Monday, August 13, 2012

The Tattler's Tuesday Evening City Council Meeting Preview: The Consent Calendar

It was almost 8 o'clock when I started writing this last evening, with the temperature still hovering somewhere near the mid-90s. Big billowy monsoonal clouds hung up along the ridgeline, if the visible side of the foothills can be called that in this part of the country. It hardly mattered however, apparently they weren't about to come down our way. All that cool drenching rain, along with high winds and punishing lightning strikes, were saved instead for such inland down low as Lake Elsinore and Rubidoux. I'll bet they're probably still talking about it.

I'll tell you one thing, though. No matter who got what, and whether or not they deserved it, hardly matters to me at this point. Because friends, I get to write a Tattler preview to Tuesday evening's Sierra Madre City Council meeting. It is an unmatchable experience that others can only dream of doing. And let them dream, that's what I say. It will keep them off the streets and safe at home in the bosom of their families. Where they are loved and needed.

Let's get to work, shall we?

Tuesday evening's closed session will deal with the Hildreth legal situation, which I don't know too much about. Probably because meetings such as this one are not open to the public. I do know that this has been going on for quite some time, and apparently there has been little movement. The impression left here is that the City is unlikely to negotiate with a resident it has issues with, and that is costing us a lot of money in legal expenses. The willingness to go to the legal mat like this seems to be a part of the governing culture downtown. You have to wonder if it stems from City Hall feeling insecure over its authority. Something that, if true, does make them dangerous when ignored.

After whatever is going to happen in the closed session concludes, the "Call To Order" will be issued and the roll call taken. The City Councilmembers in attendance, when asked if they are there, will say "here." If they are not present they won't say anything. Nancy Walsh will lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then inspire us with her words. My guess is it will be about the weather, and a fervent hope for a break in the heat wave.

Nothing will likely be reported from out of closed session. The agenda will be discussed and either approved or changed, and then approved. Minutes from three separate meetings will probably be approved as well. The reason why three meetings worth of minutes are up for approval this evening is because previously they have been forgetting to do so until it is too late. Tomorrow evening a new vigor will be brought to this important responsibility, and it will get done.

The Mayor and Council will next report on their activities in regards to the betterment of the City, after which the public will comment on items not on the agenda. All of which takes us to the Consent Calendar.

Up first is Item 1a (small case intentional), which is traditionally where the cash gets spent. It is an impressive display of the City Council's real power in the community, anchored by its legally sanctioned ability to spend tax money. Tomorrow evening $690,070.80 in warrants, payroll and whatever to do with the library will be consumed. Payroll making up $302,066.82 of the take.

Notable warrants include $366 for "ordinance publications" in the Mountain Views News, in case anyone thinks Susan Henderson is getting rich. A $607 check will be made out to a Richard O. Johnson for the performance of his oldies band, JJ Jukebox, at a recent "Concert in the Park." Which I wasn't able to make since I generally don't like to leave the house. $24,203.63 for an "energy efficiency" project, which seems like an inefficient use of our money, though I do not know the details. It will take a lot of energy efficiency to make up for all that. $20,653.73 goes to Colantuono & Levin, who seem to bank handsomely at all of our City Council meetings. $1,650 for low flow toilets, in case you were wondering who picked up that tab at the recent and much ballyhooed potty swap. There is no free toilet, to paraphrase. $689.29 for a Zumba instructor, which is more than JJ Jukebox got. Zumba apparently is "an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin inspired, calorie burning dance fitness party." Probably would have been cheaper if whomever had just taken a walk. And then $1,716.82 for an on-line service subscription. Hopefully it includes MLB Live. Mine does, and it costs considerably less.

It takes a village to spend roughly $300,000 on stuff every two weeks, I suppose.

Item 1b deals with a Temporary Use Permit for the yearly Wine and Jazz Walk. This is an event that raises a lot of money for City of Hope while allowing residents to get high while walking downtown. Something you would ordinarily get arrested for in Sierra Madre. And it is to the credit of the residents of this town that they usually do maintain a proper decorum despite all the wine they consume at these things. What is most notable here is that the City will collect $2,142.00 in fees for the use of Sierra Madre Police Officers. This somehow all boils down to $102 per hour for 3 officers working 7 hours. Good money if you can get it.

Item 1c is another one of those cash swaps the City has been running lately. Somehow the City of Sierra Madre was gifted with $100,000 in "highway improvement funds" by those wacky Feds. Something we cannot really use since we don't have any highways, just a lot of residential streets and a boulevard or two. You can't help but wonder why we were given this money in the first place. The County has some need of it though, and they will gladly swap us $100,000 in fairly unrestricted gasoline tax money for our restricted Federal highway money. An even trade, no less, and much better than the last cash swap.

Item 1d is a second reading of Ordinance No. 1330, described in the Agenda Report as a "Municipal Code regarding public nuisances, code enforcement fees and attorney's fees." You might recall from the first reading that this item allows the City to recoup any moneys spent on code enforcement and resulting attorneys fees. Something that I guess could make this the "pay for your own rope" ordinance. In my mind this opens up a whole pandora's box of possibilities for abuse. Allowing this particularly cash mad City the right to do anything that will result in it collecting money from citizens is, no matter what the reason, a risky thing to do. The City Council voted for this unanimously last time, they'll probably be happy with it this time as well. I don't get it.

Item 1e is another second reading of an ordinance, this time a Municipal Code Text Amendment. "An amendment to the Title 17 (zoning) of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code to incorporate the Kensington Specific Plan regulations." On the surface of it this appears to be some housekeeping designed to keep the City out of any legal jeopardy, while also allowing the Kensington people their little ration of malarkey. An example:

Some suites may have kitchenette-scale facilities which may include sinks without garbage disposals, small refrigerators and microwave ovens, but will not be fully appointed for food preparations.

What if one of the inmates there decided to just open up some Dinty Moore beef stew and eat it cold out of the can with a plastic spoon while seated on their bed? What will we do then, I ask you?

This has all become very annoying. At this point I am somewhat predisposed to vote for this thing, but there are limits to my patience.

And why the use of the word "suites?" If the people of this City are going to vote this thing into existence, and approve amending Measure V for these two particular parcels, then why does the completely inaccurate and contrary to Sierra Madre law word "suites" have to be used? Is it because Mayor Moran spent untold City treasure on lawyers in the vain attempt to convince the Planning Commission that this "suites vs. units" issue actually meant something legally relevant? And now we need to keep up appearances or it will become obvious he's made an ass of the entire town?

And when exactly will we finally be allowed to know how much the legal costs were for the months of Planning Commission meetings dedicated almost exclusively to this "suites vs. units" jabbering? What exactly did this all cost us?

Don't get me started on this. My support at least, which is mostly based on turning a blind eye to any number of things, just might begin to waver.

This concludes our review of the first portion of tomorrow night's City Council meeting. We will discuss the remaining five items tomorrow.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

84 comments:

  1. Why oh why are they still talking about suites? C & L are really determined to water down Measure V aren't they?

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    1. That is why we're giving them $20,000 tomorrow night. To reward them for working against our interests.

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    2. I guess we pay extra for the deception.

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  2. the ordinance for Kensington should eliminate any future additions or modifications that would allow turning the "suites' into "units" which is exactly what they are to begin with

    just another scam this time lead by Party Mayor Boi Moran

    Moran has made an ass out of the town several times like when he stood up along Buchanan and Mosca and lied about the UUT emergency or when he stated publically after being elected that he had every intention of using his position to appoint his friends and supporters - flat out giddy about being dishonest and of course that time he called for a boycott of Sierra Madre businesses because they happened to advertise in a publication that gave a balanced view of Measure V

    when Moran speaks I assume it's to order another round of drinks or he's got a self serving agenda for his real estate business

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  3. Nancy, it's not so much the heat as the stupidity.

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  4. Ordinance No. 1330, You think a failure to stop at the stop sign ticket is expensive $$$? Wait till this takes effect. City is going to be rolling in more money !!!! This stuff is unbelievable.

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  5. The problem is that no one in city hall takes money seriously. They get a kind of glaze over their eyes "It's such a small amount." I agree that people could walk instead of hiring a Zumba instructor, and that would save almost $700. But $700 doesn't register on the minds of city hall. Something closer to the administrator salaries, say $70,000 plus life time care, they might notice that. But $700? Nope.

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    1. Participants pay a fee for the Zumba class. I am pretty sure that's how the instructor is paid.

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    2. It is listed as a payment in the warrants.

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    3. The participants of the Zumba class pay the City, which in turn pays the instructor a part of that fee. Same goes for the concert in the park fee. The sponsors pay the fee to the City which in turn pays the band. The JJ Jukebox concert last night was great, by the way.

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  6. I cannot believe in this market that we cannot find some excellent young attorneys for half the cost of the obfuscating C & L.
    Maybe a third of the cost.

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    1. That's what a RFP will tell us. As long as the city staff don't try to strangle the language and make it too narrow and exclusive, we should be inundated with interested lawyers.

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  7. Kitcheny, kitcheness, kitchenic - but not a kitchen, goodness no.

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    1. Kind of like Stephen Colbert and his term "truthiness." sounds like the truth, but it isn't really.

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  8. Living in Sierra Madre is becoming dangerous to one's pocket book as well as one's health.There is nothing reassuring about residing in a community where gangsterism is becoming the norm.

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  9. It seems obvious to me that the purpose of keeping the word "suite" in city documents is to set a precedent for future Measure V challenges. And since Measure V is far more important to me than the Kensington or what happens to that lot, I will be forced to vote NO in November. I for one feel betrayed once again by our city.

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  10. Don't forget the General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting tonight, postponed from last Tuesday, when the City Council "half hour" emergency meeting ran four times as long. Please attend to see what plans for the next 20 years are being made for our town; 6-9 pm.

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  11. Disgruntled AmericanAugust 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Did you know? that July 1 began a Pasadena ordinance not to provide plastic bags. I guess I havent been shopping lately. I had heard that San Francisco outlawed those aweful flimsy things that litter our landfills and streets. I applaud Whole Foods for offering paper bags the last several years. But I didnt know a law took effect.

    Here's the rub. I was in Target and purchase various items that totaled over $50. Then she had the nerve to push her paper bag cost on me at .10 per bag. What am I suppose to do. Carry them out clutched in my hands. I refused the bag purchase and did just that. When walking through the exit the security had the nerve to ask to see my receipt as he proceeded to go over each and every item. I should have just dropped my purchase and asked for a refund.

    Although its only a dime a bag, I find it insulting that corporate Target can not pick up the tab on bagging their customers purchase. Instead they make money on their bags. The City probably gets a percentage of that dime as well.

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    1. The City gets the entire 10 cents. The Public Relations spin is that the money will go to "the Arts." But, who knows how Pasadena defines "Arts."


      This is not a purchase, it is a tax, that will take effect County wide on January 1, 2013.

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    2. Plastic bags were a bad idea and have caused more problems than they are worth. I have been carrying my own canvas bags for years. It's not that hard. You get in the habit of keeping them in your car.
      It does slow down things at some stores - especially at the self check out stands.

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    3. Don't kid yourself, the Green Committee wants to get rid of plastic bags here, as well.

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    4. With your purchases at Taylors you get free plastic bags.

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    5. Stop whining and wasting already and get your own bags.

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    6. great now I have to stand longer in line while Grandma packs $ 95 dollars worth of groceries at Von's.

      at leat $ 95 worth of groceries in only 1 bag at Whole Foods and 2 bags at Trader Joe's.

      certainly the bandwagon attention seeking Council members we've have and had will motion a non-plastic ordinance and tout it at election time as being "important".


      just wonderful, slower lines at grocery stores - great

      so will all the green fanatics please learn how to bag your groceries faster and stop talking to the cashier?

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    7. Grandma says mind your manners. I'll have a bagging throw down with you anytime.
      And is it really too heavy a burden for you, too much of a complication in your life, to provide your own damn bags?

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    8. You wanna bring your own bags, have at it. I resent you imposing your will on me, though.

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    9. Yep, it's my God-given right to foul the environment anyway I like.

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  12. Well thats even more upsetting. The City enforcing a tax for some art. Im going to shop in another county.

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  13. You dont have to pay the tax. Just bring your own bags. At first it seems annoying, but thats only because we are so used to the 'convenience' of throw away stuff. People have been supplying their own bags in most of the rest of the world for years.

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  14. More Green movement stifling the economy

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    1. Really? The Plasic bag sector of the economy?

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    2. No it causes boycotting of purchasing at brick and morters. May as well shop online and with free shipping its the best thing out there.

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  15. I don't use canvas bags, but use brown paper ones. I carry them in the trunk of both our cars. When I run out, I pay or most of the time, they are free, for more paper bags, then recycle them. It's easy to do, no big deal. Plastic bags are only good to clean up animal waste, they aren't all that clean for our food anyway. I just hope people will continue to pick up after their dogs if they don't have plastic bags....you can buy them in the pet stores. They are handy.
    Perhaps the Green Committee should provide free dog waste bags?
    I'm no fan of the Sierra Madre Green COMMITTEE, they are using a good cause to promote a bad cause (centralized government controlled development).
    Look, we all care about our environment.
    Most Sierra Madre residents are very mindful about conservation.
    We don't need the Green Committee making up a bunch of rules....we get it.

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  16. I think Council's and Planning Commissions are full of people who love to hear themselves talk, will talk about anything and it doesn't matter if it isn't germane to the topic, just blah blah blah

    instead of limiting public speech to 3 minutes the Council and Planning Commissioners should be limited to 3 minutes and the Public should have a five full minutes

    Please Josh - shut up - you aren't making sense.

    we had enough of a blather mouth with Mayor Buchanan - talk talk talk talk talk and say a bunch of nothing


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    1. 2:22 has an excellent idea. All council people should be held to the 3 minute limit. It's a great way to organize remarks. And unlike the public, they can have many 3 minute segments. That should work.

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    2. There is no time limit for public comment set in law. There is the option to set one.

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    3. Oh Lord, the time I have wasted waiting for Buchanan to get to the point!
      Honestly by the last few years I gave up going to meetings because there was no mute button.
      At home I learned to hit mute when he started, do chores, wander around, come back and unmute for his last couple of sentences.

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  17. oh I'm confused,

    living here 19 years, I automatically thought the Green Committee in Sierra Madre was about development money first, business as usual, and not the environment and now it's about the environment and plastic bags?

    nah, still about development money with the smokescreen of the environment as a bogus cause and reported gleefully as gospel by the local sidewalk rags

    has Carol Catenbury made anymore zany hatey comments on her Facebook page or was she effectively clipped by Prudential Realty - zipppp it or join another firm?


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  18. Many Tattlers are regular shoppers at Costco. When was the last time Costco furnished plastic or paper bags at the checkout stand? Folks go in expecting to use recycled boxes. No whining, no excuses. Boxes.

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    1. Development services needs your old Costco boxes. They will be used as part of the homeless housing shelter proposed for East Montecito.

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    2. Enough with the homeless bashing! Bunch of spoiled idiots ranting and raving about a damn shelter. I hope you lose your job,your home, your friends, and your family, and end up on your ass in the street! Have a little compassion, man. There are people that through little fault of their own have hit hard times. Enough of your damn whining, and go back to watching American Idol...

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    3. 6:39, fantastic! We'll eagerly await your opening your home to the needy.

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    4. 3:42, many Tattlers shop at CostCo? Did you conduct a survey?

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    5. 7:46~ Some people that need help, get help, and rebuild their lives. For you, there is no help. Go back and stick your head up your sandbox... fool!

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    6. I don't detect a lot of hospitality there, 9-11.

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  19. Today at CVS at Sears, the sales lady did not ask me if I wanted a plastic bag. She took my money, gave me change and walked on to another chore (not too many folks in the store at noon today). I did have enough room in my sidebag for these small purchases so no harm.

    I brought home from Canada grocery reuseable bags long before they were available here and still would forget them in the car from time to time. Taught myself to save that measly 10 cents at Trader Joes by reloading purchases in the cart and loading them into the reuseable bags at the car.

    I heard someone say they prefer to do it that way as they can then organize it better for putting away at home, anyway.

    If you want to know the highest and best reason for cutting down on plastic waste look at the photo of the contents of the gut of a dead seal that is on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: full of plastic crap, bags, bottle caps, pulls of of milk bottles, etc.

    Then there is the photo of the strangled sea bird who got its head stuck in the loops from the 6 pack. By the way, you hardly noticed that six packs are held together differently now, did you? That is the result of some strong feelings and hard work on the part of enviornmentalists who cared enough to push for change.

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    1. You don't get it, do you?

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    2. Maybe it's you who don't get it 4:27.

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    3. Well, since you do, you better explaine...

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    4. 4:15 did a pretty good job of explaining.

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  20. See 4:26 in the earlier thread up above.

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  21. Good news - looks like it might drop to 79 degrees by 8:00.
    A little better.

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    1. I am sick of the dog days.

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    2. I suppose we should all go to the council meeting tomorrow night and support our men.
      I guess old Josh Moran will be back......sigh......that man is a ten pound sh*t load in a 5 lb. bag!

      I think I'd rather sit out on the porch and listen to crickets than listen to him or Nancy. Feel sorry for Chris, John C. and John H. and also Nancy Shollenberger, who has to sit there and write everything that idiot spouts.

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  22. Wahh... too hot. Wahh... 10-cent bags. Wahh... I have to wait in line at the store. Wahh... I have to change a bad habit.

    Pull yourselves together lads!

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  23. 4:26 said something about not imposing our will on him or her. Consider that over the years the "free" shopping bags at the supermarket, liquor store, Target, etc., have not really been free. 4:26 has "paid" for them as have all the rest of us in the form of salaries of CAL Trans supervisors who watch over the low risk inmates that clean up this mess from the side of the freeway, in the form of salaries of the state workers that clean up the beaches including the dead carcasses of the wildlife killed by our freedom to pollute, etc., etc. etc. Somebody else chime in here.

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    1. Glad the inmates are "at work" picking up trash. I use my bags for garbage. Appears by the green comments that a lot of Tattlers throw their bags out of the car window, though.

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  24. Right on. I hope they ban plastic water bottles next.

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  25. We Americans are very spoiled and want everything handed out.
    We complain that the government gives too many handouts, but when
    we have to bring our own bags to any store we jump up and down
    and complain.

    go buy loose tea and stop using the bags and save even more!

    logic? seriously....

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    Replies
    1. Tea bags work well in the compost pit and/or the worms love them. They eat everything except the staple.

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  26. No doubt some of the same people complaining here against high-density housing under the premise that they prefer their cars over mass transit are the same people railing against the 710 tunnel because it'll cause cancer.

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    1. Where did you get that premise 7:09? You can do better.

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    2. A little nutty. 7:09 is just lashing out in an kind of incoherent rage.

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    3. Too much heat on the brain.

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    4. His lasagna got left in the oven for too long.

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    5. Gotta be that Steve L guy again. I thought you quit the Tattler. We're disappointed.

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    6. Lashing rage? The guy must have hit his target.

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    7. Nah - we're used to trolls with a little more brain power.

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  27. Look, Im an American pig. Ive been getting free service of having the products I purchase with my hard earned money,selected a certain store to shop and buy their product, and I expect the seller to present my purchased item in a bag that represents the store I bought it from. Once bagged I expect that employee to hand me the bag, look me in the eye, and say thank you for your business here at ... please come back again! with a genuine smile! PERIOD! Its the least a business can do. When the plastic bags came out 15 or 20 years ago I was dead against them and have always requested "paper" please. If businesses want to cut costs on their final impression with the customer Ill shop online. I dont care what other countries are doing. We dont bag our own here in America. Customer service is what sets us apart from other countries. Ive been to other countries and their service is terrible. Im not going to get used to it. I want a friendly smile and thank you as the cashier hands me my merchandise (in a BAG)!

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    1. How's the self service gas station working out for you?

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    2. Well as most people over 50 remember self serve gas stations suck. We got used to it though. Basically we got "conditioned". A prime example of how service has diminished in this country. Doesnt cost much to have a guy come out and pump gas rather than just sit on his fat behind and wait to take gas orders. Reality is so many immigrants never experienced good ol American service so they dont expect it.

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    3. The attendants did more than pump gas! They checked the oil and cleaned the windows. If you asked they also checked the tire pressure. Pure heaven it was.

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    4. Some states still don't allow people to pump their own gas. New Jersey for one. If you go to a gas station there some guy will walk up to your car and ask, "Fill 'er up?" It is a pretty good thing. We might want to consider going to this system in California. It would help to create petroleum transferral engineering jobs.

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    5. Fresh fruit for rotting vegetablesAugust 14, 2012 at 6:00 AM

      Give me convenience or give me death.

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    6. Ha! Genius.

      Maybe we could design a flag with a snake sitting in a lazyboy. With a plastic bag around its neck of course..

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  28. Im going to be bringing a new possible tenant to our beloved Howies if it pencils out.

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    1. A bowling alley? Lucky Lanes!

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    2. Excellent news. Anything that complies with Measure V will be heartily welcomed by the community.

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    3. Just make sure the pencils come with erasers.

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    4. Look at it this way, the only thing that has gotten approved downtown in years is Dr. Sami's Medical Building. And that is taking its sweet time getting finished. I'd say lottery odds are better than hoping anything will get built on the corner of Baldwin and Sierra Madre Boulevard.

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  29. You never know what is going to ignite passion on this blog. But even then, who'd have thought it would be shopping bags? Must be symbolic of something.

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  30. No, just small mindedness....

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