Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Return of the Prodigal Agenda Man

We fired Agenda Man several months ago. His writing was uninspired, his perspectives unremarkable, and frankly he was just way too self-involved to properly understand the vital importance of Sierra Madre City Council meeting agenda reports. We showed him the door and fervently hoped to never have to deal with him again. I know this might seem unnecessarily harsh to some, but in order to run a tight ship we need to keep our standards high.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. Enough Already!Tattler,you have done your job.The rest is up to the citizen to stop these reckless hooligans along with their confederates from turning our city into an extension of the greater LA slum megalopolis!A Recall is in Order<<

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  2. The questions remain. In spite of the Tattler's legion of posters, the Sierra Madre City Council (minus one) are not idiots (well maybe the dancin' one). So why are they behaving like this? Why are they mortgaging the future of all Sierra Madre residents - even the ones who haven't moved here yet? John and Mosca live in modest homes and in reality, for their age, have rather lackluster careers. Does the moron even own a home? No career to speak of there... Walsh is just a well intentioned old woman lured in with sweet talk. I repeat, no career to speak of there.

    So why do two men with no real connections in town settle down and begin families in a quiet residential community to begin a political career that will ultimately change forever the lives and fortunes of thousands of their fellow residents?

    Why?

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  3. Both John and Joe work for huge utility companies that have a big stake in squeezing more people into the area. Edison, as an example, recently gave the badly discredited SGVCOG over $2 million dollars to do SB 375 work.They also supply The COG office space. I for one would like to think that John and Joe will reap the big bucks should Sierra Madre finally fall. But you know what? The mundane reality is they're just work-a-day corporate bureaucrats. They'll probably get a couple extra bucks in their Xmas bonus packet and a shiny new glass desktop. That's it.

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  4. Re Yesterday:

    You can avoid your UUT on your cell phone bill if you subscribe for service at an address outside the city and have your bill sent to that address. Have your bill go to your work address etc. All cities have lower or no UUT fees. Even if they are the same, you will be keeping the G4 from getting your money. I don't know if Direct TV subscribers pay this fee or not. If they do not, we should all consider changing to Direct TV and dropping Time Warner. The UUT on my cable TV bill is over $8.00 a month or $84 a year. On top of the UUT that is paid for Cable TV there is also a franchise fee that goes to the city.

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  5. STARVE THE BEAST!June 28, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    7:02, Is this true? Can I really starve the beast by having Verizon send my combo phone and Directv bill to the office? If so, I will soon be supporting the great city of Los Angeles with whatever its tax is.

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  6. Every dime I can keep out of their hands I will. All they'll do is spend it on things that I don't want.

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  7. can you hear me now?June 28, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    My husband's cell bill goes to his office....no UUT for Sierra Madre.

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  8. 6:12, I appreciate your question. I look at it the same way. There is a philosophical, psychological, spiritual conundrum raised by the likes of Buchanan. You want to say, "How could you do this?" and you know they will not, or cannot answer, but their silence unsettles you because it undermines your faith in human nature.

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  9. By registering your cell phone out of town you will more than offset the additional 2% UUT the Gang of 4 wants to levy.

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  10. I think of City Hall as an occupation government.

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  11. You have always been too hard on Agenda Man. He has consistently done a fine job. Look at what he has had to work with!
    As the jargon of government increases, so does the disconnect for citizens.

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  12. Good info regarding a means to circumvent UUT tax.However,we still need to unseat the noxious 4 pronto.Fighting a rear guard action can only go so far.

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  13. To Agenda Man's credit after being booted from the Tattler he didn't suddenly show up on Patch. He does have standards.

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  14. RHNA stands for rhinocerasJune 28, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    The most puzzling thing about the state mandated RHNA show is that the California Department of Finance, the source for the actual numbers as Housing Element consultant Warner informed us, doesn't seem to track the economic collapse of the state, or the water problems we would all be subject to on 'build out.'
    Who is in the Department of Finance?

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  15. My favorite CRA Folly is the Downtown Retail Market Demand Study for $30,000.
    Can't wait to read the report on what my neighbors buy at Cost Co or Smart and Final.

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  16. RHNA, SCAG, SB 375, all of that is a real taste of what life in the old Soviet Union must have been like. Centrally planned development with local party functionaries just like Joe and John wielding the local muscle to make it happen.

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  17. they're golddiggersJune 28, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    If what is said is true about switching to DirecTv and sending our bills to an out of town address, we need a massive campaign to let every one in town know this, so we can squeeze them good and hard. You know suzie is in on this.

    the UUT is just another scumbag way of them showing they are greedy and will do anything to line their pockets.

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  18. The thing is it will take a lot of money to make this town attractive to the kind of large development outfits Buchanan and his enablers want to bring in here. Our water infrastructure is antiquated, and the sewer system isn't a whole lot better. The streets don't meet standards either. So they're scraping together every dime they can while working up to a big bond sell. The worst part of it is City Hall wants to get us to fund the infrastructure work necessary for big development. In other words, we're paying for the rope they'll hang us with.

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  19. 9:49, Rhinoceros, the Department of Finance begot a unit:

    "The Demographic Research Unit is designated as the single official source of demographic data for state planning and budgeting."
    http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demographic/

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  20. You can bet the BIA and League lobbyists have the Demographic Research Unit chiefs on speed dial.

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  21. City Government is somewhat unilateral. The combo of City Mgr., City Attorney, Consultant, City Council, Regional Assoc (SCAG), funded by Developers & Real Estate Interests, with the State Legislators (paid by lobbiests) setting the stage with legislation to make almost anything legal has served up a "cacoon" for activities imuine from scrutney and debate, is repeated over and over again across California. This system as we know it is almost a racketeering activity. There are no consequences for those imposing their agenda's upon us, even though they are using our money.

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  22. When the RDAs all over California are finally abolished, how do you think the state is going to go about collecting the money spent on fraudulent things, like market studies?We'll be in trouble then, because we have to ask ourselves, have any of the Sierra Madre CRA activities been on the up and up?Any of 'em?

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  23. I think that redevelopment funds spent on water infrastructure are legitimate.
    But that's all I can think of as justified.

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  24. There are reasons why the League of California Cities is going to sue Sacramento over the death of the CRA. One of them is all of the consultants in the state that they have as clients. A whole way of life is threatened.

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  25. Right you are 12:39.
    Just imagine the money generated in the consultant industry alone!

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  26. For CRA funds to be spent on water infrastructure wouldn't every street in the public right of way need to be part of a CRA district?

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  27. SCAG, COG and all the rest of the corrupt government planning apparatus will have a very difficult time coercing cities into enacting SB 375 without them having CRA money to squander. There is that as well.

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  28. Well there's that 12:40.
    That was the one use I could think of that was really a blight curative/preventative.
    Think I need to look at a list of all Sierra Madre CRA projects.

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  29. The fact that the death of the bogus redevelopment agencies might slow down densification is a blessing in disguise. However, since the development/realty consortium seems to have evolved into a magnet for the more rapacious and deceitful among us, we can't let our guard down.

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  30. According to Joe Mosca Sierra Madre has had many instances of blight that were taken care of with CRA money. We'd be Oakland without it.

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  31. It is a act of linguistic torture to make anything in Sierra Madre "blight,"
    and to make any Sierra Madre Redevelopment Agency projects "legitimate."

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  32. CRA monies could only be spent on water infrastructure if it is in the CRA zone. The downtown study is legitimate, the park playground equipment and probably the park restrooms are not, and the repair of the city hall roof is very, very iffy.

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  33. The development industry has all sorts of Sacramento people in it's pocket. California is run like a banana republic. The peoples representatives don't work for the people. They work for the money given to them by powerful economic interests through their lobbyists.

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  34. What happens if the Gang of Sacramento Go Fers spends all that CRA money on pipes and consultants, then Jerry Brown says the money is his and demands we send him 3 or 4 million bucks? Do we send him some pipes and the Kodiak?

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  35. Maybe 1:12, the state simply takes the money owed it out of property taxes that would otherwise come to the city.

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  36. Now there is a deal. Sacramento takes away our local tax money, and we get to keep the parking study and the Kodiak. Can we say dumbest city in America yet?

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  37. council observerJune 28, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    I marvel at Council member MacGillivray's endurance.

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  38. She has got to feel like Dante did when he took his stroll through Hell.

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  39. I predict we'll see many unsavory actions as local governments try to save themselves from the consequences of what they've done.

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  40. That's for sure. They know the handwriting is on the wall and they're fighting to preserve their way of life. Things are not going their way right now.

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  41. Don't forget the extensive network of law practices devoted to the puffed up city governments.They don't want simplifications or reductions of any kind.

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  42. Take a look at this page (link above) and download the pdf file from the March 9, 2011 SCAG presentation by Diktat Ihkrata to the American Council of Engineering Companies.

    THE VISION is on page 7. OZ on steroids. Implementing policies and projects all over Southern California, to establish precedent and implement the mindwipe among all agencies and AEC companies. You're right, they need public dollars to pull this off for private profit and to the detriment of the residents and local ecologies.

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  43. A vast network of leaches who owe their entire existence to our tax money. And they use it against us.

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  44. 1:59 * 2:08 You are both corrrect! I see MaryAnn walking along Grandview and her body language and serious face makes me wonder how, (if) she endures. Job had his trials. MaryAnn has hers. How do we make her feel better and know that she is appreciated?

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  45. Grateful Sierra Madre VolunteerJune 28, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Mary Ann truly is amazing. She knows she is appreciated and one day will be Citizen of the Decade. She does not need praise like the other insecure politicians.

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  46. MaryAnn fights hard for this town. And she does it with intellect, incredible energy and grace. She hates lies and believes that people are good and capable of appreciating truth. If she has a weakness is that she trusts people to understand what is right. Unfortunately there are a lot of people in this town incapable of that.

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  47. Sounds like SCAG to meJune 28, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini

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  48. gonna be a long nightJune 28, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Classic Councilmember Walsh report.
    The SGVCOG is "getting back to what really needs to be done."
    And then nothing more - not a peep about what that might be.
    She just doesn't understand.

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  49. Bonds Buchanan just said that the Sierra Madre RDA has reserves set aside to save it, by paying what he made sure all heard, the League of California Cities calls "ransom."

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  50. "We're trying to accomplish what we need to accomplish." - Tom Love, from the Water District.

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  51. channel 3 watcherJune 28, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Both Moran and Walsh have asked for clarification on items "for the sake of the audience."Because they have such a firm grasp on the matters themselves.

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  52. Why would they deny the audience the right to hear them speak on the matter? Why dump it all on the help?

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  53. Who has taken over Joe Mosca's body to speak against RHNA and SCAG with fervor????

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  54. What Joe says and what Joe does are usually polar opposites. If Joe is claiming he is against what SCAG is doing, then Joe will work hard to make SCAGs nonsense work.

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  55. We came home late, after the meeting had started. What's happening with Sandy Levin? Has she quit?

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  56. It tickles me that Joe asks questions that are clearly in the agenda packet re: information on a particular item. It is clear that Joe does not read what is given to him. It looks like also that Buchanan is the only one who read the material that MaryAnn provided the council members. With an issue so important as our city's future some of them could have asked MaryAnn some questions about the massive information she provided. I know it is confusing and hard to grasp, especially in the 4 days they have to review a packet, but really, some of them could have skimmed the material to be able to ask question or two.

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