Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So Did You Believe City Hall?

Things have changed in Sierra Madre over the last several years, and the level of trust many once felt for City Hall just isn't there anymore. For some it was the recent water rate increase discrepancies that did it. For others it ended in 2004 with One Carter. Or the DSP in 2006. Or the 2008 revelation that the City had lost a million dollars, but it wasn't a big deal and no special audit needed to be done.

Or any number of questionable actions taken by those who we did once believe in.

When you watch a City Council meeting and you hear a discussion such as the one we heard last night about how the transference of Redevelopment Agency owned properties to the City would not be encumbered in any way by the nearly $4 million in debt the CRA is carrying right now, you really do have to wonder. Is it true? Should you believe them?

And was it really all being done so that Jerry Brown wouldn't run off with our Fire House? Or because somebody forgot to fill out some paperwork in 1988?

After all, the people who were making these claims are also the exact same officials who told us that the City had to raise water rates because the pipes were falling apart. Only to have to admit later on that the reason was actually something quite different. And then only after being caught red-handed by the very residents they had hoped to take in with that now discredited tale.

So as far as last night's City Council meeting went, who knows what was true and what wasn't? There was no real proof offered on the CRA property transference question, just assurances that none of that nearly $4 million in old debt would be transferred to the General Fund along with City Hall and other properties originally obtained with redevelopment bond money. Nothing was actually proven, we were just asked to take them at their word.

So look, it might have been true. The story seemed plausible enough. Or it might have been that the water rate increase strategy was back for another spin around the block. That one had seemed plausible, too. At least it did at first.

So who knows? Guess we will just have to wait and see.

Looking for a change? You can always buy yourself a discounted Sierra Madre pyramid.

This from the real estate happy website L.A. Curbed:

"World Famous" Sierra Madre Pyramid Now Under $1 Million - If Nicholas Cage ever gets his finances sorted out and can resume his hobby of collecting houses, he might wanna ease back into it with Sierra Madre's famous Pyramid House. Frankly, we can't imagine too many other people eccentric enough to want to buy the glass-and-steel landmark, which, according to a 1991 LA Times story on it, features such quirky touches as a wrought-iron spiral stairway salvaged from a London sewer and a round front door resembling an oversized wagon wheel that opens by being rolled out of the way.

But hopefully we're wrong, as it would be a shame to see the kooky pyramid, which was built in the early '70s by architect John G. McKinney, meet the wrecking ball. Located on a one-acre lot with views to downtown, the mystical property also includes a separate, non-triangular guesthouse. Per Redfin, the three-bedroom, two-bath home last sold in 1991 for $450,000; it was asking $1,098 million in 2009 (and was for lease for $3,500 per month). It's now listed at $925,000.

Follow the "Open House" signs to 751 Oak Crest and see it for yourself. The Pyramid has great views, and from all three directions. Also, as one of the commenters on the L.A. Curbed site noted, it has pyramid power. You'll never age and your razor blades will always be sharp.


  1. Well where does the 4 million in debt go?
    You mean to say we get the buildings for free, and the 4 million stays with the CRA?
    Which will then be disbanded because so many people are fed up with the blatant corruption and hypocrisy, and our CC-1 thinks that the debt will just go away, or what?

  2. It's a magic debt, 11:34. Cousin to the missing mystery million.

  3. From what I've heard Brown's claims on CRA assets will soon be retroactive to a few years ago. Which means this mad scramble the CC-1 put on last night will be futile.

  4. Thanks for the helpful summary Tattler.
    2004 One Carter
    2006 Dreadful Specific Plan
    2008 Million Dollar oops
    2010 Water rate hike hustle
    Is there an even numbered year voodoo spell on the town?

  5. I have lived here long enough to be able to answer your question with great certainty. No, I do not believe city hall.

  6. Any guesses on what 2012 will bring? Besides Mayor Moran?

  7. Aiiiii! 2012 and Mayor Moran. That says a whole lot right there. On an earlier thread someone wrote that Moran's business was selling mortgages. Refine that to Reverse mortgages. Getting old people to use up the equity in their homes. Dicey business that. Might be good for a few people here & there, but overall?

  8. You see what happens when you dig up land that was sacred to native Americans?

  9. Maybe if Jerry Brown takes away our City Hall we can move staff up to the pyramid house. Might help them to focus their energies a little.

  10. No Sandy Levin to bless the taking of the CRA's City Hall and various outbuildings. Bad boojoo? Bad rep? Or wasn't she going along with her brothers at the bar? Are 40 year old buildings squeezed of all their write downs? As a special treat for developers does the CRA mandate tear down and rebuild after 30 years or so? In which case once City Hall reverts back to the people of Sierra Madre will be faced with a huge bond to bring it "seismically" up to date with a new counter? Don't buy this! Somebody knows whats going on. My guess is that Sandy knows it stinks.

  11. The Pyramid leaks like a sieve.

  12. Loved the ceremony for Pat Alcorn, Older Citizen of the Year, and John Shear, Sierra Madre's Hometown Hero.

    It does appear Mrs. Alcorn has earned a place on the City Council after more than 40 years of volunteering on countless committees and helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars. Keep her in mind when you go to the polls in 2012.

    John's dear friend MaryAnn MacGillivray made a touching presentation on behalf of the Mayor and the City Council. His selfless actions in saving a young girl will be talked about for many years to come. His family and many of his friends were on hand to give him a standing ovation.

  13. "This time we're telling the truth. Honest! No, seriously!"

  14. Make me think of the situation that the Hildreth's have had to endure. Not to memtion their current court battle.

    Do we believe them yet?

    You have to feel bad for them. Especially the more we about how the City deal with people in there way.

    Worse, they are on their own.

  15. The only difference between city hall and the rest of us is they have access to a lot of tax money and expensive lawyers.

  16. so how is the $4,000,000 CRA bond debt paid?

  17. How much bond debt does this city actually have? They keep floating to the surface like poorly buried bodies. Anybody ever seen a list? Every time you turn around there are more bonds. And nobody ever talks about paying them off. We just keep paying interest.

  18. 6:24 am....thank you for your nice comment.

    Pat Alcorn and John Shear are fantastic examples of Sierra Madre's SUPER SENIORS!
    They are Sierra Madreans who are a stellar example of integrity for all Sierra Madre.

  19. How overdue is a forensic audit?

  20. Anonymous continuedMay 25, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    I wonder if CRA funds could be spent on an audit of the CRA....

  21. You'd think they would want a good forensic audit. If only to give them some credibility. And then hold a series of townhall meetings to discuss the findings. Better that way than having the DA do it.

  22. My answer to the headline is

  23. The 2011-2013 budget is coming up.
    Get a copy and read it.
    If you do not understand something,
    ask questions or post your question
    on the blog. Your questions will get \
    Also everyone needs to read the audits.
    There is a lot of information from
    the auditors that the City does not
    always talk about.

    There are many smart Tattlers out there to help you.

  24. Crawford! The 30-day hit tracker says May (with a week to go) is 2,000 page views greater than April! Don't be modest. Tell us what this means, please.

  25. The budget strikes me as a fan dance, what with all the Municipalese. And the bad stuff is in what they don't say.

  26. To answer your question.


    I don't believe city hall or especially anything Joe Mosca or John Buchanan or Josh Moran says.

    They all orchestrated a calculated and premeditaed lie, created a false public emergency about impending water disasters just to hide and manipulate their own plans for special pork projects.

    For heaven sakes, Buchanan was paying off his Friends of the Library with a new 7 million dollar library he had been planning with federal funds to piggyback the water rate hike, he saw a sleazy opportunity with the water pipes and said the "sky is falling" and lied repeatedly to us until this blog exposed him.

    No, I assume that when they speak or discuss something regarding the city's future, development or vision that there is a private agenda and that what is best for Sierra Madre isn't what Buchanan, Mosca or Moran wants.

    We need to stop hiring city employees who are looking to make a mark or name for themselves just to move onto to the next gig. That's how we got stuck with the YAC and One Carter.

    I'm sure there are plenty of seasoned professionals who are towards the end of their public service careers and we'd benefit from not having someone who is trustworthy and takes pride and honor in his or her work.

    We've got a city attorney who's firm that sits squarely on the side of development and openly dabbles in the "grey" areas of the law and when sued, settles instead of fighting for those that hired them. They are lazy, weak minded and just paper peddlers.

    When our city attorney knowingly allows and follows the lead of our current and last Mayor to purposely violate the State Constition, they all three should be disbared.

    So, yes, I don't trust them and never will again.

    If their mouths are moving, I assume they are lying to us or hiding something.

    The facts of their actions speak for themselves.

    Our city will be better off with Mosca, Moran and Buchanan off the Council. Ms. Walsh has contributed anything of substance is just a grating distraction.

    They can't think with any level of common business sense, so they always hire a consultant to think for them.

    Our City Attorney is milking our coffiers to pad their own pockets and openly defends developers and skirts the edges of ethics to support the antics of Mosca, Buchanan, Moran and Walsh.

    Our city manager is just another wanna be who is trying to make something happen so she can move on to her next gig and is so overpaid it is embarrassing.

  27. Anonymous @6:15 a.m., City Attornety Levin was absent, but was there in spirit. The substitute city attorney was from the same firm.

  28. 8:48 - yes, traffic on The Tattler is way up. Plus there has been a lot of things going on lately, including a highly credible legal challenge to the local masters of the universe. We gain new readers all the time, and then they keep coming back. It is pretty gratifying.

  29. Moran sells reverse mortages?

    No wonder he oozes sleaze.

    Doesn't surprise me because he once advocated a boycott of Sierra Madre businesses because of Measure V and said that he had every intention of using his position on the Council to appoint his friends and supporters to city committees and then did just that.

    It'll be appropriate if he wears clown makeup when he's sworn in as Mayor.

    We're doomed with years of stupidity on the Council.

  30. Watch out for whomever Buchanan, Mosca, Moran or Walsh or (Doyle/Lambin/Stockley) endorse in the next election.

    If they are fer em, I'm agin em.

  31. Isn't that how we ended up with Moran and the Cha Cha dancer? None of the downtown investors club could run because of their LLC involvement, so they had to go all the way to the bottom of the barrel. Can you imagine a city council run by Moran, Mosca, and Le Cha Cha? Talk about a void.

  32. Joe was a little overwhelmed last night. He was umming up a storm. Plus several times he had to resort on his "No, no, that is not what I was saying" rhetorical fallback. Which meant MaryAnn had just trumped him badly on an important point.

  33. I missed the meeting, so is this what is what:

    The city in the form of the CRA has 4 million dollars of debt. That debt is separate from the buildings (city Hall, FD, PD) that were transferred last night - not connected to those buildings.

    Is that right?

    So what is the debt for?

  34. No word on the millions in CRA debt, 9:19. Except that it didn't seem to matter.

  35. Yeah 9:15, I don't mean to be a nit picker, but wouldn't it be great if Joe and some of the others tried not to say um" or "uh" or "you know"- just closed their mouths for a few seconds instead. Then continue with a word that has meaning.
    And why oh why have the council reports devolved into social calendar reviews?

  36. Because social events is all they do, 9:24. Conferences, seminars, events with tie-ins to the important issues of city governance? Please.

  37. Four million dollars in unidentified debt.
    Sounds like business as usual.

  38. How do we get an accounting of all Sierra Madre's outstanding debt?

    File a Freedom of Information Act request?

  39. Would anyone like a cashew?

  40. File a Public Records request at the city's counter. Freedom of Information, I think, is for federal records. They'll turn it down. there is probably a form on the city website.

  41. It would be nice if when the CC4 reports the government meetings they attend, to tell us what happened at those meetings. Nancy reported that she and Joe went to the COG meeting, but, so? Has anyone told them that no one cares that they attend social gatherings that they blather on about? When MaryAnn goes to a meeting, Sierra Madre citizens get to hear a very intelligent, cohesive report on what went on and how it affects us.

  42. Nancy Walsh did have one insight into "The COG." She described what is going on there as "internal difficulties." Which I guess is the civil way of saying they're being investigated for corruption.

  43. Walsh also said the COG meeting was "tedious".
    Councilmember Walsh, please, fewer adjectives, more facts.
    And no more reports that say nothing but "And I went to whatever and it was nice."

  44. You get Nancy much beyond the topic of "potties" and she is lost.

  45. So the City can transfer the assets and leave who holding the bag for the debts encumbering them? Right.

  46. I don't think we're supposed to bother our pretty little heads about that, Dr. Staccato. We should leave that to John and Joe to sort out. I'm going to do my part by shopping downtown!

  47. I like that Buchanan is leaving the mess in the incompetent hands of the moron. Remember Big John is a lame duck Mayor and Mosca will be on the tarmac waiting for clearance into the wild blue yonder before Sacramento begins to figure out what happened.

  48. Well, if they transfer the asset without being compensated (read, buying it), then it's a gift of public funds. That's a big No, no. And right now, they should be paying rent for it. The City is occupying somebody else's building. And then we can move on to why was the Redevelopment Agency building a City Hall and Police/Fire building in the first place? The reason people are now at the point of losing faith in City government is that they are now finding out all the illegalities that Sierra Madre has been built and thrived upon. What a load of baloney.

  49. 1972? Wasn't that around the time Jim McRae was City Administrator? Wasn't he also allowed to resign during the '70's and indemnified by the then City Council after irregularities in co-mingling funds? Is there statute of limitations on irregularities with public money?

  50. We need to find out exactly how much debt Sierra Madre has. I bet the number is huge.

  51. Don't be bothering Jim McRae with this. He did it all with lots of knowledge and guided by the City Attorney. Quite a bit of the city's foolishness was revealed in the early- to mid-90s and McRae was shown the door. Have things improved since then? I'm betting against that. Maybe not the same stuff, but the same idea.

  52. "internal difficulties" she says??? Hmmmm....the COG has been meeting in closed/secret session in violation of the Brown Act. In those meetings, they discussed the audit which asserts the COG mishandled grant monies and the COG has been using a management company which is owned by none other than the Executive Director of the COG. Nice gig if you can get it.....get paid a huge government salary and then form a company to use for additional huge payouts.......conflict of interest at best, maybe worse.

  53. Where's the forensic audit?May 25, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Wow, Doc Stacatto and Gilman........conflict of interest at best and maybe worse?

    Why the hell don't we DEMAND a FORENSIC AUDIT.
    Kurt Zimmerman did, he knew, no one thought it was that bad. is that bad and this is much WORSE than we thought it was.


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