Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just How Radical Is Sierra Madre's City Council?

Sierra Madre is, in the political sense, a rather moderate place. Given their druthers most people here would choose the middle road to problem solving, one that would likely be neither too liberal nor too conservative. Just something that seems logical and reasonably low impact. In their working lives most people are expected to do the job and get it done in as efficient and unobtrusive a way as possible. So why should government work be any different?

Which isn't too much out of line with what most people hope for in the country as well. Folks want things solved, and they honestly don't care for a lot of fuss about it. They expect things to get done in as pragmatic and common sense a way as possible. Life in America is still good for the most part. And this is what is important in the minds of most, keeping the life we have here good.

But those who are supposed to initiate and carry through these solutions don't quite see it that way. For many people in government the business of the day isn't just something that needs to be done, it is instead an ideological battle of the most momentous kind. The governing arena is a place where many officials proclaim their position to be the ultimate moral high ground, and as such what they do is so much more than mere problem solving. No, it is a world saving enterprise that only they are capable of seeing through to its triumphal end. And woe to those unworthy ones that dare to stand in their way.

Needless to say, many people in the political world have a fairly high opinion of themselves. As saviors of all humankind as we know it, how could they not?

Now it is hardly my place to attempt to deny anyone the comforts of a fantasy life. I myself believe that I will one day be a lottery winner. I work at it almost as hard as I do this blog. And it is fine for the political class to believe their own malarkey, too. If that's what it takes to get them through their days, fine. You have to believe in something.

But they really ought to get the peoples' work done as well. And unfortunately, given the parlous economic state of our country today, they just don't seem to be getting that part of the deal delivered. Rather it appears that their fantasies of being the saviors of humankind have pushed aside the nuts and bolts business of governing, and as such we have lost our way. Politics has become bedlam, and all the nation can do is stand by and scratch their heads as the crazy train roars endlessly by.

Here in Sierra Madre we had a City Council election last year where things were stood upon their heads. The pragmatic candidates were cast as being radical and out of step with what Sierra Madre wants. And the radical faction, those whose largely unspoken agenda could change the face of this city forever, cast themselves as being the victims of a cabal too uncivil to ever possibly be considered as proper to run so genteel a place.

But what the voters got appears to be something quite different than what was advertised. The candidates of civility have now become quite accusatory and shrill in their ways, and rather than the open and transparent government that was also promised, they have become secretive and purposefully obscure as well. Convinced, I suppose, that only they can properly understand what is needed for Sierra Madre, and how they achieve their goals is none of your business. Yours is to pay taxes and go shopping.

I would argue that Sierra Madre now has the most radical City Council in its history. Enamored of social engineering ideologies that embrace both high-density generic development and our incorporation into a regional form of government where precious assets are shared with those least capable of reciprocity, it isn't what people want for our town. Instead becoming largely indistinguishable from the rest of the valley, both in appearance and in the many problems that often come with overdevelopment.

Here are seven examples of this City Council's radical stances on key issues:

1) The departure of Joe Mosca means that the City Council will need to determine how a replacement will be seated. The law states that Joe's replacement can either be selected by the City Council to serve out the remaining two and a half years in his term, or they can call an election and let the people decide. From all indications it appears that the remaining members of the G4 Council will opt to appoint Joe's replacement, which, in denying the people their right to vote for this particular representative now, will give Sierra Madre its first unelected City Councilmember in its history. The criteria for doing so being they can guarantee having someone in place who will agree with them on issues like development.

2) Denying people their right to a vote is an important theme here. With the Assisted Living Facility going well beyond the 2-30-13 limitations of Measure V, this voter approved city law states that the decision then passes on to the people, who then must make the decision in a citywide vote. But in a blatant attempt to avoid that vote, the G4-1 through its City Manager manipulated the language used to describe this project, and then declared that by calling it something else all approval authority reverts to them. That this is being done to not only reward a developer, but also degrade Measure V as an effective ordinance, seems evident. Again, the residents' right to vote on an important matter would be taken away.

3) Measure U will have to be put back on the ballot in 2012 in order to keep it alive. The reason being is that when originally voted into existence in 2008, a sunset clause was attached so that the voters would be able to review it again in the future. Which is now. When the residents passed the original Measure U, they voted themselves a Utility User Tax (UUT) rate potentially as high as 12%, which is today the highest in the state. It now appears possible that this "sunset clause" will not be included when Measure U goes back on the ballot next April. Meaning that the taxpayers of Sierra Madre will never again get the opportunity to review what is the biggest UUT hit in California. Instead it will become permanent.

4) In her now infamous speech, Nancy Walsh harshly criticized members of the General Plan Update Steering Committee. And in what was perhaps her most paranoiac fantasy, she accused certain members of the committee of saying bad things about the "Governing Body." Something she declared was cause to demand resignations. Consider what she is saying here. In Councilmember Walsh's view, for anyone who has volunteered to work for the City, be it on a Committee or just planting flowers, if you speak poorly of the City Council you need submit your resignation. In other words, when you volunteer to work for Sierra Madre, you give up your right to freedom of speech, and instead must revere the "governing body" in your speech and in your actions. Or you will, in her words, be "taken out."

5) With the support of this City Council, City Staff is now in the process of helping create the necessary governmental procedure for Homeless Housing on East Montecito. Having no homeless problem of our own, as part of our obligations to the notion of "regional government" we could soon be obligated to house the homeless of other cities. Which means that the thousands of homeless people in the San Gabriel Valley will now have a reason to come hang out in Sierra Madre. Downtown will never be the same.

6) Also with the support of this City Council, efforts are now well under way to bring low income housing to Sierra Madre. Citing some of the social engineering edicts of Sacramento as their rationale for doing so, this housing is being considered for some of the nicest places in the City. People who have worked hard all of their lives to gain for themselves a piece of the good life will now be forced to helplessly stand aside while others whose achievements are far less than theirs get to move into their neighborhoods, paid for in part by our tax dollars. Property values will be hit. More punishment to be visited upon those whose biggest crime in life was to work hard, succeed and enjoy the rewards of their efforts.

7) The right of the taxpayers to be told the truth is apparently no longer recognized in Sierra Madre. When this City Council wanted to raise water rates, it told the people who pay the bills that it was necessary to do so in order to fund water infrastructure repairs. When it was later discovered by residents that this was not the truth, the City seamlessly switched to a message that declared the rate hike was necessary to maintain our current bond ratings. Water rates then went up, and our bond ratings were knocked down two notches by Moody's anyway. None of this information was ever voluntarily shared by the City. Rather it was first revealed on this blog.

Voting rights, rights for a say-so in taxation and development, freedom of speech, truth in government, and the ability to control the quality of life in our City. All are now under attack in Sierra Madre. Is this what you thought you were voting for in 2010?

Is it what you really wanted?



  1. John Crawford!

    All your columns are good. Today's is awesome. Your clarity is stunning.

    To our many generous readers who agree with today's Tattler:
    Please get together and raise donations to have today's article printed out and distributed to all voters in town. You will be investing in the secure future of everyone, now and in the future. You will make the difference!
    The time for action is now.

    Thanks in advance and thanks John Crawford and Tattler research teams for this information.

  2. It appears that the crazy train has a station at City Hall.

  3. I asked Don Watts if he would consider filling in the council position being vacated by Mosca, he set he would seriously consider it if he were asked.
    He would be next in line vote wise to be qualified, if they decide to appoint someone, and has the previous council background to jump in.

  4. They gang won't appoint Don.
    If they are going to appoint someone, not the best option, they need to appoint Don. Doubt if they will.
    At least Don got a lot of votes in the last election.
    I wish when Mosca got elected, he would have been recalled and if the council appointed someone, Ron Brandley got the next most votes, and he could have filled in until the next election, where the voters could have kept him on the council or replaced him.

    This is not the best idea.
    Best and fairest idea is to run with 4 members until the April election, where voters can select who they want to be on the council, not leave it up to current members to choose for us.

  5. I don't trust the Buchanan-Walsh-Moran trio to pick a damn thing, not one.

  6. A little off topic, but not much. On Patch today there is an article on the demise of the arts commission, written by Erica Blodgett. And in that article she blasts Joe Mosca for not attending Arts Comm meetings, even though he was the liaison. Erica claims this was responsible for her Commission getting no slack from the City Council. Why? Because their liaison had no idea of what was up, so he couldn't communicate their hopes and needs. You just have to laugh.

    Hey Erica! You get what you vote for!

  7. Very much on topic 8:13.
    As I was reading Crawford's excellent summary, I thought will the G4-1 supporters even consider any of these points. After all, they were seduced into believing that Mosca was telling the truth.
    It looks like some people at the AOL site are waking up.

  8. Thank you for saying it so clearly:
    "The pragmatic candidates were cast as being radical and out of step with what Sierra Madre wants. And the radical faction, those whose largely unspoken agenda could change the face of this city forever, cast themselves as being the victims..."

  9. Nothing Mosca ever says is true. I think it runs so deep with him that he cannot even tell the difference. Joe cannot leave this town fast enough for me.

  10. The majority of our City Council has turned a deaf ear to the public.

    They do not want to hear the General Plan survey results.

    They do not want the People to vote on the Assisted Living Facility.

    They do not want the People to vote on the next member of the city council.

    They want no sunset clause. This would take away the People's right to vote on it in the future.

    They limit Public Comment.

    They ignored the water rate petition.

    Our role is to pay taxes, fees, and not question their rules.

    They use Council reports to advance their own agenda instead of reporting on government business.

    Their role should be to do what the People want.

  11. Wow. Even his biggest supporters are now down on Joe. No wonder he is leaving.

  12. Our city government does not work for us. It works for big business.

  13. Better late than never 8:34.

  14. I hope part of Joe Mosca's departure was due to the unfortunate incident of the 4th of July Parade committee's refusal to name 90 year old hero, Sierra Madre resident, John Shear the Grand Marshall of the parade.
    Hundreds of people signed post cards urging the committee to name John. Matt and Joe ignored it. According to many, because of their extreme dislike for his wife, political activist, Diane Shear, who worked on the MacGillivray campaign.
    Matt called John and told him the committee had selected him as the Grand Marshall. John gratfully, accepted.
    Matt and Joe well knowing John's wife, Diane would notify John Crawford, Crawford would announce the news. Then, within minuets after Crawford or one of his moderators did that,Matt issued a press release to all the papers, naming another person as the Grand Marshall.
    Brenda Gazzar called John(Shear) a few minuets later and John excitedly told Brenda he had been named Grand Marshall of the parade.....silence....then Brenda broke the news to John, he had not been named Grand Marshall, he had been named "home town hero".
    She asked John how he felt and he replied and John said, "well, that's nice, I'm still in the parade"
    John Crawford, when realizing they had been torched, called Shear and told him, "that's okay, John, Home Town Hero is a better honor"
    John replied to Crawford "John, (also realizing he'd been torched replied " I would like you to ride in my home town hero car, with me and Mike". Crawford accepted.
    It was a good thing, too, because John Shear, unknown to most, was very sick and in pain on July 4th, and needed his son Mike and John Crawford to help him in and out of the parade car. John developed Shingles shortly after his release from Huntington hospital.
    John enjoyed being in the parade in spite of this.
    He was so happy to see the crowd out there cheering him on.
    If this showing of lack of good character of Matt and Joe was partly responsible for Joe being rejected by the Democrats for an assembly seat....good enough!

  15. 8:33, I couldn't agree more. One old timer was saying that the majority on the council pretend to listen, but all they hear are their own agendas.

  16. are household will donate to have today's article or any printed out

    i will distributed to all voters north of sierra madre blvd between michillinda ave and north baldwin avenue

  17. Ummmm, 7:59, if you dig a little deeper, you may find a suspicious cc resignation from Ron Brandly that is linked to the Maranatha folly. Can someone verify it, please. just ruminating.

  18. 10:19 Ron Brandly was on the Planning Commission. The resignation came after a question of conflict of interest was raised. Brandly did not show up at the Planning Commission meeting about the Cong Church and then resigned.

    An entire file at our fingertips if it should be needed. However, I don't think the contents of the file will ever be needed.

  19. Whadda u mean? Patchy wrote an article that John Crawford didn't write first? Erika Blodgett and the Arts Commission? Our little Jonny Patch is leaving the nest!

  20. Patchy is trying to be like the Tattler. If we have two sources in town that write the truth all the better for everyone. Perhaps Patchy is turning a new leaf. I hope he continues to be honest and fair. Only future auricles will tell.

  21. The Planning Commission conflict of interest centered around Ron Brandly's economic interest in being a business owner doing business with the church while sitting on the Commission reviewing the church's expansion plans.

  22. I think Patch senses the way the political winds are blowing here in Hooterville. The sound of thundering feet you hear are all the little mammals deserting the ship.

  23. Stephen King says, "It seems so appropriate that as Halloween approaches the G4 have been showing their true selves & that their likenesses to vampires & developers becomes really apparent. That being said, general public, you must be careful & well informed before we elect a temp cc member, because (like vampires) they look like everyone else until they get elected & (dirts & developers) they have all been bitten by the greed Dracul.. aaaaaaagh & they multiply. Seriously, we need to be united to save Sierra Madre. We need to see the woods for the trees & get out of the woods & elect fair & respectful new cc members.

  24. Parking being swept under the Sierra Madre rug?
    Do not travel up Santa Anita AM or PM when Highland Oaks starts or finishes. This AM the cars and busses lined up almost to Foothill. Ever notice the signs in LaSalle's school parking lots that read "do not pick up students in parking lot use the street"? New school in SM? I bet the parking will be directed to the streets in this residential neighborhood. ALF project with way too little parking provided. Parking is an issue, a major issue. No one wants to spend the money to provide it and City Planning will not insist it be included at needed levels. Water, Sewer, Parking all being snuck through improperly. Roll over SM and collect the new taxes.

  25. What new school in SM, 11:09 am? What are we not hearing about?

  26. I haven't heard about any new school. But then again, I'm old school. Slow jams are my groove.

  27. occupy City Council meeting

  28. AOL has lowered the boom on the Patch sites, and if the hits ain't there, the site won't be there either.

  29. Power is a funny thing....our local politicians need it like we need oxygen.

  30. Kind of flattering to the Tattler if you think about it. Patch's way to get more readers is to try and sound like this blog. Nice!

  31. New school reference has to be mistating the fact that it is a rebuilding of the middle school on Canon between SM Blvd. and Grandview. This is not a "new" school.

    Also, regards to Brandly being seated on the CC if Joe had been recalled: doesn't the process call for the recalling group to set forward their candidate (and other candidates can run as well--remember the Gray Davis mess?). Who knows about the process.

    Wait until the Gang/4-1 "selects" the -1 replacement and then get to work. It may be that the "select" is not subject to a recall and John B is too near the end of his second term to be recalled but that does leave Nancy and Josh wide open. Also, it leaves MaryAnn exposed because nothing would limit our loyal opposition for going after her.

    This all needs careful planning, direction and energy. SMRRD needs to reactivate as a PAC so we can act legally.

  32. Don't know if anyone cares, but the record for most hits for us in a month is July. That was during the elephant controversy. We got 38,563. For this 30 day period we are in now we are at 38,621. And that is for 30 days, July's figure was for 31. A lot of traffic for a small town news blog.

  33. How many views do you think patch got from having the videos of the latest cc drama?
    A lot.
    Maybe the most its ever had?

  34. Anybody have any guesses who the G4CC-1 will pick to take Joe's place? My guess is Lambdin. He's almost as tough as Nancy.

  35. The opposition has never stopped going after MaryAnn.
    I have come to the conclusion that it's an allergic response to intelligence.

  36. By "radical" do you mean radical right or radical left?

  37. when is City Council next meeting?

  38. Buchanan and the rest of them have no policies or plans of their own. They just listen to MaryAnn and go the opposite way. Maybe if she said something that they'd normally like they would still go the opposite way and we'd finally get something good out of them.

  39. 12:33, Facing north, Radical Right at Michillinda, Radical Left at Santa Anita.

  40. Can they even be put on a regular political grid? I think Buchanan and his doggies are just all over the map. Mostly because they are have no idea what to do.

  41. Watch out who you're calling an old fossil you whippersnapper.

    We need to vote.
    We need to vote on any temporary replacement on the council.
    We need to vote for the Assisted Living Facility because no matter what kinds of games city hall and the developers play with the language, it does not conform to measure V. Fine. Let's vote, and approve it. But we have to vote. It's our right, and city hall will be doing something downright illegal if it denies us that right.
    Mostly we need to vote for smart capable council members who will put the interests of Sierra Madre above their own interests, and above the interests of their friends. No more being fooled by PR campaigns, smear tactics, and lyin' faces.

  42. can we organize a leaflet campaign?

    What do we need to do to unite citizens together with the truth?

    i am with the first comment made by Diane

    i am ready to participate

    i am ready to move on this

    i will come up with a couple hundred bucks
    and help hand them out

  43. Any City Council appointee will need to fill out a Form 700. The beauty of a Form 700 is full disclosure of property ownership/interests in Sierra Madre. It's kept the DIRTS off the City Council since the days of the Montecito LLC aka Howie's. I think they'll put up the older gentleman that MC'd the Awards Dinner. Seems confortable with a podium/microphone. What's his name?

  44. Purposefully anonymousOctober 18, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Glen, I'll send you an e-mail in the next few days. You're on to something and I know a couple of others who feel the same way.

    You are the best!

  45. I don't think he read well from the printed page at all. If he is touted to be a good public speaker maybe he was put off from all the hyperbole in the text. Nice enough guy though. His wife is very active in town with all the civic and chamber of commerce though. I forget her name.

  46. thanks to you and all of are neighbors

  47. Hey, I was out of town for a few days and my husband saved the 'bye, bye' letter from Joe. What a flash back to Tonya Torres litany of all she did for Sierra Madre, and no matter how you phrase all the We, We, We phrases it still just sound so self-centered. But I ask you how did (second paragraph) did Joe and Matt's children actually find Joe's extremely rewarding experience representing the city so extremely rewarding, they are babies for gosh sake.
    Second to last paragraph: not sure why it would take hours of "careful" thought to decide to follow a spouse with a very promissing career and future to another job location. Pack up the kids and go, very simple verses stay and finish a second term on the Sierra Madre City Councl and engage in lots of air miles, a few minutes to decide in my mind.
    And where does Joe have a desk? (from the desk of Joe.....) I thought he had a clip board and a bench at Kirsting Court.

  48. Joe is leaving because he couldn't get anyone of importance in LA politics to support his Assembly run. And if he can't have a big special political career, why stay?

  49. The "we" 1:52 comes from the last election when Joe was sharply critized for taking credit for everything to sweeping City Hall to the Paramedic program - single handedly, with a single bound. The "we" of course now means Joe and John.

  50. Actually the "we" who made it happen were the taxpayers. Without our money they can't do anything.

  51. Glen,
    you know lots of people in town.
    Why are they so oblivous to they facts John Crawford lays out in today's blog?
    Do they not understand these city council, gang of 4, have vested interests in the destruction of Sierra Madre via over development?
    Why don't they understand, Glen? How can people be so clueless?

  52. Sierra Madre's been small townish...G4 has been quite clownish
    Good voters get united... before this town gets blighted
    Get rid of greed, let's get it right
    joe goes first... nance & josh to follow
    3 small pills..not hard to swallow
    Just say "YES!!" if you agree
    We win..we change the gang of 3!!!!!
    "Well never surrender ( Sierra Madre)!!!!" Winston Churchill

  53. Crawford?

    I know it's Halloween time, but must we have a picture of the wicked witch on the Tattler today?
    Too scary. I know we're getting lots of traffic on the Tattler, but lets not scare folks away!
    Wonder if Terry Miller would let you put up the picture of Mosca in a pirate hat?
    You know, Captain Feathersword? LOL
    How about a clip of the Captain for us?
    We need a good laugh after all this serious stuff today.

  54. Say! Wasn't Billy Shields at the Kiwanis today? Did anyone attend? Anything new or of significance come out of the show and tell?

  55. OOPSY!!!! I heard that while Cpt. Feathersword was Swashbucklingly dancing he missed a step or term/2 & sadly fell down into the hatch & nancy & josh came tumbling after. Does this mean we get 3 new council members????? From the looks of it we should get nothing less than Iron Man, Cpt. America & Thor. Anything less could not measure up to MaryAnn's integrity or valor!!!! Thounder & Lightning to G4. It's time for good to replace e-vile. Where's the voters ballots?

  56. Good golly, Billy Shields at Kiwanis today...that is the most well meaning, gullible, bunch in town. They just might have a gut level feeling that their leader Susan H is a crook but can't bring themselves out from behind their "everythings hunky dorry in Sierra Madre" rose colored glasses.

  57. Shields is going around to all the same places Mosca, Moran and Walsh did when they were running for office. I wonder why that is?

    Well no, I don't really.

  58. Everyone must drag their tushes down to city hall and read the developer's plans. Don't look at the pretty pictures. Read the words. Then tell your friends to do the same thing. This will be before the Planning Commission in early December. It is a rush job.

  59. I'd ask if it is available on the city site 3:19, but I think I already know the answer.

  60. Captain?


  61. Bon voyage Captain!

  62. I have just found out some people would like to see me fill Joe Mosca's seat to finish his term.
    I don't believe that would be appropriate, and a special election should take place, either initiated by the City Council, or by petition by the people.
    It is not a position that can be held by appointment, it is a Democratically elected one, meant to represent a constituency and a vote.
    Neither is it an administrative position, like City Manager, or a commission appointment.
    To have one appointed, smacks of dictatorship, I would find it incredulous a city council would do this, and would to me, be grounds, for recall, or an early election.
    It would be incredulous and undemocratic to do otherwise.

  63. Don--this form of succession is probably well within the norm and would be respected if it brought balance to the process--something we do not expect of the Gang of 4-1 and you may be on your way to better things. Additionally we don't expect the democratic process of letting the people have an election so some form of protest will have to take place.

  64. Thank you Don Watts for verifying the law and as always, telling the truth so graciously. I hope you run.

    Note everyone he said "DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED."

    Note Nancy he also said "MEANT TO REPRESENT A CONSTITUENCY."

    Don Watts: the voice of a gentleman and a wise man.

  65. Has Sierra Madre ever had an unelected councilmember before?

  66. nancy please, don't kick me out of town . . .October 18, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Nancy Walsh is the local Queen of Hearts, belching forth from her tubby tummy "Off with their heads"!

  67. Someone should copy today's article out to an email and send it to District Attorney's office in an initial attempt to open a case. If the DA needs a litany of offenses, this would be a good place to start. The G-4 should be criminally prosecuted, even if one of them will soon be across the big water...

  68. Fortunately the United States does have an extradition treaty with Great Britain. If the Fly should ever return to Los Angeles, hopefully it will be in handcuffs.

  69. Don Watts (the Winston Churchill of Sierra Madre)

    Thank you for your comments.
    Any chance we can get you to run in 2012?
    We'll combat the lies they told in the last election.
    You're the best man for the job, Don.
    I hope you'll be up for another 4 years of service?
    If not, I sure understand, but we can only wish.....
    Thanks for your previous years of service to Sierra Madre.

  70. From # 6 - low income housing

    How come all of the other cities neighboring SM have to offer low income house but not SM?

  71. Sierra Madre stood up to them. So did South Pas, Walnut, San Marino, La Cananda Flintridge, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, some others. You ought to question who your city council people belong to. I'm thinking they probably call the BIA daddy.