So instead this week's City Council preview article will be written by a pair of pants. Overalls to be exact. And while I am not certain these pants will be able to do as good a job as that other guy, I am also not sure anyone will notice. These things are all basically guess work as it is. Who really knows how these meetings will turn out?
This is a kind of a test, however. We're not going to turn the entire meeting preview over to a pair of pants. These matters are far too important for that. No, we're going to let him do the first part, at least through the end of the Consent Calendar. Tomorrow we'll tackle the much bigger subject of the Kensington/Measure V imbroglio. I don't think that one is over by any stretch of the imagination, despite what you might have heard. It deserves an entire post all to itself.
So without any further ado, take it away, Agenda Pants.
This meeting, like most others, opens with a "closed session" because various police officers, along with the Sierra Madre Police Officer's Association, are either suing the taxpayers, or threatening to sue them. This is what they usually do when they aren't asking us for higher salaries, benefits and money for their retirement. You really do have to be concerned about their sanity.
Once that little bit of work is complete the doors will open and the pilgrims allowed into Council Chambers to witness another bi-weekly session of the City's business. Mayor Josh Moran will lead the assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then deliver either an invocation or an inspiration. This is where the Mayor either chooses to invoke God, or give the room a Babbitt-like pep talk. I believe it will have to be the latter by necessity. As many are aware, God no longer wishes to go into City Hall. And since He is the Almighty, that choice is His. Josh has no other option left but to try and cheer people up.
Next in view is the Consent Calendar, and this week there are 5 topics, each distinguished by its very own letter designation. All in the lower case. Letter "a" is naturally first, and that is because spending money is always the priority at City Hall. This week the lordly sum of $584,447.60 will disappear as if by magic. For each and every one of the myriad items both large and small that make up a city government there must be a corresponding check in the mail. Combine this meeting's portion with the other July spends of two weeks ago and you'll see that the City of Sierra Madre will have consumed $1,040,838 in 4 weeks. It is quite a feat.
The Consent Calendar item labeled "b" has to do with the paperwork involved in the hiring of three new Fire Captains. And there is always paperwork involved, and with legal terms to be defined as well. A bit of an optimistic move by the City if you think about it. Despite all the claims being made last April that a "no" vote on the UUT Measures would impoverish this little old town to the point of insolvency, it appears City Hall still has the ability to hire some folks to new positions. And if they are going to hire people for anything, it might as well be the Fire Department. There certainly is no better use for our tax money.
The next item is letter "c" (do you detect a pattern here?) and it has to do with rules for those submitting programming to SMTV3 for broadcast. Properly entitled "Channel Guidelines for Submissions," it details all of the exciting things you'll need to do to get your show before the dozens of rapt and loyal viewers of Sierra Madre's official government television station. Unfortunately, so far only one such show has been submitted.
There is also a lament here from City Staff that they somehow forgot to include the fee costs for submitting a show to SMTV3 on the City's official fee schedule. Which does bring up a sore point with me. How is it that we pay for such things as SMTV3 with our taxes, yet we'll be required to pay a second time in the form of fees should we actually want to make some use of it? That seems like double-dipping to me.
One more thing on Item "c," basically because now I am getting annoyed. There is an item in the guidelines that states the following about any submitted programming: "Must be non-partisan, non-political, non-commercial, and of community wide interest." How does that jibe with the Bill of Rights? And if you take all of those things out, what exactly is left? A TV show dedicated to the topic of watching grass grow?
Consent Calendar letter "d" has to do with the disposal of dangerous waste. The County of Los Angeles will be dispatching DPW guys in hazmat suits to Sierra Madre to pick up such life threatening items as brake fluid, paint and paint thinner, pesticides, old batteries, unconsumed drugs, anti-freeze, annoying relatives and more stuff like it. You cannot bring explosives, ammunition or radioactive waste to this event, however. Those items you either drive out to the desert and throw from your car window, or use for taking out stop signs and the mailboxes of those with whom you have political differences.
The City Council's job here is to decide where these fellows will set up shop to do their vital disposal work, and then TUP 'em. Last year they operated out of the parking lot somewhere behind The Bucchaneer. I went there and had an absurd experience. I pulled up to the guys in the hazmat suits and started to get out to unload all the stuff I'd stashed in my car trunk. But they wouldn't let me out of my car because it was "too dangerous." It didn't seem to occur to them that I myself had put that stuff in my trunk just an hour earlier, or that it had been sitting in my garage for the past few years.
The item designated as lower case letter "e" is with us for the purpose of selecting a full representative and an alternate as voting delegates at the Annual Conference of the League of California Cities, which is to be held in San Diego this year. Our liaison to this awful organization is Josh Moran, with the alternative being John Harabedian. So this Consent Calendar item is pretty much a formality, and deals with giving legal voting authority to the Mayor while at this conference.
Of course, if I was King I'd get our city out of this parcel of pottage. The only difference between "The League" and organizations like the California Association of Realtors or the Building Industry Association is that LoCC members don't believe that they should have to pay for their own drinks. That is what lobbyists are there for.
One last topic before we break for the day, and that is Item #2, which has what is certainly the most inadvertently humorous title of any recent City Council meeting agenda. A document not ordinarily noted for its humor, intentional or otherwise.
Public Hearing - Consideration Of Ordinance No. 1330 Adopting Chapter 1.14 Of The Municipal Code Regarding Public Nuisances, Code Enforcement Fees, And Attorneys Fees.
For once the agenda writer got it right, they really are all public nuisances. What this one is actually all about, however, is recovering the costs of enforcing City Codes, along with the legal expenses to the City that might be incurred. Should this new ordinance be approved the party that would have to pick up the costs involved in resolving such violation(s) would be the offending property owner rather than the City.
Which I guess would make sense, except for this one thing. Would the City begin to see this as another profit center, like traffic tickets? The one thing that holds City Hall back from overzealous Code enforcement today is, in my opinion, the expenses involved. It has to be a pretty serious deal before they'll lower the boom on some poor sap. But with the sap having to pick up all the expenses involved in the correction of his crime and exacting of his punishment, what is to prevent the City from launching a Code Enforcement Jihad? Particularly since they always seem to need more cash?
(Mod: That is it for today. Great work, Pants. Tomorrow we will pick it back up with the Kensington and Measure V matters. Together probably the most important issue that has come our way in quite some time.)
Extra: We have received word here at The Tattler that Bill Coburn, the longtime spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce, will be leaving that organization at the end of this month. The reason is a financial one, the Chamber is suffering hardships and is having to make adjustments that reflect that condition. More on this story as it arrives.