However, for this particular post we had run into a bit of a problem. Nobody wanted to write it. After having reviewed this evening's agenda, all of the usual Tattler writers became despondent and just couldn't bring themselves to do it. "Look at all the money they're spending!" they wailed. "They want to raise our taxes again! After promising only two weeks before that they wouldn't do it!" they cried. "The new state mandated RHNA numbers will destroy this town! The fascists (or socialists, depending on who you were talking to) are winning!" On and on they went. It really was a pretty sad sight.
I mean, it's good that they care and all. But why none of them just couldn't suck it up and get the job done is, frankly, not good.
So we had no choice. We called Agenda Man and told him we'd give him one last chance. He seemed happy about the opportunity, and promised to turn in some good work this time. I must admit, Agenda Man seemed sincerely committed to the project. Perhaps this would turn out for the best after all.
So we took his word and told him the job was once again his responsibility. Here is what he filed with The Tattler for today's report:
The rituals will be performed, and the assembled will come to a bright new understanding of life and their role in it after hearing this evening's invocation and moment of inspiration from the cosmic councilman, Joe Mosca. Sierra Madre School Principal Gaye Bluemel will be recognized, which should be fairly easy since her picture has been seen everywhere lately. A small brace of long time Fire Department guys will retire, but we won't be told why they're all leaving at the same time. Which would be far more interesting than anything Mayor Buchanan will have to say on the topic.
After all of that a ridiculously large sum of money will be spent. And I do mean large. Which seems strange to me given that later on in the meeting they'll be looking to increase utility taxes. Or so the rumor goes. And you'd think there would be some recognition from the elected officials that a whole lot of money is going out the door. But I suspect they'll just act all entitled about it.
Here is the list:
City Warrants: $199,973.19
Sierra Madre Library Warrants: $12,822.47
Payroll Transfer: $328,283.73
CRA Revolving Note: $25,711.00
GASB 54: (No dollar value assigned on the agenda)
Community Media: $32,000
Downtown Retail Market Demand Study: $30,000
Sierra Madre Blvd Water Main Replacement: $1,092,750.00
Resurfacing City Owned Parking Lots: $471,500.00
Which, when all of the available numbers are added together, comes to a little under $2.2 million dollars. Add that to the spend from the previous June City Council meeting and that number balloons to over the $4 million dollar mark. Which is a pretty substantial number for a City of under 11,000 people to be spending in a single month. Especially a City that wants you to think it's teetering on the edge of some fiscal difficulty.
A discussion about Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers is up next. This conversation will be led by MaryAnn MacGillivray who, alone among our City Council members, has actually been going to the SCAG/CEHD meetings where these numbers are talked about. You'd think that just about the biggest development issue facing Sierra Madre in years would attract a little more Council interest. But with the exception of MaryAnn they are strangely quiet on this issue.
I don't want to go into too much depth here as this topic will be covered on The Tattler pretty exhaustively over the next few days. But it does appear that the state social engineers in Sacramento, armed with SB 375, are going to hit cities like ours pretty heavily over the next year or so. The number of housing units that we will be mandated to allow by the state could be unprecedented in scope, and their desire to resettle low income people here equally troubling.
In San Diego County, which was first region to suffer this process, small cities such as ours have been told that they must assume responsibility for low income housing numbers way beyond anything they have ever seen before. And I believe that will be what MaryAnn will attempt to explain to her smug colleagues.
However, I also believe that the bad news she will be delivering will not be received in quite the way it is intended. I suspect Joe, John, Nancy and Josh will actually find this to be a good thing. Because despite all of their election promises about wanting to keep Sierra Madre the kind of small and quaint place it is today, as are the wishes of so many living here, they actually couldn't care less.
They've all waited a long time for the state to cram development down the throats of towns like ours, making this a special moment for them. Finally the people of Sierra Madre will be overcome, and high density development will at last come to our downtown. Expect lots of talk about how we have to follow the law, what the consequences might be if we fail to knuckle under, and whatever can we possibly do about it, anyway. All washed down with copious quantities of crocodile tears.
After spending $4 million dollars in a single month, the City Council will then tell us about the UUT Oversight Committee's conclusion that utility taxes need to go up. Now most folks would feel a little sheepish about asking for more money, especially after having spent as much as they have, and like so many drunken sailors. But that wouldn't be the kind of thing Mayor John Buchanan would refer to as "making the tough decisions."
Expect a long meandering explanation from the Mayor about how spending all that money this month has nothing to do with the City needing to raise our taxes. Strangely enough, many people will actually believe him. Proving yet again that the adage about one being born every minute still holds true.
The meeting wraps up with the appointment of folks to vacant commission seats. I'm not certain which ones are up for grabs, but anyone with the ability to stay awake after having witnessed all of the above will then be rewarded with just that kind of information. You will have more than earned it.
Until then, I remain yours truly, Agenda Man. I hope to see you again in two weeks.