Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Last Item On Tuesday Evening's City Council Agenda

After the quite disgraceful display of legalistic pettifogging and blatant obfuscation during the Planning Commission's considerations of the Kensington project, it became quite obvious that the junior City Attorney assigned to the topic was not exactly interested in either clarity or allowing the issue to go to a vote of the people as a true Measure V ballot question. Each meeting brought a new and ultimately rejected gambit, the most infamous being the now widely reviled "suites versus units" debate. An absurd ration of nonsense created with the sole purpose of avoiding a vote on the ALF. There was no other reason for it.

Now Colantuono & Levin's Kensignton legal circus of the absurd moves on to the City Council where we will most certainly be treated to more of the same abuse. Endless hours of debate over the most bizarre and unimportant issues is to be anticipated, with Mayor Josh at one point certain to raise his hands in the air and, with a chortle of mock despair, decry the extraordinary complexity of it all. This is, of course, all a carefully considered ploy. Moran and his handlers do not want to see this issue go to the ballot in the form of a true Measure V vote. And what should have been a simple process of putting the Kensington question on the ballot, 2-30-13 warts and all, will be treated as if it is a matter vastly beyond the comprehension of all but a select few accomplished legal minds. You, the hopelessly confused resident, need to be spared so difficult a matter. Just let the Mayor take care of it all for you, he knows what's right. Put aside your worries and go shopping instead.

Of course, this is not an easy task for our somewhat simple loan peddler of a Mayor to accomplish. There are issues here that could cause the City some future legal difficulties should things not be handled with care. If it were to be later shown in a Court of Law that the City of Sierra Madre and a majority of its elected officials willfully attempted to subvert the effects of a voter approved ordinance like Measure V, there would be problems.

The Constitution of the State of California frowns upon government entities that attempt to subvert democratic processes and protections, particularly in matters where it can be shown that personal profit motives were involved. The punishment for attempts to deny the people their legitimate and legally constituted rights can be considerable. This isn't North Korea, after all.

Which is why Josh and the downtown investors who run him need Colantuono & Levin now more than ever. As outrageously costly as this law firm is, they do "will of the people" suppression just about as well as any law firm in the country. If you need an example of how they work, go back and review the shady ways they beat down an attempt by the people of Sierra Madre to get some relief from the stiff and extremely unpopular water rate increases being shoved through back then. A truly disgraceful episode in this City's history.

You can usually figure out the standing of an item on a City Council Meeting Agenda by its placement. And dead last on this week's list is the "Consideration to Solicit Proposals for City Attorney Services." Which is basically a request that the City of Sierra Madre go out into the marketplace and see if we can't a better a deal better deal on a lawyer. The economy being what it is, it should be a buyer's market out there.

This item, requested by Councilman Koerber in hopes of getting the taxpayers of Sierra Madre a review of what exactly it is we pay Colantuono & Levin to work against our interests, along with the money saving benefits of dumping them, is a very timely one. At a time when the City is cutting back programs and eliminating positions in order to deal with steadily worsening budgetary woes, it hardly makes sense for us to be paying more than we ought to for legal services. Yet somehow we continue to do business with one of the most expensive law firms of its kind.

The Agenda Report for this matter is a fairly ridiculous document. Written by Elaine Aguilar, it is an attempt to avoid discussing the money saving aspects of this proposal altogether. Rather than even touching on the question of how much could be saved by switching our business to a less costly law firm, she instead put together a press release lauding the many accomplishments of Michael Colantuono. Compete with a list of questionable accomplishments, awards and, I kid you not, a laudatory newspaper clipping. It reads like the kinds of press packets I put together at work designed to convince rock critics to write about the company's latest teen pop stars.

The last thing Josh Moran and his handlers want right now is for Colantuono & Levin to go away. Which is why this item was pushed to the very bottom of the agenda for Tuesday night's meeting. Judging by what comes before it, chances are that we won't see this item discussed Tuesday evening, or perhaps ever.

When it comes to this Mayor, saving the taxpayers of Sierra Madre a few hundred grand in legal costs is not very high on the priority list. Josh has other fish to fry, like stopping a Measure V vote on the Kensington. And in order to accomplish that he needs Michael Colantuono.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

42 comments:

  1. Show up and speak Tuesday night...bring your friends and neighbors. We MUST pack City Council chambers. If we don't all show up, it will be easy for the Council majority to justify the non-vote because only three people (who always speak) share that opinion. John and Neuroblast, can you put up the snippet of the CC meeting in January or February when Johnny H (and John Capoccia) spoke in favor of a Measure V vote?

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  2. As always, well-written, but sad.

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  3. It must be odd being Josh. Never being able to come out and say what he really wants for Sierra Madre, or to be proud of what he advocates, particularly on development, can't be easy. Plus how do you keep all those stories straight?

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    1. Giggle?
      Try to turn city business into a playful, hail-fellow-well-met type of gathering?

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  4. As we saw with Gil Aguirre and what happened at The COG this week, it takes a determined person willing to put up some real money to put any end to the kinds of crap Josh is pulling with Measure V. These kinds of people believe that they can break the law with impunity because it costs too much for most people to play at that level. Time somebody called their bluff. The law is on our side here.

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    Replies
    1. I do believe I hear the drums beating - a war chest is in the making.

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  5. Has any staff actually been fired? I thought everybody was shuffled around.

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    Replies
    1. It is hard to say. City Staff has talked to both sides of the issue for months.

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    2. NO. Just reassigned.

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    3. How special. No cutbacks, just talk.

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    4. Are any of you mean, mean, negative people advocating that city staff should actually be 'let go'?
      But in Sierra Madre, once you get a city job, you are regarded as a dependent of the residents!

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    5. Much of city staff are like the children who never left home. Many of them would starve to death without us to pay their way. I'm not sure even the military would take them.

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  6. The firm of Colantuono & Levin is famous for fighting for municipal government rights against the rights of citizens. In our own town, they fought against the residents and for hillside developers, they fought against residents' right to vote on over sized development, and they broke a sweat working out ways to disqualify residents' signatures in the Prop 218 process. And they are crazy expensive. Why would anyone argue for them?

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    Replies
    1. All part of the realtor-developer occupation government. Our current Mayor was genetically created to serve them.

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    2. I remember something that Colantuono said repeatedly all the way through the Carter hearings:
      Should the city be sued over the Hillside Management Zone (the first one), "we have every confidence we would win."
      huh.

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    3. Colantuono takes our money, but he doesn't work for us. Never did. Josh will do anything to keep this guy in the position he is now.

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  7. To me it is very simple: are we cost cutting or not?
    As the Tattler says, it's a buyers market.
    There will be many young lawyers trying to get the job.
    Pick somebody smart, and give him or her and entry level salary.
    ?

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    Replies
    1. A young lawyer might come in and actually interpret the law as it is written, and in a way the special interests who control city hall might not like. That would be uncivil.

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    2. When hiring a law firm for city atty work it is understood that lying costs extra. That is why we are paying so much now.

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  8. Agenda item 1.e. Give more money to the law firm of Dapeer & Rosenblit.

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    1. Isn't this refusing to cut expenses?

      Are we ever going to get the information on what we spend on legal services, total, in a year?

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  9. he firm of Colantuono & Levin is helping a candidate for State Assembly District 72 in Los Alamitos. The City Attorney Sandie Levine (whom you might know) helped this candidate reward the Trash Hauler (one of his big campaine donors) by screwing the public with the highest bidder - not once, but TWICE!

    The city was found to be in violation of their ordinance, but this didn't stop the City Attorney. No, she crafted a new ordinance that made the previously illegal act - legal!

    This had the effect of costing businesses and apartment dwellers TWICE what they would have paid if the ordinance was followed and the lowest bidder was selected.

    Yes indeed, this firm works against the people and works for the elite.

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  10. I have learned from my pappy, when trying to catch a gater sittin on de bottom of the bayou,and simply won't bite de hook, you need to change tackticks. Drop in a stick of dynomite tied to a rock, and the critter will certainly come on up.
    The same with de city. Everytime they want to raise a special tax, vote aginit
    Eventually somethin will give. Starve them out, and they'll start to see the wisdom of a better course to take. Money makes the world go round with these folks. We have that one stick of dynomite...

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    Replies
    1. You are on to something. The first step is to find out what the city wants, which is always our cash. Then go the other way. Without our money they're nothing but another small group of people with opinions.

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  11. Tattler, your pithy summations of personalities amazes:
    "a chortle of mock despair" - that's it.

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    1. Josh does chortle! Like a groundhog or some other big cheeked varmint.

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    2. Uh huh huh huh huh huh!!!

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    3. I've admired The Tattler's skill in expressing people's habits in just a few words ever since there was something about Buchanan "sighing with the burden of his own wisdom," or some such. Putting into words exasperating personal foibles helps one deal with the hours of time necessary to watch city proceedings.

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  12. Chief Black KettleJune 23, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Make no mistake about this guy Josh Moran. He's his mother's son and in total lock step with the real estate power elite in this town. Assuming that he was silent before he became a member of our city government is not correct. During the outreach meeting for the Canyon specific ordinances he was one of the more outspoken members of the pro-development mob. I witnessed him in person telling the hard working committee and city staff that everything was just fine in the Canyon and that it needed no "new stinking ordinances". And that the committee should strike its tent and move on. No rational thought there. And this is the kind of crap we're going to have to suffer at his hands as Mayor.

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    1. Defeating Measure V is what he's here for. Otherwise Josh would still be living in his Monrovia bachelor pad. Time to send him back.

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    2. The agenda for this coming council meeting has more than one scary item. Can we look forward to the usual breakdown of the items?

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    3. Yep. Tuesday morning. Monday morning we have a very special surprise.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. Ummm, let's not go there. Maybe you're right, but honestly that is a conversation I'd rather see on somebody's else's blog. Give it a try on Coburn's site. Nobody ever comments there, and he might welcome the company.

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    1. thanks Moderator - Ill give that a try on Coburns site. I just like to stir things up a bit. Besides he's and idiot. A typical example of how the connected "selective" few can become mayor without having any real substance upstairs.

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    2. I'm just tired of established families in Sierra Madre dumping their prize sons on the city council like it is a scouting badge or something. Talk about a matriarchy.

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  15. District 72 Candidate would be "Taxin' Troy Edgar", the Mayor
    http://www.ocregister.com/news/edgar-359267-percent-allen.html

    Didn't know that Sandy Levine helps Republicans, too. Faithless, that one, follow the money

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  16. The city staff, under Elaine's leadership, has been praised for their work on saving money.
    Great.
    Now - more, please.
    Get a good lawyer for a decent price and kick the high price ones out. They have never been worth what they charge.

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    1. Most everything regarding Elaine and budget cutting has been lip service --- They trimmed away some of the enormous fatty deposits that encased the place, but there are miles and miles of blubber to go. Sunset the damn UUT now.

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  17. From the C & L site, check out how busy these folks are. Why on Earth would pokey little Sierra Madre ever, ever, hook up with them?

    The firm serves as general counsel or city attorney of the cities of Auburn, Barstow, Calabasas, Grass Valley, La Habra Heights, Los Alamitos and Sierra Madre, the Auburn Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Barstow Redevelopment Agency, the Sierra Madre Community Redevelopment Agency, the Ophir Hill and Rough & Ready Fire Districts, the Orangeline Development Authority, the SELACO Workforce Investment Board, the Calaveras & Yuba County LAFCOs, the North Yuba Water District, the First Five Yuba Commission and the Los Angeles County Law Library. The firm serves as special counsel to local governments throughout California, including the cities of Belmont, Berkeley, Bradbury, Burbank, Cerritos, Culver City, Cupertino, Fremont, Huntington Beach, Inglewood, Lathrop, Livermore, Lodi, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marina, Monterey, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Newport Beach, Oakland, Orange Cove, Oxnard, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Redding, Redondo Beach, Redwood City, Richmond, Riverside, San Juan Batista, San Mateo, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Sausalito, Simi Valley, South Gate, South Lake Tahoe, Sunnyvale, Torrance, Tracy, Vallejo, Ventura, Vista, Yuba City; the counties of Marin, Nevada, Riverside, and San Benito; the Goleta Water District and the Goleta West Sanitary District; the McKinleyville and Santa Lucia Community Services Districts; the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency; the Plumas Hospital District; and the Nevada, San Diego and Yolo County LAFCos. The firm recently completed a high-profile assignment for the County of Orange and has previously represented the cities of Fresno, Irvine, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

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  18. How can they represent nonexistent entities, such as the CRAs?

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  19. Oh, I get it, their connections and network are for sale. Probably have some high-powered legislators in their pockets as well as Sacramento regulatory staff. If you have the money, you can get them to rig just about any city you want...they pick up the phone and take care of it.

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