Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Measure V and the Kensington: Comparing Ballot Measures

In his July 2nd letter to the City Council, the Kensington Assisted Living Facility developer Billy Shields insisted that his project be put to the voters in the form of a true Measure V ballot. His attorneys had correctly concluded that Measure V is indeed the law in Sierra Madre, and to do otherwise would be to put his project at considerable future legal risk. If you are investing this large an amount of money in a project, the point of joining some local politician's crap shoot designed to get around a local development ordinance that he holds a grudge against becomes moot. It just isn't smart business.

The rich irony here is that Shields, both partner and spokesperson for a business group that comes from somewhere down around San Diego, felt compelled to request that the City Council of Sierra Madre follow its own law. Something that you'd have thought would be automatic, but the recently completed and highly contentious review of the project by the Planning Commission clearly indicated otherwise. It seemed obvious to many here that the City Attorney's Office was determined to raise doubts about the applicability of Measure V to the Kensington project, and in an exceedingly painful process lasting months pounded the Planning Commission with an entire series of baseless and at times absurd canards designed to achieve just that purpose.

All of which came to nothing when Billy Shields sent his letter into the City Council. The inference contained there being that while they might consider not following their own law on this matter, he was not willing to be anybody's crash test dummy in this case. And in one of the more remarkable evenings ever seen in Council Chambers, the City Council abandoned the months long efforts of its own City Attorney and gave Billy, along with Measure V's many passionate supporters, the victory they wanted. And they did it by merely following the law.

For whatever the reasons, acceding to the law that evening was seen by many as being quite a surprise. Including the many people attending that meeting. That the Mayor of Sierra Madre actually had to explain that he was going to follow the law in this matter being a good indication of just how poorly the process had been conducted up until that point.

In his letter Billy Shields specifically spells out how he believes the ballot language for the Kensington/Measure V vote should read. Again, why he felt the need to do so does invite speculation. I have discussed the language Shields provided in his letter with a couple of attorneys who know far more than I on the topic, and both agreed that it is the very best possible for this purpose. Certainly it is what a businessman interested in protecting his investment from any future legal challenges would insist on.

The Sierra Madre Voters Empowerment Ordinance (also known as Measure V) is hereby amended with regard to two parcels only, located at 33 North Hermosa Avenue (APN 5768-019-043) and 245 West Sierra Madre Boulevard (APN 5768-019-041), to allow the development of the assisted living facility, as described in The Kensington (Assisted Living Facility) Specific Plan, dated ______, 2012, on file with the City of Sierra Madre, not to exceed two (2) stories, not to exceed 30 feet in height, and not to exceed 75 assisted living suites, comprising 60,100 square feet of space, at the 1.84 acre site.

If you go to the Agenda Report provided by City Staff for this evening's City Council meeting, you will see that the ballot language being proposed there is somewhat less specific.

Shall an Ordinance be adopted to amend Sierra Madre Municipal Code Section 17.25.040 ("Core Density Limit") of the People's Empowerment Act (aka Measure V) to permit development of an assisted living facility consistent with the Kensington Assisted Living Facility Specific Plan and not exceeding two stories, thirty feet in height and seventy-five assisted living suites, for the parcels located at 33 North Hermosa Avenue and 245 West Sierra Madre Boulevard?

Now forgive me if I seem somewhat overly skeptical here, but why is it the City's ballot language is far less detailed than that provided by Mr. Shields and his lawyers? As an example, while Shields provides the exact APN numbers of the plots involved, the version prepared by the City only provides an address. I think it is important to be very exact about these matters because we would hardly want to inadvertently provide such an exemption to the entire downtown area.

And what is up with this rhythm? "... permit the development of an assisted living facility consistent with the Kensington Assisted Living Facility Specific Plan." Will we be voting on the Kensington Assisted Living Facility specifically, or simply the style of architecture and business plan contained within it? Are we approving the building of this one structure only, or empowering someone in the future to determine if other projects might also be "consistent" with this particular, and as yet unapproved, specific plan?

I think this all needs to be scrutinized very closely. And we then need to go with Billy's language.

The Return of Ron Brandley?

If they ever get to it this evening the matter of filling the two now empty seats on the Planning Commission will be considered. There are some very qualified candidates, some candidates who are new to the town, and one that doesn't even live here. Which I guess is OK when you consider that our current Mayor was a resident of Monrovia right up until the time he filed his papers to run for office in Sierra Madre.

But no candidate for a Planning Commission seat raises quite the questions that Ron Brandley does. A member of the Planning Commission in the past, Ron resigned his seat under some very mysterious circumstances. This from an article on the matter found on the SierraMadreNews.net site:

Brandley Resigns From Sierra Madre Plannig Commission (click here): Planning Commissioner Ron Brandley has tendered his resignation to the City Council. Brandley, who has been on the Planning Commission since 1999, stepped down after choosing not to respond to questions from the City Attorney regarding the possibility of a conflict of interest, questions raised by an anonymous phone caller in a voice mail message left for a member of City Staff. Brandley's term was to end in June, 2007.

This rather selective article took the point of view that Ron's resignation was a matter of principle for him. Brandley feeling that a conflict of interest investigation should hardly be predicated upon an anonymous message left on an answering machine. The obvious spin being ladled up here aside, the City Attorney disagreed.

When asked if it was ordinary for the City Attorney to investigate based on an anonymous call, Levin responded, "Oh absolutely, whenever there is a question about a conflict of interest, then the City is obligated to follow up and find out if there was a conflict of interest."

The accounting we have received here at The Tattler shows that these concerns were not without merit. The contention being that Brandley did not recuse himself when required to do so by the Brown Act, and on numerous occasions.

Brandley's family owns a business at 9 Kersting Court and, when matters came up at the Planning Commission that were within 500 feet of his place, he still chose to participate. Including ten meetings over 5 year period (Feb of 1999 to Nov of 2004) regarding the Montecito Specific Plan. Again, a violation of the Brown Act.

There is much more. Did you know that Ron voted on the Commercial Overlay Zone, which included where his business was set up?

A little blast from the past here. Let's hope it stays there.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

132 comments:

  1. Will the Council choose what is right and legal or will they take the political way out? This begs the question on both issues you have brought out today. Will it be the Kensington Way? or will the C & L way. Will it be a political appointment, or the best person for the Planning Commission? We'll see. I think it is up to Harabedian on this one.

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    1. My bold prediction? Harabedian comes through. I think he's figured things out.

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    2. I agree that the APNs should be in the ballot language. They are included in Measure V, and one of the reasons for that is to facilitate the amendment.

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  2. Too bad Ron doesn't have more things to do to keep busy.

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  3. I did the "click here" and looked at the article on the complaint on the conflict of interest. The quote from John Buchanan about hoping this would not discourage volunteers was interesting in light of Nancy Walsh's screed against taking volunteers out...a far greater discouragement in my mind.

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    1. There was a lot more laxity about recusals in that time - kind of like "You don't mean to suggest that this volunteer would ever do anything underhanded!"

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    2. Vintage Buchanan. He had nothing to say, which meant he talked so much that the reporter had to use ellipsis:

      Mayor Buchanan, who has not formally accepted the resignation, said that he’d prefer not to comment other than to say that “his having tendered that resignation is disappointing to me because I have a very high regard for Ron…and I don’t like the fact that…such a wonderful volunteer has come to a point of feeling kind of discouraged, and I hope other volunteers don’t feel that way.”

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  4. Weren't there also some decisions made by Brandley that impacted the then-expansive Congregational Church, and he was a member of it?

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    1. Maybe permission for the "school" that is not a school on the corner of Hermosa and the Blvd?

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  5. Note the Billy ordinance states ". . .hereby amended with reguard to two parcels only. . . ." Staff recommendation left that out. What is going on here? Beware.

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  6. Wouldn't that be just like our Josh? Say he supports a Measure V vote, then try to sneak something through that isn't?

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    1. Disagree, 7:46.
      That strategy would be beyond Mayor Moran.

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  7. If the language on the Kensington ballot is not 100% crystal clear, I will not vote for it. Period. I don't trust City Hall any farther than I can kick it.

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  8. I believe there are a couple of other applicants for the Planning Commission who will be faced with conflict of interest issues due to their address. One owns property in the artisan area of Montecito, and the other, in the area of Santa Anita Court/San Gabriel Court, where the R-2/R-3 zones have been redefined by the General Plan Committee.

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    1. Everyone who has applied for the commission owns property in Sierra Madre.

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    2. 8:10 - Unless the property is held in an LLC, I don't believe everyone who applied owns property in Sierra Madre

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    3. I believe the standard procedure has been (sans Brandley, which is reason to not appoint) to recuse oneself. Seems like a good practice to continue.

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    4. The applicant on San Gabriel Ct. is highly qualified to be on the Commission. He is an architect and I believe so is his wife. He has attended the GU Committee and spoke about the zoning on San Gabriel Ct. and very concerned that his area would become like Pasadena. He moved here from Pasadena because his area was fast becoming loaded with condo's, and he wanted a village atmosphere to raise his family. He is bright and ethical and I'm sure would recuse himself if he needed to. No, I'm not his mother, I just happen to know some good friends of his.

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    5. Does he have a name?

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  9. Why is it the most disreputable people in town all were against Measure V?

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  10. And the nominations are:

    De Loyce Alcorn
    Ronald Brandley
    Barbara Cole
    Manish Desai
    Ken Goldstein
    Noah Green
    David Loera, Jr.
    Jeffrey McNeal
    Scott Nyborg
    Ivan Party
    Drew Taylor

    Tattlers, enlighten the rest of us.

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    1. I believe it's Ivan Parry, not Party.

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    2. David Loera Jr. is a loan officer for Bank of America. We all know who Ron Brandley and De Alcorn are. The rest are a mystery.

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    3. David Loera - hmmm....wasn't he Harabedian's campaign manager?

      I seem to remember some years back that his house was in and out of foreclosure.

      Loan officer??? Well you have to have a license with the Department of Real Estate or Department of Corporations. I don't see a license there, and he also isn't listed on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry.

      Maybe he's a bank teller

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    4. Therein lies the problem, 1:49. Everyone else is a mystery because City Hall was reluctant to release any of the applications. And even when they did at the 11th hour, they redacted the applicant's profession. So, unless they included other information which included that, you would have no idea what the person does for a living.

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    5. Barbara cole is mother of the socialist xmayor of Pasadena. He is the city manager of Ventura, and was in news lately for crazy views on eminate domain

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    6. Is BarbaraCole a Sierra Madre resident?

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    7. Yes she is,was getting paid by pusd to run a insperation of art programalways living off the tax payers

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  11. I'm suspicious that the Sierra Madre Congregatinal Church is a fixin' to rise again as Brandley pokes his nose under the tent of the Planning Commission.

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  12. Yeserday Big Nicky Conway appeared in court and pled not guilty to charges of conflict of interest. From the Pasadena Star News:

    "The bottom line is, there is not a single thing he is being charged with that is not part of the public record or has not been approved by the (SGVCOG) board," White said.

    Oh, SGVCOG board, be afraid. Be very afraid. Big Nick is going to throw you under the bus.

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    1. That would make the SGVCOG board accomplices in the commission of each felony charge. It looks like Nick is not going down alone!

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    2. Of course! Don't know why it would surprise me. Nick will naturally take down anyone he can in order to save his own skin.

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    3. Overt with intention emotional blackmail of CoggiesJuly 24, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Not only he is throwing them under the bus, he is driving the bus, and charging them money to be run over repeatedly.

      All that seat at the table crappe! I imagine a lot of them are regurgitating those free meals, and wishing they had employed a food taster!!

      But he had a different responsiblility then the members, he also with held information, or influenced the information, which led them to believe they had to the proper facts on which to approve by votes, not kosher. No matter what dirty white says.

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    4. When will Crawford request the booking photo from Sandi Gibbons, the Public Voice of the DA? We cannot wait to see it!

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    5. Doesn't matter if Conway broke the law with the "permission" of the SGVCOG members, that is not a defense under the law.

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  13. Brandley was voting on the Cong Church Plan and at the same time, was going to put his business in one of the church owned storefronts...Conflict anyone?

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    1. How did he vote? Probably no roll call record to prove the conflict this late. Too bad. He could have been fined for his vote as Bart Doyle was ($1,500.00 for a street lighting improvement vote favoring an area where his home was located). Not only was he planning on doing business with the church with a rental agreement, he was "donating" flowers for the altar and attending church services.

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    2. The City Clerk maintains all those records. If you know the date(s) of the meetings or at least the month and year they took place, the City Clerk can either make them available for your review or for a small fee, provide you with copies.

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  14. is it legal to park one of your cars on the parking right next to the curb? Ron does!

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    1. Could you explain this better?

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    2. drive by Ron's house and see for your self. Code enforcement in sierra madre is selective.

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    3. Ah, you mean letting your car hang out into the street on your shallow driveway. Or across the sidewalk. I see that everywhere all across town. Real danger is to pedestrians, walking or in wheelchairs, who have to go around these parked cars into the street and back to the sidewalk to dodge these illegally parked cars.

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    4. From the California Vehicle Code:

      Illegal Parking

      Never park or leave your vehicle:

      On a marked or unmarked crosswalk, sidewalk, partially blocking a sidewalk, or in front of a driveway.

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    5. One more issue the Police Department refuses to address. I don't know what moron elected Sierra Madre a walkable City, but they obviously don't live here. Between bicycles riding on the sidewalks and vehicles park over the sidewalks, this is one of the most dangerous cities to walk in.

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    6. who cares where Ron Brandley parks his cars on his property. Regardless people are seldom walking and when I walk down passed his house I walk or run down the center of the street. Leave the guy alone.

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  15. As with any item on the agenda of a commission or the city council, if you are within a 300' distance of the subject in question in a property use decision and it is expected (always) that your vote would benefit you economically, either positively or negatively, you recuse yourself. It does not mean you cannot sit on the commission in the first place. You ae supposed to state why you are recusing yourself and then leave the room so that the remaining seated commissioners or council members can go on with the hearing without being unduely influenced by your presence. Correct me if I am wrong.

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    1. Sorry, 9:18, I don't agree with you. Why would we want to appoint someone to the commission who has a clear conflict of interest from the start - like Barbara Cole, for instance, who happens to live on Montecito.

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    2. I believe it is 500'.

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  16. Mayor Moran WILL cause Ron Brandley a lot of problems with the FPPC if he appoints him to the planning commission.

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    1. Please, I can't rmember what FPPC stands for... can you spell it out? Thanks.

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    2. FPPC - Fair Political Practices Commission

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    3. I think we need at least one architect on the Planning Commission amongst the new appointees

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    4. Vandeveld and Pendleberry are architects.

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  17. Ron Brandley was one of the best and most prepared Planning Commissioners. I was surprised of his resignation. I was also surprised he did not win a council seat. He truly loves the town and is a fair person. I dont know why he would want to go back to doing this though with all the backstabbing crap thats going on in this town.

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    1. Ron Brandly ran twice for CC, lost twice. Nice enough guy but not sure about your declaration of his preparation on the PC.

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    2. I agree with most of what you say, 10:06, but there really were conflict of interest/recusal problems. As far as I know, he's never apologized.

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    3. Ron is not a supporter of V. He liked the DSP, though.

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    4. I really disagree with you, 10:06.
      Ron Brandley is a very rude man. He is a rude and dishonest man.
      He should never be on the city council or the planning commission.

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    5. Ron is a very good person but can be rude but only to people who are morons and cant think things out with a logical response. In other words Rod doesnt have time for the stupid.

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    6. 2:05, you describe someone who shouldn't be working with others. People who see themselves as superior are better off working alone.

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    7. Is that Ron or Rod?

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    8. Maybe 2:05 is referring to Rod Serling.

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    9. Obviously a typo its Ron. but idiots like you cant figure that out.

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    10. Ron Brandley is superior to many. He thinks things out in a logical order. He is a fair thinker. He has the best interest of SM. I know for a fact that all people volunteering their precious time have only good intentions in keeping Sierra Madre a pleasant place to live. Trouble is you can not please everyone no matter what is done. I deal with HOA people and the residents are horrible, ungreatful, unappreciative bunch. Much like the residents of Sierra Madre.

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    11. I think I need to call the Buck and have them cut you off.

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  18. Carol the Town Clown for Planning Commission.

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    1. She would turn the entire town into a multiplex of mini malls and Condo complexes! It would be awesome! We should burn all the trees in Sierra Madre to celebrate if she is selected!

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  19. Ah the benefits of scratching the backs of others....Perhaps the conflict of interest of Council Person Lutz in Arcadia who also served most faithfully as a Commissioner on the Gold Line Planning just happened to purchase a parcel of well poslitioned land next to the expanding route was an astute business decision...... But when discovered in her duplicity hastily resigned from said Gold Line Board. We are truly altruistic here in the Valley.

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    1. You've posted here before and been told of this error before... there is no Council Person Lutz in Arcadia. There is a Mayor Lutz in Monrovia. Your argument would be convincing if you research your facts. What else have you got wrong?

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    2. Anyone who has been following this story in the Star News knows about Lutz and her shenanigans.

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    3. There used to be a Commissioner Steve Lotz on a commission. Not sure if he was on Arcadia or Sierra Madre or what was the exact commission. I think he just termed out and that was his pursuit in local politics though.

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    4. Steve Lotz not related to MaryAnn Lutz. MaryAnn is a good person who has done a tremendous job with Morovia.

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    5. MaryAnn Lutz may have done a good job for "Morovia," but it also seems obvious that she has done well for herself, too.

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    6. Nothing wrong with doing well for themself. As long as it is legal of course.

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    7. I guess it is all based in what you think is a "tremendous job", I certainly don't think of Mary Ann Lutz when I think of someone doing a good job for the public.....now if I am thinking about someone who has used their elected office to improve their own circumstances....well Lutz does come to mind.

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    8. Mary Ann Lutz is vice president of the SGVCOG, and a CONway enabler. She gets a free staff person paid for by Nick to be on the Water Quality Board.

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    9. And Mayor of Monrovia.

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  20. I find it both odd and telling that the concern people on this blog show for honesty in government is invariably reduced to personalities by those in the big development camp. Can it be things like ethics and the truth are confusing for them?

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    1. Which "them"?

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    2. All of them.

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    3. 12:37 makes an excellent point. De Alcorn is probably one of the best qualified to be appointed to the Planning Commission. He has attended just about every Planning Commission meeting for the last several years, he has closely followed the General Plan Update,so he understands the process and has a good history of the P.C. under his belt. As an engineer he understands how things are built. Unfortunately, he supports Measure V and supported Mary Ann so he probably won't make it past the triumvirate of Moran, Walsh, and Harabedian. Remember, they are the same folks who bypassed a very qualifed applicant for library board to appoint their political crony, Gene Goss. Who do you think their political cronies are out of this current bunch?

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  21. 7.52 makes a very important point.If the wording is vague _DO NOT Vote FOR IT!
    Future crooks will take advantage of any vagueness and circumvent Measure V.
    Get the City to rewrite the ballot clearly.How can any honest,engaged citizen say otherwise?

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    1. It had better be stone cold clear. Or my vote is NO.

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    2. The language from the City is usually as fuzzy and the attorney that writes it.

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    3. For every law, ordinance, or policy there is an equal law, ordinance or policy that is open for interpretation. Something to think about

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    4. Where do you come up with these bromides, Steve?

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  22. 12:45 I guess i got mac mansions in Arcadia mixed up with mac depots in Monrovia. Thanks for keeping my facts straight.

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    1. It's hard to keep it all straight but your sentiment is shared by many of us. Post often!

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  23. I would expect Mr. Shields to be there tonight, with his attorney, so get this right or he knows the project will not fly. The pro-measure V people will dog this to the end to point out how the CC legal team is trying to cheat the voters of their right to see that the Measure V area is protected for this and future votes.

    Folks who weren't here then or paying attention will ask why. Fortunate for us, but not for the cities we will cite as examples, the overbuilding of downtowns around us, Pasadena and Monrovia, sit as ample reminders of how greed looks in the form of empty condos, etc.

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  24. Pasadena and Arcadia overbuilt on speculation and has had some negative impacts on property values in the area. Monrovia did not overbuild. They built new condos here and there but most of them are thought out. Yes many are vacant but in time will be occupied. The vacancies are more a result of the economy rather than if there is a need for them. If and when the economy turns around and folks can get mortgages again they will fill up. The problem is more deep rooted in job creation, unemployment and outsourced resourcing.

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    1. Will those vacant condos be filled up just like all the empty apartments at the Sierra Madre Villa station?

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    2. Obviously Steve is unfamiliar with Monrovia Commons.

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

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

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    2. Karen Clemmons Moran isn't a fraud. You just don't like her. However, she isn't an architect. She's a talented designer. Nor is she related to the Mayor or his mother.

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    3. I am glad Karen went back to get her degree in architecture. For many years she called herself an architect when she wasn't.

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    4. Has she passed the Architect's exam and is she licensed?

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    5. Doesnt matter if Karen Moran is a licensed architect she holds a degree in architecture. Yes technically you need the license to call your self an architect but you can always pay the engineer to stamp the plans for you. Its actually better that way anyway as you dont have the liability. Karen never went back to school she went to school right out of high school. You obviously dont know the business.

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    7. Oh look. It's Alice in Tattlerland.

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  26. Nice try,5:29 nice try.

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    1. yup almost got it in. have some fun moderator.

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    2. That's what he said.

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  27. The senior commission chair talking about how badly some of the rate increases will hurt seniors is making very good points - and also showing just how hollow Walsh's claims are about what a good job she does for the seniors.

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    1. Yes. He found out about the increase on July 13. The round about rate hike was July 1st. Nancy said nothing.

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  28. Councilman Koerber told the city manager that he was hearing from constituents who are concerned about legal costs. The City Manager's response?
    I understand.

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  29. C'mon, no darn money spent on jaunts to the League of Cities!

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    1. Last year everyone but MaryAnn went. The now famous happy joy jaunt to SF.

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  30. Mayor Josh just told Councilmember Koerber his League of California Cities meeting inquiries were "inappropriate." A snit I guess.

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  31. The League fought tooth to nail for welfare for developers. To heck with them.

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  32. Spears knocking it out of the park!

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  33. The lady who is one of the applicants is very nice, but I think she needs to be on the library historical committee.

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    1. Koeber just sank Cole. She is a big development supporter, doesn't like Measure V.

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  34. Barbara Cole just stepped into the Koerber snare

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  35. Wow. Great questions from Koerber.

    Why was Ms. Cole standing outside the old Howies looking at a blueprint for the 70+ condos there?

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  36. I like Mineesh Desai (sp?). An architect and a reflective man.

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    1. Agreed. Qualified, smart, and he likes Sierra Madre.

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  37. Josh just said facile.

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  38. Let's hear it for Lawyer Noah Green! An honest man. We look forward to more from him in the years to come.

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  39. Nyborg sounds very good, but people who don't live here shouldn't be on such an important commission.

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    1. That is a problem. Sustainable development? Maybe he should apply for the Green Committee.

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    2. He said that he and his wife want to live here - but how would we know they wouldn't find a great place elsewhere?

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    3. Nancy just said "skill set" 5 times.

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    4. Well, she had to speak.

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  40. Harabedian made a good joke.
    Make it a practice to bring in Spears to give the introduction and prune the applicants.

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    1. Make them walk the old mill.

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  41. I vote Alcorn and Desai.

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  42. Josh wanted Brandley.

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  43. Hoo boy. It is going to be a long one.

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  44. I think Josh's blood pressure goes up when Barbra Leigh speaks. She should speak more often.

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  45. Man o man...I need a break...think I'll go microwave my toothpaste...

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