I hate it when things go so well. I got pretty much everything I wanted at the City Council meeting last night, and I swear I have never been so unhappy. And they were all so agreeable while doing it. If things keep up like this I can just as well give up the blog and go back to doing crossword puzzles. Which was how I used to spend my time before I started doing this.
There is also this frightening thought. What if The Tattler actually has become influential, and what gets written here actually has some influence at City Council meetings? What the h--- am I going to do then? After a lifetime of being against almost everything, suddenly I have to face the indignity of being a part of the solution? Has it all come to this? If so, it could call for a personal reinvention.
And then there is this question. Does cheerful news make for good blog content?
OK, now that I have shared some of my deepest and darkest thoughts, let's see if I can remember what actually went on last night. There are already 609 hits on this site since the City Council meeting began, and it is now 11:45 pm. The pressure is on. And please, don't get me wrong, it wasn't all nice.
The first thing I'd like to note here is just about the last thing that happened at this meeting. John Harabedian asked to agendize a City Council conversation regarding the SGVCOG and Sierra Madre's role as a part of it. I have no idea where he is going with this, but a number of COG member cities are doing something like it, with the City of Walnut having actually already gotten out. As evidenced by former COG Executive Director Nick Conway going on trial for various corruption related activities, there seems to be the beginning of a reform movement taking place in the San Gabriel Valley. And there is no place on Earth that needs one more.
Colin Braudrick returned to the limelight of City Hall last night with a lot of very good news about the Library. Good to see him back in the world. His absence had been noted. Colin was wearing the coolest Pabst Blue Ribbon tee shirt I've seen in a while. Old school American beer is making a comeback, and Pabst is leading the way. It even comes in cans. Next time you're down at Robin's Ribs you owe it to yourself to order some. Lighter than air, and when served ice cold, far more refreshing. All things come full circle eventually. Even beer.
In one of the most elegantly delivered smack downs I have seen in a while, the Chairman of the Senior Commission, Bill Nelson, laid one on Nancy Walsh that would have knocked out Joe Frasier. After discussing the various increased costs to seniors for such things as City sponsored lunches and trips on the round about, Bill noted that he did not discover that prices per ride had gone up on our local town jitney until he experienced it himself on July 13. Turns out the rate increase had begun on July 1st. Why hadn't the Chairman of the Senior Commission been notified by Nancy Walsh? Can it really be she didn't inform the people she so famously claims to represent?
There was some conversation about the upcoming League of California Cities confab in San Diego, which is going down September 5th through the 7th. Registration fees are a cool $625 per happy camper attending, with room rates at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina running about $400 for two nights. That's before taxes, mini bar, in-room entertainment and meals, of course. Chris Koerber was pressing for the actual expenses involved in this visitation, and the always charmless Josh, bless his testy heart, actually used the word "inappropriate" to describe his concern. Which I found to be inappropriate since we're talking about the peoples' cash here.
A lot of the sensitivity over the League's big yearly event stems from the grotesque sums of money our merry junketeers spent in San Francisco last year. It does seem like a lot of money to squander on an organization that is doing everything it can to strip cities such as ours of their last vestiges of independence. Particularly in these economically parlous times.
The two vacancies on the Planning Commission were filled. Earlier I said that I had gotten everything I wanted out of this meeting, but that isn't entirely true. I was really pulling for De Alcorn to get a shot. There are not many people who have worked harder for this City than De.
However, in Manish Desai and Ken Goldstein the people of Sierra Madre got two moderate and thoughtful souls that appear to understand what it is the people of this town want. Which, in case you don't know, is for Sierra Madre to stay Sierra Madre. And while Ken wasn't there to speak last night (he did show up later), you might recall the chat he delivered when he was looking to get on the Library Board. A job that went instead to Gene Goss. It appears that fate saved him for something more important.
Next up was the delightfully entitled "Municipal Code Regarding Public Nuisances, Code Enforcement Fees, And Attorney's Fees." Who says there is no poetry in our City Hall? Long story short, the City Council gave its in initial approval to something that will eventually lead to the City having yet another way to chase revenue. In this case reclaiming the costs of enforcing City Codes, along with the costs of paying lawyers to do the dirty work. Despite all the earnest chatter from the City Council, I still see a distinct downside to this one.
The main event of last night was establishing the ballot language for this November's vote on the Kensington. And something happened that would have seemed unbelievable just a few months earlier, and that is this vote will be conducted under the full auspices of Measure V. Rather than spend the rest of the night going through all the details, I thought I would post the statement I received late last night from Councilmember Chris Koerber.
After an exhaustive review of the Kensington proposal - nine Planning Commission meetings and three City Council meetings - I am pleased that the city is moving forward with the November vote to approve what will undoubtedly be an asset to the Sierra Madre community.
While the proposed Kensington project is not a perfect project, it is nonetheless a very good project. I am particularly pleased that the project maintains the spirit of Measure V. Allowing citizens to vote on such an important project helps to ensure the community has a say in major city changes - especially those located in the Downtown Central Core. I'm especially pleased that private funds are being used for the Kensington - this avoiding further burdens on Sierra Madre's budget.
I thank the applicant, Fountain Square Development West, for their cooperation with the city and, also, for their request to put the project up for a Measure V vote. I look forward to construction of this important project moving forward (pending the results of the November 6, 2012 vote), both for the important services it will bring to our community and also for the revenue it will generate for Sierra Madre as well.
There is one more thing. During the discussion about how the Kensington ballot language should read, there was some concern over the usage of the term "consistent with." As I noted yesterday, the fear being that this usage could later be misappropriated (so to speak) for ulterior purposes later on. Councilmember Harabedian asked why the term "specified by" couldn't take its place. The City Attorney explained the reasons for her phrasing of the question, and after some conversation her version prevailed. Part of the problem is by law such ballot questions must be limited to 75 words, and under that restriction what we got is the best available. It is good to see that this matter was fully aired out.
All in all a pretty good night. But like I said, this is going to take some getting used to.