Friday, April 20, 2012

Should the Green Committee Become the Green Commission? Plus Planning Commission Notes

One thing that people need to be very aware of here is much of our City government is comedy. I know they act very somber, and really do wish everyone would take them seriously. Just like we all do. I mean, can they be effective public servants if a significant portion of the community is giggling at them most the time, right? Who would want to pay more taxes to people they find to be absurd? That would be bad for business. There would have to be layoffs.

Like many people who have problems they wish weren't a part of their lives, City Hall in the end is a victim of itself. In particular with its significant levity problem. They just don't seem to know when they are being ridiculous.

The latest commedia assurda took place during the Strategic Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday. Gathered there were all of the usual (and unusual) suspects, with the topic this time being the Green Committee. In particular their upcoming role in the rapidly approaching new order.

Apparently one of the goals of the larger portion of the City Council is to upgrade the Green Committee. Elaine Aguilar and the guy who just can't go away fast enough, John Buchanan, have somehow decided that it is time this committee should be permitted to sit at the same table with the big people. And in order to do that properly they would need to be transformed into a Green Commission. Commissions being so very much more important than Committees.

Along with this name change would need to come a definition of their new and greater powers as well. What the nature of those new powers might be is amongst the vital business that awaits the next City Council.

But get this. The rationale for why the Green Committee needs to be upgraded, at least in Elaine and Lingering John's opinion, is based on something called the Environmental Accords of the United Nations. I kid you not! Apparently the UN is going to be recognized by them as an important authority here in town on matters such as community planning and development. With the Green Commission being the portal through which this world-wide organization for peace and understanding will speak to the people of Sierra Madre about their role in the universal brotherhood of man.

Who knows, perhaps next week Josh Moran will be chosen as our new mayor while sporting an U Thant Bouffant. You know how trendy he can be sometimes.

At this Strategic Planning Commission confab there was quite a bit of discussion about the definition of "sustainability." With the upshot of this conversation being that both Ms. Aguilar and Johnny Stay Lately avowing that the City Council somewhere along the line adopted the UN's Environmental Accords as official city policy. Even though the UN guys have yet to actually adopt these accords themselves.

Nobody recalled such a thing happening here, however. And you would think that turning a significant portion of Sierra Madre's governmental moral and policy making authority over to the edicts of the United Nations would have been considered a serious matter, and people might remember that event having occurred.

The Green Committee's Environmental Accords were presented to us a month or two back by the GC itself. And you may recall from a previous article here that their version of the "Accords" were pretty much wholesale cut and pasted from those of the United Nations. If it was a high school report project, they might have gotten into a bit of trouble for a lack of originality.

However, as a Commission, and armed with the immense powers that will be bestowed upon them by a one vote majority of the next City Council (the Sid, Nancy and Fancy Faction), this Green Commission would then have an opportunity to help prepare the way for the enactment of these Environmental Accords.

Now don't get me wrong. I personally don't have anything much against the United Nations. They send Doctors into the worst hellholes on the planet, they supply armed peacekeepers to keep crazy people from killing each other over nothing, and they ship food and water into places where millions of people have little to eat or drink. These are good things, and they should always be commended for doing that.

But I have to ask. Why exactly is the United Nations doing butting into our business? Has California fallen so far that we are now viewed by the UN as a problem area in need of their assistance? Like Haiti?

And here's another question that needs to be asked: What is it about the UN's Environmental Accords that is so important to Buchanan, Aguilar, and soon to be Mayor Josh? And why do they want to make this proposed Green Commission the doorkeeper? Rather than, say, the General Plan Update Steering Committee? That apparently, if Josh and Elaine have their way, this Green Commission would soon replace?

If you go to the website of an organization called Green Cities California, you will be able to find the UN's Environmental Accords. You can access them by clicking here. And what you will see there are a lot of the usual topics that environmentally concerned folks care about. Which is fine. I too enjoy trees. But then, right in the middle of it all, is a topic that might sound very familiar to a lot of the people who read this site.

Urban Design: Action Item 8 - Adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.

And that pretty much solves the mystery. As with everything John Buchanan and those who tag around after him, it always comes down to development. High density and mixed use development was at the very heart and soul of the Downtown Specific Plan. And at that time the justification given was that the population of California was about to explode, and people would need places to live. Something that we know now was an incorrect assumption.

And now, apparently, what we are hearing is that this exact same kind of development is necessary because it will help to solve the problem of global warming.

Which is, of course, absurd. Razing downtown Sierra Madre to make room for a few hundred condos and attached knickknack and snack shops will have no effect whatsoever on global warming. Rather it would do what it is intended to do, make money for the big utility company the current Mayor works for, and all the Realtors Josh Moran is owned by.

As is usually the case in California, if you want to sell something to the great unwashed you need to express your wishes in apocalyptic and salvational phrasing. As an example, the kinds of development these people want to put in our downtown isn't merely cheesy high-density housing, it is, per Sacramanto State Bill 375, an attempt to save the world from ecological disaster.

Of course, it actually is something quite different. That being just another in a long line of attempts to peddle awful development to a town that definitely does not want it. And honestly, I doubt this one will have a much greater chance of success than any of the others. "Green Commission" and all.

What's It All About? Last Night's Planning Commission Meet & Alfie

The Colantuono & Levin Fog Machine was in full force last night in its starring role as the Great Measure V killer. You know how things like democracy and voting just irk the corporate and governmental elites they support. Once again proving that our tax money is being used against our interests, with City Hall and the current City Council in cahoots to enable just that.

Things discussed, briefly described: Danny Castro said that the Planning Commission and the City Council must be done with Alfie before the end of July. The clock is ticking. Ballot language would be needed 90 days before the election so ballot it can be submitted in time.

City Attorney Whatsisname jumped in to claim that the Planning Commission needs to reconsider the dwelling unit versus suite thing once again. This despite the fact that the PC has already dealt with this phony issue. According to the C&L Department of Legal Obfuscation it is this matter that determines whether or not ALF is subject to Measure V or not. Which is disingenuous nonsense. They, along with those they actually work for, just don't want people getting a Measure V vote on a development project.

The golden moment arose when the handsomely compensated C&L Attorney claimed that if the ALF doesn't meet the requirements of Measure V, as he and not the people of Sierra Madre define them, then it cannot go to a vote. He then proposed that the City amend its General Plan instead of going to a Measure V vote. Which is crap and will end up embroiling Sierra Madre in a nasty lawsuit. Which, of course, would profit C&L greatly.

The ever helpful City Staff will be coming back on May 3rd with something they call a "decision tree." Meaning they plan on setting the agenda and parameters for the PC's decision making process on the matter. The Planning Commission asked for specific directions on what they need to do, and all the wrong people are plainly eager to help with that.

Not a good night.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

59 comments:

  1. There was a whole other discussion by the planning commission on the Meaglia McMansion in the hillsides that was very good work indeed.
    And unless you want Sierra Madre to turn into Arcadia, it was important too.
    Mr. Meaglia's most oft repeated phrases "I don't mean to be rude" "I don't want to sound angry" "I will do whatever you want" all rang equally false.

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    1. Give Meaglia a chance - he'll come back with a reduction in bulk and massing (words he claimed not to understand) and the house will be 5963 square feet no longer - it'll be 5962. See , he's trying.

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    2. It's hard to understand why the Mr. Meaglia wants to build that large a house in Sierra Madre, when he could easily go to Arcadia and build something even twice as big without any questions. Given that he has built one 6,000 sq ft house within a stone's throw of the proposed new house, perhaps the idea is that he will eventually buy up that portion of the hillsides and incorporate it all into a fiefdom.

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    3. Does Sierra Madre have the water necessary to properly supply a moat?

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    4. Sure 7:16. Sierra Madre has magic water. An endless supply.

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    5. I was very glad that the majority of the commissioners did not give a pass to that big, hulking thing on Auburn. The guy just doesn't seem to hear a damn thing they say.

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    6. The Planning Commissioners are on the front lines.

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  2. Mayor Moran is expected to call in UN Peacekeepers once a final "no vote" decision on the ALF is passed by the City Council with a 3 to 2 vote.

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  3. I sure hope the two guys we elected, Koerber and Capoccia, although sadly not the majority will be fighting for us on these outrageous plans?

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  4. This place is becoming "fraudville,USA.Serving special interest appears to be the ongoing focus City Hall and it's supporters.Let's not forget,this is the same City Hall that had to admit their claims regarding "Rusty Pipes"was a lie.10 weeks from now our water rate will be increased 7.5%.Thanks to the culture of fraud, we can only expect more of the same.

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  5. John, you nailed it. This kind of insanity always happens for a reason - using some kind of popular "vehicle" to actually carry something completely different. Standard Operating Procedure for political groups. So you know it's not just these individuals, but the whole chain gang in operation around this one.

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  6. Let's get ready to RUMBLE!April 20, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    I admit it. Local politics and society cracks me up. Where else would a staff lawyer for a utility be taken seriously as a social and intellectual leader? Or a crazy realtor who rides around on her bike like a character from the Wizard of Oz? Or a chubby frat dude with a beer superglued into his hand? Why, Sierra Madre of course!

    I was truly worried. The council election is over, the people elected seem to have no scary agenda, and seem to be truly decent. Boredom was sure to ensue. Not a chance!

    This Measure V thing is a gift from heaven. There will be a vote on the Alf. It will either take the form of a dull vote to approve the Alf or . . . . A SUPER FUN CITY WIDE SMACK DOWN TO RECALL ANY COUNCIL MEMBER WHO ACTS TO DENY A VOTE!

    I am truly hoping for the latter, but perhaps the city geniuses will figure out it is their best interests to avoid it. Seriously, how many time can they use the "hot plate" exception to evade measure v - once, maybe twice. And for that they will go to Def Com V? Don't seem too smart, but hope springs eternal.

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  7. Well I guess that settles it. We have to build the Downtown Specific Plan after all. The UN says so.

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  8. Let's get ready to RUMBLE!April 20, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    I'll work for free on this. We can start the recall drive and Kurt will simultaneously file a writ challenging the Measure V evasion. No need for a trial on the writ. We just let it sit while the recall goes forward.

    Then the reasonable developer can pressure the council to have the Measure V vote so that this nonsense can be put behind him and he can build his project. Which will also conveniently enable the council to get out of the recall fiasco. win, win, win!

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    1. Who should we recall first? Sid or Nancy?

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  9. An applicant to build a home doesn't understand the words 'bulk and massing', and city hall doesn't understand the words 'a public vote.'

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    1. My question is how did that applicant get away with building the first MegaHouse? Of course he's back for seconds. And if he suceeds, there'll be more.

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  10. Sierra Madre already has its own brand of Stack and Pack housing; the canyon.
    all we need to do now is run the shuttle bus to Mary's Market and we're all set. And then they can just leave us alone!

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  11. No it should not become a commission. If it did the first person appointed to it would be Buchannan, then Joffee.

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    1. You're right, Joffe would be pushing the city to buy her solar panels.
      Oh wait, the government doesn't have the money (our money) to subsidise this anymore, hopefully.

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  12. This whole thing has Buchanan written all over it. Yet another nutty attempt to get overdevelopment brought into Sierra Madre. "The UN says we have to do it!" Somebody get the butterfly nets. The Mayor needs rest.

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    1. Buchanan will say that if we don't do this, the UN will sue us.

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    2. Blue helmets wil be standing guard in Kersting Court. They'll declare John Buchanan Emperor for Life.

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    3. Use the proper form of address, pleaseApril 20, 2012 at 8:31 AM

      His excellency Buchanan I

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    4. Yes and the Blue Helmets will be standing next to the drummers that are scheduled to perform in Kersting Court on Earth Day. Yes, for REAL, drummers. What in the world do drummers have to do with Earth Day? Perhaps they will be calling down the spirits. Heaven help us!

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  13. This whole UN Accords thing smacks of an attempt at an end run around the GPSC. The DIRTS and DICS are intent on building and re-building to get a maximum ROI on their Montecito and Howie's properties. They thought that by stacking the GPSC with their candidates they'd get the deed done, but turns out that gamut didn't work out so well. However, UN trumps GPSC. So that's what they're trying to do... Anyone else think Alva and Kim Kelly are way, way out of their depth?

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  14. How can a newly invented "commission" stacked with political appointees trump the citizen voice of the GPSC? This ain't legit.

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  15. The committee should be upgraded to a bureau: The Bureau of Green Unadulterated Shysters. BOGUS could then control the City Council and rule the town, first, and then the world.

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    1. SMUG (Sierra Madre United Greenies) supports BOGUS. Help us protect the developers and realtors from the wishes of the people.

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  16. The Meagliamaniac needs professional help to understand two concepts: 1) no; 2) go away.

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  17. "Sustainability" means a subsidized green initiative whose inception was formulated by a friend, relative or contributor to a politician.

    A couple of us made it to the COG meeting last night. Nancy had nothing to say all night.

    On a bright note, King from Walnut was eloquent last night in convincing the COG dead heads to table the "Code of Silence" as a Bradbury councilmember called the proposed COG code of ethics. He and a few others helped torpedo the new parcel tax for the WAG districts. He pointed out the tax had a 40 percent return of money to foothill cities, whose water is clean when it leaves their communities. Sierra Madre would pay to clean up the trash thrown into the rivers by downstream cities. Can we get this councilmember to transfer to Sierra Madre?

    There were also signs of the end times for the COG last night. Someone was video taping the meeting. Suggestions were made to let the Alameda Corridor separate from the COG, based on suggestions from Washington DC. Washington must be hearing something about this train wrecked organization. The entire COG scam may be unraveling. Conway was red faced, and obviously uncomfortable. People were asking questions for once.

    One council member told me that his city would not be putting the COG in their budget next year.

    We need a posse to watch this group.

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    1. Rest assured that Nancy made it to the buffet table and signed her stipend request.

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    2. Thanks for the report 9:13. Dare we hope?

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    3. This is such great news. Thank you. People are waking up, and not just here.

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    4. During the presentation on the proposed parcel tax, the county was forced to admit that it's "54.00" per parcel projection was nonsense.
      Larger properties will face a much higher fee if this proposed "rain tax" ever passes. For example, the average home depot sized parcel will probably pay $11,000 plus per year.

      but the real gold in last night's meeting was the proposal made to split the Alameda Corridor Authority (ACE) off from the SGVCOG and the control on Nick Conway. Seems the powers in Washington D.C. aren't too keen on the prospect of Conway controlling the multi-million ACE budget.

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    5. Wow. If Nick's rot can be smelled all the way in Washington DC, what the he'll are we doing being a part of this mess?

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  18. Someone earlier asked, "Where's the water?" In today's LA Times Earth Day supplement there are pages devoted to water: the Water Quality Authority, San Gabriel Municipal Water District, Three Valleys Municipal Water District and a page on using native plants to reduce water usage. Then there are two trash hauling companies, another area directly to clean water, keeping trash out of the waste stream/water contamination connection. And then the City of Industry used CRA money to buy land to develop a clean energy plant (how is this redevelopment?) Water and energy are connected as it takes energy to pull the water from elsewhere into parched Southern California that has next to no water impounding structures.

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    1. Ga,gA gag, cough,gasp, choking...I hear choking sounds. Why, yes!!! It's the remaining g2 and -1 fading mayor clinging on. It seems that they are getting desparate to hold on to old schemes of fraud & taxation. They're obviously believing their own delusions of adequacy. "green con-misson?" A weak attempt for control has never been so blatantly baffoonerous!! So when does josh start wearing a tiara and velvet cloak? No clothes needed. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm..me thinks Koeber & Cappoccia will bring some measure of reality to this sideshow. We already have the clowns. buchanon makes a poor substitute for a behind the scenes director. Mumbling, ruminating, disgruntled & bored resident taxinator. Death to the f*%kery of cog!!!!

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    2. F*%kery is a good description of COG,that's exactly what they do best.
      Disgusting.

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  19. If this wasn't coming from a City Manager and soon to be ex City Councilman/Mayor, and a councilmember who resigned half way into his second term, all of whom lied about the failing water infrastructure cum water bond need to raise water rates, I believe Sierra Madre readers of the blog would not be so down on the Green Committee efforts and the real need to keep our planet as healthy as possible.

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    1. You missed the point. What is being discussed here is the lunatic claim that high density pack and stack development placed in the heart of Sierra Madre's downtown area is necessary to prevent global warming. Destroying our village will not save the world. It will just tax our already limited resouces (like water) and turn the place into just another generic California town. Nobody will tell you that good environmental policy is wrong for this town. It is just the call for garbage development. Which is why these so-called accords are here in the first place. That is the real goal of the players involved.

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    2. Well spoken 10:51. You nailed it!

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    3. This is from the FAQs page on the link to the UN Green Cities Accords. It just may be that our Green Committee was given confined directions from the CC and City Manager.

      4. Some of the goals appear too high, unrealistic or may not necessarily apply to every city. How do cities handle the implementation process?

      The 21 Action Steps of the Urban Environmental Accords are a series of action-oriented steps that cities can use as reference points for setting achievable goals and standards that can be tailored to fit the specific structures of their communities. The ability of cities to enact local environmental laws and policies differ from cities to cities.

      I notice that the word cities is used so that the idea of small towns and villages, ostensibly less impactful on the environment. So here is a question: Are small towns and village left out of the discussion for a reason?

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    4. 10:43 - it is a strategy that came from the same people who lied about the reasons for the water rate hike. Why should this one be any more believable?

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  20. Agreed 10:43, but it's the commando takeover style that's really the most off-putting. And the fact that the healthy planet drive has been kidnapped, raped, and put up for ransom by the development industry.

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    1. The Green Committee is just another stunt by Buchanan and his gang to promote DSP style redevelopment in Sierra Madre. What building a bunch of high density mixed use development has to do with saving the world is beyond me. This is a shameful exploitation of what is basically a good concept for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of big utilities, developers and real estate peddlers. Disgusting.

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    2. A friend and I learned over this past week that the El Monte Transit Village is kaput and that another entity is taking over the project with a new name. People hope there is a good project on its way to completion. Titan LLC leadership Leung and Lang, of which Bart Doyle was COO, is still under investigation by another agency, and that lots of investors were involved (office is closed up and no one answers the phones according to one on-line comment). Could it be that there are investors from Sierra Madre, traipsing off to other places since our Measure V has put such a stranglehold on the local big-ticket money-making plans?

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  21. The next Green Committee meeting is Thursday, April 26. They will be discussing the Green Accords work plan update. I think everyone should show up and watch with CLOSE scrutiny! City Hall, 7 pm.

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  22. It will be interesting to see if new Councilman Harabidian is savy enough to recognize he just landed at the tail end of an era. The tutorial for him is Measure V; Prop 218, and the lopsided defeat of 12-1 & 12-2 with investigative reporting calling out corruption between City Managers, City Attorneys, and compromised City Councilmen. The playing field has been leveled by voters and really really smart and dedicated efforts like "The Tattler Blog". Rocks are being turned over everywhere to see what crawls out.
    Couincilman Harabidean, keep your nose clean and earn the respect of your neighbors and fellow Sierra Madreans. Empower and support our Planning Commission, a jewel among the likes of Monrovia and Pasadena. We are anxious to see if you are a harbinger of smart City Planning or "for sale" to developers and real estate interests.

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  23. Community and Democracy are the enemies of development. And those who serve it. That explains everything that goes on concerning the ALF development.

    But the possible metamorphosis of the Green Committee to the Green Commission is a little bit more complex. This is a very interesting combination of motivations that is intended to dress the actions of the City government in a cloak of environmental responsibility. Of course, ironically, these things never happen when that's really happening. They are meant to fool the people into thinking that some actual consideration to environmental issues has been given and that somehow these considerations have produced support to whatever they're considering. Suddenly, oversized buildings that cause traffic bottlenecks are deemed sustainable, etc. And it's just another tentacle of government to bombard people with rhetoric. My experience has been that if they have to tell you it's Green, it's probably not.

    What's stopped the City Council from actually making environmentally responsible decisions? Only they stop themselves. Dressing up a committee (already a waste of time) to Commission is a folly. Wiil someone please stand up and say that the Emperor has clothes?

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  24. The environmentally responsible answer to "Don't you care about the environment?" is to respond:
    "No, I'm in favor of dirty air and dirty water."

    That shows how stupid their argument is. Try it, it's fun!

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    1. Of course, we all want clean air and clean water and clean food to eat, but this "green thing" has turned into a huge scam.
      It's lost all credibility because of the way it's been done.
      It's getting so "green" which used to be a nice word, no longer has the same meening, it brings to mind "scam", this is too bad.
      We can thank the greedy development crowd for this.

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  25. No, here is the deal, there will always be a dollar sign behind every enviornmental clean-up, earth sustainability decision. Why? Because it was messed up hand over hand in the process of making a buck and it will only be cleaned up likewise where there is money to be made in evnironmental restoration. Greed on the messed-up-the-earth end and greed on the clean-up-the-earth end.

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  26. Clearly Buchanan is working on this to be his legacy.
    He embraces the UN Accords, but ask what he did locally.
    When he had the chance to protect some of the hillsides in this town, what did he do?

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  27. Who is on the Green Committee and in what ways have they served the City of their own accord in terms of environmental preservation issues before being chosen for this committee? What skills do they bring to the discussion, interpretation of issues or the seriousness of their task? Do they live here? I only know one member, a longtime advocate for hillside preservation and a Sierra Madre resident. Not a pushover for fakery.

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    1. Green Committee:

      Members

      Paul Alva, Chair
      Cole Butler
      Kim Clymer Kelley
      Lisa Fay Matthiessen
      Marguerite Schuster

      John Buchanan, City Council Liason
      James Carlson, Staff Liaison

      Meetings

      The Green Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public, and are held the Fourth Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm in the City Council Chambers at 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

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  28. After reading the UN Accords it is obvious that all the Sierra Madre Green Committee did was put a new cover on it and handed it in.

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  29. FIRE COLUANTANO & LEVIN IMMEDIATELY

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