Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Other Half of Tonight's City Council Meeting

As threatened yesterday, here is my take on what is going to happen during the second half of this evening's City Council meeting. Of course, I really don't know what will be going down for certain. I'm just some guy who works all day at a job in a business that is about as far away from city government as you can possibly get, and then sits at the kitchen table all evening typing his opinions about the topic onto a blog. You're certainly taking your chances, and really ought to take what you read here with a grain of salt. I know I do.

After the rituals are completed, the inspiration delivered, and the Consent Calendar has been fully consented to, we then move on to the main rounds of the night's fight card. The heavyweight issues are called on the canvas, and you can tell that they are just that by their size. They're bigger, and the stakes are far higher. Naturally people lean well forward in their seats during this part of the meeting, sensing that they are about to witness things of true importance. Even those who intended to arrive fashionably late have by now assumed their places. It's go time, baby. So go hard.

Item no. 2 deals with something called Council Succession Policy. This matter was brought to the attention of the world by the sudden and somewhat mysterious departure of Joe Mosca. Nobody quite knew how to fill his seat on the City Council as there was no succession policy in place. Does the City Council appoint someone to take his spot? Should it be put on the ballot so the people can decide? Should the seat just be left open as a reminder of the faithless critter who promised to serve the people of this town, yet bailed out because it just didn't suit his sense of himself as a young man of destiny anymore?

I don't mean to be too flippant about this because it actually is a very important issue. The thought that Sid & Nancy might have been able to appoint someone of their notorious ilk to that vital third spot on the City Council is not a happy one, and a shudder had passed through the body politic. Rules need to be put into place, and that is what is being discussed this evening. The chance that a ruling clique will someday get to further their hold on power in our city by appointing pliable cronies to the City Council must be removed.

Item no. 3 deals with the controversial matter of artificially extending the life of the entirely valueless Green Committee by raising it up to full Commission status. Which would be unfortunate since the Green Committee is, at its heart, little more than a greenwashed bureaucratic pressure group concocted by John Buchanan and designed to wedge DSP-style development into downtown Sierra Madre. All in the name of saving the world from climate chaos through condo construction. Something that is made more than clear by reading their broadside called The Green Committee Accords. A tendentious document that was appropriated almost word for word from a similarly entitled document published by the United Nations.

I wrote about this quite a bit last Friday, and rather than just retype the whole thing today, I'd like to invite you to click here and view it in the original setting. With City Staff's rather amazing typo intact.

Item no. 4 is entitled "Discussion of Water Fund Revenues and Expenditures for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2012 and Estimated Five Year projections." This one has its origins in the water rate increases that officially began in July of 2011. At the end of a very contentious Prop 218 process, which was in large part brought about when it was discovered that the City had not been telling the truth about the reasons for the then proposed water rate increases, the City Council promised the ripped off residents that they would come back from time to time to let everyone know how things are going.

And, as you've probably already guessed, things are not going very well. "Water fund reserves fell short of projected revenues by $146,000 in FT 2011-2-12 as compared to water rate studies." No surprises there. This is followed by a litany of possible causes for the numbers being off quite so much, leavened with a number of options for savings that might hopefully cut the shortfall. The one that makes the most sense to me is numbered 3:

Water fund continues to budget for water meter replacement and other scheduled maintenance, $150,000 to $450,000 annually. The Water Department has a 10-12 year rotation on water meters and began in 2006 to install smart reader meters with the goal of gaining grants for technology to allow for radio read meters.

And, as you probably also expected, the option of again raising water rates is also discussed. This one is numbered 6:

City Council may consider beginning a new water rate study with a goal of meeting the 2003 bond covenants and deferred maintenance policy.

While it is nice to see that this time (at least) the bond covenants issue is being put out front, I'm not sure that the political mood in Sierra Madre right now is conducive to raising water rates. Better to just can the smart meters.

This is logically followed by Item no. 5, which is "Water Conservation Ordinance, Phase IV Customer Curtailment, Penalties, and Appeals Process." If the notion that with every new law a further erosion of freedom accompanies it is true, then this one surely fits in. It appears that back in November of 2011 the City ruminated upon its "Mandatory Water Conservation Plan," something dictated to us by the run amok State Legislature in Sacramento. The City Council did pass what became known as Ordinance 1322 to meet that demand, and looked it over once again in January of this year.

However, there is unfinished work here. That being what exactly the penalties will be to those who do not meet the demands of the Water Conservation Ordinance. So this evening the plan is for the City Council to reluctantly help City Staff create a menu of financial punishments for those scofflaws who refuse to keep their water usage within the legally defined limits.

There are a number of charts in the Staff Report on this item, all delightful. One that beckons in particular includes proposed penalties for 1st, 2nd and 3rd violations, which do go up substantially at each step. But what happens after that? The City would then impose something called "flow restriction." Which, I assume, means that after a certain point each month the water supplied to you, the serial violator, would either be curtailed, or perhaps even cut off altogether.

Which raises this question, at least in my mind. What is to keep residents from digging their own water wells? Is that legally proscribed? And at what point does such an option begin to make financial sense to Sierra Madre's more obstreperous water users?

Last, but never least, is Item no. 6, which is that hardy perennial known as the "Strategic Plan Update." This one stems from the latest of these get-togethers, held on April 17, 2012. And again the prospect of a Green Commission raises it ugly proto-development head, something that hopefully was shelved earlier in the evening.

And then there is this Orwellian line. "Preserve Our Small Town Character with a Vibrant Downtown." You might find yourself asking what a "vibrant downtown" is, or how it somehow assures the continuance of Sierra Madre's "Small Town Character." Why not "Preserve Our Small Town Character with the Construction of a NASCAR Race Track?"

What a "vibrant downtown" might be is not defined in the Staff Report I am looking at. Like most of the objectives contained in these Strategic Plan Updates, the stated goals do not seem to be rooted in anything approaching a commonly shared sense of reality. Therefore passing into the realm of propaganda designed to push for things that people are not really interested in seeing here.

This item is always saved for last because it helps to clear out whatever remaining residents might still be there in City Council chambers.

There will be no second City Council meeting this month, which is fine with me. I'm going to shut The Tattler down for the last couple weeks of August anyway. It's time for a vacation from all of this.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

87 comments:

  1. "Water fund continues to budget for water meter replacement and other scheduled maintenance, $150,000 to $450,000 annually."

    Isn't that kind of a big spread? Give or take $300,000?

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    1. I believe it is part of something called "mood swing management."

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    2. $100,000 here, $100,000 there. In the end what does it matter?

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    3. just throw a dart we can make it up as we go

      if we have to we'll just spin out some misinformation and have the local papers copy our press releases as an "article" and nobody will be the wiser

      i really think that if you are challenged in your career local city government and management is the way to go - no accountability or responsiblity and you can't get fired and if you do - sue the city

      heck we didn't even fire the officer who shot a unarmed man in his back, how we gonna get rid of the City Manager?

      she gotta kill someobody?

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    4. I have repeatedly seen a cavalier attitude about money from city staff and from some city council members. When everyone takes $10 seriously, then $100 matters, $1,000 matters, and budgets can be brought to heel.
      When people get sloppy with the $10s, it's not long before that sloppiness expands.

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  2. I think the Green Group's 'borrowing' of the UN Accords was a real mistake on their part, and probably one they regret. It reflects how badly conceived the committee was in the first place, though I'm sure the intentions of the participants were good.

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    1. To me it shows that there was a preconceived agenda on somebody's part. The whole "transit village" thing pushed for in their Accords is just the antithesis of what people want for this town. Yet somebody wanted that.

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  3. Sounds like another attempt to circumvent the will of the people, known as Measure V.

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    1. It always goes back to that. But I have to admit, saying the DSP will save the world from global warming is a bit much.

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  4. Sierra Madre is green - the preservationists keep it that way.

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  5. I like the way the town is now, and see more development pitched by the greenies as anti-Sierra Madre. Perhaps they should go to Pasadena and form a committee to tell them what they ought to do about the mess that was created in their downtown in the name of world global warming.

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    1. how is more development Green?

      sort of hypocritical but then again it's supported by the realtors and our extremely vocal and hostile minority of residents who wanted to double our population prior to Measure V

      now since Measure V is the law, our city staff is trying to make up new definitions and muddy up Measure V and assume the citizens are just too apathetic or stupid to monitor whats actually happening

      we had "green" space on the hillsides and look at what the past Council actions have gotten us

      hillside blight

      thank you John blah blah blah loves me some me Buchanan

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  6. More development in Sierra Madre should be put on a moratorium until the water problem is no longer an issue. We simply cannot add more water demand if we are going thru a draught, and cannot sustain the demand we have now.

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    1. A moratorium on new water hook ups may help us last longer.
      Development still continues - with water hook ups that are already existing.

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  7. Let's save some money and not replace the water meters now. I have not replaced my car, I will wait until I have more money, since I cannot force my employer to give me more.

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  8. Edison allows their customers leeway on whether or not they want smart meters. Acceptance is optional. Does our water department give us that same leeway?

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    1. Good point. Is there a legal aspect to this? Do customers have to be asked for their permission before a smart meter can be installed on their house?

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    2. I don't think Edison asked for my consent to install a smart meter. They just did it.

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    3. I told Edison's rep that I did NOT want a smart meter, and they came in on the sly and swapped it out anyway. All it does is monitor by the hour, so SCE can charge you higher rates during the middle of the day when the AC is on. Also, the transmitter in the meter creates much higher radiation exposure to whatever's on the inside wall of the house.

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    4. My dream is to put a big windmill in my back yard and cut those idiots out of my life forever.

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    5. Oh dont say that to loud. To put a windmill in your backyard this blog will force Measure V on you for a city wide vote. You must be new in town. You cant even plant daisy's in your front without causing an uproar. You must not be reading your HOA newsletter!

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    6. For your reading enjoyment, ladies and gentlemen, a sore loser @10:59.

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  9. just about anything John Buchanan advocates or supports is most likely not good for Sierra Madre and will somehow benefit his employer SoCal Edision

    it's not beneath him to lie to the public to push through a development driven utility tax which would lead to fast track development which benefits? SoCal Edision

    still can't understand how a self promoted highly super uber important lawyer for SoCal Edision can be given unlimited free time to volunteer and manuver himself into local politics unless it benefitted...hmmmmm....SoCal Edison

    I really wish John would just give up his 12 minutes of fame in Sierra Madre, he was on the Council for 8 years and got nothing really done (thanks to Measure V and the Tattler) except the wasteland on the hillsides and his personal fuzzy interperations of what is best for Sierra Madre

    which benefits.....

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    1. John was always working for Edison's agenda. Funny how he never really delivered much.

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    2. if he was this ineffective and represented the image of Edison in some what of an unethical and shady manner, it's no wonder he wasn't important enough inside the company

      imagine going to law school spending all that money to become a lawyer and you become basically a marketing rep with a law degree

      sort of offensive to marketing reps having a "lawyer" amongst them

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    3. Duarte has a similar guy, named John Fasana. Big Measure R sales tax guy, wants the 710 Tunnel, SB 375 and the rest of that Sacramento crap, transit villages, and a big loud voice at the SGVCOG. He's been an Edison employee for 25 years. I think they grow these guys there. Like pods.

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  10. There is a very well defined method of filling a vacant City Council seat. It can be found in the State Government Code. I believe I saw this spelled out in previous comments on this blog, but for some reason you want to ignore it and continue the disinformation campaign started by City Hall.

    This leads one to wonder what your real agenda is. So much for journalistic integrity. You're no better than Susan Hendersen. Maybe even worse.

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    1. Hey, that's fun! The Tattler is accused of being in cahoots with city hall! That's a first, yeah?

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    2. Good morning to you, too, Steve.

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    3. The great conspiracy against Steve contines. Everybody is in on it.

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    4. You can always tell when a post is from Steve. The premise and the way it is communicated is both hostile and incoherent.

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    5. The Tattler moderator is a double agent. Possibly even a quadruple one.

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    6. Good one 11:32.
      Hostile incoherence, or incoherent hostility. The mark of our very own summer troll.

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    7. Good God, man. Crawford is not a journalist, he is a blogger. And a good one,at that! This is his house, and he rules with an iron keyboard, dammit!!!!

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    8. Hate to break your condemnation of me but remember I quit the Tattler. Im just posting here proving there's an imposter of me. There is only 1 Steve or Steve L. All others are imposters. I am the one, the truth, and the man of wisdom.

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    9. Somebody ought to help out 10:32 with an intervention.
      10:32, a variety of people have posted under the Troll appellation of Steve.
      Sorry, you have no exclusivity.

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  11. There's a man who leads a life of danger
    to everyone he meets he stays a stranger

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    1. The name's Crawford...John Crawford.

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  12. Don't bother watching TV or going to a movie....check this awesome podcast out:

    http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=05EF8B0E9AABA7656D409D84B48E7D69

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  13. 1:06 got lost. He she or robotic it was no doubt looking for the AOL blog, or maybe facebook.

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  14. Gene Goss didn't know that Colin Broadrick moved out of town and resigned from the Library Board. Said he is now Vice Chair.

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  15. I heard that Colin had moved but had not heard that he resigned from the library board.
    I fear he was misled by certain people about elections.

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  16. Great comments from Koerber - absolutely give the people the right to vote. Always the first and best choice.

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  17. Walsh is envisioning a catastrophe in which we will rely on her judgement. Ye Gods.

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    1. That is a doomsday scenario!

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  18. Oh so now everybody is a fiscal conservative. Right, when it is a matter of giving the people the vote, all of a sudden they are going to watch the pennies.

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  19. excellent Capoccia. the way to keep this clean is to call an election

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  20. I truly appreciate the way our Mayor makes the bold statement that he fully supports the public vote, but then well maybe ya know, it could be that......

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    1. Josh wants everyone to love him. Which is why hardly anyone does.

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    2. Under no circumstances should a group of three people appoint a colleague to make decisions for the city. No no no no.

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    3. I agree. No one should serve on the City Council who is not elected to it.

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    4. Oh my God! A system where the most recent past Mayor would sit on the Council until an election? That would be John Buchanan!

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  21. A cruel fate indeed.

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  22. The city councils of Sierra Madre have made so many bad decisions that they have lost the right to act without permission of the people they represent. It can only have new council members that the public votes in.

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  23. James Carlson just said a Green Commission would add to outreach and in reach. Anybody know what that means?

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    1. I think it's municipalese for interacting with residents (outreach) and city staff (inreach).

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  24. Carlson just said that doing away with the committee would free up ten to twelve hours per month. Great. do it. we are trying to save money, to downsize, to make reasonable decisions. Do it.

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  25. Walsh and Moran are both prepared to read text surely provided by Buchanan.

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    1. Carlson wants to keep his job.

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  26. Oh Good Lord, this lady is veering off onto the full blown controversy and Mayor Moran is giving her an endless amount of time to stir up all the raging debates. She is playing right into his hands.

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  27. Lines in the sky .........

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  28. Mr. Moran just said he was for the commission becoming a commission, then launched into a ten minute spiel in which he clearly came down on the left, then called for no left and right. he was channeling Buchanan.

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  29. Sorry Walsh, you have to prove that this will generate money. We all know it will spend money.

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  30. Nancy Walsh is making the longest speech she ever has. Plus she is reading from a script. Prepped much.

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  31. They are done. Harabedian is with Moran and Walsh. They are done. The rest is decoration.

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  32. It is not over. That was a brilliant presentation. Public discussion is necessary, genuine public outreach needs to take place, and do we really need a commission to tell city staff how to save on electricity?

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  33. A city lawyer has to attend commission meetings, yeah?

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  34. Josh's irrational howling about "rightwing radio" was disgusting. Shame on you, Josh.

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    1. Shades of his earlier style, the relational Josh. When he's in that mode he can't help but be insulting.

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  35. John Capoccia has asked the council to have a thorough understanding of these matters before they make a decision. Shocking.

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    1. Thank goodness he is following up on what Macgillivray said when the accords first appeared---- that the public should have input because they will pay. Buchanan blew it off and pushed through with trying to adopt the accords. Macgillivray pushed until she got agreement that it would be accepted as a working document only so that's why Capoccia even has the opportunity.

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  36. The chair of the Green Comm was surprised that Sierra Madre is green? Where does he live?

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  37. Alva is an LA County bureaucrat. Just what we need in Sierra Madre.

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  38. Why is this committee so important to Josh? What's in it for his Realtor friends?

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    1. That's a great question. He is committed.

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  39. Lengthy meetings are a sign of inefficient leadership.

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  40. This entire green discussion is ridiculous. One, ab32 and sb375 willMandate enough environmental restrictions that will make whatever a green commission will recommend moot. The other interesting thing about this discussion is that they have managed to insulate the green accords from the un as a valid set of parameters. With all these state mandated standards a green commission so committee is redundant

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  41. I love that mayor josh spent so much time making sure this discussion is non political and the he proceeds to make snarky comments about talk radio. What a guy.

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    1. He and the Mayor Pro Tem came to this meeting with their minds made up, entirely.

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

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    3. They didn't just have their minds made up. They were rehearsed, making speeches that were not impromptu, and reading portions of their arguments. They were coordinated and synchronized.

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  42. Ok, so I,m new to my iPad. I meant to say that this green discussion managed to validate the u.n . Accords as an acceptable standard for the green group to use.

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    1. The council has yet to go through the accords one by one. We'll see what is left standing after a thorough examination about the applicability to Sierra Madre, in practical terms.

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  43. This is a major irony. The pervious discussion talked about sustainability and conservation of resourceses and now Karen Schneider is bemoaning the fact that the city does not have enough utility income because citizens are conserving on their use of water and other utility usage. Go figure

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    1. So if we use more water our rates will go down? Heck, I'll just turn on my hose and let it run down the gutter.

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    2. The civil penalties for discharging water without a permit may discourage such behavior!

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