Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Meeting That Never Got Finished

It is way late. This meeting went on for something approaching forever, and because the molasses was not moving very fast, the really big issues stacked up at the end of the agenda did not get discussed or decided upon. The billions of budget questions, the Proposition 218 requirements for raising assessment fees, and the "Strategic Retreat" questions were all kicked down the road. Instead we got things like an endless discussion about the Pinney House possibly becoming a bed and breakfast. All because the politically well-connected owner could then get more for the place than he would if it were sold as a house.

What a trainwreck. If this is the way Josh Moran is going to run his meetings, we should have no fear of his turning our City government into a rubber stamp mill for unwanted development. He'll never get to the agenda items necessary for making that happen. Most members of the Downtown Investors Club will have died of old age by the time Josh finally gets things going.

I also am beginning to believe that Josh has a bit of a chip on his shoulder over speculation that the tools in his intellectual shed just aren't quite sharp enough. And because of this he is apt to do over-compensatory things like read from Book 7 of Plato's Republic during the moment of inspiration. According to Mayor Moran our little Sierra Madre is one of Plato's "essential forms of goodness." So why does he want to change it?

Nancy Walsh took her SGVCOG reports to new heights by informing her colleagues on the City Council that she will be supplying them with written memos from now on. However, what will be written on these notes was not shared with the residents of Sierra Madre. I guess as far as nancy is concerned COG matters need to be kept a secret.

Josh Moran noted his presence at the most recent General Plan Steering Committee meeting. He reported Chairwoman Delmar as saying that the final General Plan draft would be ready for City Council review in 2 months. Josh, however, said it wouldn't be ready until August. No reason was given for his belief that Denise's version was untrue, or why he felt it was necessary to correct the Chairwoman on a fairly trivial timing matter.

It was interesting that during a moment when Josh struggled a bit finding the correct word to complete a thought Nancy Walsh jumped in and supplied it to him. Perhaps the Mayor Pro Tem sympathized with his plight.

The new City Council seating arrangements were revealing. Nancy Walsh and John Harabedian are on the inside next to Mayor Moran, with John Cappocia and Chris Koerber in the outer seats. What initially appears to be a contrivance to keep these two City Councilmembers on the far edges of the action could in time lead the Mayor to believe he is surrounded.

During the meeting Josh Moran appeared to be doing everything he could to please John Harabedian. To the point where it almost seemed as if he has some kind of man crush on the young Councilman. Harabedian, however, did not appear to acknowledge the Mayor's earnest blandishments, preferring instead to stare out into the audience.

Earl Richey spoke to the Council about his letter on the water rate increases. It is his opinion that the entire matter should be agendized and certain matters pertaining to the price hike be reexamined, then put on the ballot so the people can decide. He rightly pointed out that this increase in water costs flew into the face of what the community wanted, and that City Hall's rationale for raising these rates had changed from month to month during the process. A lot of what they said being untrue.

Paulie Goosebumps got up and made a perfect ass of himself. Nothing at all new there.

Per questions that were asked during Public Comment it was established that an RFP ("Request For Proposal") on the matter of getting better value for our City Attorney buck had been put on the agenda for the second City Council meeting in June. That Josh had to ask the City Manager about when (or if) this was going to happen revealed some of the inside working dynamics at City Hall right now. In the early going Elaine Aguilar appears to be carrying the Mayor.

I have got to say I was really heartened by the way John Capoccia and Chris Koerber went after all the financial questions with a bulldog intensity. City Hall's natural predilection for constant increased spending, and the demands for more taxes that accompanies it, have now met an immovable object in these two new Councilmen.

During Public Comment Heather Allen spoke about her concerns regarding fee increases on just about everything with the exception of the ALF. Her point being that any policy changes on fees and how much folks are to be charged should be done on a level playing field. There is no reason why someone should need to pay more for having a yard sale while the Kensington folks are being given generous breaks. She also raised the point many are making that the law firm getting much of our City legal business, Colantuono and Levin, works very hard for developers, but does little on behalf of the taxpayers who cover their bills.

Pat Alcorn expressed her fears that the closed session meeting the concerned City Attorney held with the Planning Commission last Thursday evening violated the Brown Act. It was her point that meetings held out of the view of the public on topics already on the agenda was a violation of this law.

Shirley Moore stated that City Hall needs to learn to live within our means, and that this is an obligation government has to this community. She said that one way we could save money would be to withdraw from the SGVCOG and SCAG. Two organizations who have shown time and again that they do not have our best interests at heart. So why should they receive our money? Another obligation Shirley discussed would be for the City to follow the wishes of the people who live here, and not the needs of outside economic interests. A theme that many in this community are embracing.

Caroline Brown asked for Crime Report information availability during Public Comment. Criminal activity such as home robberies seems to many in town to be on the increase, yet no statistics are being given on a regular basis that would substantiate - or gainsay - this impression. This matter will be put on a future agenda.

On the question of spending $18,000 to move the Library's computing systems, Chris Koerber and John Capoccia asked if any consideration of using the Cloud and 3rd party offsite computing systems had been considered. In the private sector such arrangements are saving companies thousands of dollars in computing costs. City Staff has done some research, but felt the risks outweighed the benefits.

During the very long discussion about the Pinney House becoming a bed and breakfast the question of what kinds of events will be held there came up. The suspicion being that we could be looking at another Alverno situation where loud parties with hundreds of guests could become an unwelcome part life on Lima. No answer was forthcoming.

An interesting moment arose during the discussion about a fee waiver for the Midge Morash Memorial at Bailey Canyon Park. Josh noted that the City could send two men from Public Works to move boulders that would become a part of the Memorial. "It is not a monetary cost, it is staff time," he noted. "It's not like we're taking any money out of our coffers." But isn't the use of staff time and the supposed expenses involved the rationale City Hall gives for charging fees in the first place?

Liaisons were chosen. The COG and California League of Cities were placed into the hands of John Harabedian and the Mayor, with Nancy Walsh serving as the alternate for both. Safely out of the hands of Koerber and Capoccia, I suppose. SCAG went to John Capoccia and Chris Koerber.

That's what I have for the moment. Please feel free to fill in the blanks.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. There's a lot I don't know but I do know that Nancy Walsh's incessant focus on an "industrial" kitchen for a B&B was really uninformed and dumb. We're talking about 6 rooms tops, maybe an additional 12 folks at the table. She'd have the Pinney House spend a hundred thousand to install commerical refrigerators and freezers, a Wolf range and grill, maybe a salamandar, and an automatic dishwashing apparatus. Strike that $100K -- it'll be $200K in no time. Industrial? I can do Sunday dinner for 18 on my Fridgidaire range from Howard's with plenty of cooking power to spare.

    This woman said more about a hypothetical situation she sacknowledged she knew nothing about than she's ever said in her review of the VERY important committees where she's liaison.

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    1. Same thing bothered me, 7:37. She couldn't find that out herself in a minute online before the meeting?

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    2. Half a brain would tell anyone that a B&B needs to be State licensed similar to a hotel, a health dept license for the kitchen and bathrooms, and a City Business License. What was she thinking? I liked her better when she didn't say anything. Perhaps if she did her homework, she might have something intelligent to say.

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    3. The homework concept is not in place.
      My guess would be cursory reading, and then a nice cup of tea.

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  2. Nancy Walsh should not be on our city council!
    Nancy Walsh should not be on any commission in Sierra Madre!
    Nancy Walsh should not be on any committee in Sierra Madre!
    Nancy Walsh is an embarrassment to Sierra Madre!
    Nancy Walsh needs to resign!!!!!!!!!! As soon as possible.

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    1. Nancy Walsh: Paula Dean on Haldol and Cogentin.

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    2. Paula Dean has built an enormously successful national career. The comparison is not apt.

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  3. channel 3 watcherMay 9, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    The BnB discussion went on way too long. The meeting leader (yes, that would be Moran) needs to herd people along faster and more to the point. He should pick up some pointers from the General Plan Chair.

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  4. Can we please have the council reports at the end of the meeting? Please?

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  5. Regarding liaison appointments, I know Capoccia is on 20 of them, and that's good, but what is that nonsense about Harabedian being with the police. Kidding, right? Or reward for unscrupulous behavior?

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  6. Can we see that report Dancin' Nancy passed around to the Council? Let's get that puppy scanned and loaded into the document feeder for all to read!!!

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    1. Not exactly a report - it was minutes that the COG has started to distribute. Maybe Slick Nick is concerned about the reputation of the outfit he's hustling, and is trying to bring some credibility back by having minutes in wide distribution. Goodness knows, if we had to depend on Walsh, we'd never know anything.

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    2. The report comes directly from the COG and will contain what they want you to know with their spin; it is not written by Nancy. She only knows that she attended.

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    3. What is the report called? The Heel Clicker?

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    4. No buffet for you!

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    5. Are they COG minutes - or menus?

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  7. Judging by the importance and the order of items to be discussed, last night's conclave looked more like a realtor's convention starring Josh Moran instead of a City Council meeting. It looks like if you're in the real estate business this is the City Council for you.

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    1. The big payoff for all the realtor support over the years has gotten them an affable buffoon with zero Mayoral skills. Chalk up another fail for our local real estate magnates.

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    2. First word to open up the meeting, before the Plato and all, "Awriiiiight!"

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    3. Do you suppose our illustrious mayor knows that the theme of Plato's Republic is "how to create a utopian society"? Is this what he wants for Sierra Madre? Utopias fail every time they're tried. Somehow, people seem to always want their personal freedom. Maybe his mind is too steeped in the UN Green Accords that he so very much wants to inflict on Sierra Madre.

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  8. Maybe Mary Ann should have run on the platform "re-elect me and Paul Hovasepian will stay out of the council chambers for another 4 years." I'd vote for that!

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  9. Anyone read the article in the Pasadena Star News today about the ex-mayor of Glendale indicted for embezzlement!
    Another ex-mayor indicted. Ha! Whose next?

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  10. Grades for the night: Koerber A Did his homework, asked intelligent questions, was concise. Walsh - F+ showed up and has a cute new hairdo. Moran - C - was obviously nervous, but talked way to much, interrupted others to put in his two cents. Forgot he is the Chair and not in a debate. Harabedian - C Did not do his homework, asked dumb questions to be saying something. Looks like he'll be the passive one, trying to stay neutral so he will not offend anyone. Capoccia - A Did his homework, was not afraid to ask for clarification and asked good questions.

    Nancy Shollenberger A+ as the only experienced person on the dias, she should be Mayor. Elaine C for not answering every question with something that appeared to be pulled out of her hat. Being very cautious probably until she gets the feel of the council. What's her name City Atty. F She needs to be replaced.

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    1. Good report card work 11:20.

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    2. Yes, I agree, very accurate report. Thanks for posting.

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  11. My take about Alcorn's bit was that the Atty's are trying to subvert the Measure V process by influencing the Planning Commission in closed session, something they can't do in open session.

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  12. I did notice a rather needy casting of gaze from the mayor to Council member Harabedian, but it didn't seem to be returned. Rather curious.

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  13. if it twern't true this sounds like an episode of Andy Griffith where Otis becomes town Mayor for the day, Barney is the acting Sheriff while Andy is in Raleigh on official business, Ernest T. Bass is Mayor Pro Temp showing up in drag to spout the virtues of moonshine, square dancing, taking out windows with a rock and hilly billy pearls of wisdom.

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  14. I did not, and even now would not, vote for Harabedian because I am suspicious of anyone who relies on outside money and because I was amazed that he used police officers in his campaign literature - which there was way too much of, but that leads back to all that money from friends far away that had to be spent. However, I thought he did ok last night, keeping the ego babble in check. There were a few times where he piggybacked on good remarks by Capoccia, and then was given the credit for the remarks by the Mayor, but that is more about the Mayor.

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    1. The Mayor was definitely including Harabedian the way Buchanan used to include the Mayor, referring to him, encouraging him to make motions.
      I think Moran has big plans for Harabedian.

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    2. No kidding. Mr. Mayor was doing his best to curry favor with Harabedian even to stating "good idea" to Harabedian's request to have the Rose Float people present to the Council. (?) Harabedian for his part has bigger fish to fry than our lowly mayor, and he treated him accordingly

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    3. "Excellent" is what our Mayor said in response to Harabedian's calling for a presentation about the Rose Foat - demonstrating once again how new Harabedian is to Sierra Madre politics. Has there ever been a time when we have not had more than one 20 plus minute long presentations about the Rose Float every year?
      Moran was handing out an A+

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    4. Harabedian will never vote to overturn the C&L contract with the City. It would be a black mark on his legal ladder climbing. The C in the C&L is a very high powered player in California's lawyering community. Perhaps he'd have to abstain. Let's see now: SMPD/POA negotiayions - abstain; Athens contract - abstain. Soon he'll be "advisory" only on the Council.

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    5. Harabedian is owned by the LA Democrats. That is where his political path lies. I'm sure they have told him he has a great political career ahead of him. He'll support everything Joe Mosca supported. I don't expect to see much deviation there.

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    6. A bid may come back for legal services that is such a great deal for the city that everyone will vote for the change. Maybe some reluctantly, but it'll be a tough sell to tell the residents they want to continue wasting money on an increasingly distrusted and disliked top dollar law firm.

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    7. How can John "I grew up in Sierra Madre" Harabedian not know that the Float folks present a formal photo of each year's float to the council? Where does he think all those pictures that line the walls of City Hall came from?
      Oh Dear.....

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    8. I know most people love the float, so I don't want to be too much of a curmudgeon, but oh, those long, long lectures about all things float when there are actual matters of city business to get to. Manys the time the princesses speeches, and the barn storming and bandwagoning for the float have pushed the real business of the meeting into the late hours - and we all know how shoddy the work and how small the attendance gets then.
      There should be separate meetings for things like the community celebrations.

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  15. the American Flag in Council Chambers should be replaced with life preservers because this Council is drowning in ineffective and are in way way way over their heads

    egos are enormous on this Council and Measure V has to be enforced to the letter of the law and we don't need our City Manager and City Attorney trying to figure out ways to lie to us and mislead us

    at every council meeting, somebody needs to ask for the City Manager and the City Attorney firm be relieved of their duties for being unethical and misleading to the public that they serve

    in the real world in a real business both would have been fired with cause

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  16. If Moran has big plans for Harabedian they come with might low standards.

    This is worse than Jersey Shore the reality low brow tv show.

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    1. Or the Kardashians.

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  17. if Josh Moran is the best the real estate contention has to offer in Sierra Madre to protect their interests, remind me to pick a realtor from LA when it's time to sell my house

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    1. A lot of our local real estate people have a lot of leisure time, and they try to fill their hours advocating for candidates that they believe will make their lives even easier. They're a real joy, and some of them are certifiably nuts.

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  18. I thought Koerber and Capoccia were terrific and that they both did a great job of asking questions and bringing up more questions, if not answers.
    For the first time in a long time I feel like I don't have to be worried about the money, because those two are working for us.

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  19. The City Manager, the Finance Director, and other members of the staff often seem defensive.
    "We tried that, and It won't work" is a common response.
    "It's always been done that way" is another.
    How about trying again, and trying a different way.
    If they were my employees, I would have a heart to heart about not reacting as though everything is a personal criticism, but engaging in more open minded problem solving.

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    1. In a lot of different ways these folks are very old school. Capoccia and Koerber hit them with a modern solution to a common problem, and they couldn't deal with it. That is what happened last night.

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    2. Yes, I think that is what happened, 4:41.

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  20. Just because one of the council members (or two) was appointed the COG liaison does not preclude another council member (John C. or Chris K.) from attending the meetings to give the residents a more balanced reportage of what goes on in those meetings. I do hope that these two council members might discuss alternatively attending each meeting to keep a very watchful eye on the proceedings. I'm afraid I don't trust Harabedian.

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    1. Great suggestion, 5:52.

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    2. All signs indicate that Harabedian will use the COG to great personal advantage.
      We just have to hope that Sierra Madre will be included.

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    3. One thing you need to watch out for when you go into the Cog Box is that if you are not an officially appointed liaison you're going to get some big time stink eye from Nick and his hooligans. These are not cordial people.

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    4. Koerber and Capoccia strike me as men of well-earned confidence. Don't think stink eye would make much of an impression. Ethical behavior would.

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    5. Eyes aren't the only things that stink at The COG.

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  21. A telling moment happened when Councilmember Capoccia asked City Manager Aguilar about investigating off-site servers. He said, wouldn't it be good to check out the off-site servers before we spend the money on the library basement. Then, could there be a quick look.

    The City Manager replied that it was 'difficult to pull out this piece,' meaning from the master Plan. That's a poor answer, don't you think? On further questioning, it turned out the Master Plan was a year away. Sp because she couldn't pull this one, if they wanted to investigate, they would have to table it for a year.

    After that, City Manager Aguilar called on Finance Director Schneider to explain the problems Duarte has had with off site servers.

    All together a clumsy and work-stalling exchange.

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  22. Off site servers are used by thousands of companies everyday. Elaine is living in the stone age.

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  23. Koerber asked Bruce Inman why we couldn't get dollar for dollar on the block grant and use it to fix the sidewalks instead of selling it off to the La La Miradians for 65 cents on the dollar. Bruce, in a moment so typical for him, said that maybe sidewalk repair wouldn't be kosher, "It depends on who you talk to over there." So I guess we're going to lose a big chunk of grant money because City Hall can't seem to figure out how to spend it. Choice.

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    1. City staff doesn't seem to have a lot of pep.

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  24. Thank you Heather Allen, Shirley Moore and Pat Alcorn for your comments last night!

    MaryAnn is still here!

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  25. Paul Hoser needs to clean up his property. Neil the Pig keeps cleaner quarters.

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  26. The Tattler covered Paul's rabid comments perfectly.

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  27. ineptness rises to the top on the Sierra Madre Council

    i thought buchanan was bad with his endless meanderings of lawyer yuck pontificationalisms, but moran can't get anything done

    it's obvious he's never been a real business management corporate environment in his life

    ms. walsh will be good for plenty of laughs over the next couple years as she blasts us for being beneath her while her only contributions to the Council is absolutely nothing other than one bully nutty lecture by Walsh with her "we put you in....we can take you out"....wow still funny

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  28. the City Council has to stop letting the highly paid City Manager get out of situations and direct questions with "I dunno" answers or some gibberish city speak

    City Manager positions across the board are highly overpaid given the economy and you can't fire her because she'll sue us - the same with the SMPD

    I think it would be safe to think that the Sheriff's department would not saddle the city with lawsuits like the SMPD which endorsed a candidate by allowing key department figures appear in a campaign photo

    maybe if the SMPD and the City just blows off this violation of the law, maybe it ought to be kicked up to Superior Court and maybe Kurt would help slam the city council back into reality

    this is childish this council Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp

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  29. we only have two Councilmembers working for us - 3 against the city because all have spoken out against Measure V and 2 were part of a massive fake emergency just to hide the truth about the water tax hike.

    and the City Manager thinks she runs the show.

    I'd like to see her pull these stunts in the real business world - it's really a shame there are plenty of qualifed people out there to be our City Manager and just do what is expected but our City Manager stood along the Council and flat out lied to us and if the City Manager did that to her boss (us) in the real business world, she'd be fired with cause

    our next City Manager should have in his or her contract if she or he is caught in lies, public misinformation, favoritism or dabbling in the grey areas of the law, he or she would be fired with cause and lose all pensions.

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  30. I noticed Bill Coburn and Harriet Hendersom missed the Council meeting. Maybe they can't stand to see the Councilmember Capoccia and Councilmember Koerber signs.

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