Mayor Moran apparently has a group of people who help him to prep for City Council meetings. All of them are hostile to community control over planning and development, and each shares in his goal of bringing mixed-use tightly packed SCAG housing to downtown Sierra Madre. Each prepster is assigned an "action item" that roughly coincides with their field of expertise. Or at the least something that they care about. Then all get together with Josh to share their findings.
While I am certain this helps the Mayor prepare for his meetings without having to actually work at it, this also results in a lack of spontaneity on his part. The supposed purpose of a City Council meeting is for ideas to be exchanged in open conversation, which then hopefully leads to a shared consensus reflecting the will of the community. But apparently we have a Mayor who only heeds those specially chosen in advance to tell him how he is to deal with the issues, and then regurgitates their agenda wholesale at the meetings. Which means that the only voices he hears are those of the special interests scripting him.
This evening's meeting kicks off with all the usual voodoo. There is a secret session with the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association. And since it is secret it's hard to tell what exactly is going on in there. But it has to be one of two things. The SMPOA is either asking for more of our money in the form of raises and benefits, or they are attempting to sue the taxpayers over some minor grievance. I'm not sure if they understand the contradiction.
Once the curtain rises on tonight's main event, the spending of the cash commences. Also known as item "1a" on the Consent Calendar. Added all together tonight's sum comes to $595,094.78. A fair amount of cash for 14 days worth of doing whatever it is they do down there. If you figure that two weeks equals 336 hours, it all comes to $1,771.12 every 60 minutes. However, if you consider that the average City Hall day is 7.5 hours per the 9 days worked every two weeks, that figure balloons to $8,816.00 an hour. Which is quite a nut if you think about it.
After the Brink's truck leaves with our tax money, the second item on the Consent Calendar will jump up to take its place. This has to do with GASB 54, an acronym that stands for Government Accounting Standards Board. (Click here if you are a glutton for abuse.) Basically what this means is funds were committed for various things in 2011, like Santa Anita Fire expenses, or Street Resurfacing. What the City Council is expected to do here is look at this list, ponder its significance, rattle and hum for a bit, and then say they're down with it. Unless they aren't. Then they will say something else. Hopefully they'll just gut the whole thing and cut our taxes.
As if that wasn't thrilling enough, next up is Item 1c, which is the GANN appropriation limit. As it says in the Staff Report, "In 1979, the voters of the State of California approved Proposition 4, better known as the Gann Initiative ... requiring the City establish an appropriation (spending) limit each year." The new limit for the year to come is $8,479.572. In the Staff Report there is no explanation of how that number was arrived at, though I am certain it was carefully considered during the recent serial budget deliberations. That is, the ones that took place in Elaine's office. And since it is now on the Consent Calendar, I guess the City Council will just have to consent. Otherwise John Harabedian will once again share a few of his many thoughts about "the process." He is a big process guy, you know.
The next item, 1d, was news to me. Apparently if you are a volunteer and you get injured in whatever duties you are performing for the City stugotz, you can still get workers' compensation insurance coverage. I should think this would be a good thing if you are a volunteer member of, let's say, the SMVFD. Of course, The Tattler also performs voluminous services for the City stugotz, especially in the form of advanced information dispersal. Often those working here suffer paper cuts and chronic sleep loss.
The excitement of the Consent Calendar peaks with the letter "e" this week, and believe it or not it has to do with paying lawyers. Something this City does as well as any. The firm in question is Dapeer & Rosenblit, and these goombahs specialize in putting the hurt to residents and businesses that don't adhere to the stringent requirements of the City's municipal code. You violate a City Ordinance and you'll find yourself standing in your doorway looking straight into the mugs of Jimmy Da Peer and Rosie "The Chin" Blits. Believe me, you don't want that. Turns out Da Peer and The Chin want more money for their muscle. Go figure. From $160 an hour now to $225 in 2013/2014. Of course the pushovers on City Staff recommend that we pay it. When do they ever not? They're very generous like that.
The Consent Calendar grinds to a halt with 1e, which recommends that we continue to fund transportation services provided to Sierra Madre's residents by First Transit, Inc. Last year it set us back $217,689. This time around the amount scheduled would be $18,140.75 a month. Which is the exact same amount of money when multiplied by 12. No, you can't make this stuff up. It has to happen all by itself.
Item #2 deals with the topic of congestion management. Which means that we get to participate as both a city and taxpayers in maintaining a prevailing fantasy (or is that a mass psychosis?) that the government has some sort of control over freeway traffic jams. This pile of pottage is specifically about the Congestion Management Program, or CMP. The paperwork was prepared by SCAG, so you know it is utterly useless. What we are required to do here is produce an LDR, or Local Development Report. Which, since we have effectively stopped uber development in this town cold, should take up about a half a page of double-spaced lettering written in thick crayon. Somehow this is supposed to help us with our transportation needs while, of course, saving the world. Everything is about saving the world these days.
I am sure that Josh's meeting preparation team spent a lot of time with him on Item #3, because this deals with the Kensington. The very last thing any of that rotten lot wants is for this project to go to a vote as a full blown Measure V ballot question. The Measure V haters never want to see the people of Sierra Madre practicing their democratic rights as voters in the approval of a development project. It positively brings out the Kim Jong Il in them. Complete with spiky fright wig. We have written about this topic 40 times now, and I am not going to do it again. I can't, it will kill me.
However, I will tell you this. The City Attorney and the Measure V hating cafones on the City Council will do anything they can to stop this vote. Including talking for weeks on end about the most inconsequential and absurd nonsense, all done in hopes of making everyone throw up their hands in despair and go home. Or just throw up. This is the tactic they used on the Planning Commission, and quite effectively I might add. You just have to remember why they're doing it. Then get ready to dig deep for the lawyer we'll need to sue the living hell out of them for attempting to steal our Constitutional rights. If they get away with this, then we have all been wasting our time, and for a long time. The law is on our side, and they must be stopped. There is no alternative.
Item #4 has to do with the Appointment and Reappointment of folks to various commissions. The big catch here is the two seats on the Planning Commission being vacated by the termed out Gina Frierman-Hunt and Russell Replogie. Don't be too surprised if Josh throws the likes of Bart Doyle and Enid Joffe's into the nomination cap.
Item #5 deals with appointments to the Library Board of Trustees.
Shoved to the end of the meeting is Item #6, which has to do with the worthy goal of hiring City Attorneys that doesn't cost us as much as the treacherous lot we have now, seems like it should be a simple process that any Councilmember who cares about the financial well-being of our City would fully embrace. But unfortunately right now that is only about 40% of the current City Council. The rest are other directed, and prejudiciously hot air propelled.
This last item was covered in depth here last Saturday, and you can read all about it by clicking here.
That concludes this day's portion of City Council meeting prophecy.