Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Sierra Madre's Future Really Dependent Upon the CRA?

Sierra Madre seems to be all the rage in the Pasadena Star News this week. Two big articles so far and here it is only Wednesday. Obviously we must be doing something right. Today's missive from the City of Roses is surprising in its generosity to those of us who enjoy needling the local powers that be. And whether intentionally or not, it appears to me that they may have dropped a bit of a bomb on our usual favorite suspects.

The excitement here deals with Monday evening's State of the City Address as it Reflects Upon Our Mayor speech. And the stark contrast of sunny pronouncements of prosperity with dire reports of possible imminent doom is quite pronounced. Here is the initial quote from Mayor Mosca as reported in the PSN:

Today, I want you to know that despite the unprecedented economic situation that the nation finds itself in, this city is doing very well."

Sounds upbeat. But despite that reassurance about our City's fiscal health, however, later on in this same article we can read the following, and from the same guy:

... General Fund revenues are remaining flat and are not keeping pace with inflation. In addition, the city must contend with sharp increases in pension, health care and energy costs while big infrastructure projects continue to be deferred, he (Mosca) said. Meanwhile, state actions, including potentially eliminating community redevelopment agencies, and the elimination of important COPS and library grants loom as potential obstacles for Sierra Madre and other cities. "For the next two years ... we will also be able to balance our budget, provided the state doesn't take any more of our money away, which they may actually do," Mosca said.

Now there is something here that doesn't coexist comfortably with popular reality. Or at least my perception of it. Community Redevelopment Funds are supposed to be used to build things like low income housing in order to cure restricted areas within a downtown area of blight, plus promote economic activity. And that is pretty much it.

So how can the elimination of the CRA and the liberating of its funds by Sacramento on behalf of things like schools and hospitals affect things like our General Fund budget balance and the City's ability to meet pension and health care costs? All that we should notice happening through the loss of CRA funds is that we can't sustain projects like turning the Old Church into low income housing. It should have nothing to do with things like paying day to day City Hall expenses and salaries.

Unless we actually have been paying for General Fund expenses out of CRA money. Which is, of course, quite contrary to California law. So can that really be what Mayor Mosca meant when he intimated that our budget would be remain balanced if CRA money is not taken away? Inquiring minds want to know.

(The City of San Jose is now in considerable hot water with the State Controller over inappropriate uses of CRA funds. Click here for that story.)

Despite the message whiplash and a potentially awkward revelation from Joe Mosca, this article does finish on a very positive note.

Councilwoman MaryAnn MacGillivray, in an interview following Mosca's speech, said the city is doing as well as can be expected due to its dedicated residents. They always step up and "do the right thing," she said, when given complete and accurate information about the city's needs.

Complete and accurate information that has been, as we have seen with the Mosca-led water rate increase debacle, extremely rare since the Gang of Four rode into town last April.

I hung up on John Stephens yesterday

So I'm driving my kids to their Little League game when my cell phone rings. And who should it be but none other than John "Patchy" Stephens. John, speaking in the husky voice of one undergoing a bit of emotional stress, informed me that he wanted to ask some questions about the administrative claim letter that I had sent to City Hall last week.

And not just that, but he also had a tape recorder running so that he would have an irrefutable record of what I might say. You know, just in case I might later claim to have been misquoted or something.

So, he rather abruptly inquired, could he ask me some questions? "Nope," I replied, and then promptly hung up.

Considering all the dishonest crap this guy ran about me in the Sierra Madre Weekly last spring, or the rank disinformation he posted on Patch recently regarding the Howard Jarvis organization's assessment of the City's Prop 218 water rate increase procedures, what else was I supposed to do?

Besides, shouldn't he have been covering a poodle wash or something? Far be it from me to keep John Stephens from his life's work.

Which reminds me, we are long overdue for yet another informative article about AOL/Patch

Business Insider has an interesting article up right now. It is called: Patch Is A Huge Waste Of Money, And It Has Us Worried About Tim Armstrong's Ability To Run AOL.

This is something a wee bit harsh for what is normally a fairly sedate business site, so naturally we were delighted to see it. Especially when you consider the targeted party of their rather blunt assessment.

Here is Business Insider's point:

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong believes that its local blog network, Patch, will be a "major" part of the company's turnaround as it fills one of the largest "white spaces" left on the internet. This belief has us worried about AOL and - not to be rude - Armstrong's ability to run it.

Let's start with the amount of money AOL is pouring into Patch each year. AOL now has about 800 Patch editors nationwide. The number is supposed to swell to 1,000 by year end. Each editor makes $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Add in payroll taxes and some benefits and you have to figure Patch's people alone cost AOL around $50 million each year.

What is AOL getting for this money? About 3 million unique visits per month, according to the New York Times. That is an absurdly small number. By contrast, Gawker Media, with a headcount around 120, reaches around 30 million people per month, according to QuantCast. ComScore says the Huffington Post has 25 million unique visitors each month.

The question that must be driving Armstrong and Patch boss Warren Webster nuts is: Why is Patch's traffic so low?

Critics attack Patch's content as "piffle," too boosterish, irrelevant, or amateurish. All of that may be true, but it's not the real problem.

The real problem with Patch is that no one needs it.

Which is an insightful observation. And since nobody needs it, you might as well just hang up when they call with their tape recorder and agenda. Otherwise you'd just be wasting the valuable time you could be spending with your family, driving to a Little League game on a beautiful Sierra Madre evening.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

65 comments:

  1. Ding Dong the Patch is Dead!March 2, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    Early on I advocated working with the Patch and John Stephens in order to get the word out. I was wrong. John is dedicated to acting as nothing more than an outlet for City Hall press releases and cookie recipes. To me this seems a rather low ambition for a "journalist." Whatever. There is no point in talking to him when this blog can get its views out unfiltered.

    Finally, let's remember what the great Henry Hyde said: Politics is the business of addition. Let's all be nice to our neighbors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Could this City stand up to any type or kind of audit,financial or otherwise?Frankly,I am beginning to doubt it...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mosca is a loose cannon. This article needs to be forwarded to the State Controller, and often.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Patch should drop Stephens and replace him with Pat Betrand. She does the feel good stuff they're looking for well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yet another edifying edition of this great web log; thank you Mr. Crawford. Stephen's clumsy attempt at an ambush clearly shows his hand. Only an idiot would request an interview accompanied by a taunting reference to a tape recorder. A journalist needs integrity to gain the confidence of sources. It would be nice to see people like Stephens help to pull down AOL.

    ReplyDelete
  6. At a poorly attended General Plan meeting last night, the pro development interest finally showed its face. The committee was wrestling with a poorly written item in the Land Use section. After a lengthy discussion, Hutt said that there were too many layers in the General Plan and that zoning ordinances should be what governs development. He suggested that section be deleted. In that section was the requirement that a Master Plan be required for development in excess of one acre. Most of the member seemed to be going along with his idea. Only Hinton said that would take away the City’s ability to require Master Plans for developments over one acre. She said, Master Plans allow the City and the public the ability to know what the property owners plan to develop instead of the property owners doing one part of the project at a time. Danny Castro gave an example how the City is reviewing the Alverno Master Plan and how it will be ready for public input in the future. The item was flagged for future discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't believe that a-hole Patch guy had the nerve to call you on your cell phone, Crawford.
    Good for you for hanging up on him! I hope you blocked him as a caller? I can't think of anything you would want to talk to this jerk about.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wonder if the City Attorney wrote the questions Stephens was supposed to ask.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good question 8:27am
    Or....Stephens pal Joe Mosca?

    ReplyDelete
  10. dedicated residentMarch 2, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    "Councilwoman MaryAnn MacGillivray, in an interview following Mosca's speech, said the city is doing as well as can be expected due to its dedicated residents. They always step up and "do the right thing," she said, when given complete and accurate information about the city's needs".

    We are nothing without you, MaryAnn!
    Thank you being on the council. You are the only voice of truth and reason!

    ReplyDelete
  11. We all remember how far we got with the master plan for the Sierra Madre Congregational Church, right?

    ReplyDelete
  12. The FAA has its "no fly" list. We should have a "no call" list.

    1) Susan Henderson
    2) Terry Williams
    3) John Stephens

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mosca actually has a gift - he can speak out of the front of his face and the back of his face simultaneously.
    Front face: we're doing very well Back face: our budget won't be balanced in the next two years.

    ReplyDelete
  14. read blogs but not that oneMarch 2, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Maybe the patch sites would have worked if Aol would have hired locals to run the sites. Maybe some places AOLOdid that, and the sites are faring well. In our case, they hired a relative newcomer who hasn't a clue about the politics here.

    ReplyDelete
  15. True 9:03. The 40 more days mayor said "Yes I support a public vote on the Downtown Specific Plan" and "Maybe advisory not binding maybe at the end of the process maybe maybe I would never put a plan before you that I didn't think was a good one...."

    ReplyDelete
  16. morning AnonymousMarch 2, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Great picture Crawford.
    Mayor Whoops. Mayor Oops. Mayor almost gone.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Now why would the traffic be low on sites that have one driving purpose, to garner page views through search engine optimization?

    ReplyDelete
  18. No matter how you market it, a site has to give people a reason to keep coming back. And once people decide something is not with the bother, you've lost them for good.

    ReplyDelete
  19. One term Mayor Mosca.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The CRA's money is limited to that agency alone. It's disappearance
    should have absolutely no effect on the General Fund.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 10:20, huh?
    Then what did Mayor He Who Says One Thing and Does Another mean?

    ReplyDelete
  22. What Joe means often depends
    on who he's talking to.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's called situational speech.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Editor Stephens did not begin on a promising note in this town. He attacked MacGillivray, Crawford and Zimmerman, which showed that, at best, he lacked common sense, and at worst, the ability to recognize intelligence.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Stephens has been badly used. I think those who found him to be a useful fool read him perfectly. He knows little and believes everything they tell him. I can't see him lasting much longer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Did anyone catch Mosca at the last council meeting making a slip, when his microphone was on?
    When MaryAnn MacGillivray had to recuse herself on the discussion of business licenses, after the discussion by the council, Elaine said, I'll go get MaryAnn, and as she got up to walk in the back, Joe said "tell her were having another break".
    If MaryAnn would have made a rude comment like that to Joe, the Dirt-Run Media would have been all over her like flies on a cow pile.

    Joe is a one rude low class dude. Unfit to even be on our city council.

    Shame on all you fools who voted for this chuckle-head.

    ReplyDelete
  27. My favorite 'go to break moment' was when Nancy Walsh, obviously perturbed that her lavatory time had been delayed, told MaryAnn that she talks too much.

    We all have our priorities I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Joe is like a high school member of the student council who is in a certain clique and makes fun of those who are not. He acts childish and cute and that is why the "ELDERLY" love him so much, like one of their teen aged grandsons. Boy does he have them bamboozled.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Go crawl under a rock Stephens, take Lee and Chapman with youMarch 2, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    I heartily approve of you terminating the ambushing ill timed and tried to be recorded without your permission phone call from that weinie headed Mosca influenced little piece of unjournalistic without integrity piece of tripe John Stephens.

    I know that you did try to support him in the beginning startup of the Patch endeavor. To your credit. He betrayed all of us who search for the truth with any intelligent discernment.

    Patch will meet its demise over employees like him. Desperate little toad. Refer him to your attorney at this point.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Given his track record for distortion and disinformation you'd have to be nuts to talk to that guy. Just ask Jeff Hildreth.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Do you think Stephens knows or appreciates the fact that Crawford encouraged Tattler readers to go to the patch site?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Yes 10:55, I heard that.
    Because I already know about Joe's snide altar ego, I figured what else was new, but you're absolutely right. The Joe Show followers do not know about that arrogant and vindictive side of his personality.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Y'all have to go easy on the Georgia boy. The tape recorder was probably issued from corporate headquarters to make the poor dear understand that he has to print what people say and not necessarily what he wants to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Question for you all. Were no questions allowed at the forum on Monday, or did the people there just not ask any. Confused on this point.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Stephens lacks characterMarch 2, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    We know Crawford is a great man with one of the finest minds on the planet. We also know he has integrity and a heart big enough to care for others outside his immediate circle. I think Stephens will regret what he has done all his future life, But I don't think he is capable of being anything but the narcisstic individual he is now. He is attracted to other narcissists and is not mature enough to look inside to correct himself yet.

    ReplyDelete
  36. No public comment or questions were entertained Monday night. Joe wanted complete message control I guess. It might explain why the address wasn't given at city hall.

    ReplyDelete
  37. 12:22, that's it! If it had been at city council, there would have been public comment. Some of Joe's more vocal opposition would have laid bare the inconsistencies and absurdities of his speech.
    Who was his speech writer? Sounds like he may have written it himself. Big mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  38. It was Joe's dream. Only he got to talk and everyone there agreed with him.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Don't forget the splendor of the balloons, the Americana of it all, as his backdrop.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Joespeak:
    "For the next two years ... we will also be able to balance our budget, provided the state doesn't take any more of our money away, which they may actually do"

    Plainspeak: We will not be able to balance our budget.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Off topic, but has anyone heard anything about the EVG
    situation lately? Is Chief Diaz allowed to talk about it yet?

    ReplyDelete
  42. I haven't heard anything about EVG, but that gas station is open for business. You might want to use cash there. And many cars have been heading up Baldwin to old Carter, new Stonegate. Business is hopping.

    ReplyDelete
  43. You may want to let Mr. Stephens see the Sierra Madre Weekly's website regarding Mr. Crawford's letter!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thanks 1:22, but I try to avoid websites that 'capture' my information.

    Could somebody summarize what the Weekly says?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I sure appreciate the sea change at the Pasadena Star News. It was so obedient to city hall for so long that I had stopped reading it.
    Looking good over there.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Yes 1:28..The City does NOT have to respond to Crawford's letter, but will! Interesting

    ReplyDelete
  47. Terry Miller in the WeaklyMarch 2, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    "As with other claims that the city has violated Prop 218, this matter seems to be a last ditch effort by a resident who questions the integrity of the law firm that represents the city’s interests. Sandy Levin has consistently claimed there has been no violation of Prop 218 rules and regulations."

    I don't know about the last ditch, but the next ditch is a court of law.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Terry blabbed with Elaine who cocked her usual snoot at anything a resident might say. Typical city hall entitlement at work.

    ReplyDelete
  49. money and mouthsMarch 2, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    A last ditch effort by a resident - not a concerted effort by many residents who are contributing financially, hum?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Oh c'mon, it's Terry. Of course it's crap. If Elaine had anything real to say he wouldn't have understood it.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Elaine is satisfied that the Prop 218 process was conducted properly. And since that was her job, why shouldn't she be?

    ReplyDelete
  52. If you just give Mosca enough time to speak, the verbiage will become increasingly nonsensical. Doesn't take all that long either.

    ReplyDelete
  53. You can tell when his brain has shut down. He starts thanking everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  54. What is a snoot? And what are you
    doing with it when you cock it?

    ReplyDelete
  55. A snoot is a nose. And when you cock it you stick it up in the air.

    ReplyDelete
  56. From a post on wordreference.com:

    When I cock my snoot at pretension I am raising the tip of my nose in mockery of the affected attitude of the landed gentry who spoke with the plumb in the mouth and looked down their noses at the general population.

    Cock relates to the hammer of a firearm that is raised as it is cocked.
    Snoot is a slang way of saying snout (my Irish dah always said snoot rather than snout) which is the nose of a pig so there is an implied insult there as well.

    To cock a snoot is to display derision in a manner that may not be obvious to the derided but is obvious to the peers of the mocker.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Didn't the English gentry living in Ireland live off the work of the Irish?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Mr. Mosca has never learned a simple fact of public speaking - there is time for small silences. Close the jaw and pause, rather than stringing together words endlessly with ands and ums. That is a secondary reason he gets himself so twisted up in speaking. The primary one is, of course, the mind.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Prehensile ProbisciousMarch 2, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Well now I have done it, only for you Tattlers would I join Facebook to comment on the local rags in your defense.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Many sacrifices are being made, but none greater than yours.

    ReplyDelete
  61. one Carter has changed real estate offices and that's why you see all that activity ...they are hoping to unload them

    ReplyDelete
  62. Got in their face book, I guessMarch 2, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Humf, apparently, my comments were not civil enough for the Pasadena Star News, they deleted the mayor state of the city one and the Blogger one! Too bad they were action packed, and fact filled, unlike the PSN stories...Hope some of you got to read them first.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thanks for trying. Facebook has pretty much killed reader commenting on the Star News website.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Pasadena falling star bad newsMarch 2, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    8:39, I know, but I made all my facebook info private, all you can see is my name, everything else, I edited first to "friends only" then hit the customize button and made everything "only me" There are too many injustices being printed, in these papers lately. I just laid out facts and no cuss words or anything, the PSN is still prodevelopment and not neutral it is a travesty. Thank god for the Tattler.
    Not to mention the lone blogger!!! Pleeeeze,
    will retreat to repeat, they had the mayor story stashed earlier, looks like they drug it out again like that will magically make it true somehow.

    ReplyDelete
  65. So you made all your Facebook info private? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING! RIGHT? If you have input your data into Facebook a.d then made in private you are fooling yourself,@ you do know that, don't you? THE DATA RESIDES ON THEIR SERVERS, THEY OWN IT AND CAN DO ANYTHING THEY WANT WITH IT....PEOPLE GET A CLUE AND DO NOT USE FACEBOOK!!!!

    ReplyDelete