there!

  48. Over at the SM Patch John Stephens is offering to ask peoples water meeting questions for them at the meeting tonight. Which I guess would make him a kind of emcee.

  49. Here ya go Mr. Stephens:

    Why do you idiots keep digging us into debt?

  50. Mr. Stephens, please ask this one:

    "Mayor Mosca, you were for fiscal responsibility during the campaign, but now you're spending like the drunk sailor who just took the pink bus to Tijuana. Don't you feel a little dirty?"

  51. I've got one for the young gentleman to pose:

    In this veritable grab bag of projects to be funded by our water bill payments, could you throw in a lot and custom built home on the Stonehouse site for me? I'm sure no one would see anything out of the ordinary in providing a resident with the spoils of hillside ravaging.

  52. 4:28, you're right. It is like watching something bad happen to a family member. There are plenty of people here who don't really have the option to go someplace else and start again, and they are stuck with this increasingly worse situation that they did not create.
    Oops, there was the vote.....
    But still, the majority of people living here do not deserve this. Those who voted for this crew were misinformed and too trusting.
    Not the first time that has happened here.

  53. In case you missed it, Kurt Z quoted from a City letter where the City admits that the water rate increase is merely enough to satisfy the bond obligations, but not enough to pay for operations and maintenance or capital improvements. Translation, the water rate increase has nothing to do with repairing or replacing our water infrastructure.

    Am I the only person in Sierra Madre, who is outraged that the City Council lied to us?

    This story is a real bombshell, which means it will only be covered by the Tattler.

  54. 9:50 Brenda's coverage at the Star News has been pretty good. Perhaps, she'll run with the story too.

  55. Can somebody ask Joe Mosca at the next Council meeting how he plans to pay for a new $7 million library.

  56. The other bombshell is that Joe and John are building a new library. Clarification, Joe and John are building a new library with our money.

  57. The truth was finally told and the lies exposed. Thanks Kurt and John.

  58. First they stole our Prop 218 rights, then they asked us for our money.

    Sorry. That is not how it works.

  59. Did anybody understand what Sandy meant by "reason." I didn't.

    I thought Kurt's point was well taken. In a nutshell, he argued that if the money from the water rate increase is being used exclusively to satisy bond covenants, then the City's notification to the voters should say so. What the notice actually said was that the money was being used for operations and maintenance and to pay for improvements.

  60. How somebody like Kurt Zimmerman, who insists on telling the truth, ever got elected to the City Council in Sierra Madre is beyond me.

  61. Yo! Water rate protesters. Where were you tonight? John C., Kurt Z. and Faye Angus are carrying your water (pardon the pun).

  62. 10:01, don't hold your breath. Brenda works for Larry Wilson and Wilson has never taken issue with anything Joe Mosca has ever done. What Kurt had to say tonight really makes Joe and the rest of the Council look bad.

  63. It's ironic because Wilson is typically against such tax/rate hikes. Perhaps this time, he'll man up and criticize Joe for insisting on a rate increase in the middle of a recession and for his inept (to put it nicely) handling of the entire rate hike business.

  64. Talk about no shame. After Kurt's speech, the Council Members continued to lie claiming that the rate increase was for repairs and upgrades.

    Throw the bums out.

  65. John, Please publish Kurt's speech, I wasn't listening closely and missed the part where he said that the rate increase is intended to cover bond payments and won't be enough for repairs.


  66. It's just a matter of time before the local press starts sliming Zimmerman again. It's sad because he's just telling the truth.

  67. John, thanks for mentioning the plans to build a $7 million library. And, I thought we were in the middle of a depression.

  68. Did you see Susan henderson poke her snout into the room last night? She took a couple of pictures, then split. That is what she'll base her story on. 3 minutes to take some pictures.

  69. Goes up at midnight, 10:44. An hour and 5 minutes from now.

  70. Oooooo! Can't wait........

  71. after listening to John Buchanan, I now know what smegma would say if it could talk. Karen Snider is like a Chatty Cathy doll but with half the intelligence. Lying Levin is like that man at the end of the indiana jones movie who while indy is telling miriam not to look as they are tied to the stake. the villian man who is wearing a headress starts melting after he has opened the ark, Watching her lie was like that first melty shot of the face. Ms Aguilar could easily be replaced by a slug and needs to back away from the burrito bar. Inman is lost and way over his head, public works? I don't think so. Walsh is like a mother of darkness castle reject retired but still thinking she has juju in her tutu. Moran is a mimic and Mosca is a booger, Zimmerman was the glitter man, our John blew the smoke right back in their faces, Ms Fay a herione a class act, More later

  72. Hey Madre Mia, that was well put! I totally agree. However, where you you place the infamous Police Chief Marilyn Diaz, and her self proclaimed wisdom?

  73. if 50 applauded, would Joe have them arrested?

    just what can he do?

    nothing, he's a wimp

  74. it must bug the beezees out of the City Attorney to try to argue with Kurt, she knows that he knows more about the law than she does and he's catching her in lies

    he can do more off the Council as a citizen because he doesn't have any constraints

    I won't justify Buchanan and Mosca as lawyers, they are PR people. What a waste of a law degree.

  75. ten years ago, after having dinner with a couple of the sleazer realtors in town, I came to the conclusion that Sierra Madre would be run into the ground and we'd be forced to annex into Pasadena

  76. if we had such an emergency with our water pipes, why haven't I seen construction?

    oh yeah, it was another lie told by Buchanan and Mosca and the City to hide several pork projects and to build an infrastruture for developers

    I saw Buchanan the other day and my first thought was, "what a liar"


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