However, now that our Mayor is apparently actively involved in an attempt to rob the remaining residents of their rights to a meaningful vote on downtown development, the government portion really doesn't fit in here anymore. It has become different. And in order to properly recognize the imperial ambitions of its obstreperous ruler, I suggest that we should rename 232 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard, along with the lands that immediately surround it, Moranistan. Not just a realm unto itself, but also an utterly unique state of mind as well. A place where your voice isn't really heard, and wouldn't matter even if it were.
But enough on that. There will be a Plenum of the Council of Moranistan tomorrow evening, and it is our duty to attempt and unravel its many secrets so that you, our valued reader, might be able to better participate in what little is left of democracy in this town. Or, perhaps, so that you can help me come to a better understanding of what is going on. That happens more often than you might think.
The enchantment begins with a closed session. These are held out of the public view because they involve either legal issues such as lawsuits, or contract negotiations with the many fine individuals who toil daily to provide us with services that we often take for granted. That is, if we even care to acknowledge that they exist.
This evening's sub rosa event actually involves both of these reasons for secrecy, because it's none other than the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association that is in on the action, and they're up to their old tricks. Apparently they are suing us again, which is what they do when they aren't asking us for more money, or to pay for their retirement benefits. This is a novel negotiating concept, akin to not just biting the hand that feeds you, but practically gnawing it off. Anyone who has (or ever had) children might understand the sting of such monumental ingratitude.
And to think that there were candidates in last April's election who proudly (and even loudly) accepted the endorsement of these characters. What is even more amazing is that only two of them lost.
After that tender private moment has passed, the elected representatives and participating city employees will throw open the chamber doors and invite in whomever has shown up to play a part in the evening's festivities. With one event in particular being quite monumental. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Order will be called, and some might even see it as that. The rituals will be administered by this week's designated Councilmember, Chris Koerber. The City Attorney will invariably inform us that she cannot report on what happened in the closed session, which really isn't all that different from her reports on most everything else if you think about it. The agenda will be approved, though some things might get moved around first. The Mayor and Councilmembers will then try and find something interesting from the last two weeks of their lives to talk about, but not all 5 will succeed. After that the public will be invited to comment on "items not on the agenda," which is an infinite array of topics if you think about it. And then Lisa Volpe will be ceremonially retired from the SMPD, with the owner of the Four Seasons Tea Room presenting her with a golden shovel.
There is a mystery item here, that being who exactly will be delivering the Sierra Madre Elementary School Construction Update. There is nothing hipping us to this person's identity in the City paperwork, so I am going to guess that it is the secretive Bart Doyle. Whoever it may be, the individual doing the reporting will tell us that everything is wonderful at the PUSD, and we are fortunate to have so fine an organization working for our children. Kind of like the Edison guy did after last winter's windstorms caused those endless power outages.
This is followed by the Consent Calendar, which always starts off with the ritual spending of cash. In many ways this is the one truly religious moment of the evening. The amounts are large, of course. How much fun would it be if they weren't? This week the all-inclusive sum is $556,391. You will be happy to note that Dapeer, Rosenblit and Litwak will be receiving a check for $21,938, with Colontuono and Levin's cut of the action being $18,221.
Item 1b on the Consent Calendar has to do with the owner of Stonegate aka One Carter (Capital Source Bank) preparing a "conservation easement" involving Lot 29. This will keep some of the space near the imaginary houses that will never be built there open. Of course, everything is open at Stonegate/One Carter, so maybe we can call the entire thing an easement? Whatever the reason, the City will likely take the property.
But there is actually much more to Item 1b than just that. Lot 29 is the most uninhabitable and precariously positioned spot on the entire One Carter site. It is also perhaps the most dangerous. During mud slide season it is the most likely place there to rain gooey chaos upon the streets and houses below, with the burden of cleaning it up all falling upon the owner. Which, should the City accept this dubious gift of Lot 29, would be we the taxpayer. Capital Source thereby escaping any fiduciary responsibility for damage. CapSource (as they like to call themselves) is giving away a serious problem here, one that they have no chance of ever selling. I'm not certain the City should take it.
One piece of Lot 29 lore. This lot is located very near the home of Forest Harding, a once upon a time honcho of Residents for the Preservation of Sierra Madre. The group best known for shuttng down plans to build Maranantha High School at One Carter. Harding later earned the eternal enmity of many of his former allies in the preservationist movement by making what many saw as a side deal with both the developers and 2004 Sierra Madre City Council, one that protected his side of One Carter from despoliation while throwing the rest of the woodland to the wolves.
Item 1c is next. It involves all the many newly revised rules and regulations for the use of public parks and other such facilities controlled by the City. In the Agenda Report there are 21 pages describing what exactly these facilities are, and how all of this might apply to you. That is, should you ever use any facilities. The one saving grace here is that the Community Services Commission went through all of this stuff with a fine toothed comb. Some of them have great senses of humor, which I suspect is necessary for this kind of work. Unfortunately that does not come through in these documents.
The last item on the Consent Calendar is labeled 1d, and it presents the results of an RFP that went out to engineering firms who repair and maintain things like storm sewers and other street rehabilitation projects. The firm that City Staff wishes to award this contract is RKA Consulting Group, which, at $57,665.00, did not provide us with the lowest bid. Most of the Agenda Report item discusses this, all in hopes of convincing the City Council that the quality of their work justifies the additional $7,700 or so in cost. The lowest bid was the $49,958 offer provided by B&E Engineers, who I guess Bruce Inman doesn't think will get it done. I wonder how they feel about that. It must be hurtful to them.
Item #2 is the main event. This is a public hearing dealing with the Kensington, Measure V, the right of the residents of Sierra Madre to vote on downtown development. Basically the whole shebang, and what could be one of the biggest potential showdowns in years. I wrote a long article about this just the other day, and if you wish to read it you can do so by clicking here.
But here's the deal. Measure V is the law in Sierra Madre. It became the law in 2007 because the voters decided it should be by both putting it on the ballot, and then voting it into existence. Meaning there are really only two options available to the City Council on this matter. Follow the letter of the law by putting the obviously non-compliant Kensington project onto a true Measure V ballot this fall, or break it.
And should a majority of this City Council decide that they can somehow get away with breaking this law on behalf of certain favored special interests by refusing the people of Sierra Madre their right to a legitimate vote in this matter (or any that may follow), it would fall upon the people of Sierra Madre to remedy the situation. And trust me, the Courts do frown upon politicians who attempt to steal voting rights. After all, this isn't North Korea.
I'm not saying that any of this is going to happen. But if it does, and these miscreants should somehow decide that they have the power to flaunt Measure V through the use of creative writing, parsing and the word substitution games our overpaid City Attorneys have been disingenuously pushing, then they will be engaging in criminal behavior. It could make for interesting TV, and you might want to have your children watch.
If somehow the City Council gets past all of that, we will then see some discussion of Item #3. Something that deals with a City Council succession policy, or the lack of it. This is an important issue. There was no real policy in place when Joe Mosca suddenly decided he needed to leave the country, and pronto. A lot of discussion was had back then about whether the Council could just appoint a replacement, or if it should go to a vote of the people.
Item #4 deals with, amongst other fairly nebulous Strategic Plan goals, turning the Green Committee into a full Commission. This in hopes of legitimizing much of the Green Committee's agenda, which includes high density and mixed use "transit village" style development in our downtown area. Something that is fully laid out in the Green Committee's so-called Accords. Not to be confused with Acuras, which are more expensive.
You'd think that those pushing what is basically the same old downtown development agenda would just come right out and be honest about it, rather than larding the whole thing over with a lot of cooked up greenwash about sustainability and other yet to be objectively clarifed jargon.
Sadly, they just don't work that way here. It's not how things are done in Moranistan.