Of course, the likelihood of The COG throwing anyone out right now is pretty slim. Rather they are trying very hard to keep cities from leaving. With Walnut already gone, and places like San Dimas, Claremont and El Monte (among others) looking like they may very well follow, it really isn't a good time for The COG to be enforcing any dues policies.
I would hope that City Hall would not pay that $8,000 we supposedly owe The COG until at least the October 9th City Council discussion has taken place. Paying tribute money to an organization that recently saw its Executive Director rung up by the District Attorney on four felony counts of conflict of interest, with the centerpiece of those charges being the abuse other peoples' money, would seem foolish right now. Sierra Madre needs to at least have a conversation first. And if it takes until October 9 to do it, then the SGVCOG is just going to have to wait for its money.
The COG is, of course, in a state of panic right now. Faced with the possibility that they could lose a significant portion of their member cities within the next six months, along with the strong chance that the District Attorney's investigation will not stop with just Nick Conway, has led to a state of advanced uneasiness there. Plus there is also the distinct possibility that should it be established in Court that significant levels of fraud have taken place there, member cities could be forced to return any of the money they had received from "The COG." A hit potentially in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and something that places like Sierra Madre can ill afford right now.
As you might have guessed, I think we need to get out. If the City of Sierra Madre will not take a stand against corruption this grotesque now, then when will we? How bad does the rot have to get for us to actually do something?
However, and despite all of that, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is fighting back. And in an internal memorandum obtained by The Tattler ("The COG" is leaking like a sieve these days) they can be seen literally begging their member cities not to quit. In a document dated July 25, 2012, here is what Interim Executive Director F. M. Delach, City Manager of Azusa, has to say:
As you know these have been difficult times for the COG and member agencies perception of this organization. Several cities are contemplating withholding dues and/or withdrawing membership.
Although I can understand the concern and even consternation, I am reminded of the old analogy of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater." No single individual, or Governing Board Member, should be cause to disband or kill the organization. The COG as an organization was born out the necessity (sic) of the cities, County, and water agencies to work together on issues of regional concern. The cities know all to well that alone our voices are less than significant in dealing with the MTA, State, or Federal Government. Together we have made a significant difference in accomplishing great things for this Valley we call home.
This being the kind of damage control that Delach would be expected to do under the circumstances. Having COG's Executive Director, someone who ran they place with an iron fist for years, arrested and arraigned on felony corruption charges by the County of Los Angeles, will do that. It is about as bad as things can get for an organization like The COG.
So what exactly are these COG contributions that Delach refers to as "great things for this Valley we call home?" They are listed in this SGVCOG document as proof of the need for its continued existence. Unfortunately, they appear more like regional disasters than anything else. I've pulled a few out of the roster so you can see what I mean.
RHNA: The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is completed by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) every eight years to determine the number of low - and moderate - income housing units that should be developed in each city to meet the region's needs.
"RHNA numbers," as they often called, are perhaps the most despised aspect of regional government here in the so-called "SCAG Region." That "The COG" plays a key role in enforcing what are basically state mandated, Sacramento lobbyist initiated demands that our local cities accept "SCAG Housing" that they most decidedly do not want hardly speaks to a need for COG's survival. That the SGVCOG claims that it plays an important role in the RHNA appeals process is also a sham. Out of all the COG cities that appealed their RHNA numbers this cycle, only one, La Puente, saw its number reduced. And then only by a very few housing units.
710 Gap Closure Environmental Work: This year, work began on the 710 Gap Closure environmental impact report. This Measure R funded effort represents significant project (sic) on a long-standing SGVCOG transportation priority.
By "710 Gap Closure" he is talking about building the 710 Tunnel. Something that Fran Deloch can't even force himself to say. Rather we get an Orwellian euphemism. This tunnel will be an environmental disaster for our part of the planet, effectively funneling vast quantities of diesel burning truck traffic from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, up the 710 and right into our backyard. The "710 Corridor" is widely recognized as one of the truly significant air pollution disasters of Los Angeles County. "The COG" wants to extend that by bringing it here.
Measure R Funding: This year, 710 Gap Closure, ACE and the Gold Line Foothill Extension saw the first draw down of Measure R funding.
Measure R, as I am certain you know, is a sales tax increase voted into existence a couple of years back. It is up for a voter renewal through 2069 this November. And what are we getting in exchange? Thanks to the hard work of "The COG," the 710 Tunnel plus a "Gold Line Foothill Extension." The problem being that any extension of the Gold Line has been taken off the table by Metro, who would now prefer to spend our tax money on things like the Los Angeles "Subway to the Sea."
The COG wants you to cast a "yes" vote on Measure R. Why? So they can build a 710 truck tunnel that will send cancer rates in our area skyrocketing, while at the same time not finishing the Gold Line?
The SGVCOG simply has got to go.