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.