Friday, January 7, 2011

California's Right & Left Uniting Over Ending Redevelopment Agencies?

A good friend writes in:

Being the fiscal conservative I am, if it's really true, I am absolutely ecstatic about Gov. Brown's move to take away the developers' welfare apparatus. Having done a few years of planning myself, I discovered first hand how easy the corruption can occur, particularly when officially sanctioned as a joint government - private sector enterprise. I have always felt government should regulate zoning as part of its responsibility. We don't want hog farms in our neighborhoods. However, if private interests want to develop it should be on their own nickel, where the residents should NOT be paying for any part of it. If the people want to fund infrastructure, or public buildings, they should be proposed as a ballot issue, and not as some grand ego boost to the custom haircut crowd in power. Maybe Governor Moonbeam has finally grown some ____s, and has pre-empted the developer crowd before they got to him. You know they will be knocking on his door very shortly to co-opt him.

I will finally find some respect for him if he follows through. John, keep banging on your keyboard. Yours, Don Watts

"... some grand ego boost to the custom haircut crowd in power." Damn that is good. Don, you can write for this blog anytime you want.

There is this guy named Chris Norby. A staunchly conservative Republican, he was for the longest time an Orange County Supervisor. He then ran for the California Assembly and won. And he was a kind of hero to preservationist and go slow on development folks like myself because he was without a doubt the most effective voice against redevelopment and Eminent Domain in the State of California. His remarkable treatise, Redevelopment: The Unknown Government (access by clicking here) ignited a furor throughout the state in the late 1990s. It was about the use of Eminent Domain to build such typical redevelopment boondoggles as shopping malls, mixed use condo projects and car lots.

And outside of an unfortunate effort in support of a highly misguided sales and property tax redistribution scheme (his work at SCAG for this odd notion was particularly dismaying), Chris has pretty much stayed down with his original vision of putting the rights of the individual property owners ahead of - let's say - something like John Buchanan and Joe Mosca's Downtown Specific Plan here in Sierra Madre. Something that, had it succeeded, would have turned our downtown area into something approximating Glendale by now. And yes, Eminent Domain was a part of the DSP mix. Don't ever let them tell you it wasn't.

Chris Norby is the sponsor of a bill in Sacramento called AB 1859. Corporatists within the Democratic Party (unfortunately the dominant faction within the state party I am very tenuously still a member of) are doing all they can to kill 1859 because it threatens the interests of some of their favorite lobbies. It is still under consideration. Here is how Greg Sebourn describes it on his blog out of Chris's hometown of Fullerton:

Redevelopment Accountability - This bill would require all new, expansions or extensions of redevelopment areas to be subject to review by county LAFCOs (Local Agency Formation Commissions). Currently, redevelopment agencies can be created and expanded without oversight, negatively impacting county revenue, with lawsuits as the only recourse. LAFCO oversight will better mediate revenue disputes between counties and cities resulting from redevelopment diversions and avoid costly litigation.

Now with our decidedly uncorporatist (at least so far) new Democratic Governor Jerry Brown coming out with a plan to put a stake (in the vampire sense) to the hearts of Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) everywhere in California (even Sierra Madre), we can see some of Norby's work hitting the big time. And the thing is Norby recognizes this and has now actually come out in support of Jerry Brown's bold initiative.

Can it be we are starting to see a conservative-liberal coalition to save California in the works? Certainly that would be a miracle that no one could have even dreamed of last October.

From the always excellent Flash Report news site, here is Norby's take on Jerry Brown and his courageous stand on redevelopment agencies:

Jerry Brown is a liberal democrat who's top priority will be to increase state revenues to save as many state programs as he can. But he's smart enough to realize that tough choices must be made. He cannot repeal facts, cannot print or borrow money endlessly -- only the president and Congress can do that. Brown's announced goal of abolishing redevelopment agencies shows that he is willing to make major cuts. He knows that higher taxes aren't enough. Real shifts must be made internally.

Redevelopment agencies divert over $6 billion annually from public services such as schools, police and fire protection. That's 12% of all property taxes statewide. Though created originally as a temporary fix to clean up urban blight, they have become a permanent drain on public funds and a playground for bureaucrats, planners and politically-connected developers who prefer profits from the public trough rather than the free market.

Again, the kind of redevelopment money-fueled development Norby is describing here is exactly what we in Sierra Madre saw with John and Joe's Downtown Specific Plan. Which is something that, had Measure V not stopped them dead in their tracks, would have used your hard earned property tax money to help destroy your town.

Norby continues:

California is littered with half-empty malls, vacant auto dealerships and closed theaters that were overbuilt by public subsidies. Study after study has shown that agencies are not net job creators and make construction more costly in prevailing wage (union) requirements. Agencies not only have the power of the public purse, but also expanded powers of eminent domain. Small merchants and homeowners have no property rights in the face of politically-connected developers using the cudgel of condemnation. The Supreme Court's infamous Kelo decision reaffirmed the politicians' power to take your property and give it someone else.

If the Jerry Browns and the Chris Norbys of this flawed old world can work together on something as important as this, there might be hope for California after all. Stand up and be counted on this one. Don Watts and I say so.

Yesterday's post on the EVG press conference was our most highly rated ever

The hits kept coming all through the night and we know stand at well over 4,500 for that one. Which for a "hyperlocal" (to use the current annoying jargon) blog in a town of around 10,000 souls is a helluva lot. Certainly not all of this traffic was from Sierra Madre. Our EVG piece yesterday has been linked to some fairly large sites, and a decent portion of the traffic we're getting is being driven from there. CBS News Los Angeles being one of those sites. Plus the recent kind exposure we've received in the Pasadena Star News has helped as well.

Now I have no idea where any individual post comes from. The system I use doesn't allow for it. Which is fine with me. I fully support the right to post anonymously. I would much prefer to hear your opinions than track your identity. We'll leave that kind of thing to the Facebooks of this world.

However, I can track what systems posts are coming from. The vast majority emerge from Google, with Bing!, Roadrunner, Yahoo, AOL, Earthlink and various ISPs of that ilk being where most stuff comes from. But would you believe that 17 posts were actually generated yesterday from a site called You just know you've hit the big time when even dental services sites get in on the action.

There was something else that I found interesting about yesterday's events, and that was the press coverage it generated. It is pretty astonishing just how cookie cutter the reporting was. There were notable exceptions of course (well, one anyway), but by and large what the press had to say was very close to the stuff in the City of Sierra Madre press release. If these were college essay tests rather than so-called news articles the authors could have been expelled for cribbing.

We'll have to get into that one tomorrow.


  1. I'm going to have to wait and see about Brown. I don't trust him or his policies. He says he is going to give more local control, which only means that less monies will be coming back from Sacramento from the money they take from us, and he'll let the cities figure out how they are going to raise funds by raising taxes and fees. There will still be lots of unfunded mandates coming from Sacramento especially concerning the implimation of SB375. Keep an eye out, we may still be left high and dry by Gov. Moonbeam.

  2. Implimation? Is that like refudiate? You Tea Partiers are such a hoot!

  3. Jerry Brown is a tea partier?

  4. That is the problem, 6:41. Property confiscation and the use of tax moneys against the interests of those who pay them has become such the stock and trade of certain kinds of democrats that they start screaming "tea party" every time someone speaks against these practices. But then again, what other tactics would you expect from latter day Mussolini wannabes?

  5. Another great Tattler article!

    I want to thank Don Watts, again.
    Don was instrumental in winning Measure V for us here in Sierra Madre. Measure V saved our town from the horrific over-development plan of the Bart Doyle crowd, better known here in Sierra Madre as the "dirts". Several ex-mayors and their cronies including the current mayor supported this over-development nightmare, with the help of nearly $200,000 in "donations" by out of town organizations, namely the Building Industry Association and the California Realtors Association and a major political party.
    Thanks again, Don Watts for your service to our community. Thank you Kurt Zimmerman for your service to our community. Thank you MaryAnn MacGillivray for your service to our community.
    It's just a darn shame you all are not on the CC.
    Oh, well, we have Joe Mosca, Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran. God help us survive!

  6. You got it, 6:37, a single typo, a single misspelling, god forbid, a variant pronunciation, invalidates any argument.

    Come on. Lighten up a bit. You're better than that.

  7. Tattler, think about the economic timing of the make-over of Sierra Madre.
    We wouldn't be Glendaled - we'd be bombed. Everything would be half destroyed, half built, and the projects belly up.

  8. Hey School Marm, wish you would have typed:
    Your better than that

  9. don't trust dental implantsJanuary 7, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    "by and large what the press had to say was very close to the stuff in the City of Sierra Madre press release."
    Amen Brother. Way too much of that goes on.
    Can't decide if it's just laziness or collusion.
    Maybe both.

  10. To me it indicates that the reporters covering something like yesterday's press conference don't really understand the issues.

  11. Learned long ago to never tell any one you are an English teacher or else people will stop talking to you...English is one of the most difficult spellings systems to learn because it almost has no system.

  12. 6:31, why would anyone trust a politician? However, with the state economy in such collapse, what other choices are there than Brown's decentralizing? If he (or more likely this is from his 'team') has the sense to see that it's the only way to go, maybe when it comes time to enforcing unfunded mandates, there will be a new realism about what the cities can do.
    How lucky we are here in Sierra Madre that we have so much going for us. That is if the Gang of 4 doesn't permanently screw it up. The developer regimes have been no good for anyone - except some of the developers.

  13. Some understand the issues, 9:17.
    They also understand that dirts like Mosca and Buchanan, and the bobbleheads support their "papers".

    Those who wish to be "mushrooms" will continue to read their bs.
    Those who wish to know the truth, will continue to read the TATTLER.

  14. Front page of Star News photo shows what Tattler poster pointed out yesterday--guess the police chief and city staff were not at the conference since they were not in the photo.

    He who edits controls the reporting be it photos or copy.

    I have been misquoted so often that I cringe to be interviewed and avoid it as much as possible. Reporters are most often looking for "a name" to push the story.

  15. I always assume that when somebody talks about my spelling they're trying to be my mother. And I already have one of those.

  16. So I don't know how to spell. Funny how some want to label and make fun of other ideas instead of having real discourse.

  17. Can't spell worth a damn.
    However......rather than be corrected by the spell police, I copy and paste my post, before I submit it, to my spell check on my email program.
    I suggest people do this, unless you are a really good speller.
    When I started posting on Internet boards, several years ago, I always made several mistakes, as the years went by, and I corrected them, I find I make less mistakes!
    So......I have improved my spelling.
    Good enough to merit the extra effort!

  18. ghos

    gh like in enough
    o like in women
    and s like in sure

    GB Shaw

  19. That is one ugly building. Is that what Arnold thought the future would look like? Stacked boxes with a silo?

  20. 1. we need to stick with the issues that are destroying our city...

    2. we need Sierra Madre residents support...

    3. Water Rate Fees is our number #1 issue,
    a) Karen, our finance director states that only $24K of the $1,400,000 are to be used for pipe replacement...
    b) the $1,376,000 will be used for repayment of more city debt....
    c) Elaine, our city manager states that she wants to borrow $50 MILLION DOLLARS MORE MONEY- (Refer to executed 2010 city water department budget)
    d) our number #2 issue is to terminate city council members & city employees who are derailing the residents goals....

  21. There should no doubt whatsoever that the G4 is going to call for new bonds. And those must not happen at all costs. Why should we pick up the bill for infrastructure work that will only benefit their developer pals?

  22. A conservative-liberal coalition WOULD be a miracle, but times are tough and it may have to happen.
    There's a like situation in this town ya know. Developers and preservationists are stuck here together.

  23. It is important to have one grammatical or spelling error lest you become too proud. Something like weaving in an error in a tribal rug to foil the spirtis.

  24. True 12:24, but the agenda of the development community is to run over the preservationists. It's hard to imagine how they can get along.

  25. I, for one, will be just as happy to see the back of Redevelopment Agencies. When I think of how much of the taxes I've paid over the years has been forcibly redirected to support cronyist redevelopment projects that do not benefit the community as much as they benefit private development interests, I want to be sick. If Jerry Brown -- or anybody else -- is serious about cutting back on the state budget, this is a good start. I agree that there is a place for planning, but, on its best day, redevelopment is just a subsidy for development. The market should be enough.

    But worse than subsidizing development, the Redevelopment Agency (at least in Sierra Madre) is a place where things are done with much less public scrutiny than if done by the City. I have a sick feeling that if we looked into the CRA warrants and public records, we'd find a nice little nest of vipers. I hope I'm wrong.

  26. As is about to happen in the Arcadia Oak Woodland!

    The dragon may have won.

  27. Anyone who hasn't read this:
    Redevelopment: The Unknown Government (access by clicking here)

    Go up to Crawford's column and click on HERE.
    This booklet on the CRA is SHOCKING to say the least

  28. Interesting, Is it maby or maybe? My spelling is frightful. I have developed the technique of "googling"; entering a facsimile of my questionable word; click "search" and voila it magically appears in the suggestion box, spelled correctly.

  29. 12:58, what do you mean? Is the fight for the Oaks lost?

  30. Regarding Ms spelling, ah heck y'all - everyone has got spell check!
    And Old Kentucky, can't you just highlight the typed in comment and then click on spellcheck?

  31. My iPad permits no spelling errors. It thinks it is smarter than me. Changes entire words sometimes.

  32. than I, 2:56, it thinks it's smarter than I.

  33. Hmmm. Now we need to discuss the spelling police vs. the grammar police.

    Better? Worse? Form committees and discuss please.

  34. From Ode to a Spellchecker - and there's a lot more like this:

    Eye halve a spelling check her;
    It came with my pea sea.
    It plane lee marks four my revue
    Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.
    Eye ran this poem threw it
    Your sure reel glad two no.
    Its vary polished in it's weigh,
    My checker tolled me sew.

    A check her is a bless sing;
    It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
    It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
    And aides me when aye rime.

    Each frays come posed up on my screen
    Eye trussed too bee a joule;
    The checker pours o'er every word
    To cheque sum spelling rule.

  35. Dr S. is giving another accurate diagnosis:
    "...if we looked into the CRA warrants and public records, we'd find a nice little nest of vipers"
    Oh, for a thorough and complete accounting!

  36. Why doesn't the city have accurate records?

    1) Too expensive. No money for outside audits

    2) Successful shenanigans - no records for a time because of yet another criminal

    3) Only lip service to historical record transparency allowed - no real action


    Hell of a Job 2:56 Its the same person I or Me

  38. 3:30 and 3:41, If transparent historical data had been a goal, we would have transparent historical data.
    It has not been a priority for the city government.
    And don't blame the people who happen to be in the jobs now, like Aguillar, Schneider and Castro. It's a bigger systemwide problem.
    Developers and realtors who are in city government to manipulate it for their own financial benefit do not want transparency.

  39. Sound "Taps" at Sunset for the TreesJanuary 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    I just looked through the over 700 signatures opposing the Oak & Sycamore Tree Kill and did not see CC members Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh, or Moran signatures.

    You don't suppose they are for defiling our hillside do you?

  40. I love Dr. Staccato's posts. They have such authority to them.

  41. Their green concern is the green of money, 3:59. The water is needed for development. Can't let trees get in the way of green design development!

  42. Did I spell it correctly?January 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    We Tattlers are very lucky to have Don Watts, Old Kentucky, Caroline Brown, all the variants of Anonymous, Chief Black Kettle, Lisa:), and especially John Crawford posting on this blog.

    What a great year it's going to be for the Tattler.

  43. Let me add a name!January 7, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I would add we are blessed to have Dr. Staccato posting as well.

  44. The Tattler is a pretty great thing. Especially when you consider all the important news the others refuse to print. The censors of the old Soviet Union had nothing on the information suppressers in this little town.

  45. Absolutely, 4:16

    Staccato is a very special friend of the Tattler.
    An excellent source of the history of the Doyle atrocities of the late 90's and early 2000's when the evil one was on the council and right up until today, where his minions, Mosca, Buchanan and the Bobbleheads do the bidding for his greedy special interest pals.

    Dr. S. is always watching you, Bart! So are the rest of the Tattler investigators.

  46. PSN is reporting the EVGvictim count is now up to 310, the cash amount $93K.

    We are living in a disaster area.

  47. Once credit card numbers and debit card numbers are out there, there's nothing but escalation until the accounts are closed.

  48. I just got a call from a good friend who found out they were a victim of the scam.
    Credit card charge showed up in late December.

    Perhaps someone could make a check list of all the things these victims should do, after they fill a police report out. Post it on the Tattler.

    It's very sad this has happened to all our friends, it's even happened to some of Old Kentucky's (political) enemies, and that is also sad.
    No one deserves to be a crime victim, no one.


The Tattler is a moderated blog. Annoying delays when posting comments can happen. Thank you for your patience and understanding.