Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly Has A Surprise For John Shear - Plus A Peek At Tonight's City Council Meeting

A Sierra Madre resident held a get together last weekend with a group of like minded neighbors and invited Assemblyman Tim Donnelly to stop by and speak. Also present for this get together were Diane and John Shear. John, whose recovery from injuries suffered at the now famous occurrences at Santa Anita Racetrack a couple of months back is near miraculous, was walking with only the assistance of a cane. I can only assume that had the same collision with a thoroughbred race horse happened to me (32 years John's junior), I'd still be trying to get up. Or maybe not even attempting that.

Assemblyman Donnelly, who normally doesn't do the awards thing because it is just way too overdone by all the usual political suspects (example: think of the vast forests of trees that are felled annually to print the awards given out at our City Council meetings), sang John's praises before a very appreciative crowd of around 100 people. And then handed out a very handsome plaque commemorating John's bravery in saving the life of a child. The attached picture pretty much says it all. It was a great occasion with the best of company, and a good time was had by all.

The Happenings @ This Evening's City Council Meeting

The news is that Councilmember Josh Moran will not be in personal attendance this evening due to some important high level meetings he has been holding with Congressman David Dreier in Washington DC. Apparently Josh had been summoned to Washington by the Congressman, with Dreier perhaps hoping to improve his understanding of the important matters currently taking place in Sierra Madre. Air Force 6 & 1/2 picked the Councilman up at an undisclosed secure location out in the desert, and then whisked him off to Dulles Airport. From there a small fleet of black minivans hustled him straight into Washington's innermost circles of power.

Actually, very little of what I've just said above is even remotely true. Congressman Dreier, like most people holding elective office in Congress, occasionally conducts vanity cattle calls for minor elected officials from his home district, inviting them to his WDC offices for pictures to send back to the folks in Duckburg. Josh was apparently the only elected official from Sierra Madre to attend this year, though all could have gone had they chosen to do so. But I'm sure there were plenty of folks from other cities who went. Many finding such a brush with greatness irresistible.

I just hope we didn't have to pay any airfare.

The City Council meeting kicks off with the ancient rites, plus there will be a few presentations as well. The Mayor will lead in the pledge of allegiance, then inspire us with some deep thoughts on cosmic matters. Then all will be silent for a moment. Then they'll start talking again. Then a lot of presentations will be conducted and awards given out. Hands will be shaken and pictures taken.

After that a lot of money will be spent. Around $560,000 this time around, mostly in salaries. CRA, Library, City Warrants, all that rhythm will also feel the cool green rush of money. It's how they roll.

A couple of notable items from the Consent Calendar. Apparently we need to spend $91,000 on GAC. GAC, which de-euphemized means Granular Activated Carbon, is used to strain nasty things out of our drinking water. Something that takes place in those bulbous looking white Siemens tanks off to the side of Heasely Field. After two separate bidding processes this is the best price we could get for our precious GAC. The time has come for us to renew our supplies.

You will also be relieved to know that we are once again a part of the Regional Terrorism Information Integration System. Or at least we are being watched over by the participating agencies in said RTIIS. This is something run by the equally ominous sounding Los Angeles Regional Integrated Law and Justice Project. Vigilance truly is the price of Liberty. And then there are government agencies that attempt to duplicate that.

New playground equipment recently purchased for the regal sum of $73,000 in CRA funding is now ordered and on its merry way to Memorial Park. This equipment includes swings, a rock climbing wall, plus a not very long slide. But since this is for the enjoyment of the 2 to 5 year old set, maybe that is all we need.

Heritage Housing Partners, the folks who want to build all kinds of stylish low income housing at 186 W. Highland, now have an exclusive opportunity to present Sierra Madre with their plans for constructing just that sort of thing. During this period of time we will remain true to Heritage and not talk with any of the other developers. The problem facing Heritage is that they had wanted to build 16 units, while the local residents are only going to put up with 3 of them. How that will pencil out for Heritage is anybody's guess, but with only three units to build this matter might end up a victim of fiscal reflux.

Item 3 is reasonably interesting. Dr. Sami, who is not happy with the CRA paying for only 30% of the fees incurred by him through the expansion of his celebrated medical facilities on Sierra Madre Boulevard, is now asking for 70% of the fees to come out of our property taxes. Something that is not sitting very well with some, while others aren't quite so bothered. My take is Dr. Sami is probably a passing fair poker player who knows how to bluff the folks on the other side of the table.

Dr. Sami's contention is that since he is enhancing the promise of better medical care for Sierra Madre, plus hiring the skilled medical specialists to make this all happen, he shouldn't be forced to pay the astronomical public facility fees Sierra Madre charges people hoping to do that sort of thing here. There are many who go to Dr. Sami for medical care, and he is especially popular with parents and their kids. And apparently if he doesn't get his way on this he might pack up his tongue depressors and go build elsewhere.

Look at it this way. The City is spending huge sums of our tax money on Farmer's Market II, a consultant parking study, plus a study of people's shopping habits. How about we just cut out a couple of those and give Dr. Sami the break he is looking for? The City charges absurdly high "public facilities" fees and then partially subsides them with tax money, on the other hand it will squander absurd amounts of cash on something like a consultant report on how people park their cars. All in the name of helping the business people who have to pay those crazy fees. Things are just that out of whack here.

Item #4 is a discussion on redistricting. The success of two recent state propositions showed the discontent the voters have with gerrymandered Congressional Districts, along with equally bizarre State Senate and Assembly Districts as well. Oftentimes in California these are political safe havens specially designed by the political parties to guarantee their control over certain districts into perpetuity. In order to counteract this a special panel of civilian volunteers was chosen to redesign every such district in California, and big changes to the political landscape could be coming soon.

Some might find this topic dull, but look for Joe Mosca to show some intense interest. Rumor has it that our possible future Assembly district could be of some special concern to him, and tonight's discussion might offer some unintentionally given insight into his dreams of greater political glory.

SCAG and the general anarchy of California's planning regime will get another airing out this evening. As things now stand the state has empowered itself to the point where it can go into any town in California and tell their victims exactly where and how we need to build things. With SCAG, of course, the planning regime tasked with designing the end result of Sacramento's will. They could order us to build whatever they want on our hillsides, and could push aside Measure V and drop a nuclear bomb on our downtown. Planning authority that has traditionally rested with individual towns is now in the hands of central planners who couldn't care less about what people believe is right for their towns.

As an aside, does anyone remember where it is that SCAG head Hasan Ikhrata got his start in the central planning racket? The Soviet Union. According to his biography he helped to make the Moscow Metro run on time. I'm certain he is an ideal fit at SCAG.

And in a final flourish to this evening's proceedings, the City Council liaison appointments to a few commissions and organizations will take place. The L.A. Sanitation District, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (now under investigation for screwing up some contracts, by the way) and the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority are all up for grabs. Hopefully those given these positions will actually go to the meetings.



  1. $91K to be spent on GAC to purify our water in order to flush the GAC down the sewer and water the great expanse of green grass in our neighborhoods. I should say an additional $91K since the amount of money spent on water and water infrastructure in Sierra Madre seems to be flowing, well, like water.

  2. Still PO'd at Donnelly for voting to keep the CRAs in place. Democrats want welfare for the poor, Republicans want welfare for the rich. Nothing has changed.

  3. Early morning readerMay 10, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    Something of a scoop over at the Patch this morning. John Stephens has .pdf'd the entire Agenda packet for tonight's Council Meeting. I guess the question is, "If Patch can post the entire Agenda packet, why can't the City?"

    As some of you may have noticed John Stephens reappeared yesterday with the news of the Water Rate Lawsuit. Many of us were speculating over his future after failing to line up the requisite number of bloggers for Arianna.

    My printers down so I didn't bother to test the download/printing of the packet. Please post any shortcuts or idiosyncrasies as the day goes on. The next step for Patch is to post the minutes on-line! Go for it Patchy.

  4. John is a remarkable and humble man. He attended more than one gathering this weekend and while still recuperating physically his sense of humor was in great form. Sierra Madre remains a hometown where it's an honor to sit next to a hero. Thanks to the Shear family and friends for their care and tending to a man who makes us all feel better about life when we're in his presence.

  5. I saw John Shear this weekend and I was amazed to see him up on his feet and getting around just fine. He is made of better stuff.

  6. Interesting that the AOL site got an agenda packet to put up.
    As a citizen I only have 2 ways to get it - go into city hall and read it there, or go into the library and read it there.
    Does Coburn's site have it?
    How about Miller's?
    Susan Henderson's?

  7. Perhaps it was Stephen's reward for being such a faithful messenger boy.

  8. Public funds for Mr. Moran to go to a dog and pony show in Washington? Airfare? Hotel bills? Nah. Can't be. It must be on his dime. No one would spend tax dollars so frivolously in this economic climate.

  9. I'm with you 6:18. Donnelly had a chance to stop the corrupt CRAs and didn't. What a disappointment. I heard his reason was that he didn't want Brown to control the money, giving it to the unions, or some such. Well then fight that battle next you dufus. Triage, Donnelly, triage.

  10. We'll need to get a copy of the hotel bill with a public right to know request.

  11. 7:45

    Oh yes they would.

  12. I'm sure John Buchanan signed off on it. He probably saw this as something that would heighten Josh's stature and gravitas in the community. More proof that our Mayor sees this town as the home of gullible boobs.

  13. A trip to Washington DC for a little town's mayor pro tem might make some people take Moran more seriously. In my neighborhood the snorts of derision are deafening.

  14. I am sure our patrician Congressman just loved his meetings with all those fine councilcritters.

  15. It's taken a long time, but I'm finally starting to understand just what the pro-development people mean by 'civility'.
    Shaking hands

  16. Wouldn't you just kick yourself if you went all the way to Washington, DC to meet up with Congressman Drier and missed the opportunity to also attend the Natonal Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association Conference that was being held while you were there?

    (from the internet):

    NRMLA > Reverse Mortgage
    May 2, 2011 ... Become a member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association® and join an ... Washington Policy Conference May 10-11. L'Enfant Plaza Hotel Washington, DC Click HERE to Register Click HERE for the Final Agenda ...
    www.nrmlaonline.org/ - Cached - Similar

    Now, if we, the taxpayers, have paid for Mayor Pro-tem Moran to go to DC for the political meet-up when his profession was having a national meeting there at the same time, then he should be paying all of his own expenses and NOT US!

    Mr. Moran is still listed on the internet as being associated with Reverse It--(also off the internet):

    Reverse it!
    Sandy Tennekoon, (918) 340-4398, sandy@urbanfinancialgroup.com
    Laura Alinger, (918) 550-3615, laura@reverseit.com
    Gloria Betancourt, (918) 550-3614, gbetancourt@reverseit.com
    Matt Klaus, (561) 818-7877, mklaus@reverseit.com
    Joshua Moran, (626) 808 8083, jmoran@reverseit.com
    Jonathan Scarpati , (918) 550-3616, jonathan@reverseit.com
    Jeremy Shadrick, (918) 852-4431, jshadrick@reverseit.com

  17. Just don't bring up anything too serious. That is not your place.

  18. I see that Patchy has been pulling comments in support of the water rate lawsuit. Bad Patchy!

  19. Thanks for that information Necessarily Anonymous.
    Undoubtedly Mr. Moran is paying his own way.

  20. Reverse mortgages?
    There are some troubling consequences in that line of work -like the elderly running out of the equity in their homes and then facing serious illnesses.
    Wonder if the convention will cover that. A special seminar on when not to sell reverse mortgages.

  21. The Sierra Madre Patch article says "...Mayor Pro Tem Josh Moran, who spoke with Patch from Washington, where he is traveling to meet with Congressman David Dreier..." Nothing about a convention for Moran's business.

  22. 9:11, you can access the agenda by copying & pasting:

    One of the topics is "New Policies That Impact Reverse Mortgage Advertising" Probably you cannot tell people reverse mortgages give them a secure old age anymore.

    Another topic is "Preparing for a Visit with Your Elected Officials" so maybe Josh is lobbying Drier about reverse mortgages, and only incidentally being from Sierra Madre.

  23. I just can't help but wonder if young Moran has made a reverse mortgage pitch to Ms. Walsh and her senior friends... How many of his former realtor associates are being gamed? I can't think of a more dispicable way of earning a living than helping the oldsters out of their homes at the end of their lives.

  24. I know of one woman who was helped greatly by having a reverse mortgage, but it's very different from case to case. Generally I think it's a bad idea, but there are exceptions.

  25. What a farce!
    All I need to know is who paid the bills for Josh Moran's trip.
    If he did, I've got nothing to say, except I hope he doesn't embarrass Sierra Madre as much as Joe Mosca did.
    If he didn't, I've got plenty to say.
    Will it be announced tonight?

  26. Maybe Buchanan should be the liaison to the SGV CoG. They're going to need lawyers.

  27. I wonder what goes on at a reverse mortgage convention. Do they have practice grannies?

  28. Don't forget 11:00, Mosca is also a lawyer, and there's no more eager Council of Government supporters than he.Of course, he might not be able to go to the meetings, but he could give them legal help.Maybe.

  29. My question for the reverse mortgage dealers is do they feel that they are contributing to the well being of seniors?

  30. Just printed the detail for tonight's Council Meeting from Patch. It's certainly great as far as it goes, but there is no detail for the consent calendar, only Items 2 through 6. There's no reason the City Staff couldn't put this on their site - unless of course the copying service at the City Hall counter and the Library are profit centers. Especially take a look at 2010-2011 staff assignments! Fat lot of representation we got at critical meetings!

  31. political presstitutes at preyMay 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Necessarial anon, The editor is in possession of public record documents from OK, Mr. Moran is on record for at least one reverse mortgage there, he got for, was it 42, or 46, thousand. I sent it to him about 6 months ago, Josh was on important business and had missed an important vote or council meeting, the same date he was in OK aquiring the mortgage.
    The main Reverse It office is there in OK, But so good to know about the convention,so is Drier helping out the old folk too? Stephens is such a brown noser.

  32. The full agenda packets need to be released through the city web site and other media, or just the city web site.
    The fact that only the AoL Patch blog has the packet is another bad mistake.

  33. I am in conflict about giving Dr. Sami such a free ride. He already skated on the parking, and now this. Remember, with just a small reduction, maybe minus one or two examining rooms (was it from 16 to 14) his parking would have been OK, but he would not think of a smaller scale to the office. Before anybody jumps on me, I know we need a medical office here, and it should be encouraged. But it is a business, they are making a profit with more to come. They are not running a charity and that health care is not free.

  34. The agenda packets were released through the city. Patch took itself to the counter (or to the library), paid the copying fee (or copied the pages itself) and posted them for all to see. Nothing underhanded or devious. This information was released last Friday, available at the library over the weekend.

    You are absolutely correct that the city should be posting this very same information on the city's website! It's a disgrace that it isn't available to the taxpayers.

  35. It is rare that I disagree with a position on a matter taken by the Tattler, but waiving 70% of a medical office's development fees? What you say is quite true, about systems being out of whack, and money spent in wasteful ways - particularly good example, the Farmers Market the Second - but to give the break to a business that enjoys the, ahem, healthiest economic growth in our challenged times?

  36. Giving Dr Sami 70% off makes a lot more sense than spending $30,000 on a consultant who will tell us what color to paint parking places. At least Dr. Sami provides a valuable service.

  37. Giving Dr. Sami 70% off will set a precedent that will create creative approaches.

    Our restaurant is providing Sierra Madre bellies with a valuable service, so we should get the same break as a medical office. In fact if our food is bad enough, we are actually involved in giving the medical office some business.

    Our MacMansion will elevate the whole place to a bigger richer town, so we deserve the same breaks as anyone else. We are providing an inspirational service for one and all to come and admire our castles on the hill. (But don't come too close)

  38. If there's any money to throw around, let's throw it at the water system repairs, and subsidize the tax payers for the new water rates that are to come.

  39. Look at it this way. We charge Dr Sami big old fees, but then we pay them for him out of CRA funds. This way the city pays CRA money into the General Fund using Dr Sami as it's fund bridge.

  40. Is that legal 2:29? Some shade of grey legal?

  41. That use of a fund bridge is certainly in keeping with the city of Sierra Madre's usual fulfillment of the moral obligation to spend CRA funds on the removal of blight.

  42. Dr. Sami should not get any more or any less than any other business. The City lost on the parking issue, but that was the City's fault because the Development Department had not kept up with their own rules. Remember that what Dr. Sami gets the SNF and the Cong will also want. If a NO is given to the church they will cry religious discrimination and SUE. The City Council must be very careful. A 30% reduction in fee is quite a gift.

  43. I hear the Clerk's office got served with John's papers today. Can anybody confirm?

  44. Yep, got served.

  45. Someone posted yesterday about a previous City Administrator (before the position name changed to City Manager) as being fired but didn't mention the main reason: faulty accounting. Using funds and budgets sliding money around to cover costs. I think this "fund bridge" sounds similar.

  46. Served. Sounds like a big chicken dinner to me.

  47. Who do they think they are representing?May 10, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    JOE and now JOSH. We have been insulted enough.

    When will the pretense end. How humiliating. Do

    they actually believe their own pathetic lies...

  48. Buchanan is back. The first hour was spent in the feel good of it all.

  49. Tattler board is in fine shape today, good info!

  50. The writ is up on the Sierra Madre patch. Patch's editor wrote yesterday that there was no record of its being filed and now he produces a copy of it today. What's with that guy?

  51. Stephens is a John Crawford stalker. Apparently he is obsessed with everything Tattler.

  52. AOL has instructed it's hyperlocal sites to garner page views, to get search engine optimization - that's all. So the hyperlocal site here piggybacks on the local site that gets lots of page views.


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