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.