Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Josh Moran Just Talks and Talks and Talks

Is it possible that Josh Moran talks even more than John Buchanan did? I know this is probably a radical assessment to make so early on in Josh's term as Mayor, but then again, does he ever actually shut up? Even for a minute? The Mayor seems to believe that he is at a party, he is the life of it, and that everything he says is just so hilarious that he has to laugh at it. And, should you fail to agree, well, then he won't let you get a word in edgewise.

It's like open mic night at Chuckleheads, the comedy club for the humor impaired. No wonder the room emptied out. Everyone needed to leave and get a drink.

The City is in dire financial shape, revenues are falling, businesses are closing, jobs are being eliminated, the taxpayers are in a full blown revolt, and the foothill version of Shecky Greene has decided now is the time to launch a personal one man comedy crusade. Can this guy ever see past his own self, even for a moment?

Probably not. But despite the de-evolutionary air of city government in steep decline, there was an meeting agenda, and the elected officials on hand did get through it. Here are some of the more enlightening moments.

John Harabedian, a guy who is unlikely to ever stray from his political agenda, kicked it all off by reporting that he had attended the recent meeting of the SGVCOG, and that there really wasn't all that much to report about. This was, of course, the same week that COG's ruling figure, Nick Conway, had his home and offices searched by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. No need to mess with anyone's pretty little head by talking about that. Not when there are batteries to be recycled.

Nancy Walsh informed us that she is transitioning. She also worked the machines at the wine tasting room at The Bottle Shop. The Chamber of Commerce is on a roll, despite the recent rash of disasters they have weathered. They're in a dynamic mode. That is what Nancy said.

Enid Joffe appeared at the podium to discuss the UUT Oversight Committee she chaired. This is something that she helped create when UUT rates were first increased back in 2008. Just before the voters dumped her. This UUT Oversight Committee has the odd task of tracking money after it has been spent, all done to make certain that it was done correctly. Which is kind of like looking for the proverbial horse that left the barn a few days earlier.

Enid happily informed us that our current Utility User Tax rate of 10% (which, when you include the vast array of utility categories it covers here in Sierra Madre, makes it the highest of its kind in California), just isn't keeping up with City spending. $2.4 million is collected annually, yet somehow there is now a considerable shortfall in revenue.

Could it possibly be the City spends too much? Under the current Mayor, are we even allowed to suggest this might be the case?

Chris Koerber brought up an interesting UUT related fact. Apparently some UUT rate payers of Sierra Madre are now voting with their feet. Or at least with their cellular phones and anything else they can carry. Chris asked Elaine Aguilar if it was true that people here are skipping out on paying their Sierra Madre utility taxes, and she said that it is not only true, but it has become quite a trend as well. And all it involves is an out of town address.

Apparently a favorite destination for Sierra Madre's utility tax refugees is Monrovia, a city that has no UUT whatsoever. And if you have your cellular bills sent there you won't have to pay our 10% UUT tax. Get yourself a P.O. box in Monrovia, have your cell phone bills sent there, and you can enjoy the benefits of what has become a San Gabriel Valley utility tax haven.

Elaine also confessed that it is almost impossible to catch such folks, and even if they somehow did, there really isn't anything they can do about it.

De Alcorn spoke wisely about the need to channel the Green Committee's energies into researching our precarious water situation in Sierra Madre. Which is about as green an issue as you can possibly find. Of course, the scarcity of water in this area is one of the chief impediments to development, so this received little comment from the majority faction of the City Council.

There was a brief segment of this meeting dedicated to the topic of whether three eucalyptus trees on Lima should be cut down. I personally became ambivalent about eucalyptus trees after a couple of them fell on my house during the windstorm last winter, but that's just a personal issue with me.

The issue with the trees is that the City can no longer afford to trim them in the manner it used to during better times, and that because of this dangerous things are falling off of our woody friends. Like half ton branches that, should it be your bad luck day, would flatten you. And it is cheaper to just cut them down than it is for residents to prune them. Or so one gentleman contended. Long story short, upon the recommendation of the Tree Commission it was resolved that the trees are to be spared. My advice would be just don't trust them.

A huge amount of time was spent discussing the Buxton Market Demand Study. There are several layers to this burnt onion, with the secret sauce being that this pricey consultant has uncovered the identity of products that Sierra Madreans buy, but you just can't purchase here in town. My guess is that one of them is toilet paper. Ever try to buy toilet paper in this town? If you are really hard pressed, the only place where you'll be able to get some is by purloining a couple of rolls from the Kodiak at Memorial Park. Maybe there is an embargo.

There was a lot of giddiness attached to this portion of the meeting agenda, and you might have gotten the feeling that for the two senior City Council members there is an almost messianic element to Buxton's Market Demand Study. Probably because they are the only two members on the current City Council that voted to spend $30,000 on this bizarre squandering of scarce taxpayer money.

Nancy Walsh talked a lot about that part of the Buxton Market Demand Study dealing with "branding." She apparently got to see a presentation about this amazing concept at that League of California Cities meeting in San Francisco we sent her to last summer.

Somehow Nancy has become convinced that if we cook up a few snappy slogans coupled with alluring logos (in Wistaria lavender I'll bet), people will begin to see Sierra Madre as a desirable place to spend their money, thus increasing our sales tax base, saving City Hall from its approaching financial debacle and giving the Chamber of Commerce something to do with their time.

Kind of reminds me of a similar argument made a few months back to justify bringing so-called gourmet food trucks to Sierra Madre. The notion was that fans of these trucks would follow them here, decide that they like the place, and come back here often to shop and dine. All we the taxpayers had to do to unleash this magical bounty was pay some of the Chamber of Commerce's bills for the event. Well, the trucks came, people ate, they saw Sierra Madre, and now, a few months later, restaurants are closing, both left and right.

From simple minds come simple solutions.

This was followed by two items that went nowhere. The first was some poorly conceived change in the commission appointment process. Mayor Moran had somehow decided that it was an awkward process, particularly for tender young people applying for youth commissions. Nobody bought his arguments and his proposed changes were rejected. The other was the five year update for Public Facilities Fees. This is one of those things where you the tax payer get to pay fees to cover the cost of work done by a city staff whose salaries you have already paid for out of your taxes. It was decided that nothing should change there, either.

The last round was the best one. This had to do with somehow turning the Green Committee into the Green Commission. Chris Koerber and a by now decidedly snotty Josh Moran faced off over this one. The Green Committee, which recently issued its so-called Accords (which it freely admits to having ripped off from the United Nations Green Accords), is basically a pro-development front advocating for things like redevelopment heavy "smart growth." Which in our case means razing portions of downtown Sierra Madre and replacing them with "Transit Village" style projects. Which is something very reminiscent of the old Downtown Specific Plan. Or the disastrous Rancho Cucamonga, should you ever get out that way.

And they are hardly hiding it. Here is the offending passage, which is called "Action Item Eight." It is right there at the very heart of the Green Committee's Accords:

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.

All of which is, of course, just a greenwashed version of the call for centrally planned high-density development. In this case being the United Nations, which is about as central as you can get. Apparently the Green Committee has somehow become convinced that stack and pack condos with attached shoppettes and nicknack emporiums are going to save the world from global warming. Or something.

It was rather ironic seeing John Harabedian defending this obvious big time development scheme through his copious use of such jargon as "process." Which, in this case, is careening towards those kinds of generic redevelopment so important to the agenda of that political machine he sold us out to. One that receives an awful lot of campaign cash from all of the usual development, construction and realty lobbies.

Poor John, he is starting to look and sound more like Joe Mosca every day.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

81 comments:

  1. So, no mention of a dead crow testing positive for West Nile virus being found in Sierra Madre last week?

    No mention this was the first found in the San Gabriel valley this season?

    No effort to get a spokesman from Mosquito Abatement District to get a short presentation on the need for homeowner diligence to remove all standing water and to protect against mosquito bites?

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    1. Can you buy bug repellant in Sierra Madre? Is this one of the items on the Buxton list?

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    2. Shhhh, it's a secret. For a moment there I thought Aguilar was going to call for a cone of silence to descend to keep the study results a secret. Watch out for snoops from Arcadia! Keep your eyes open for municipal spies from Monrovia! Pasadena is dying to get its hands on our list.

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    3. Any way we can get our hands on a copy of this report? I'd like to see it posted on The Tattler.

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    4. Dr. Janice Nelson gave a most complete run down on the dead crow, phone numbers to report any dead birds or small animals, and elicited from the City Manager a promise to provide an eblast with the information. Dr. Nelson is somehow connected with people who count dead ccrows. It was during the open mic session at the beginning of the City Council Meeting. Because you didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

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    5. A lot of things happen that we never see. Sometimes we're better off because of it.

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  2. Even before Howies closed I bought very little TP in Sierra Madre.

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    1. Well, there you go. How do we make Sierra Madre a popular shopping destination point for the purchasing of TP? Can anybody here write a jingle?

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    2. Put it on sale for cheap and they will come.

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    3. Maybe one of the existing businesses here can roll with it.

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    4. I was priced out of Howies, though I think it was a lovely store for the well heeled among us. One of those markets where if you can afford to pay 150% more for a product, it's very convenient.

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  3. The trees are not like the ones in the northern part of town. They have no large branches and present no threat to safety. The chair of the tree commission said they are the kind of eucalyptus that have been declared fire safe. Keep all the trees that can be kept.

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  4. The proposals offered by the so called UN Green Agenda for "Stake and Pack" sounds like a return to the cramped quartered slums of medieval Europe.

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    1. Or a vampiric warehouse.

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    2. You don't have to go back to medieval times!Take a glance at the empty newly built waste lands in Monrovia,Pasadena and let's not forget THE STUART which is nicely placed practically on top of the Gold Line.Is this what we have to look forward to?

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  5. If the mayor was "fine" with keeping the appointment process the way it is, why did he waste the staff time and council time in agendizing and discussing it?

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    1. Did you hear Mayor Moran giggle and say "What is happening to this council?" when it was past ten and that was earlier than they have been at that point in the other meetings?
      Moran doesn't seem to understand, at all, that he is the one who is responsible for steering the meeting, for keeping things moving in a timely manner, for crafting agendas efficiently.
      It's not "the council" that makes the meetings drabble on and on.

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    2. Maybe Josh is a "process guy " like Johnny H.

      As JH said last night, "Substance aside, I'm a process guy." Translated: Facts don't matter.

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    3. Can you imagine the agenda meetings between Aguilar and Moran? One of them constantly checking to see if she's getting it right, the other constantly checking to see if he's liked?

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  6. Shopping and commute patterns will never be like they are in concentrated European towns. If you have to slep two shopping bags, one in each hand how much milk (heavy), bread (soft), TP (bulky), bananas ( heavy and bulky) , etc., from Albertsons to bus stop, then from last stop short walk ( probably not so short) to your door---my friend, you ain't gonna do it.

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    1. But schlepping everything you eat fights obesity. Very green indeed.

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  7. My favorite remark from Moran came early in the evening. There was a laugh going around about free spaying and neutering of Chihuahuas because there are more dogs than there are homes, not really all that funny. But as the Tattler put it, it was open mic night and Moran chimed in, "Do we have a dearth of Chiuahuas?" Guess the brain was in antonym mode.

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    1. Yes, Joshie needed to consult his dictionary. He should have asked if there was a plethora of Chihuahuas

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    2. 1200–50; Middle English derthe. See dear1 , -th1

      Can be confused:  1. dearth, plethora; 2. dearth, death.

      Synonyms
      1. shortage, want, paucity, insufficiency.

      Antonyms
      1. abundance, plenty, sufficiency; surplus.

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    3. Maybe has a sophisticated vocabulary from many years ago, but I do believe it has been jumbled up into a kind of stew, and when a word pops up to the surface, he grabs it.

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  8. What do we need toilet paper for? We have the Green Committee's Accords.

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  9. Yet another reason why the city atty needs to be replaced. At the end of the meeting when there was a bit of confusion about "friendly" amendments, it was correctly resolved that Koerber needed to make a motion. He did and it was seconded. That motion should have been voted on right then and there. But no, the city atty then proceeded to ask the mayor to make his motion, which was in opposition to the motion made by Koerber. It was seconded by Harabedian. So, now we have two motions on the floor. Can't do that. Or if you do, the first motion must be voted on first. Therefore, technically, the Koerber motion is still open and out there waiting for a vote. If Harabedian is such a process guy, he should know these things. Or does this fall under "substantive" things which he likes to cast aside?

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    1. You will just replace this toady with another one.The game is in play and nothing can be done about it until the majority of the voters wake up from their dream world and realize their interest are being undermined!

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  10. So I just read a study that said that the voter turnout for the June 5 Open Primary election was the lowest since 1914 when voter turnout records began to be kept. So I guess we can't even buy votes in Sierra Madre. Does Buxton have a solution for this too?

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    1. That is very discouraging.

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    2. I thought that new "top 2 finishers go on to the finals" system was supposed to generate some heavy duty excitement for the voters. Guess not!

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  11. Chief Black KettleJune 13, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    $30,000 To conduct a study that gave us the conclusion we need a toilet paper boutique in town to increase our tax base? If it wasn't so laughable it would cause one to weep uncontrollably. My feeling is that this is still a bedroom community of moderate density. It would seem that our city government has become a box of broken toys.

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  12. Ready to open a post office box in Monrovia. Could anyone help with the details? It looks like they have boxes of different size for different prices. What happens if something doesn't fit in the small sized box?

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    1. The nice Post Office people will put a yellow slip of paper in your box informing you that they are holding an oversized package for you in the back. You bring that yellow slip to the counter, hand it to the clerk, who will then go into their holding area, locate your package, and then bring it to you.

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    2. Find a few other people in town that want to have their cells billed to Monrovia & share a box...

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    3. Thanks for the tips.

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  13. What this town needs is a casino and what better site than that of the former Howie's Market. Bingo, poker, beer and 'tinis for the genteel folks of Sierra Madre and surrounding communities. I've done a limited market survey and there is no legal gambling (if you discount Santa Anita) within a 50-mile radius. Yes indeedly do! Make it a stop on the Gateway Coach route and it's green in more ways than one.

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    1. Yes, an Indian gambling casino is just the ticket! Perhaps Johnny Harabedian can help with this.

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    2. On Columbus Day deuces and one-eyed jacks are wild.

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    3. The "Bicycle Club" off the 710 Fwy
      ..

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    4. Maybe if CRA owned City Hall is clawed back by Sacramento and sold, it will go to gaming interests. Then we would have our own casino right here in town. They should call it "The Rubber Room. "

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  14. The precedent is there 9:09 am! Several of the large homes in the HMZ have histories of speakeasys and gin joints!

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  15. Tattler, good point that Moran may equal Buchanan in empty verbiage. But I guess I prefer a stumbling giggler rather than a heavy handed preacher. Looking forward to short meetings under Mayor Walsh - because she has virtually nothing to say.

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  16. albertsons is on close list,,,,along with 2500 employees

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  17. If you're not careful, the cost of a mailbox can exceed the "tax savings" on the UUT. Check your bill.

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  18. Toilet paper and running shoes, can't buy either in town.

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  19. I didn't quite follow why low income residents are ineligible for the UUT discount if their water bill is paid for by the property owner. If they pay for electricity, trash, cell phones and land lines, and cable service they should be considered for the UUT low income discount. And it's not as if they don't pay for water, it's that it's bundled with their rent. This issue of who's eligible and not eligible needs to be revisited.

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  20. Everytime this discussion comes up--what can we buy in town--I go back over my purchases of the last few days: one cup of coffee at Bean Town, $1.90, loaded it up with 1/2-1/2 and it was pretty good. Home is better but the coffee and 1/2-1/2 there was purchased in Monrovia or Pasadena at Trader Joes.

    TP? on a Cosco run, sometimes Rapphs. Do you really think Buxton Report will have any solutions for this decades-long slide away from shopping local?

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    1. It is actually, and unfortunately, termed "retail leakage."

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  21. Psst--there may be a couple of dusty rolls of TP for purchase at Mary's Market in the canyon.

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    1. Nope. Even the beer and wine are just memories. No TP, no cat food just expensive (but good) sandwhiches.

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  22. Stop the whining saidJune 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    My family still lives on a many thousand acre ranch in another part of the state. Staples (including toilet paper) shopping is 50 miles away over windy roads done once a month; vegetables are grown on a south facing patch with good sun and access to water. And yes, meat is grown and butchered on site. The internet revolutionized the procurement of Wranglers and anoraks.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that folks who ride around in 4-Wheel SUVs and lunch is Santa Monica can't make a list and shop at S&F or Costco every couple of weeks? Are you homebound? Locally there are two supermarket chains that deliver for a very nominal charge.

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  23. There's an organic fruit and vegetable service that delivers incredibly fresh boxes of seasonal produce to the door every two weeks here is Sierra Madre (as well as other metro areas). What we need is a TP service - one of those cute littlel Ford vans that drop off a couple of times a month - maybe we can get a grant!

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  24. Got the Outta-TP Blues?
    No backup for your number two's?
    Don't despair,
    It's everywhere,
    The good old Looney Views News.

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    1. So beautiful I cried. And now I am out of Kleenex.

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  25. Distance shopping works for me. Hate the check out lines anyway. One thing that Howies did that still amazes is that they let you run a chit and pay later. Thing of the past that one. So, off on the thousand plus acre ranch you got all the electricity to run the computer and buy those lovely rancher duds, generator back-up, etc., nice!

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    1. Howies let you have a charge account if your income was at a certain level.

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  26. On the social equity front, I see toilet paper sales as being a good opportunity for the homeless. Two milk cartons with a board, plus a pyramid of stacked paper products for sale out in front of the Chamber of Commerce offices would go a long way towered getting some people back on their feet.

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  27. Many many times larger than a thousand... no eleictricy just generators - lights off after dinner. It's 40 minutes on a dirt road to the ranch house.

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    1. What no kerosine or candles for after dinner reading, game of cribbage? Right, dinner might be late after coming in from ranching all day, sun-up to sun-set, so after diner is really late, already bed time. Sounds perfect! What is winter like? Wellhouse winterized? Wood splitter, powered off the backhoe?

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  28. I think Josh's talking problems are anxiety driven. He knows he lacks the mental firepower to keep up with anybody there except Nancy, so he tries to dominate the others by loudly speaking over them. It borders on bullying.

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  29. At least with Doyle and Buchanan, the corruption had a facade of respectability. Now Moran brings sleeze to the process, along with a new depth of shallowness.

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    1. Or a new shallowness of shallowness?

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    2. Nope, Joshie's shallowness runs deep.

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    3. Maybe it's a very wide shallowness.

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    4. Barely get your toes wet with this one.

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  30. Josh forgets as chair of a meeting, he is supposed to listen and guide rather than chat (or debate) with other council members and the citizens. That hearing on the tree removal should have been over in 10 minutes, instead it seemed to take forever. And of course we had to hear (again and again) how Josh grew up in Sierra Madre and how he can relate to everything relative to himself. Good Grief, what an ego.

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    1. The over the top celebration of the Market Demand Study was detached from popular reality.

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    2. I was going to make this observation, too. What happened was that Josh did not get any passive mentoring in this listen/guide model when John B and Joe M were leading with the same excessive my turn, my turn verbal assault.

      Another communication practice they all missed: if you are still talking after 5 minutes it is somebody elses turn.

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  31. 8:24 is absolutely right, the city attorney blew it big time on the motion fiasco. Why they didn't just vote Chris and John down and let it go at that is mystifying. When is that RFP for a new attorney going to agendized again? I thought it was supposed to be on the agenda last night, and they didn't have anything last night that couldn't have been taken care of in two hours. For a meeting of that insignificance to go past 10:00 is crazy.

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    1. Koerber announced the RFP discussion and encouraged interested community members to attend. I think it was the second meeting in June. He's on it.

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  32. Donna Lowe beat Chris Holden in Sierra Madre 636 to 511. When you consider that Measure A lost here as well, it looks like SM is getting more conservative.

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    1. Or tired of Sacramento & PUSD wasting our $$.

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    2. I'm no fan of Lowe, but Holden lost my vote by spending obscene amounts of money on mailers. We got one almost every other day.

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  33. OK; hold the TP for a moment, back to the Green Committees' accords adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance. . . . Oh, well we now have the Kensington. A green park across the street, the one bus that runs out front, you can walk, skip, jump, ride a bike thru town at any age. This is a high density development with 75 suites; but don't throw out your garbage, at least not down the sink. Maybe the suites can be counted to meet state housing numbers now? For the ecological restoration, we have the wet lands. By golly; the town's met all NATO's/strike that; the green committee's accords.
    Now; lets talk rent control in order to keep businesses in town.

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  34. As rural America transitioned to the metropolitan areas, lots of descriptive wisdom surfaced to accompany the population change. From time to time I reference them for this blog, usually sourced from my family.

    One my Mother frequently spoke was; The wagon with the least rocks rattles the loudest" refering to the matter between the ears. Josh Moran does rattle a lot!.

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  35. zzzzz shhh....josh is speakingJune 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    scam artists

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  36. and I thought Buchanan was a overblown windbag - it's in is nature as a underachieving lawyer but Moran - jeez he's becoming more of a joke every Council meeting

    he's almost caught up to Walsh in terms of nothingness and shallow thinking

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  37. joshy boi talks alot because he has nothing to say

    it's a sign of immaturity or unprofessionalism, being unprepared and overwhelmed

    but at least he isn't peering over his glasses, sighing with contempt and blahing us to sleep with lawyer drones like buchanan - so glad he is off the council - totally worthless and he wasn't able to do alot for his employer thank goodness but he's still sniffing around the cat box of development

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