Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Part 2: Or the Other Half of Tonight's City Council Meeting

Yesterday we talked for a bit about the Closed Session, the Consent Calendar, along with the more ritual portions of tonight's City Council agenda. Plus neighboring city traffic lights and who actually does own them. Musn't forget about that.

Today we are going to cover what are supposed to be the big issues facing our community. Some of them are important, of course, but what about the rest? I am not sure I know. However, it is good to visit with these items as well. They slow time down and make life seem longer. Never think of them as boring, rather you should see each one as being a pathway to greater longevity.

Item 2: Consideration of Appointments to the Senior Community Commission - There are two openings, and four people applied. That means two people won't get to serve on this Commission, and two will. But those who won't will be referred to as great candidates anyway, even after they get passed over. And a member of the City Council is certain to ask them to be sure and volunteer for other Commission seats once they become available. "This City really does need you," someone will say. "Do not be discouraged."

Item #3: Water Conservation - One of the larger ironies of these our municipal times is that conservation has driven the Water Department into some rather unhappy financial straits. The good citizens of Sierra Madre, led to believe that conserving water is a good thing, cut their water usage so much that the resulting lack of billing caused Bruce's Bubble Up Factory to go out of fiscal compliance with various water bond covenants. Something that forced the City to go out and browbeat the residents into accepting a water rate increase. Even after certain City employees and elected officials were caught flat-out lying about the reasons why rates had to go up.

But that doesn't have too much to do with this little number. What is going down here is Ordinance 1322, which will permit City Hall to levy stiff fines on anyone who uses more water than they are supposed to be using. There are three levels of penalties here, with the third and most drastic being "flow restriction." Which apparently is accomplished by installing some kind of gadget that regulates the amount of water that can flow into the home or business of an offending party.

Penalties for bad behavior seems to be a trend here in town. Last meeting we saw the creation of an ordinance that allows the City to demand cash from an offending party for the cost of enforcing the codes they violated. Now we're about to see instituted here fines or worse for too much water usage. It's getting real in Sierra Madre. My question being are these really about curbing bad behavior, or has the City now created for itself some new revenue streams? These are the kinds of things that can be abused if not carefully monitored.

Item #4: General Plan Update, Review of Schedule - They're talking about some flow chart action here, and any man or woman who doesn't like a flow chart has probably grown weary of life. What this particular flow chart is all about is explaining the things that still need to be done with the General Plan Update, and how much longer this process (stupid word) still has to go. Nothing is set in stone, or so says the Staff Report. We'll get to see if certain members of the City Council will express their impatience with either the pace or direction the General Plan Update Committee has taken. After all, we have seen some rather bizarre behavior from certain City Councilmembers on this topic in the past. Nancy Walsh's uncivil "We can take you out!" rant being a notorious example.

Item #5: Approval Of Contract For Transportation Services With First Transit, Inc. - I would sure fell better about the Round-A-Bout if more people rode it. I always make a point of looking to see if anyone is on board when our little CNG bus rolls by, and only rarely do I see anyone in there. This is one of those things that we aren't supposed to be worried about because it is paid for by money from Propositions A and C, though I do recall paying state taxes every year. One more example of how good intentions, run through the government, can result in things like mostly empty buses driving around in circles day after day, and for little apparent reason.

Item #6: Consideration Of Issuance Of Request For Proposals For City Attorney Services - This is becoming an unfortunate situation. The effort to replace our current City Attorney with someone both more affordable and, just perhaps, more concerned about the needs of our residents rather than what - say - the League of California Cities is looking for this season, is going nowhere fast. This RFP was initially set in motion back in April, revisited in June, yet judging by the City Staff report for this item nothing much has been done. A report on hiring criteria has been created, but it is pretty much standard legal employment boilerplate. At the pace we're going we could be well into 2013 before anything truly substantive takes place. When you consider the burning need of our City to obtain affordable and appropriate legal representation, this is extremely disappointing. I think we are being stalled.

Item #7: Council Liaison Duties - I would think that the two most important duties of a Council Liaison are to show up at meetings and understand what is going on once you get there. The events now occuring at the COG are a good example of what can happen when City representatives do not take their duties seriously. The corruption of the Nick Conway regime at the COG is a direct result of City Councilmembers not performing the oversight duties their liaison responsibilities demand.

But this item goes even deeper than that, and it is kind of surprising that these responsibilities haven't ever been clarified before. It indicates that perhaps the job of Council Liaison has not been taken very seriously in the past. It is to the credit of this City Council that the liaison gig is now being taken more to heart, and that the era of Joe Mosca missing 10 out of 12 COG meetings is hopefully thankfully over.

That concludes my report. I will be glad to answer any questions that you might have.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. I 'll be there tonight. I have a water bill story to share.

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    1. Looking forward to it!

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    2. The city residents are dealing with a bunch of real bad dudes!!!!!!!

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    3. Maybe they just have a problem with math.

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  2. How do they measure who gets how much water? When guests arrive for a month, does one re-apply for a new permit? What if I decide to plant a veggie garden and my water use increases? Or I build a coy pond?

    Details Bruce?

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    1. I'd like to have a coy pond but I can't afford the flirtation system.

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    2. 6:59 is asking about the "base line" for measuring water usage - and there will be a decision to use records from last year? ten years ago? at our addresses. Go over that base line and the municipal gods will be angry.
      On the other hand, if someone is so clueless as to water needlessly in the middle of a hot day, it's not a bad idea to stop that.

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    3. Do y'all mean 'koi' pond, perhaps?

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    4. Oi, perhaps the best pun ever on the Tatt.

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    5. Steve at 7:31 --- it was a joke.

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  3. It is the ultimate water rate hike.

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  4. Yes to the liaison's responsibilities being spelled out. Maybe now we'll be spared the "There was a meeting and I went. It was good" type of reports.

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    1. Or Nancy reading specially prepared statements written by Nick Conway.

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    2. Nancy reading specially prepared reports? You mean Nancy announcing that there were specially prepared reports available.

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    3. Good point. Saying that Nancy actually read them would be an assumption. The only thing Nancy ever read at COG meetings was the buffet menu.

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    4. In a way I'm grateful to council member Walsh for ratcheting up the absurdity of those council member reports to such a degree that even the most casual observer can see what a waste of time they are.

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    5. Give Nancy another chance!

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    6. Has she promised to chage her ways? Is she in empathy training?

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  5. Replies
    1. Zing! Was to the great coy pkay onwords. That was funny

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  6. Let us count the ways these thugs can continue to bleed the Homeowners!If this trend continue a Recall will be in order!Start thinking about protecting your interest.The City has lied to us before and will do so again.Nothing has changed.

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  7. They are talking about the need for another water rate increase. Should they go ahead with that proposal, we need to have a different City Attorney representing us. Last time, Sandy kept changing the rules on us to get signitures so that in the end, several were not counted. Regardless if we need a rate increase or not, we should at least be fairly represented, after all, the citizens are paying C & L through the tax monies.

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    1. That's why C&L makes the big bucks. They bend the rules and screw the residents.

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    2. Some people will roll their eyes at this, but Michael Colantuno left after he got through the hillside "developments" at Stonehouse and Carter, and Levin left after she maneuvered Prop 218 to the city governments advantage. Highsmith is probably on track to leave after the Kensington. It's a shell game and they are greedy.

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  8. We need to save money.
    Cities are collapsing around the state, and we do not want to do that.
    So, cut expenses - that means no more Colantuono and Levin.
    It's a buyers market out there.
    Just need clever and thoughtful people to draw up the contracts - make sure there's no getting the job then jacking up the cost after a year.

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    1. Pickings are slim for lawyers now, absolutely true.

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    2. We could save money and get a city attorney that doesn't come with Michael Colantuono's agenda? Can anyone come up with a downside?

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    3. If I remember correctly, the rationale for Colantuono and Levin was that things were getting more and more complicated, and that in the long run, a high priced experienced outfit would benefit us the most.
      That turned out to be a bunch of wishful thinking.
      Expensive wishful thinking.

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    4. Things became far more complicated, but mostly for the taxpayers.

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  9. The RFP for attorney services is one of the most important items on this agenda. Get rid of C&L and realize tremendous cost-savings for the city. Next RFP should be for law enforcement services.

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  10. Couple more RFPs and the UUT can go back to 6%. Where every other city's UUT is.

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  11. Too expensive to outsource the Police and Fire, the Paramedics could be an option. What type of funding does the Library pull from? And how much money is the city receiving from all the updates done at the YAC and Senior Center? have they paid for themselves?

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    1. You show an anazing dirth of knowledge about the City's budget and sources of funding. Can only assume you to be a classic Steve type troll fishing for information and probably not associated with Sierra Madre.

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    2. Outsource a volunteer fire department? Do tell.

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    3. 3:52 is a new low in invasive pests.

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    4. Welcome to town, new resident @3:52. You have a lot of catching up to do! I suggest your best reference source would be the library, where records of council meetings and decision for the last 20 years should be available.

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    5. 3:52, what is your take on the oil wells being drilled at the top of Baldwin?

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  12. Did Josh really just say that State Senator Carol Liu "wants to give our students the same due we give our prisoners."? I guess today's public schools are in worse shape than I thought!

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    1. I heard that, too. Sad to think that turning public schools into prisons would be an upgrade.

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  13. I have just been struck with an inspiration! Perhaps we should conduct all our council meetings in song. It would certainly make them more entertaining!

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    1. Chris Koerber suggested rapping.

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    2. Only if Nancy dances!!!!!!!!

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  14. The piano player is drowning out the singer.

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  15. This RVP process is agonizingly long! It's a good thing it was proposed at the first council meeting of the new council.

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  16. So many years in the making - showing C&L the exit - and there it was!

    No big deal. Weird.

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  17. C & L wanted out. What don't we know that is going on?

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