But it turned out that this was no 10 minute City Council "special meeting." Rather it went on for so long that the General Plan Update Steering Committee get together that was to follow had to be postponed until next Monday evening. What information I do have here comes from e-mails, late night phone calls and one particularly pungent comment posted at 10:48 PM last evening.
Here is that 10:48 PM comment:
Now, to get to the real issue instead of only carping about Nancy Walsh. The City Attorney gave the most articulate, clear overview of the document she has ever done. She gave advice and her opinion clearly, which helped move the meeting along. However, the City screwed up. The document was sent to Shields's attorney on the 25th. They returned it on July 26 with corrections. It was only August 6th (24 hours before the special meeting), that Shields got notice of the Special Council meeting. By that time Shields was in Northern California, and Scott, his attorney, was on vacation. Either the City is playing games, or they are incompetent -- or both. The Council did their very best as did the attorney representing Shields. But this didn't have to happen. Ask Elaine next time you see her why a special meeting wasn't called on the 31st, or any day last week?
Interesting stuff, and whoever wrote that one, thanks. Here is what I have pieced together from eyewitness accounts, folks who were either at the meeting or watched it on SMTV3. I've broken these down by letter.
A) The legal representation for Billy Shields and the Kensington interests throughout all of these many meetings, Scott Jenkins, was on a vacation. Apparently he is climbing Mount Kilamanjaro in Africa and couldn't easily attend this very last minute confab. Instead one of the Junior Attorneys from the Pasadena law firm Hahn & Hahn covered for him. Billy Shields was at a City Council meeting, but it was in Northern California. He seems to like attending those things. Mayor Moran called in from his vacation in Hawaii.
B) Because some of the key players in this seemingly endless process weren't aware of this last minute meeting until it was too late, and therefore had made no plans to attend, the question of why it had to happen on an emergency 24 hour notice naturally came up. Here City Attorney Teresa Highsmith and City Manager Elaine Aguilar had a public difference of opinion, something no one I spoke with can recall having ever happened before. The City Attorney said that this wasn't a rush, and didn't need to have taken place so abruptly. Elaine, most likely not enjoying being second guessed like that, said these matters were time sensitive as the City had filed the ballot measure today. And did so without getting a signed agreement from Fountain Square that they would accept certain City changes, thus assuring that they would indemnify the entire deal.
C) The Scott Jenkins-like attorney sitting in claimed that Jenkins himself has replied with their proposed changes on June 27, the day after the City Council had approved going forward with the ballot measure. The City Attorney and City Manager did not seem to want to share what the reasons for the delay were. Councilmember John Capoccia wasn't happy with the last minute nature of this meeting and clearly let Senior City Staff know why he felt that way.
D) Some time was spent on language changes. Many of these seemed obscure, but not all were. "Fullest extent of the law" was reinstated in 3.1. The term "bad faith" was dropped from 3.2 and 4. The City Council reinstated "including but not limited to" in Section #4. All of these can be seen in their natural setting as part of the City Staff report for last night's meeting linked to in yesterday's post. If you should wish to do so, please have at it.
E) The key change was in Section #3. Billy's boys don't want to defend the City from 3rd party litigation in case the Measure V vote fails. They are willing to defend the City if the Measure V vote is to approve. Their argument was if the vote is NO, they'll want to walk away from the entire mess because it is game over for them. Because the ballot measure had already been filed, the City's ability to bargain for a complete indemnification is likely out the window.
F) Councilmember Koerber stated that the City Council should accept these changes as a "last, best & final" offer to the applicant. He also mentioned that he was concerned that now the burden of getting a "yes" vote now falls on the City rather than the applicant. Koerber also reminded the Junior Attorney representing the Kensignton's interests that it was very important for the applicant to show the very best faith in these matters, or it just might rest uneasily with the voters. The final City Council vote was 5 - 0.
Trying to negotiate certain fine advantages after the horse has already left the barn (so to speak) can be a difficult job. And the complete indemnification demanded by the City from Fountain West may no longer be obtainable. The unfortunate timing of last night's meeting played a key role in this unhappy situation coming about. The level of exposure isn't exceptionally large, but it also wasn't necessary.
Here is the press release sent out by the City Clerk's office yesterday on the Measure V ballot filing:
News Release - Special Municipal Election To Be Held In Sierra Madre November 6, 2012
The City Council passed election resolutions at their Regular City Council Meeting on July 24, 2012.
City Clerk, Nancy Sue Shollenberger, announces a Special Municipal Election to be held on November 6, 2012. There will be a Measure submitted to the electorate as follows:
"Shall an Ordinance be adopted to amend Sierra Madre Municipal Code Section 17.35.040 ("Core Density Limit") of the People's Empowerment Act (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?"
The City Council will be writing an "Argument in Favor of the Measure," and there will be a City Attorney's Impartial Analysis, due by August 7, 2012. These will be published upon receipt and available in the City Clerk's Office. Just please give the City Clerk a call and she will arrange for you to receive a copy.
The deadline for filing Rebuttal Arguments in Favor or Against the Measure will be August 17, 2012.
Please contact the City Clerk (355-7135, 355-3303 or 355-1569) if you have any questions, or would like to write a rebuttal argument.
Dated: August 7, 2012, Nancy Sue Shollenberger, City Clerk
Does anybody know who, if anybody, is planning to write a rebuttal statement to the City Council argument in favor of a "Yes" vote on the Kensington? While at this point I am not necessarily against the Kensignton being built (though I do have a few misgivings, in particular the use of the word "suite"), I am more than willing to give space on The Tattler to anyone wishing to air out their arguments against it being built.
I'm not sure that such a discussion will be allowed to happen anyplace else.