Thursday, March 31, 2011

John Shear

An update on John Shear's condition is over due. And fortunately the news is very good. Here is a recent post we received from Diane Shear:

John Shear has beaten the odds. After his heroic actions in Santa Anita two weeks ago, where he saved the life of a 5 year old girl, and nearly lost his own life..........HE IS ON THE MEND! He is in Physical Therapy at Huntington Memorial Hospital, and he will likely be coming home in a few more weeks. He plans to be back to work at Santa Anita in October for the fall meet, after he finally gets to go on his trip to Vegas he had planned the day after the accident. Thanks to everyone in Sierra Madre who has sent cards, calls, visits to John and most of all your prayers!

The impact of John's heroic actions in saving a small child's life cannot be overstated. If you were to go to Google and type in the words "John Shear" and "Santa Anita," you would be able to read over 600 stories written about what happened that day. Presidents don't get this kind of coverage. That anyone would make such a sacrifice is remarkable, that it was done by a 90 year old man stunned the world. He has become the latest ambassador of an extraordinary generation, one that willingly makes the sorts of sacrifices so few do these days.

And that he is now well on his way to recovery and will return to his job later this year is yet another chapter in the life of an uncommon man. I am not sure there are many reading this today that will ever come close to equaling the achievements of John's life. And there are more to come.

My favorite article by far on what happened that day was written by LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke and published March 22nd. I'm going to quote a few passages here. It really puts everything into a proper perspective.

Math 'heroism' fades, but John Shear is a hero for all time: Shear is the 90-year-old Santa Anita worker who earlier this month stepped in front of a runaway horse to save a 6-year-old girl's life and could remain hospitalized for months. If we can tear ourselves away from the NCAA tournament on TV, let's salute him.

Our television screens are filled this month with the breathtaking exploits of young men in short pants and tattoos, and for their dramatic efforts we call them heroes, and, really, we have no idea.

You want March Madness? How about an old man saving the life of a little girl by throwing himself in front of a frightened horse?

You want one shining moment? It happened a couple of weeks ago, when longtime Santa Anita paddock guard John Shear, 90, tossed a 6-year-old girl out of the path of a runaway horse just in time to be trampled.

Cinderella story? That would be when Shear walks again, which could be in a couple of months, as he is lying today in a hospital with multiple pelvic fractures, a fractured cheekbone, and gashes above his left eye and down his left arm.

"Could have been worse," Shear said, wincing beneath an oxygen tube during a Tuesday visit. "Something could have happened to the little girl."

We interrupt the annual frenzy over the NCAA basketball tournament to write about a real buzzer beater. Nobody was cheering, the video has been locked up, and the only visible reward is a mug of flowers sitting next to a thin bed in a sterile room filled with pain and worry. But when a 5-foot, 110-pound giant of an athlete makes a play that saves a life, somebody should holler about it.

"I've already lived most of my life, the little girl has her entire life in front of her," Shear said. "There's no question I would do it again."

Time to start organizing the welcome home party!

Bonus Coverage - We just broke the hits (or in Google speak "page views") record The Tattler set in January. The final number for March will be posted later today, but it is well over 30,000. Certainly not Yahoo level numbers, but a passing fair performance for a local news blog in a town of under 11,000 people. Readership of The Tattler continues to grow. More proof that if you tell people what is really going on in this town, you will find readers.

More Bonus Coverage - The Tattler gets a significant mention in Frank Girardot's column in today's Pasadena Star News. Topic is the U.S. Constitution and the 14th Amendment.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sierra Madre's Police Department is a Powerful Traffic Control Force

For a while there my kids played this annoying car game called "Punch Buggy." Based on a now defunct Volkswagen TV advertising campaign, each time either of them (or their friends, for that matter) would spot one of those stylish German cars, the winner would yell "Punch Buggy!" and then whack their brother.

If either of them should be lucky enough to catch one of those 45 year old VW Beetles that were so popular when I was a kid, he would yell "Slug Buggy!" and then punch his brother twice. It was absolutely no fun for anyone in the car, and would invariably lead to all kinds of bad feelings and emotional chaos.

Eventually the craze petered out and thankfully that game hasn't been played in a while.

But lately they have been playing a new game, one that I invented. There is no punching permitted because who wants to put up with the consequences of that? This new game is called "Cop Spotter," and each time either one of my kids is the first to see a Police car and bellows it out, I give him a dollar. It is only played in Sierra Madre, and that is fine with them. The money making possibilities being far greater here than just about anywhere else. As an example, the ride to school Tuesday morning alone cost me $4. Or almost a buck every two blocks.

I'm OK with it, though. Because with these avid Cop Spotter pros keeping an eye out for money making opportunities, I'll never get another traffic ticket again. Try it with your kids. It is far more effective than a radar detector, and that much easier on your insurance rates as well.

Now I am not here to criticize the Sierra Madre Police Department today. Well, at least not too much. Because there can be no doubt that when it comes to patrolling the streets of our town in search of traffic and parking law violators, there is no force in this bountiful land that goes at it with the enthusiasm and brio of our men in blue. If you think that you have some kind of God given right to speed, or park your car on a hill without the wheels turned to the curb, or not come to a complete halt at a stop sign, then you are sadly mistaken. They will hunt you down and ticket you hard.

And do you want to know something else? The war on traffic scofflaws here in Sierra Madre is about to be taken to a whole new level. If you think our Police Department has been tough on you up until now, well, it is going to get a whole lot tougher. Check out this little number from today's Pasadena Star News:

Sierra Madre authorities plan crackdown on distracted drivers: The Sierra Madre Police Department along with other local agencies will be holding a zero tolerance policy for drivers using a cell phone or texting starting April 4. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in California and distracted drivers can expect a minimum $159 ticket for violating the hands free or no texting law. Subsequent tickets cost $279.

"We recognize that convincing drivers to refrain from using cell phones or texting while driving isn't easy," said Office of Traffic Safety Director, Christopher J. Murphy. "It's very difficult to resist the urge to check an incoming text or answer a cell phone call. That's why we are stepping up enforcement and public awareness efforts."

I'm warning you, the only hope you have is to get your kids interested in playing Cop Spotter. Because in this town you're really going to need to have some people with both motivation and sharp eyes watching your back.

It is always about money with these people, no matter what the party

A friend introduced me to a wonderful website called MAPLight.org. Their mission is to connect political contributions with the legislative votes of elected politicians. In conjunction with another site, FollowTheMoney.org, they have done some powerful research into how campaign contributions influence the votes of those we elect in the hope that they will somehow represent us and our wishes.

SB 77 is the bill before the California Assembly and Senate that would kill redevelopment agencies if passed. But for reasons that had up until now escaped me, the Republican Party, with one notable and noble exception, has refused to join with Democrats to put an end to the scourge of redevelopment and eminent domain. These had always been strong Republican issues, so their abandonment of them at the very moment when they could have been killed off forever is mystifying. To say the least.

For MAPLight.org, however, the reason for the treason was no mystery at all.

Assemblymembers Receiving Contributions From Building Interests Able to prevent Slashing of Redevelopment Funds: The California Assembly failed to pass SB 77 by the necessary 2/3 threshold on March 16, 2011. The measure would have eliminated redevelopment agencies in California and allowed Gov. Jerry Brown to use the previously dedicated funds to help balance the budget.

Every Democrat in the Assembly voted in favor, joined by only one Republican, Chris Norby of Fullerton. Three Republicans did not vote, and the remaining 23 voted against the bill.

- Interest groups the oppose this bill gave 4.5 times as much on average to Assembly Republicans that voted NO ($17,129) as they gave to Assembly Republicans that voted YES ($3,800).

- Interest groups that support this bill gave 2.7 times as much on average to all Assemblymembers that voted YES ($36,901) as they gave to all Assemblymembers that voted NO ($13,732).

What are we going to do with these people?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will Tom Selinske Ever Solve the Mystery of the Stolen Measure Y Money?

It remains one of the biggest Pasadena Unified School District mysteries ever. Whatever happened to the approximately $300,000 in stolen Measure Y funds? And why were the perpetrators of this crime never brought to justice?

They're not talking about this at the Pasadena Weekly very much these days, but then maybe that isn't where their interests lie right now. But not all that long ago they did publish an article called "One More Look" that detailed not just the theft of Measure Y moneys, but also the sad fact that record keeping was so bad at the Pasadena Unified School District that Steve Cooley, the LA County District Attorney, refused to touch the case. Even though then PUSD Superintendent Edwin Diaz claimed to know who the culprits were, had conducted a "forensic" investigation to back his claims up and, when all else failed, begged Cooley to take the case.

And why wouldn't Cooley go after the thieves? Because the Pasadena Unified School District didn't have the paperwork to back up their claims of having been robbed. They couldn't prove they had spent the funds, or had written checks to the people who then absconded with the money without doing the work they were hired to do. In the District Attorney's opinion PUSD records were so atrociously bad that if the bad guys were brought into a Court of Law, they'd get off scot free.

Current Board of Education President Tom Selinske was first elected on March 6, 2007. Which means that he was present for much of the futility the school district experienced in its bungled attempts to bring the thieves to justice. Here is a press release the PUSD originally issued in December of 2008 literally begging District Attorney Cooley to reopen the case.

We urge the District Attorney to re-open its investigation of Measure Y fraud on the Washington Middle School project," said Superintendent Edwin Diaz, who joined PUSD in March 2007. "Our forensic investigator uncovered a trail of improper and illegal activity and we strongly believe that the perpetrators should be criminally prosecuted. Tomorrow, I will urge the Board of Education to begin civil proceedings against those we believe misappropriated scarce education dollars from our schools.

Did these hoped for proceedings actually take place? There is no record of them ever being conducted that I have been able to find. The District Attorney was definitely not interested. Which I guess means that the criminals got to keep all of that stolen Measure Y Bond money for themselves. Money that was intended to help fix up some schools, but went into the pockets of thieves instead.

So how did things sink to so low a level? I have found some Pasadena Star News articles on various pay sites that tell much of the story. Or at least the juicy parts. I pulled out what I thought were the most important passages of each story, and have reproduced them here.

Measure Y funds probe ends (Pasadena Star News, October 25, 2008): A 10-month probe into allegations of fraud and theft in the Pasadena Unified School District ended with no charges being filed when prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to file a case. Pasadena police Friday blamed shoddy bookkeeping and a lack of oversight by the school district in administering the projects funded by Measure Y, a $240 million bond measure approved by voters in 1997 ... "Nobody was checking, nothing was being done," Pasadena police detective Lt. John Dewar said. "There was no paper trail verifying work was being done." ... From the beginning of the investigation, police "found some serious issues with lack of control and oversight," Dewar added. "There was no audit to check what was done," he said. "The thieves got in and took the money."

Pasadena school district withholds public records of alleged theft of school bond funds (Pasadena Star News, October 30, 2008): Pasadena Unified School District officials refused Thursday to release invoices, an attorney's report and other public records related to their investigation of at least $80,000 they say is unaccounted for from a 1997 school bond ... According to the District Attorney's charge evaluation worksheet, the allegations surround Eric Peterson, a former project manager for contractor Pacifica Services Inc. The District Attorney's worksheet said PUSD officials suspected that the company improperly billed the district for work that was never completed - or was completed by others - at Washington. The district hired Pacifica to complete Measure Y modernization projects. The contract required Pacifica to provide regular updates to a citizens' oversight committee. It's unclear if those updates were regularly provided, officials said ... Peterson said Wednesday he was the "13th project manager. Everybody else either went nuts or walked off the project," which he described as "pandemonium."

PUSD to file suit to recoup Measure Y funds (Pasadena Star News, February 25, 2009): The school district will sue three contractors officials allege owe at least $300,000 for unfinished work at Washington Middle School related to Measure Y school bond measure passed in 1997 ... The school board late Tuesday said they will pursue a lawsuit against contractors Eric Petersen and Jess Yzaguirre and Mark Kingsbury, a former district official responsible for approving invoices on Measure Y projects ... Superintendent Edwin Diaz Tuesday said the district will not wait for the District Attorney's office to reopen the investigation. The DAs office had declined to file charges in June 2008 and said it couldn't make sense of the documents provided by the district.

There is also some additional insight into the relationship between school district official Mark Kingsbury and Jess Yzaguirre. This from a Pasadena Star News article from January of 2009:

Documents allegedly show misuse of Measure Y funds: When the discrepancies were discovered, district officials met several times with (Mark) Kingsbury, the assistant construction coordinator for Measure Y projects, who approved the invoices in question ... A month later Ammermon conducted a taped interview with Yzaguirre, who said he paid Kingsbury between $500 and $3,500 in $100 bills for every project he billed for, according to records ... "It is the only way I can get work or he won't hire me," Yzaguirre said in the interview ... Yzaguirre estimated he gave Kingsbury between $40,000 and $60,000 - "maybe more" - of the $216,000 he received from the PUSD, according to the documents.

Since Tom Selinske sat on the Board of Education for much of the time we're concerned with here, and a goodly portion of it as Board President, it would certainly behoove him to explain just how this dismal situation came to be. And Mr. Selinske should also want to answer why the thieves were never prosecuted or the money recouped.

After all, a person running for re-election as a Board of Education executive officer should want to be completely upfront about these things. And if he is not a proper steward for our children's money, and cannot supply any additional insight on the above, then why should he be there in the first place?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pasadena Sub Rosa on the San Gabriel Valley Political Smear Machine

If you're not reading Pasadena Sub Rosa, the other notable local politics website in this ethically forsaken and woebegone little slice of the universe, then you are missing out on some of the best analysis to be found anywhere. Editor Wayne Lusvardi, who also writes for the esteemed statewide political news site Cal Watchdog, offers insights that you can find almost nowheres else. And in a part of California where all the other media is apparently in an economically dependent thrall to a vastly corrupt political establishment, his contributions are invaluable and must not be overlooked.

Wayne has been doing some heavy lifting countering the Selinske Smear Campaign, and I wanted to share with you some of the points he has made lately. Like us, he details the massive smear assault being made on candidate Sean Baggett in the Pasadena Unified School District Seat 6 runoff. That such establishment attacks are an established ritual in San Gabriel Valley is now a given, and there are few elections these days that do not include that sort of thing. The torrents of libel and smear that were unleashed by media surrogates aligned with Joe Mosca's re-election campaign last April being the most recent Sierra Madre example.

Which is where we here on The Tattler went with this story. Wayne covered this angle as well, and then steps back from the immediate to make some more wide ranging observations:

If Mr. Baggett is correct, why do newspaper writers treat outsider candidates to the school board so unfairly? The answer is that they have no reason to fear otherwise. After all, writers face far fewer adverse consequences when they accentuate the mistakes and deficiencies of common people than they do of incumbent school board members. The common people lack any real recourse against writers for the Establishment who maliciously slander them.

Conversely, the School Board, the City, and Water & Power Departments patronize the newspaper Commentariat with ad revenues and the prospect of possible future public affairs jobs in government.

Newspaper writers tend to gratuitously criticize the People but treat elites and insiders with power and influence with respect. Those who have a couple of serious driving infractions are "Tea Party supported trailer trash," or "anti-gay," or "racist," while those incumbents who have been inside partakers of corruption are "for the children."

There are no doubt thousands of unreported cases where political elites have bullied or threatened writers into silence or where their editors have pulled stories for fear of losing ad revenues or access to the halls of power.

The Common People express little or no interest in retaliation against those who smear them. Hence, it is an asymmetrical game of power aligned against those who would challenge a widespread system of elite corruption.

To witness the consequences of so toxic a political environment you would have to look no further than the Pasadena Unified School District, a place where more and more money only continues to produce diminishing results. The real interest for the political power brokers in the area being the 100s of millions of dollars being produced by bond issues such as Measure Y and TT, or the possibilities to be found in a total operating budget of $164 million. This has precious little to do with kids, the innocent party that serves as little more than a convenient political football. There is very little that those controlling so much money and power will not do or say to make sure that their grasp on such huge sums is never pried away.

(By the way: where did the hundreds of thousands of dollars in purloined PUSD Measure Y money ever end up? Never did get any closure on that one.)

The possible influences behind the additional bonds being called for by Mayor-In-A-Month John Buchanan should be of immense concern to the taxpayers of Sierra Madre. Certainly there is no guarantee that such money will be spent in the interests of those who would be coerced into coming up with the immense sums being asked for. Likely it would go to the benefit of the powerful developer, utility and realty types who require that our water and sewer infrastructure be modernized and in place before they will deign to ratchet up their efforts to turn this town into a junior version of Pasadena.

Speaking of which, Lusvardi's take on recently demoted Star News "4th generation Pasadenan" Larry Wilson is particularly entertaining:

Public Editor Larry Wilson's function in the Pasadena power structure is as a cultural gatekeeper, who makes certain that no one who is a commoner can get into public office or have any influence on public issues. This is why he is popular with community elites and his column always is name-dropping to stroke the egos of other elites. Wilson knows how to play the game.

It is important to point out just how badly Pasadena's "Rusnak Class," as typified by Larry Wilson and his not quite so fascinating friends (leotards and all), failed that now vastly overdeveloped city. Rather than stepping up to do what was right by their once beautiful place in this world as their forebears most assuredly would have done, they gave way to decadent cynicism, self-interest and apparently too much BevMo wine. The consequences of which can be seen in both the physical and aesthetic decline of that town, its massive debt problems, along with the dismal fate of its public school system.

Fortunately for Sierra Madre such things have mostly been successfully resisted. At least so far.

Extra Credit: The California Legislative Office (LAO) report that Wayne cites in his articles can be accessed here. More information that the mainstream establishment media somehow fails to mention in any of its reports on California's at-risk public school system.

Bonus Coverage: I think I have figured out why Bill Coburn's somewhat grumpy Sierra Madre News.net site gets almost no comments on his posts. If you wish to post there you will first be asked by something called "Links Alpha.com" for permission to access some of your information. Here is their rather extensive list of requests:

- Name
- Profile picture
- Gender
- Networks
- User ID
- List of friends
- "Any other information I've shared with everyone."
- Permission to send you e-mail.
- Post to your "Facebook wall."
- Access your date "any time"
- Manage your page
- Checks ins
- Access file information.

Just about the only things not being asked for are blood samples and the DNA map of your children's genome. But maybe "LinksAlpha.com" just didn't think of that.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The World's Largest Flowering Plant Is Giving No Refunds This Year

Our beloved Wistaria Vine, also known as the World's Largest Flowering Plant due to its designation as just that in the Guinness Book of World Records, might be beautiful to look at, might be the world's most immense and might be worshipped by thousands of pilgrims every year, people who travel great distances to stand at its roots and express their heartfelt awe. But apparently it is also something of a skinflint.

In what was the longest exchange of posts in quite some time on Bill Coburn's once essential but now largely passed over Sierra Madre News.net website, a reader by the delicious name of Jellosoup made the rather unfortunate mistake of asking this following question:

I wish I was there on the 15th ... can anyone tell me how to get a refund on the tickets due to pouring rain on the 20th?

Mr. Coburn was obviously not pleased to read such temerity, and responded with what can only be described as (to use the wrestling parlance) a smack down.

I know that every ticket said in red letters, all caps, "NO REFUNDS, NO EXCHANGES, ALL SALES FINAL". I also know that hundreds of people did get to view the vine that day, even in the rain. I doubt that you will get a refund. If anything, you might get a credit towards a future event. The Board of Directors will be making the final decision what, if any compensation will be given. Call the Chamber and give them your name, ticket number, and contact information. If the Board decides to offer some sort of credit, you'll be contacted.

So much for being the bright and sunny face of Sierra Madre commerce. I have always personally believed that people who are customers should be treated with the height of kindness and concern, especially when expressing their needs. All done with the understanding that next year you'll be wanting them to put their money down and once again return to worship the vine.

Somehow I don't believe that delivering a stern lecture about what it says on the ticket is going to have the desired effect.

Besides, and I am now looking at my Dodger tickets for next Friday's game against the San Francisco Giants (baseball is back!), it says the exact same thing about refunds. There is also a brief blurb about rainouts. Apparently when the Dodgers have to call a game because of the weather (a rarity here in sunny Southern California), they accommodate the needs of their fans. Which is smart business. The Chamber's "Board of Directors" should embrace that wisdom as well. After all, when the streets were opened early and barriers taken down due to the record rainfall, this event was for all intents and purposes called off.

Whoever made that decision needs to recognize they have some debts to honor. The short term effects might be fiscally painful, but in the long view it really is the right thing to do.

Why it is called the "Wistaria" Vine

Now you might know this already, but I was born and raised in New Jersey and there are some gaps in my Sierra Madre knowledge. I have studied hard, but like when I attempted to explain the origins of the name "Michellinda," my parvenu status becomes evident to many. From time to time.

But that said, according to what I've read this morning the spelling of "Wistaria" isn't just some local peccadillo designed to charm happy tourists, but is actually the correct spelling. Making this one of those rare instances where we are right and everyone else is wrong. Something that doesn't happen very often in life, and must be pointed out.

This from the Oxford University Press and their New Dictionary of Eponyms:

The wisteria is a climbing woody vine clustered with drooping, pealike, purplish or white flowers. The name of this vine was given by Thomas Nuttal, curator of Harvard's Botanical Garden, who made an eror in spelling the name of the man he planned to honor. That man's name was Wistar. But at the death of the honoree in 1818, the plant was named wisteria. Nuttal wrote in his General North American Plants II, "In memory of Caspar Wistar, M.D., late professor of Anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania." But too late, Nuttal had already named the plant wisteria. Later writers followed the error, thus perpetuating it.

Add to the many virtues of Sierra Madre the fact that we alone among all the cities in this vastly imperfect world properly honor the memory and accomplishments of Dr. Caspar Wistar and the plant named in his honor.

Bonus Coverage: Great article up on the Pasadena Sub Rosa website regarding the Selinske smear campaign. Click here to access.

http://sieramadretattler.blogspot.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

PUSD Incumbent Candidate Tom Selinske Gets His Smear On

Back during my unsuccessful run for the City Council I was accused of a lot of different things. Perhaps the most colorful charge that was thrown at me was published by Susan Harriet Poole Carter Henderson in the Mountain Views News. In an over-the-top hit piece Susan claimed that I had been reported to the Sierra Madre Police Department twice for going through people's trash cans. You know, as a way of researching for information to print on this blog? It was, of course, an absurd accusation, one that says more about the mindset of the troubled person making the charge than anything else.

After the election I checked in with the Police Department and asked if anyone had actually filed such complaints against me and, of course, there was absolutely no record of such a thing. It was a complete and utter libel, and typical of the behavior we have often seen from the people who make these kinds of politically motivated attacks.

My personal opinion is that this fabrication was done to aid the Joe Mosca reelection campaign (Susan Harriet etc. considered herself to be an "organizer" for that campaign), and was even possibly done with Pothole Joe's cooperation. It does smack of his style and abusive wit. And, of course, I wasn't the only one who had been subjected to this sort of thing here in town. MaryAnn MacGillivray, Pat Alcorn, Nancy Shollenberger, Don Watts, Kurt Zimmerman, the Dunns, and just about anyone associated with Measure V has also had to endure assaults from the great San Gabriel Valley political establishment slime machine as well. It is how these people do politics, and when the going gets tough (or their records get discussed) they can be counted on to resort to such things. It's what they do.

Now you might think that in an election for a seat on a Board of Education there would be no place for this sort of thing. That the topics would be the welfare and education of school children, textbooks, music programs and marching bands, athletic programs and, of course, how successful the school system itself has been in educating our young. But apparently for Tom Selinske that sort of discussion isn't what it is all about.

In yesterday's Pasadena Star News there is an article that publicizes the latest round of smear attacks from the good old boy political establishment. Tom Selinske, the Seat 6 Pasadena Unified School District incumbent, desperately fighting for re-election, now finds himself in a runoff election with a talented opponent named Sean Baggett. And, as is typical of the political establishment that he is a part of (Tom has been endorsed by just about all the mainline establishment politicians including Mayors Bill Bogaard and Joe Mosca), Tom Selinske has now unleashed a barrage of unfounded slime against his opponent. This from the PSN piece:

According to court documents, challenger Sean Baggett's criminal record includes a 2008 Pasadena arrest for driving under the influence, which was later reduced to reckless driving; a 2006 Pasadena arrest for urinating in public, which was thrown out in 2007 and a 1994 Santa Cruz arrest for reckless driving. "If (this is true) it would wrong for him to serve on the school board," Pasadena Unified School Board incumbent Tom Selinske said Wednesday.

You might want to note here that the PSN article does not say what Sean was charged with driving under the influence of (it was a reaction to asthma medicine), nor does it state that the Santa Cruz charge was basically a traffic citation. And is there a person living and breathing today who can honestly claim that they haven't relieved themselves against a tree at least once in their life? My personal take is that if you do raise your hand on that one you have probably never played golf.

That Tom Selinske has had to resort to so low and unbecoming a tactic is not only typical of the establishment he represents, it is also an act of desperation. Looking at what has become of the Pasadena Unified School District in the last four years, which is the time of Tom's tenure, what choice does he have? Because to discuss that would be to invite speculation on what has been an unmitigated disaster for local education. Wholesale teacher firings, school closings that have resulted in unprecedented classroom crowding, absurdly low graduation rates, and a mass exodus from the public school system by any families with the wherewithal to send their kids to private school, all things that happened on his watch.

No wonder Tom Selinske would rather talk about pissing in public.

In an article written by former Pasadena Star News mainstay Dan Abendschein (who now runs the Altadena version of The Huffington Patch), there are some very inconvenient numbers that get examined and discussed. And certainly they are not the kind of thing that Tom Selinske would prefer for you to be talking about right now.

According to State Department of Education statistics, Pasadena Unified School District's spending per pupil in the highest in the region. PUSD spends over $10,500 per kid. The second highest rate is in wealthy San Marino where the rate is $9,000 per student. The countywide average is around $8,800.

Yet when you couple those figures with the fact that Pasadena Unified School District pays its teachers the worst salaries in the area ($64,000 per annum versus the LA County average of $66,400) you have to wonder where all of that money is going. And with 160 teacher layoffs, school shut downs and the cutting of as many educational programs as can possibly be eliminated without losing the right to call itself a school system, PUSD is quite obviously not putting its money where its educational mouth needs to be.

So where is that money going? Administration. How do you pay more per pupil than anyone else while paying educators the lowest going rate in the area, and then firing a good portion of them? You spend it on the old boys and girls bureaucracy that runs the place. As Sean Baggett puts it:

Last year, close to 160 teachers were laid off. However, while there were a few administrators let go because of other issues, not one could I find that was laid off due to a reduction in force. That sounds to me that the students and the teachers took the brunt of the hits from last year's budget.

Tom Selinske is now doing everything he can to keep you from talking about the real plight of the PUSD. A plight that, as the Seat 6 incumbent, he bears a lot of the responsibility. And since Selinske has nothing in his 4 year tenure that he can point to with any sense of pride, he has now embraced low road politics and is engaging in what can only be described as a smear campaign.

And in a school board election no less. It really is quite unbelievable.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Do We Stop John's Bonds? Get 700 Signatures

There was quite a bit of comment yesterday on John Buchanan's vow to float bonds for "large capital improvements." Which I take to mean the creation of the kind of infrastructure (water, sewers, etc) necessary to sustain the large scale development that has been Buchanan's great white whale ever since he arrived in this town.

John being our very own Captain Ahab, and Downtown Specific Plan style development apparently his Moby Dick. This has become a kind of all-consuming obsession for him, and he just can't quite get himself past that whale. And no matter where the City Council may go in its deliberations, as long as John Buchanan is a part of it things will always come back to just that one thing. Which is what is happening now.

A lot of those commenting on this blog yesterday wondered what it would take to stop the issuing of any of John's Bonds. Bonds that could put this town at risk of a fiscal meltdown as we would certainly struggle to deal with so large a debt load. After all, we've struggled with the bond debt load we have now. Which is why the City Council recently voted to raise our water rates.

There was some discussion about recalling any Councilmember who would vote for floating any new bonds. And then there were also those who wanted to put a measure on the ballot that would make any proposed new bonds subject to voter approval. Something that would be a pretty hard sell in so bad an economy.

Which is where I stand right now. And just so you know, I did what I usually do when I need some good information, and called knowledgeable friends who told me just what it would take to get such a measure on the ballot. One that would give voters the right to refuse any bonds John and his allies on the City Council might hope to float.

And it turns out that doing such a thing really wouldn't be all that difficult. The formula for getting something like that on a General Election ballot is the signatures of 10% of the registered voters in Sierra Madre. For a Special Election it would take 15% of the voters. And if you figure Sierra Madre has around 7,000 registered voters, to qualify for a General Election slot all you would need to get is 700 signatures. Or, if need be, 1,050 for a Special Election vote on this matter.

Which, as many of us know, we could do in our sleep. This would hardly be a hopeless case, and should bonds come up for discussion by the City Council quick action could be taken that would put a halt to the creation of massive levels of new debt.

Today's Possible Vote In Sacramento On Redevelopment Agencies

There are apparently two ways of killing off Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs). The kind preferred by Jerry Brown would take a 2/3s vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The benefit of doing it his way would be that all current CRA moneys could be reclaimed by Sacramento now, which would contribute considerably to balancing this year's State budget.

The other way would be by a simple majority of the vote in both legislative Houses. This would still mean the demise of CRAs, but would not officially happen until January 1, 2012. And while it would mean that the money each local CRA has control of now would stay in their hands for another 9 months, those redevelopment agencies would be dead and gone by year's end. Which, while not perfect, isn't a bad ending, either.

That vote could very well happen today. This from a post on the California Eminent Domain Report, dated March 23:

... rumors are now afoot that Floor sessions for both the Senate and Assembly are possible tomorrow. There may be an effort by the leadership to have one or both houses vote on a measure providing for the total elimination of redevelopment agencies by majority vote. Stay tuned ...

Passage of CRA ending legislation by simple majority vote is considered to be pretty much a slam dunk in Sacramento. Like I said, it isn't the perfect solution, but I'll take it.

The Green Advisory Committee Meets Tonight

Listed among the "goals and objectives" of the Green Advisory Committee, and up for discussion this evening, is the following mission statement:

The Committee will discuss and make recommendations for the Energy component of the draft "accords style" model of overall goals and objectives and enhance sustainability and green programs and practices in the City.

Which sounds authoritative, but could be lacking for true clarity. Because apparently the Committee is not completely certain what "sustainability" actually means. Something that they plan on grappling with later on in the meeting. This from Item no. 5:

The Committee will also continue the discussion on the definition of "sustainability."

Which does beg the following question: how can you enhance something when you are not completely certain that you fully understand the meaning of the thing to be enhanced?

On Wikipedia the problem of clearly defining sustainability is discussed at length. Here are two passages that highlight the problems inherent in basing your search for clarity and purpose on an incompletely defined concept.

A universally accepted definition of sustainability is elusive because it is expected to achieve many things. On the one hand it needs to be factual and scientific, a clear statement of a specific "destination." The simple definition "sustainability is improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems," though vague, coveys the idea of sustainability having quantifiable limits. But sustainability is also a call to action, a task in progress or "journey" and therefore a political process, so some definitions set out common goals and values. The earth Charter speaks of a "sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace."

To add complication the word "sustainability" is applied not only to human sustainability on Earth, but to many situations and contexts over many scales of space and time, from small local ones to the global balance of production and consumption. It can also refer to a future intention: "sustainable agriculture" is not necessarily a current situation but a goal for the future, a prediction. For all these reasons sustainability is perceived, at one extreme, as nothing more than a feel-good buzzword with little meaning or substance but, at the other, as an important but unfocused concept like "liberty" or "justice." It has also been described as a "dialogue of values that defies consensual definition."

So we're wishing the Green Advisory Committee all the luck in the world with that one. This is a mighty task they have taken on. And should they come up with a working definition of what "sustainability" actually might be, they need to make certain everyone is let in on their findings.

Because they will have done something that nobody has accomplished before. Which will make it big news in the world indeed.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

John Buchanan: "We're Going To Be Floating Bonds"

It wasn't the most interesting meeting to witness. At times it was almost painful to watch. The mind rebels at the prospect of being forced to watch such spectacles, like a kid recoils from eating spinach. But we are not the weak, and we must soldier on. Because if we don't, who in their right mind will? Without us the miscreants could be hiding in plain view, and nobody would ever see.

But even then, and after having said all the above, there were brief moments of brilliance and clarity. And we need to point them out because otherwise there would be nothing at all to write about. And that certainly can't be allowed to happen.

The biggest moment of all was the final victory for those advocating building sanity in the Canyon. The Canyon Zone Ordinance survived its last test, and now becomes law. Congratulations to all of those who worked so long and so hard to make it happen. The onslaught of nonsense thrown at these good people over the last few months by a handful of individuals from the home improvement trade had precious little effect in the end. Now if we can only do something similar for the rest of the City.

Heather Allen revealed some interesting numbers on the CRA. Her findings were posed to the City Council in the form of a series of questions, but if true (and none of the main players in any way contradicted what she said) the conclusion is startling. The City of Sierra Madre has now budgeted $6.7 million for CRA projects, which is what the City Manager revealed a few weeks back. But, according to Heather, out of that hefty sum $1.6 million will be spent for staff to implement these projects over the course of the next 5 years.

In other words, and if you strip away the suspect claim that this money is going to be used to compensate staff for time spent working on CRA projects (the CRA supposedly being a different governmental entity than the one they work for, even though the City Council runs it), it means these funds are being used to pay City Hall salaries. Which technically flies in the face of state law on this matter. I believe this is where Heather was going. Needless to say, it was very quiet up on the stage. Nobody said a peep.

Two very earnest women from SCAG were in attendance as part of Edison's meeting marketing moment. And far be it from me to say such a thing, but what they had to share wasn't really all that bad. It appears that our beloved regional planning authority has taken it upon itself to do the technical reports for climate change studies. Which are basically inventories of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas levels. This will save the General Plan Update Steering Committee a lot of work, time and budget. Otherwise we might have seen them out on the streets counting tailpipes. Or whatever it is you have to do in order to "inventory carbon emissions."

Karen Schneider showed us a lot of blurry charts while talking about how the City Staff's retirement funding is going. I would have liked to see the chart detailing all of the many things that badly need funding, but it was out of focus. Maybe it will be put up on the City of Sierra Madre website for public viewing. And maybe it won't. There doesn't seem to be any underlying logic to whether or not such things happen.

The Farmers Market question lurched back and forth like a nervous dog in a hot car. Which does raise this question: If Sierra Madre wants a Farmers Market so badly, why did the last one go out of business? Joe Mosca's suggestion that it went under because nobody could see it from Sierra Madre Boulevard was especially comedic.

John Buchanan gave a curious 10 minute talk about the necessity for "creating a political climate where everyone understands." Which struck me as odd coming from a fellow who has probably done more than anyone else in town to baffle people about what goes on with our city government. He apparently was talking about the political climate that must be created to enable resident acceptance of spending cuts for City services.

But later, and without even a wisp of acknowledgement of the irony in all this, John Buchanan then revealed to a stunned room of 10 or so spectators that "we're going to be floating bonds for any large capital improvements." So is he creating a "political climate" for money saving service cuts, or is it really all about drowning the city in vast amounts of new debt? There is seemingly little consistency in Mr. Buchanan's madness.

MaryAnn MacGillivray countered the baffling Buchanan by saying that it would be far better to find the money elsewhere than further jack up Sierra Madre's already crushing bond debt. To which Buchanan bristled like a porcupine. He apparently has his heart set on doing what his mentor Bart Doyle accomplished in 2003, selling millions of dollars in bonds and then dumping the resulting financial consequences on others. Enjoy your water rate increase, everybody.

Denise Delmar stopped by to light up the room with her observations about the progress being made by the General Plan Update Steering Committee. Which, by anyone's standards, has been immense. As you might recall from a couple of years back, $300,000 had originally been budgeted for the costs associated with creating a new General Plan. $50,000 was to be spent on the Housing Element, $50,000 on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), with the $200,000 balance for the rest of the GP. Money that would be saved by the Committee doing that work for free as community volunteers. The Sierra Madre ideal in action.

But in what has been quite a baffling (and politically obtuse) move, our City Manager Elaine Aguilar continues to insist that the $200,000 be spent on the EIR. Which would pretty much defeat the whole purpose of 9 volunteers spending so much of their time creating a new General Plan for free. I mean, if the money was going to be spent anyway, why not just buy a plan from some damn consultant?

Fortunately for the City and the GP Committee's sense of selfless sacrifice, Denise Delmar was there to inform Elaine that the good people involved in this project want to bring the EIR in at considerably less cost.

And if anyone can explain Ms. Aguilar's motivation here I would be glad to hear it. That money is saved money, so why does Elaine so badly want to spend it this way?

MaryAnn MacGillivray closed the meeting with a few revelations about what is going down in the world of SCAG and its Community Education and Human Development (CEHD) Committee. It turns out that our "Housing Element" (which is where cities like ours are coerced into planning for possible development nobody actually wants) is due once again in October of 2013. Which is odd because we are still working on the one for CEHD's current requirements. Each time we do one of these things it costs us $50,000 a pop to Karen Warner's consultancy, so this is no laughing matter. And it was something that City Staff apparently knew precious little about.

The other piece of SCAG news is that going forward cities within the SCAG Republic can trade their RHNA (government dictated housing requirement) numbers to other "contiguous" cities. Apparently SCAG no longer cares where the housing is built, just as long as it happens. So maybe we can trade that low income housing requirement threatening to tear up Highland to Arcadia for a player to be named later? And who knows, maybe the homeless housing being pushed for Montecito can be swapped with Pasadena for Larry Wilson? I don't know what we would do with him, though.

And is it just me, or does this arrangement sound strikingly similar to the carbon trading called for in AB 32? Except this time the noxious substance being dumped elsewhere is unwanted low income housing.

One more note. In a woefully inadequate article on Patch, Justin Chapman identifies MaryAnn MacGillivray as Sierra Madre's representative to SCAG. Which is not true. Our representative is Joe Mosca. Who, after all these years, still doesn't seem to be able to get his lazy butt to their meetings. MaryAnn, who understands the threat posed by the lack of effort put forward by Joe on what are really very important matters, covers these meetings for the City unofficially, and in his stead.

While Joe, punky as ever, makes snide remarks about throwing out the SCAG reports she brings back.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Week Of Agendas: The Tattler Previews Tonight's City Council Confab

Meeting No. 2 this week just happens to be the second City Council gathering for March. There are only two of them every month, and unless my math is off late April is when Joe Mosca will have to hang up his golden crown and move out of the middle seat. So this could be his next to last meeting as Mayor. How quickly the days have flown by.

Whether he willingly goes back to being a regular old City Council member, or demands to become Mayor Pro Tem once again, remains to be seen. That this would be a break with the whole succession tradition thing he flogged so hard when he wanted to be Mayor previously is obvious. But I don't see that stopping the ambitious Mr. Mosca should he determine that just being a Councilman no longer suits him. And look at it this way, should he step down and then abide by tradition, Joe will have finished his only turn as Mayor in his 8 years on the Council. Which, coupled with a paucity of sustainable accomplishment during his one term, won't look so good on his resume.

This also means John Buchanan will soon become Mayor for the last time. Unless, of course, he too breaks with all Sierra Madre tradition and runs for a third term. Which, given the low caliber replacements he would be leaving behind, must nag at his conscience at least a little bit. Look at it this way, would you want to live out the rest of your days knowing that you left almost 11,000 people in such a lurch?

But so much for The Restoration and its consequences. We do have to deal with the issues facing the City Council this evening. From the Consent Calendar $535,000 will be spent on many fine things. City Warrants, the Library, employee salaries and, of course, the Community Redevelopment Agency will get its inevitable cut as well. Hopefully for one of the last times ever.

Also on the Consent Calendar is what will hopefully be a final vote - and approval - for the Canyon Zone Ordinance. I cannot think of any possible way that the Angry Handymen can stop this one from being approved. Their moment of opportunity has passed, and despite the energetic arguments put forth by these hardy gentlemen of sweat and toil, history has now moved on and left them in its dusty wake. City Staff has requested that the Council wrap this one up and move on. But you just never know. Stranger things have happened in Sierra Madre.

The Sierra Madre Room is completed, and the City Council has been asked to say it is so. They should all be able to handle the task. The world's most complicated utility pole raising will also be considered once again. Apparently it is going to take a little longer to put it into the ground than it did to grow it. And then a Congregational Church request for a fee waiver is going to be shot down. Or so City Staff recommends. Which means the Downtown Specific Church is on a bit of losing streak this week. Should we all be worried about lightning?

Item #2 is some lobbyist driven Southern California Edison initiative designed to promote the money making propositions that they want us all to fall for. Entitled the "Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan," this is where they hope to force us to pay out the nose to make our town and homes energy efficient and green. All done with the selfless assistance of City Hall. This is a kind of first pass on this stuff, but you know it will be back. With an Edison employee about to become Mayor, you have to figure that they got this thing (pardon the pun) wired.

Item #3 is where Fiscal Year 2011-2013 budget priorities will be identified and discussed. The is all part of the run up to May 4th when the full budget will be put before the City Council. Which will probably be right around the time Mayor John Buchanan announces that we have fallen into truly dire economic circumstances and the only thing that will save us from an imminent and final destruction is to sell millions of dollars in new bonds.

Item #4 is obliquely entitled Request For Proposal For General Plan Update Technical Support. If you're as dumb as a post (or write for Patch) you probably find this sort of language to be very impressive. But what this really is all about is identifying just how much cash needs to be handed over to some consultant to do the Environmental Impact Report for the new General Plan. City Staff's assumption being that the General Plan Update Steering Committee would never be able to do this all by themselves, and therefore we'll need to spend God knows how much treasure to get someone to paste one together for us. An atrocious waste of our tax money, and one the G4 Council will gladly shell out vast quantities of City treasure to enable.

Item #5 has something to do with a Public Safety Report. I'm not certain but I think that this report will state that running with scissors, or driving your car with your feet, is dangerous and people should be strongly discouraged from doing that sort of thing. But I could be wrong.

Item #6 will see to the resurrection of the Frankenstein's monster of City initiatives, the Farmers Market. This mythological creature died from neglect the last time we had one around, and there is absolutely no reason to bring it back now. If people really wanted a Farmers Market then the one we had last year would still be in business. The Community Services Commission tried to kill it, but since the big spenders on the City Council desperately need a place to plow some of their at risk CRA funds into, it is back. This is a classic example of how the G4 Council can't help spending more money on the same old bad ideas.

One more thought. Were those guys you saw at our old Farmers Market really farmers? Or were they just dudes hired by some guy who bought a bunch of vegetables at a downtown food distributor and then had them sell the stuff here, and at vastly higher prices? You can get the exact same stuff at Albertsons, and at half the cost. So how does paying almost double for the same cabbage from some fellow wearing overalls in a parking lot enrich your life?

And you do know how much we'd be forced to pay off duty SMPD to guard these vegetables, right? Who don't work cheap I'll have you know.

Item #7 is all about SCAG and the Community Economic and Human Development (CEHD) Committee. The CEHD being where they cook up the RHNA numbers that result in things like the demand that we build so-called low income housing on Highland, or flophouses for the homeless on Montecito.

Interesting fact: Do you know where the head of SCAG, Hasan Ikhrata, originally got his career start in the planning game? Would you believe the Soviet Union? I kid you not. He studied at a Soviet engineering school and then worked for Moscow Metro where hopefully he made the trains run on time. Welcome to the exciting world of Eastern European SSR inspired central planning, California style.

Last Night's Community Service's Commission Scorecard

The 4th of July Committee financial investigation was put off until a future date. Though Elisa Weaver did say that The Committee is meeting very soon to figure out how to raise some more money. Which they are going to need to do. Last year's total parade expenses came to a whopping $12,872, while only $8,251 was taken in. With over $5,000 of it being spent for live music. Not exactly the best fiscal management, though I'm sure the bands enjoyed having a paying gig.

There will be no Memorial Park bandshell amplification for the Congregational Church this Easter, which means the rest of us will be able to sleep off our chocolate bunny hangovers in peace. A prefab restroom was approved for behind City Hall, but this was pretty much an exercise in desperation. The Gang of 4 is aching to spend a bunch of CRA money on Memorial Park restrooms, and they will do it no matter what anyone else says. Otherwise Jerry Brown would just abscond with all that cash and squander it on schools, universities, and taking care of the sick and the aged. All things that experienced medieval budget cuts in Sacramento last week.

And we certainly can't let that happen, right?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Week Of Many Agendas: The Tattler Discusses This Evening's Community Services Commission Meeting

"The Law of Triviality, briefly stated, says that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum found." - C. Northcote Parkinson

The City's official agendizers have agendized agendas at a most fearsome pace this week, and many things will be considered by those who consider these considerations with considerable care. Decision makers' decisions will be decisively decided, the effects of which could effectively effectuate our governmental conduct for years. Or at least until the next round of meetings takes place in a couple of weeks. Which of course they will. Government sadly being the arena that now fills our days, whether or not you know it.

As a service to the community The Tattler will attempt to review the issues being covered in each of this week's four City meetings the morning before they happen. And should that prove to be impossible we will instead offer what we hope are entertaining rounds of japes, complaints and snark. Mostly because we enjoy that kind of thing, but also because it attracts readers in a far greater volume than the fawning and ineffectual babbitry provided by the four other news venues in town.

The proviso being that too many meetings in so small a town is not always a good thing. It is true that some people are very busy, but what they are actually busy at should always be considered a tiptop topic for discussion. Whether they enjoy it or not.

Today we will be discussing this evening's agendized deliberations of the Community Services Commission, taking place at 6pm in the City Council chambers. They do have a lot of juicy (there is no other word for it) topics on their list, and we hope to give them all the preview they deserve.

Here are the topics that I found to be the most interesting:

1) Fourth of July Financial Analysis - Recommendation to advise on the financial stability of the event and forward any recommendations for allocated funding to City Council.

Apparently the outgoing 4th of July Committee may have spent more money than it took in last year. Led by some of Sierra Madre's most privileged individuals, expenditures are now suspected of having outstripped the amount of donations they had managed to raise from the residents. And it does ring true. It was under this 4th of July Committee that such things as the superfluous and costly rental of golf carts and advanced communication equipment were brought into the parade mix, expenses that had never been any part of overall costs in the past.

I also suspect that money had become harder to obtain because of all the adverse publicity the Committee received by initiating such unpopular killjoy measures as banning water pistol fights with the Fire Department, or the throwing of candy to Sierra Madre's children. People in town came to consider these prohibitions the acts of ridiculous control freaks, and therefore didn't feel up to cutting them checks anymore.

The upshot being that the 4th of July Committee threw up their hands and dumped the entire situation on the City. Which dutifully accepted their challenged checkbook. And while there was money in the account from past years, future funding now looks challenging.

The 4th of July Committee had claimed to believe that they might become personally liable should anything disastrous happen during the parade itself. Or at least that was the reason given for their sudden abdication. I personally think it had more to do with all the financial drift, and the understandable desire to push the fiscal consequences of that potential problem onto the backs of the taxpayers. After all, that's what everybody else does.

2) Sierra Madre Congregational Church Request for Amplification in Memorial Park Bandshell - Recommendation to review options and provide staff with recommendations to forward to the City Council/Redevelopment Agency.

In order to better serve God, Sierra Madre's Congregational Church wants to amplify its Sunrise Services at the Memorial Park bandshell. The Congregationalists believe this should be proclaimed an "all-city event" which, considering that their amplified hosannas of praise would be taking place at 6:30 AM, it most certainly would be. Whether the city's slumbering sinners would have voluntarily joined in with all of that joy is another question.

Of course, there is a legalistic inspiration for the "all-city event" thing as well. The Congregationalists are famous for carefully reading the rule book, and the reason for this request could be that since only a City sponsored event can be so amplified, it would need to be just that. The Cong had been turned down on a similar request last year, something that apparently chafed at them for a bit. So they've been mulling the matter over.

But should the City decide to sponsor an electronically amplified Sunrise Service event, wouldn't it raise Constitutional issues? Such as the appropriateness of a government sponsored religious event? And should the Sierra Madre Community Services people approve city sponsorship of a Congregationalist event, what would the other denominations in the Sierra Madre religious community think? My guess is there might be considerable envy, which would mean that the City would have led them into sinful behavior.

Also remember that any such amplification could upset the day laborers. Which might lead to expensive civil rights litigation should it occur.

3) Memorial Park Restrooms - Recommendation to review options and provide staff with recommendations to forward to the City Council/Redevelopment Agency

This one is just so choice that I have to pinch myself. There is a paragraph from the staff analysis for the topic (not provided on our opaque city website, but I did obtain a copy), that knocks this whole wiggling pile of effluential behavior into a cocked hat.

Also considered was the length of time needed to enter into a contract with a construction contractor or supplier. This is critical in that the City Council/CRA Board has designated the use of Redevelopment Agency funds for the project. Under recent state budget proposals there has been serious consideration of eliminating redevelopment agencies. Under some proposals the City's Redevelopment Fund revenues would be lost to the State as early as July 1st. For that reason, it is highly desirable to be under contract for a restroom project to obligate or commit the funds, as there is currently no other source of funding for the project.

In other words, rather than lose these CRA moneys to Jerry Brown, his damn public schools and some sick old people, the City of Sierra Madre wants to hide this booty under some public toilets in a park. Which, if you think about it, is quite a metaphor.

This sort of thing is likely being attached to a lot of other CRA related matters the City is also pushing. Such as the Farmers Market, Highland low income housing, homeless wickiups on Montecito and $50,000 consultant studies for things like the shopping preferences of Sierra Madreans. Something that could result in such life altering events as the stocking of toilet tissue at The Bottle Shop.

4) Special Event Permits - Recommendation to review proposed additions to the Municipal Code and forward a recommendation to approve to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

This rather bold notion states that when the City is asked by the likes of the Chamber of Commerce to cut them a cash break on fees related to the staging of such beloved events as the Wistaria Festival or Dicken's Village, the responsibility for deciding the matter should be taken away from the Community Services Commission and turned over to City Hall. Which would free up our city government to give away the farm while at the same time asking for fee and tax increases to make up the difference.

The result being yet one more instance where control over the spending of our tax money is removed from the actual taxpayers and turned over to those who do little more than spend it.

Tomorrow we will discuss the findings of this Community Services Committee meeting, plus review the agenda for this week's second major gathering, Tuesday evening's City Council meeting.

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