Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The State of the City Address - Sponsored By Southern California Edison

So the big excitement at last night's State of the City address starring Mayor Joe Mosca, with MC John Buchanan levitating the levity, is that it was a first of its kind event. Never before had an occasion like this been held after the sun went down. Which in Johnny B's mind made the presentation notably formal.

In the past these affairs were done during the midday hours before such noted civic organizations as the Womans Club and the Chamber of Commerce. This one was held at 6PM on a Monday, which did make it difficult for most work-a-daddies and work-a-mommies to get in on all the fun. But, as most of us know, nothing in this life is ever quite perfect.

However, this wasn't the only first of its kind aspect to what went down at the State of the City shindig last night. It was also the very first time a governmental function here in Sierra Madre ever had corporate sponsors. Southern California Edison, Athens our hard working trash guys, and a legal firm that handles personnel concerns for the City called Liebert, Cassidy Whitmore, coughed up some of the money that made it all possible. A very Washington DC, or even Sacramento sort of way if doing things. Places where lobbyists often perform the honor of buttering the rolls and, as you know, would never dare to dream of asking for anything in return.

So this does bring some ideas to the fore. If Sierra Madre's "State of the City" address can be sponsored by corporations that do business here, shouldn't this notion be flung open to other such concerns as well? A Time Warner Wistaria Festival, Hormel Huck Finn Fishing Derby, Monsanto Memorial Park or Kaiser Permanente Kersting Square would certainly help the City make ends meet at a time when finances have become more and more difficult. And who knows, if the price is right, how about a Sony Sierra Madre? The mind boggles.

The Southern California Edison State of the City Address kicked off with a 30 minute presentation by the 3rd grade children of Sierra Madre Elementary School. They sang songs and did skits based on the themes of brotherhood and cooperation, with the Reverend Martin Luther King serving as an inspiration for what can be achieved in our lives. The kids were enthusiastic, incredibly well-rehearsed and prepared, and clearly happy to be a part of this event. Their teachers and parents should be very proud.

They were also a good portion of the crowd because after they departed there was a lot more space in the room. Out of around 150 people at the start of things the crowd pared down to around 70 to 80 or so, with 30 of them being the City Hall employees who manned (or womanned) designated information stations in case anyone would care to know what's up in their particular field of expertise. The remaining guests were seated at tables that filled most of the available space. There were few new faces as most of them were clearly FoJ ("Friends of Joe").

Mayor Pro Tem John Buchanan, who served as the twinkle-eyed host of this affair, then launched into a speech where he praised his colleague effusively. In his eyes few are as talented, gifted, educated, qualified, hard working, concerned and just plain pleasant to be around than our outgoing Mayor. And the 50 or so political supporters of the Mayor still in the room agreed, and heartily greeted the evening's focus with cheers as he stepped to the dais. This clearly was The Joe Show, and the star of the evening did not disappoint those who had come to see him perform.

As is his wont, Mayor Mosca then proceeded to thank everything that we as Sierra Madreans celebrate everyday as blessings in both our lives here, and as part of this event. The corporate sponsors, the kids who "are just so amazing," teachers, Sierra Madre Elementary School, the Fire Department, various Chiefs, the staff and all the hard work they did to make this event possible, the room, those of you who took valuable time out of your busy schedules to attend, few were either missed or spared. This was followed by a slide show that began with Joe's family ("our City's population has just grown by one,"), and then presented to the attendees projected images of most of the people who he had just thanked, and what they do to make our lives better.

After which Joe thanked them again.

The Mayor then launched into a speech lasting around 12 to 15 minutes that gave a kind of kumbaya view of the City. The theme of the affair, "Working Together the Sierra Madre Way," was obviously very much on the Mayor's mind. This was not what you would call a hard core business presentation on what is up with our town, there were no cumbersome facts, figures or fiscal details shown. Rather those in attendance saw pictures of buildings and firemen, which Joe then spoke about. The word "amazing" was used often, with one attendee attempting to keep track of just how many times that word was used. He lost track.

Joe noted that the budget is balanced because the City runs on property taxes and not sales taxes, though we could use those as well should the opportunity arise. The User Utility Tax has certainly been a blessing for the full service city that we are. He also launched into the need for getting our roads and pipes fixed. The water infrastructure needs seemed to be a well-rehearsed portion of his speech. This unfortunate situation was discussed often last spring when he was surreptitiously selling a rate hike as the remedy for a fiscally embarrassing problem with some aging bonds.

The reference to the roads, obviously a point of passion for the Mayor, confused a few of the more knowledgeable people in the room. City Staff had recently delivered a report that declared our overall street situation to be at a 73.6% "very good to excellent" level, with only 11.4% of our streets being "very poor to failed." While that 11% or so is something that we should tend to and fairly soon, it is not quite a situation calling for this level of focus. Like with much of the over-the-top water infrastructure excitement last spring, you couldn't help but wonder what exactly Joe is trying to sell here. The word "bonds" was not used, which, given some of his past performances, could indicate that he is moving in that direction.

And, of course, the CRA was praised often as being vital to the City's future.

Joe's two biggest achievements as Mayor, the Water Rate Hike and the much anticipated Facebook Page, were then celebrated. The remaining minutes of the Mayor's talk were about how wonderful and amazing it is "to be your Mayor," and just how much he has enjoyed the experience and working with so many (get ready for it) amazing people.

There were no questions.

The guests then finished eating their delicious dinners, drained their glasses, and headed for the door. The entire event wrapped up at 7:30.

Today's Pasadena Star News Article

Though the Mayor did not discuss it at last night's State of the City get-together, the water rate protest is getting some notice out there. The Pasadena Star News is running with an article today entitled "Sierra Madre blogger files claim against city over water rate hike." The blogger in question is not Bill Coburn or John Stephens.

While the PSN article does cover a lot of what we discussed in yesterday's post, it also quotes City Attorney Sandi Levin.

"The fact that the notice raised questions in people's minds indicates that it did exactly what a notice is supposed to do. It's not supposed to provide all the possible information. It's supposed to provide enough information that it causes people to want to find out more, and that's exactly what it did."

I guess if you want people to ask questions about what exactly a rate increase is going to be by completely leaving that infomation out of a Constitutionally mandated mailed notice about a rate increase, then yes, Sandi did achieve her goal. An entire town of people utterly baffled by her work last spring being eloquent proof of that. People most definitely did want to find out more, as evidenced by the vast outpouring of opposition. It is unfortunate that the City did not provide that information when it was legally required to do do so.

But what is equally odd about this quote is that Sandi Levin said it way back in September of last year. Apparently when the Pasadena Star News's always inquisitive reporter Brenda Gazzar called to ask for quotes, nobody at City Hall would give her anything new. Something that suggests they might be going down the (as Richard Nixon put it) "hunker down" route.

Jerry Brown is becoming ... popular?

You'd think that all the Brown bashing being put out by CRA supporters would be having a negative effect on the Governor's political fortunes. But according to ABC News that is not necessarily the case. It looks like people are lining up behind Jerry and his efforts.

According to an Eyewitness News Poll that came out yesterday, Jerry's approval rating is up a full 9 points to 52 percent.

People are starting to get it.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. Joe and Johnny B owe everyone another apology for their lies last night. What a sham. And their FoJ's still are srargazing, for what reason? Fools gold.

    Thanks for your great coverage. Getting the children to sing was a great coverup, and using MLK, was another lie. A great man with a great cause who left the world with Civil Rights. The G4 is taking away all of our rights. MLK is rolling in the grave.

    I wish we could boycott Water, SCE and Athens. They are as corrupt as they are expensive.

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  2. Burger King Baldwin Avenue?

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  3. You would have had to have been thereMarch 1, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    Being the good propagandist that Joe Mosca is, the two most salient issues were hammered at over and over, that is to say twice at last night's meeting. He kept going back to why CRA money is good for you and that our water pipes are about to burst. Periodically he would stray from point only to yank us back into line with the notion that these two elements if believed will keep the wolf from our door. Judging by the expression on some people's faces last night, they're not going to go along with the party line, which includes myself.

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  4. Curious, was alcohol served? They could have gotten a lot more people there is that had been put on the post card.

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  5. do not worry la public works will be sponsoring
    the green committee's both at the wisteria festival.
    and yes they will have Reusable Grocery Bags and refrigerator magnets

    your tax dollars hard at work,
    telling you how hard they work for you

    and i hear they are good at removing oak trees
    with friends like these what more can we ask for

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  6. wew, it's good to know we are in good hands. I feel so secure. Government and Business partnerships, how cozy.
    They pay to play, and government loves it.
    They used to call it socialism.
    What's it called now-a-days, now that business has it's hands in our pockets?

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  7. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesMarch 1, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Anyone have the actual dollar amount that the production of the Joe Show cost? What portion was donated by the corporations out of the good of their hearts, and what portion did we pay for.

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  8. Can't wait for Henderson's slobbering portrayal, the gushiest possible, with plenty of pix of the little children and the smilin' mayor.

    Remember what they say about smilin' faces.

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  9. I don't just approve of Jerry Brown, I owe him an apology for thinking he was just another cog in the machine. Looks like he has a brain and he wants to make things better. Who'd uh thunk it.

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  10. I guess with all the Edison and Athens rate increases of late they can afford to pay for a political event. Did they also pick up the tab for all the staff time that went into planning and staffing this self serving ego building event?

    This was so wrong.

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  11. Which PR firm was used to mold this event into something that would work for poor little Mosca? Was it Schubert Flint by chance, the firm that lost the Measure V fight?

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  12. Maybe 40 to 50 people were there to actually attend the Mosca gig, and those 40-50 people think they are the majority in Sierra Madre. That's a scary kind of group think that's buying into a delusion.

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  13. Maybe these same Corporations could pickup the bond debt we got stuck with?

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  14. After this the staff can look forward to the generous pensions and benefits we pay for.

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  15. Did Joe mention the bond debt, and the need to incur more, for his dreams to come true?

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  16. For all you people that feel it's government's role to provide more than police, fire,water, and emergency services, should be very content.
    Government is more than happy to do more for a price, so pay the piper, or don't gripe.

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  17. Somebody stitched this all together, bringing in those particular corporate sponsors for this particular dog and pony show, or maybe snake elixir salesman performance is a better description. Who was the idea person or people behind it?

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  18. Tattler, Buchanan was no doubt jovial because he knows that next year it'll be his turn to be the blindly loved center of a small gathering that fancies itself as much larger than it is.

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  19. wouldn't go if you paid meMarch 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    What was the food?

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  20. The State of the City started going downhill the night the Gang on 4 took over. It will not improve until they are out of office.

    It is ONLY becasue of the fiscal leadership of Zimmerman, McGillvary, and Watts that the City enjoys the stability it currently has. This stability will be short lived as time goes on under the current leadership of the current council and its staff of nincompoops.

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  21. I think the SyFy channel wrote the speeches.

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  22. 9:12 - the alliance of corporations and government is much more Mussolini than Lenin.

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  23. The State of the City address should be part of a regular Council meeting, not political gladhanding.

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  24. This was a political rally. Joe is hearing foot steps.

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  25. An event to be remembered,sponsored by Corporate America and entertained by a cast dancing Buffoons!

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  26. channel 3 watcherMarch 1, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    How disgusting that city resources in were used in any way to promote that embarrassment to Sierra Madre.

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  27. I have never heard that the purpose of legal notices is to make people ask questions.

    I thought the purpose was to inform citizens about potential decisions that would affect them.

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  28. What a waste of the tax payer's money. No wonder that people are over a government of take, take, take, conceived and hidden with lies, lies , lies.

    It is really an expensive circus show, with the primary purpose for "The Joe and John pony rides", where the ride goes no one really knows, that is until the tent falls in.

    With Jerry and no more CRA funds, the tents is about to come down.

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  29. Greasepainted PigsMarch 1, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    When researching the water bond debacle, I saw that SCE increased its rates over 700 percent. Athens is in trouble for overbilling in LA, a lot of trouble. Mosca & Buchanan putrid puke, gouts of it. Pasadena Star News story is dry fodder and they left a whole lot of folks out. Hurray for the lone blogger ranger!! State of the City sponsored by corporate interests Treason...

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  30. A mayoral me-fest. Tacky, tacky.
    Hope it was a first and the last time.

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  31. Patch has an article up. Nice picture of Joe standing in front of balloons. Isn't he always standing in front of balloons these days?

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  32. For Joe, balloons are "Americana". I kid you not.

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  33. I heard there was a family slide show.

    What part of the state of the city did it represent?

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  34. Brown has given the Democratic Senate and Assembly an ultimatum. Either the CRA goes or he will go after union pensions.

    The CRA is dead.

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  35. I've got it! Let's take bids for possible corporate sponsorship of our public buildings and departments. Let's start with naming the Council Chambers. How about the Athens Waste Management Chambers? Or the Gas (Co.) Chambers in honor of his Honor? With all the monies coming in we could afford to repave every road in Sierra Madre with Gold. I also like the EVS Memorial Police Station, and the Sandi Levin Water Works.

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  36. The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership Memorial Park Public Latrines.

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  37. Anonymous at 11:40

    The CRA is DEAD
    Long Live SLOW GROWTH MOVEMENT!

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  38. Just heard a quick report on KPCC that the Costa Mesa city council is considering outsourcing essential services, such as fire fighting. That could be instructive.

    Before people start howling about our great volunteer fire fighting department, let's remember that it is NOT volunteer, it's paid, and It has some volunteers. And we need to consider all kinds of service outsourcing, maybe not the paid fire department that we have.

    What happens in Costa Mesa will be interesting for us as we get into the real challenges to come, none of which were spotlighted by our current, uh, mayor.

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  39. Over 250 people attended the General Plan Steering Committee Town Hall Forum and gave input to the Committee who listened

    40-50 attended the State of the City and weren't even allowed to ask questions.

    Says a lot.

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  40. Only a superficial self promoter would think of giving a state of the city address without a question and answer period at the end. Unbelievable cowardice.

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  41. 12:29, it's a tradition in keeping with City Hall. One way communication works best for them, so shhhhhhh.

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  42. keep a civil tongue in your headMarch 1, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    What would the poor boy mayor have done if he were asked about the 19 million dollar bond debt? The original lies that got him into office? I hope Heather Allen was there in the audience anyway. Taking notes.

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  43. Think of it as being similar to the city's new Facebook site, 12:31. Staff is much too busy to monitor resident input, but please push the 'like' option!

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  44. All the residents do is harsh the mellow of city staff and the council majority. Walk into city hall and see what impact your presence has. Chilling to say the least. One of my neighbors explained it that if city staff sees you, they know it's a problem.They like to keep their own little world going in there with minimum disruption from the people who pay their salaries.

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  45. City Hall and Sierra Madre's residents live on different planets.

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  46. From The OC Register:

    COSTA MESA – The Costa Mesa City Council is considering outsourcing roughly half of the city's government functions.

    All city employees were notified Friday afternoon that the City Council had added an item to the agenda for its meeting Tuesday: layoff notices for employees providing 18 city services as a proposed budget-cutting measure. Those services include maintenance, information technology, communications, payroll, firefighting, jail administration, animal control, building inspection, and printing.

    Aside from the fire department, the two city departments that would be hit hardest are the Public Services Department, which handles maintenance and engineering, and the Administrative Services Department, which would be gutted.

    Hmmmm.

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  47. Yes they do, 12:44, and on Planet City Hall there has been no economic crisis.

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  48. Old school full service small city government might not be sustainable in the new and poorer California. Times are changing.

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  49. Note to city council and city staff:
    At your next brain storming wish listing daytime middle of the week session, when no working people can possibly attend, put on the top of the list, How to Stop Spending So Much Money .

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  50. What would they do if they weren't spending money, 1:03? Wouldn't their days be empty and without meaning?

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  51. I'm hoping that Joe can line up some money from his employer and we can rename the City Council meeting room to The Gas Company Chamber.

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  52. Oh, I get it. The third graders sang a song about a "hard knock life" and I wondered if any of them knew what that meant, coming from Sierra Madre and Altadena and all. But my Granddaughter tells me that song is from Little Orphan Annie. Now it makes sense. Guess old fogies like me actually remember our parents going through a hard knock life. I hope the third grade teachers explained what that meant.

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  53. been there, done thatMarch 1, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Using school kids is PR 101.

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  54. The use of school kids to anchor their parents as an audience is down right craven.

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  55. After the kids sang their parents took them by the hand and left. They didn't stay for the speech.

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  56. 1:36, no problem for the Moscanians. They'll claim the number of attendees mid song as the sign of Mosca's success.

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  57. Whoever picked 6pm on a Monday for this event needs to have their
    marbles retrieved.

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  58. What makes you think that wasn't intentional 2:08?
    Mosca and his crew have to minimize the exposure to the citizens.
    They want public participation, but not toooo much public.

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  59. City government as we have known it is over.

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  60. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  61. how did we go from a local friendly police department with 20 officers to an inept lawsuit ridden trigger happy group of over 30 officers and an increase in crime - less results - more parking tickets - less visiblity and suing the city constantly?

    what did we do to deserve that?

    thanks Joe and John - you spent our money like banshi's and are trying to drown Sierra Madre in debt and then you'll try to make sure SCAG goals are met and Sierra Madre is a shell of it's former self

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  62. Great post, 3:02. Except for the part about the t-shirt. Repost leaving that out and we're good to go.

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