Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sorry Mayor Pro Tem Buchanan, Development Is Not Green

There seem to be two distinct opinions on the question of what it means to be "green" in Sierra Madre. There is the example of those several hundred folks who gathered in Arcadia last week, people wishing to preserve a priceless natural wooded resource from being turned into a mud pit for excavated silt.

You might consider these people to be the kinds of environmentalists responsible for creating the original concept of what it means to be green. That being preserving nature by inhibiting the relentless encroachments of civilization and taking into account the need to save such things as the Arcadia Woodlands for future generations to appreciate and love.

And then there are those who have adopted the Sacramento viewpoint of what it means to be green. The notion being that we can somehow build our way out of Global Warming, and that by taking towns like Sierra Madre and filling them with high density condominium and mixed use development, along with the adoption of social engineering edicts that enforce the use of public transportation over cars, we will somehow save the world. Laws such as SB 375 now have the full power of the state government behind them in order to make just these kinds of things happen. And there are so many eager to help.

You can sense this struggle to define what it means to be "green" in the differences between the two camps involved in the fate of the Arcadia Woodlands. Which side do you think the County of Los Angeles officials present at last week's meeting would side with? The viewpoints being expressed by the nature preservationists who attended that meeting, or the Sacramento version of what it means to be "green?" After all, it will take a whole lot more water to supply all that new development under consideration. Will the County let a few trees stand in the way?

Trying to build your way out of global warming is like trying to eat your way out of obesity. The cause of the problem can never be its solution.

This evening Sierra Madre's Green Advisory Committee meets for its second time. And while they are still attempting to define which way they are going to go with all this, the early indications are that they are far more on the Sacramento side of things than something like the Arcadia Woodlands.

As an example we should take a look at Agenda Item # 2 for tonight's meeting, which is called "Legislative Updates." This is how the item reads:

The Committee will review and discuss updates on recent or anticipated legislation that may affect sustainability or green programs and policies.

This raises a question. Should Sierra Madre being taking its green direction from Sacramento? Our legislature has helped to create record deficits, debt, schools that are broke and losing a generation of kids, and an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs and industries to other states at rates never seen here before. Are these the kinds of people anyone should be looking to for guidance?

And apparently our State Legislature is no longer the voice of the people, but rather where well paid lobbyists go to get their business done. And would you believe that a majority of the bills signed into law during the 2009-10 session were not only those of Sacramento favored interests, but were actually written by the lobbyists themselves? This lamentable happenstance is termed "Sponsored Bills," and what it basically means is Sacramento has turned its legislative responsibilities over to private interests in exchange for good old fashioned bribes.

An article in last Sunday's San Jose Mercury News entitled "Sponsored Bills Update: Outside Interests Reign During Dismal Session" further exposed these corrupt practices. Here is part of what this article has to say:

By most measures, California's Legislature performed dismally this past session. It passed a budget a record 100 days late, and grossly underestimated the fiscal crisis - a situation so severe that lawmakers returned to the Capitol earlier this month for a special session to grapple with a $6.1 billion deficit.

But the dire situation did not inhibit legislators from carrying bills crafted by outside interests who showered them with campaign contributions, a continuing Mercury News investigation of the California legislative process shows. While larger problems festered, lawmakers in the two-year session just ended pushed lobbyist-driven "sponsored bills" -- bills that are not simply backed by interest groups but often actually written by them -- at the same furious pace of the previous session.

Sponsored bills accounted for almost 40 percent of all legislation introduced and 50 percent of bills that became law ... Members of the Assembly and Senate introduced 1,596 bills - 37 percent of the total for the 2009-10 session - on behalf of outside interests including employee groups, government agencies and nonprofits; of those, 455 bills were sponsored by private industry and corporations. The percentage was down only slightly from the number of sponsored bills introduced in the previous session, when California's crisis was far less severe.

So when the Green Advisory Committee reviews the vast amounts of state legislation on "green" issues, will they be taking into account who or what created these bills? Were they crafted with our concerns first, or will they turn out to have been something cooked up by involved industries and lobbyists who only have their own interests in mind? And should the Green Advisory Committee begin to advocate for these (very) possibly lobbyist authored bills, will their efforts really be in the interest of the people of Sierra Madre? Or with the outside interests that actually authored this legislation.

Certainly Sacramento legislation such as SB 375 (aka the "Anti-Sprawl Bill" - something that heavily favors the development and realty interests in California over anything even remotely environmental) has a lot more in common with the concerns of the Builders Industry Association and California Association of Realtors than it does, as an example, the people trying to rescue the Arcadia Woodlands.

The notion that high density development is green has got to be one of the larger frauds of our times. This is at best a marketing ploy designed to make people believe that the for-profit driven needs of the corporate development and realty industries are actually based on concerns for the environment. And that by gutting and redeveloping low density communities such as ours and turning them into densely packed urban style cities we will somehow slow down global warming. Something that would be laughable if so many credulous people hadn't bought into it.

We will be following the Green Advisory Committee's actions quite closely on The Tattler in 2011. Let's hope they realize that the real interests of Sierra Madre are not with John Buchanan's big development agendas, but rather in sticking with something we always have been, which is green.

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70 comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing out Buchanan's real agenda. His baby, the Green Committee is an extension of his obligation to his employer and to the development crowd. This Committee, hand-picked by John will do his bidding. Looking forward to you keeping us updated on this stelth commission.

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  2. Sacramento "Green" is the color of the big bucks their followers are anticipating to receive from the massive development;leaving a denuded wasteland for the rest of us to gaze upon.

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  3. Wouldn't more development here mean more money for Edison? This smacks of a conflict of interest to me.

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  4. Look, it's questionable whether anyone on the so-called Green Committee is able to understand legislative updates let alone make recommendations. Besides that Buchanan was so desperate that one of the committee isn't even a Sierra Madre resident. Oh, and they've been allotted 10 minutes on the agenda for discussion.

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  5. So you think buchaanan gets his marching from Edison? Cuz you know there are billions and billions to be made right here in sierra Madre, absolutely ridiculous. So where are all the bullddozers, surveyors, construction workers, dump trucks, back hoes...there are none, And there won't be, fact...end of story.

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  6. That is pretty much the problem. The Green Committee members probably don't have a clue about the origins of some of the suspect Sacramento agendas Buchanan is pushing. Which is how he likes it. Buchanan is just trying to build some credibility for DSP style development. He wants to use these people to help him get it, and the last thing he wants there are people who know anything.

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  7. Mucky - You don't remember the DSP? If it wasn't for Measure V all that you talk about in your post would have happened. Except, of course, the "billions and billions" part. Had all that stuff been built here it would be sitting there half empty just like similar projects like those in Monrovia and Pasadena.

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  8. And speaking of Monrovia... has anyone noticed the number of vacant shop fronts along Myrtle? No Measure V there but empty just the same. Could it be that Sierra Madre's closed up boulevard boutiques and eateries are victims of the economy and not the slow growth protections?

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  9. Nobody wants to live in "Transit Oriented Development." The American dream remains home ownership. All this crap about "getting people out of their cars and into TODs" is complete madness. It will not happen here because we won't let it. Sierra Madre is not Pasadena.

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  10. I disagree 7:22. Look at how quickly families rallied to install elders into the senior development. It's all in what it's called and how it's marketed There are many people for many reason for whom home ownership is not a goal but a burden. Town homes, condos, retirement hotels, time share - they're all nothing more than versions of TODs. When the price of a single family home hits a million, smaller shelters and smaller families will become the norm.

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  11. Hey Muckracker at 6:55. Been to one Carter recently? You know, the devlopment that the Buchanan Torres Council approved. Lots of heavy equipment there. Think before you speak

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  12. If utility companies don't think small towns are important to their business model, then why do they encourage their employees and former employees to serve on City Councils.

    Case in point Sierra Madre.

    Buchanan
    Mosca
    Joffe

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  13. 7:28 - don't you think calling a nursing home or senior housing a TOD is a bit of a stretch? I don't think transit has much to do with it. Besides, the only houses hitting a million now are the ones that came down from 2 million.

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  14. If you want to judge Johnny B by his deeds rather than the vast amounts of verbiage he puts out, you needn't look any farther than One Carter. Our vertical unbuilt ecological slum.

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  15. Dirt Mucker at 6:55

    Are you a member of the Gang of 4 city council or are you on their dumb "green committee"?

    Thanks for this article, John Crawford.
    You really nailed their evil agenda.

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  16. Absolutely, 7:49.

    I love your description "our vertical unbuilt ecological slum"!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I almost can't stand to drive by and look at that once beautiful property at One Carter.
    It's so sad and it was so WRONG.

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  17. A Big Convenient LieDecember 21, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    As long as people as bright as John Crawford give creedence to "Global Warming," which I believe is now called "Climate Change," (because the earth isn't actually warming) by alluding to it as real, we are doomed. The developers are using a seriously flawed theory to push a pro-growth agenda.

    Who "educated" us about global warming/climate change? Al Gore and the left-leaning mass-media with the help of the public schools. They are not concerned with the "environment," they are concerned with profitting on people's gullibility, and creating a society of drones.

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  18. Climate change = snowfall in Australia during its summer

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  19. Whetehr global warming is true or not, what is sad is
    the crooks up in Sacrmento have used it as an excuse
    to line their pockets and those that bribe them.

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  20. I know good scientists on both sides of the issue - more on the Global Warming is a fact side - but how about if we put the is it true or not debate aside, and get responsible for living on the land respectfully.

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  21. And the enforcement mechanism for all this would be.....

    Jerry Brown will sue your city.

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  22. Unfortunately climate warming on our Earth is occurring in the entire solar system, and has been measured as such by NASA. I guess my car exhaust is effecting the planetary system too.
    I guess we have to adjust the energy output of the Sun.

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  23. I guarantee you if the planet was in a cooling cycle, it would be another excuse for the money grubbers. We cannot win.

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  24. When the city closes the post drop off, and we have to drive to Arcadia or Pasadena to mail a letter, I'm sure that will be real green as well I guess the so called "green" committee will think it's a good idea.

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  25. True, 9:25, but there's no reason for us not to evolve and get better forms of energy that aren't so destructive - and it's not just to the environment. Think about it - would you have given the stamp of approval to a vehicle that could kill someone?

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  26. Gotta love the Tattler. Truly independent.
    Alienated a part of your readership the other day with too much ACLU, and another part with the green is bah humbug today.

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  27. We are green
    Sierra Madre is green already.
    Don't mess it up.

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  28. I agree 9:39. When all the other toewns in the San Gabriel Valley are as green as we are, then maybe we'll need to figure out what's next.

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  29. Enforcement - good question.
    How will the city monitor and enforce its greening?

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  30. How much interaction does the Green Committee have with the Sierra Madre Environmental Action Council, or the Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy? It would seem sensible to bring those organizations together.

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  31. I think it's important to give the Green Committee members the benefit of the doubt, but there's someone who doesn't live here on it?
    How can that be?

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  32. In the blog there is an analogy that can be taken a step father as Sierra Madre's bit of luck takes us into the future: "eat your way out of obesity" well, since you have to eat to live, you eat "better" to eat your way out of obesity--smarter and less, and healthier etc.

    So, the parallel for builiding--build smarter, build less--with recyclied materials in ways that bring people grace and pleasure and health.

    Don't let the fact that the "green" movement has been co-opted deter you from good possibilities here. Another term for the overuse of the green movement and its building allies is called "greenwash" green in name only.

    As in the great depression and the hard scrabble decade(s) that followed: reuse, recycle or do without. Our economy doesn't thrive too well on the 'do without' so we are badgered into spending more and more and getting mess and mess. Times will change.

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  33. Oh, lordy, where to put all that mud and debris? Well, it will be coming down decade after decade--it is above and we are below, so don't cut down carbon sequestering oak woodlands to pile it this bit now and now will come again and there will have to be other places. Seek those other places now.

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  34. There is a small canyon house that has a maple floor recycled from the old school house in Sierra Madre. The man who built it in 1953 found the wood piled on the side of the road. When a new section of flooring was needed, the match was found at a salvage yard in LA. It was from a basketball court at a local university that had been rebuilt.

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  35. The house I grew up in El Monte was a one bedroom, one bath, kitchen nook off living room with kitchen table tucked in behind the couch. A real "open" plan. My bedroom was carved out of the laundry porch. It was set to the back of a nearly one acre lot on which there were fruit trees and grape vines and lots of grass to play in and trees to climb.

    A thing of the past--the front yard is now filled with rental duplexes!

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  36. Not sure I follow, 10:53. My understanding is that one of the ways you fight obesity is to stop eating so much. You can eat better, but you still lose more weight by dieting. And "green design" houses, while they might be better than some of the old designs, still contribute to the overall problem, just not quite so much. The best green effect would be to not build them in the first place.

    Everyone would like to sell you solutions to your problems. But the best solution is to just stop doing those things in the first place.

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  37. Just remember! 30,000 feet of alluvium in the Los Angeles Basin. Deposited as a result of erosion of the San Gabriel Mountain Range. And they think 500,000 truck loads of sediment from Santa Anita Dam is "manageable". Sure. Truck it into the sediment deposition area from the Station Fire, from Sierra Madre, from Altadena, Pasadena, Monrovia. To save what? Fuel costs. This whole sediment disposal boondoggle is because there is no answer to the problem. This whole issue is about man's management of a problem that nature provides the answer to: gravity. Clear the path to the ocean. Development impedes a natural process. Crazy, huh?

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  38. Post at 9:21 said what needs to be said again and again--live on the land respectfully.

    Who actually believes that all builidng will stop?

    Can we please do a better job of living on the land? Can we do it respectfully?

    Where you live now was once open space, a place of nature that maybe even was a grove of oranges, avacados or the like. Now it is a foundation with a home with a roof that hopefully doesn't leak.

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  39. U S Green Building Council Reference GuildDecember 21, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    From LEED-NC Green Building Council Reference Guide.

    Introduction

    “The environmental impact of the building, design, construction, and operation industry is significant. Buildings annually consume more than 30% of the total energy and more than 60% of the electricity used in the United States.” “ A typical North American commercial construction project generates 2.5 pounds of solid waste per square foot of completed floor space.”
    Buchanan and his green groupies don’t know what they are talking about.

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  40. 8;26 Actually its the polar bears, coral reefs, meltineg glacers, receding ice caps and many other phenomenon telling the story of global warming. Gore had little to do with it other than observe and report. Go ahead stick your head in the sand..it reveals your better side.

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  41. There were people who lived here for a long time in a balanced way.
    They lost the war with settlers who wanted to dominate nature.

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  42. The whole LEED concept is under legal assault. Apparently the differences are minor while the claims made are immense. A nice little plaque to give the realtors something to talk about, but not much more.

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  43. The argument about which scientists are right is counter-productive y'all, and leads to emotional name calling. How about if we move away from that and focus on what we can do to make the environment healthier?
    Measure V was a great start.

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  44. Poster @ 11:18--go back and read 10:53 again. You missed the word LESS. And how does all building stop? Please explain.

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  45. Time living in this town has taught that there is nothing a realtor will not say or do to make a buck. Most of them, anyway.

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  46. Rudeness is a weak man's strengthDecember 21, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    Very clever comment, 11:21, care to cite any facts?

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  47. Brentwood house on TV news shows a fallen tree that uprooted due to all the rain saturated land. You can see the climbing vine on the trunk. No one is talking about how the poor care of the tree contributed to the problem. Also, a Eucalyptus in Beverly Glenn, roots all bound into the small parkway space that was the wrong tree for the place in the first place. We have got to do better.

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  48. Are you getting the city e-blast, Channel 3 and AM 1630 for the information on the flag alert? Tell your friends that are off to work that a Yellow Flag has been called.

    3 a.m. to 9 a.m. is the next big storm. Buy some extra groceries on your way home from work.

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  49. What does John Buchanan have against this town?
    Why doesn't he like it?
    What makes him want to change it all the time?

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  50. That's right local historian. And now the settlers are going to parade around a float to celebrate the victory. They didn't just wipe out the people and wreck the land, they messed around with the indigenous people spiritually too.

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  51. Why doesn't Buchanan change his place of residence rather than trying so hard to change Sierra Madre?

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  52. Maybe Johnny B gets off on the gratitude and appreciation
    Sierra Madre shows to those who work for the community.

    And he expects that someday he'll get some.

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  53. after Johnny B lied and lied repeatedly about the water tax hike and the fact that he was hiding a 7 million dollar library that is completely unneccasary, a fraud use of taxpayer monies and a payoff for his supporters

    after all of this, i assume everything John Buchanan says is a lie and self serving for his own ego and to benefit his employer

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  54. Buchanan, another guy who moves into town, immediately starts volunteering in the most visible community organizations and then decides that he should run for council

    another guy, like Mosca, who are given an obscene amount of time from their jobs to work inside city government to benefit their respective employers, both energy companies

    Buchanan chose Sierra Madre because he knows and we all know that if he had moved to Arcadia, South Pas, Pasadena, LaCanada or other areas, he'd be a nobody and shunned from the social circles because he is transparent and a sham

    only a complete ego manic decides within a few months of moving into a community that he knows more and is smarter to decide our future

    of course, he's doing for Edison.

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  55. The earth has gone through many cycles and we can chart the changes over eons of geological time. What is absent from the discussion now is the odd notion that we can take and take and pollute and pollute and it not have any affect. The Industrial Revolution anyone? Time that we behave better. Ozone holes, melting ice caps and glaciiers, a river in Ohio in flames, oil spills everywhere etc., etc., etc.

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  56. Meeting Update NewsDecember 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    The Green Committee and the UUT Comittee meetings scheduled for tonight have both been cancelled according to the City's web site.

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  57. I definitely agree with you "Trying my best"! We need to think of other options for living before the ozone gets REALLY bad. We are a storage company in central Los Angeles offering mini-storage, RV storage and boat storage. This holiday season, we’re offering 50% off all of our self-storage units! Check out our web site at http://www.drydockstorageonline.com, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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  58. just wondering is this the Paul Alva on are green
    committee ,this from COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS INTEGRATED WASTE MANAGEMENT TASK FORCE web page ,fifth name down (http://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/tf/members.cfm)
    probably not ,but i thought it was funny that john was saying in a City Council meeting that he was going to be on the board for waste management.
    i am probably wrong , just a funny coincidence

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  59. Tell me I've got it wrongDecember 21, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    4:11 pm, you're on it, Dude! That's him! So coincidently John Buchanan is going to be on the LACnty PW Integrated Waste Mgmt Task Force? And at the same time he's appointed this duck to our "Green" Committee?

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  60. now i just feel like a fool,
    they must be laughing at fools like me,
    and i feel powerless
    bummer, what am i to do?

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  61. The game that is played by our narcisitic Mr. Buchanan is how they get the brownie points to move up in government. The line between elected officials, and administrators has become blurred.

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  62. Looks like the Green Committee meeting for tonight has been
    canceled. Too much nature going on.

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  63. Because a public employee cannot serve as an elected official in the same town where they work, they have figured out a way to work together by serving in another municipality.
    It helps them to consolidate power. "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours".
    Why else would JB ask a non resident to serve in S.M.?
    This practice is apparently legal, but smacks of chronyism, and ought to be illegal.
    It really is time to put together residency requirements to serve as appointed and elected officials.
    This not the first time JB has been caught with his pants down. Remember when he was fined by the F.P.P.C. for voting illegally?

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  64. just want to know
    who on the green committee is not a resident
    and were do they live?

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  65. You will find that Mr. Alva is a resident of Sierra Madre. As of when, I do not know. Why does that really matter? If you found a delightful town to move to and you wanted to serve in an area in which you had background and interest, you would put your name forward, too.

    Now, we have to wait and see.

    What we did see in the case of Mayor Mosca is that we really were hoodwinked. If we just can't stand the verbosity of Mayor-pro tem John Buchanan, that is one thing, all of us acting more responsible when it comes to conservation that is another. Don't blow off the Green Committee just because.

    Yes, we could all drop the buzz word being green and leave that to Kermit and go back to the direct personal responsiblity of conservation.

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  66. I can never figure out why some folks think talking about local and state politics is "hate and discontent." Not everybody has it in them to be a dull know-nothing incapable of seeing beyond the end of their nose. And to just sit passively by while these guys run the wagon into the gutter is in no way a virtue.

    Just my opinion.

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  67. a back ground waste management is not green .now if you were on staff for mother earth magazine
    that would be different (http://www.motherearthnews.com/) i am not worried i have neighbors who care and i want thank all of you wonder people

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  68. I worked as a volunteer for a group that hosted 1000 campers who attended a convention in the central valley of Porterville one summer. My job was garbage management--and we recycled practically everything--with the help of the California Conservation Corps in Visalia. The kids brought out recycling containers (reusing olive curing containers) which were placed around the campsite (the football field of the community college) and collected the recycleables turning them in for the refunds which went to college scholarships for the CCC. Over the course of the week there were only two pick ups of the dumpsters of the non-recycled trash. The savings to the organization was huge. The benefit to the CCC was huge. The savings to the earth was huge. If you don't think a background in waste management is not green you simply do not know what you are talking about.

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  69. I have often thought about the ways our city could do more to control the amounts of garbage going out to the landfills. One would be to issue smaller trash cans to the residents. That way people wouldn't be able to fill up bigger cans.

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