"The Law of Triviality, briefly stated, says that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum found." - C. Northcote Parkinson
The City's official agendizers have agendized agendas at a most fearsome pace this week, and many things will be considered by those who consider these considerations with considerable care. Decision makers' decisions will be decisively decided, the effects of which could effectively effectuate our governmental conduct for years. Or at least until the next round of meetings takes place in a couple of weeks. Which of course they will. Government sadly being the arena that now fills our days, whether or not you know it.
As a service to the community The Tattler will attempt to review the issues being covered in each of this week's four City meetings the morning before they happen. And should that prove to be impossible we will instead offer what we hope are entertaining rounds of japes, complaints and snark. Mostly because we enjoy that kind of thing, but also because it attracts readers in a far greater volume than the fawning and ineffectual babbitry provided by the four other news venues in town.
The proviso being that too many meetings in so small a town is not always a good thing. It is true that some people are very busy, but what they are actually busy at should always be considered a tiptop topic for discussion. Whether they enjoy it or not.
Today we will be discussing this evening's agendized deliberations of the Community Services Commission, taking place at 6pm in the City Council chambers. They do have a lot of juicy (there is no other word for it) topics on their list, and we hope to give them all the preview they deserve.
Here are the topics that I found to be the most interesting:
1) Fourth of July Financial Analysis - Recommendation to advise on the financial stability of the event and forward any recommendations for allocated funding to City Council.
Apparently the outgoing 4th of July Committee may have spent more money than it took in last year. Led by some of Sierra Madre's most privileged individuals, expenditures are now suspected of having outstripped the amount of donations they had managed to raise from the residents. And it does ring true. It was under this 4th of July Committee that such things as the superfluous and costly rental of golf carts and advanced communication equipment were brought into the parade mix, expenses that had never been any part of overall costs in the past.
I also suspect that money had become harder to obtain because of all the adverse publicity the Committee received by initiating such unpopular killjoy measures as banning water pistol fights with the Fire Department, or the throwing of candy to Sierra Madre's children. People in town came to consider these prohibitions the acts of ridiculous control freaks, and therefore didn't feel up to cutting them checks anymore.
The upshot being that the 4th of July Committee threw up their hands and dumped the entire situation on the City. Which dutifully accepted their challenged checkbook. And while there was money in the account from past years, future funding now looks challenging.
The 4th of July Committee had claimed to believe that they might become personally liable should anything disastrous happen during the parade itself. Or at least that was the reason given for their sudden abdication. I personally think it had more to do with all the financial drift, and the understandable desire to push the fiscal consequences of that potential problem onto the backs of the taxpayers. After all, that's what everybody else does.
2) Sierra Madre Congregational Church Request for Amplification in Memorial Park Bandshell - Recommendation to review options and provide staff with recommendations to forward to the City Council/Redevelopment Agency.
In order to better serve God, Sierra Madre's Congregational Church wants to amplify its Sunrise Services at the Memorial Park bandshell. The Congregationalists believe this should be proclaimed an "all-city event" which, considering that their amplified hosannas of praise would be taking place at 6:30 AM, it most certainly would be. Whether the city's slumbering sinners would have voluntarily joined in with all of that joy is another question.
Of course, there is a legalistic inspiration for the "all-city event" thing as well. The Congregationalists are famous for carefully reading the rule book, and the reason for this request could be that since only a City sponsored event can be so amplified, it would need to be just that. The Cong had been turned down on a similar request last year, something that apparently chafed at them for a bit. So they've been mulling the matter over.
But should the City decide to sponsor an electronically amplified Sunrise Service event, wouldn't it raise Constitutional issues? Such as the appropriateness of a government sponsored religious event? And should the Sierra Madre Community Services people approve city sponsorship of a Congregationalist event, what would the other denominations in the Sierra Madre religious community think? My guess is there might be considerable envy, which would mean that the City would have led them into sinful behavior.
Also remember that any such amplification could upset the day laborers. Which might lead to expensive civil rights litigation should it occur.
3) Memorial Park Restrooms - Recommendation to review options and provide staff with recommendations to forward to the City Council/Redevelopment Agency
This one is just so choice that I have to pinch myself. There is a paragraph from the staff analysis for the topic (not provided on our opaque city website, but I did obtain a copy), that knocks this whole wiggling pile of effluential behavior into a cocked hat.
Also considered was the length of time needed to enter into a contract with a construction contractor or supplier. This is critical in that the City Council/CRA Board has designated the use of Redevelopment Agency funds for the project. Under recent state budget proposals there has been serious consideration of eliminating redevelopment agencies. Under some proposals the City's Redevelopment Fund revenues would be lost to the State as early as July 1st. For that reason, it is highly desirable to be under contract for a restroom project to obligate or commit the funds, as there is currently no other source of funding for the project.
In other words, rather than lose these CRA moneys to Jerry Brown, his damn public schools and some sick old people, the City of Sierra Madre wants to hide this booty under some public toilets in a park. Which, if you think about it, is quite a metaphor.
This sort of thing is likely being attached to a lot of other CRA related matters the City is also pushing. Such as the Farmers Market, Highland low income housing, homeless wickiups on Montecito and $50,000 consultant studies for things like the shopping preferences of Sierra Madreans. Something that could result in such life altering events as the stocking of toilet tissue at The Bottle Shop.
4) Special Event Permits - Recommendation to review proposed additions to the Municipal Code and forward a recommendation to approve to the Planning Commission and the City Council.
This rather bold notion states that when the City is asked by the likes of the Chamber of Commerce to cut them a cash break on fees related to the staging of such beloved events as the Wistaria Festival or Dicken's Village, the responsibility for deciding the matter should be taken away from the Community Services Commission and turned over to City Hall. Which would free up our city government to give away the farm while at the same time asking for fee and tax increases to make up the difference.
The result being yet one more instance where control over the spending of our tax money is removed from the actual taxpayers and turned over to those who do little more than spend it.
Tomorrow we will discuss the findings of this Community Services Committee meeting, plus review the agenda for this week's second major gathering, Tuesday evening's City Council meeting.