Monday, September 10, 2012

Your Tuesday Evening City Council Meeting Preview (Part 1)

It all happens Tuesday evening. By the time it is done there will be very little left on the table. The job will be finished, the decisions all made, their duties accomplished, everything said.

Here is how we believe it will all go down. There will be the meeting before the meeting. It is the one that is done in private per the advice of the City Attorney. This is where the involved officials brainstorm about some of the legal challenges facing the City. The first pertains to some sort of anti-trust litigation involving Wachovia Bank. This one will be conducted under the authority of Government Code 54956.9, which has to do with lawyer-client privilege. Which I guess means we're being sued for something.

The second is one of the endless series of sessions dealing with the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association. If they aren't suing us, then they are asking for a raise. Since this one is being held under the aegis of Government Code 54957.6, it means the POA is likely asking for more money. What their justification for this might be is unknown, though in the hands of the proper writers it could be the source of much comedy.

Upon the conclusion of these sub rosa matters the public will be allowed entry into Council Chambers and the pageantry will begin. There are certain rituals that must be performed, rites that have their roots embedded deeply in human history itself. This includes the roll call just in case one of the City Councilmembers at the dais might be an illusion, doppelganger, or unholy incarnation of otherworldly forces hoping to taint the peoples' business. A Pledge of Allegiance to a far higher governmental authority than what shall be present at this meeting will be conducted by members of the Police and Fire Departments. Done as part of a 9-11 salute, I suspect. There will be either an invocation or an inspiration conducted as well. I lean towards an inspiration.

Other things that will happen include the approval of the agenda, approval of minutes, Mayor and City Council reports, public comment on items not included on the agenda, with some new hires stepping into the spotlight as well. These include Sierra Madre's new Fire Department Captains plus a new Finance Department Accounting Manager.

A citizen can always take comfort in knowing that in our City Council meetings there is continuity, order and traditional sense of purpose. Twas always thus, and will forever be.

After the spiritual and patriotic needs of Sierra Madre's citizens have been succored, the Consent Calendar will kick in, and lots of money will be spent. This evening a robust $1,633,230 will fly out the door and into the pockets of untold hundreds of individuals. What they will do with our money God only knows. I hope it will be for sound and moral purposes.

This spend will be done in two parts as tonight's Consent Calendar also covers the period that would have been dealt with had the City Council met a second time in August.

Some of the bills we will be paying this evening are disheartening. $705,420 will go to the California Joint Powers Insurance Association. This so we can afford to pay off any legal settlements that might arise due to such things as the endless lawsuits the SMPOA has been engaging in. Of course, our local POA believes that this will make the City cry uncle and give them all the fat raises and pensions they crave. We know that the law firm they employ (Lackey, Dammeier & Beelzebub) has spun the POA's little donkey heads around about this and is getting richer at our expense.

$61,906.50 will go to coal-fired Edison. Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak, LLP will get $35,000 and change for their efforts to enforce this cities codes. The Ferguson Group gets their $5,000 for doing our Washington DC lobbying for us. There are literally thousands of items here. It really is quite mind boggling how much gets spent by City Hall. Why I just don't know.

One item that certainly needs to be singled out is the $2,860.92 "Annual Maintenance/Energy fee for traffic lights" we are paying the City of Pasadena. Since we do not have any traffic lights I am not sure why we would be paying maintenance and energy costs for them. Unless it's for that flashing yellow light downtown somewhere. And if it costs us that much money for a flashing yellow light, then perhaps we should just get rid of the damn thing.

Item 1c has to do with updating "the classification plan and salary matrix." Something that should serve to remind us all that City Hall is not only expensive, but it is high maintenance as well. And this revolution of the forever evolving Salary Matrix is very little different. Here is how it is painstakingly explained in the appropriate Staff Report:

One of the part-time Accountants will be resigning from the City of Sierra Madre. Rather than re-fill this vacancy with another Accountant, staff would like to under-fill the position with a part-time Account Technician. The part-time Account Technician is not currently an approved position in the salary matrix; therefore, staff is asking the City Council to approve an updated salary matrix which would include a part-time Account Technician. By under-filling the part-time Accountant with a part-time Account Technician, staff anticipates being able to provide more service hours for the same amount of an Accountant (sic).

I guess the idea here is to sacrifice some ability for a less expensive number grinder. Something that which would then provide staff with someone who could work longer hours.

This concludes Part 1 of our two part preview of Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. Tomorrow we will tackle the rest of the stuff, including the very disappointing results so far for Item 6, the RFP for City Attorney Services. Despite all of the time that has gone by since this item was first agendized, absolutely nothing has been done.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. Guess they have to slash and save in order to pay attorney fees.

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  2. Colantuono and Levin know where all the bodies are buried.

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    1. Judging by the City's past performances,there must be plenty of bodies.

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    2. If C&L goes Sierra Madre could be looking at its very own Zombie Apocalypse.

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    3. Ok, 8:23, I'm confused. What??

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    4. You don't know about the Zombie Apocalypse? Oh my God!

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    5. I will take a stab at this. I think what the poster is suggesting is that our current city attorney knows a lot of secrets that would make certain parties within our community uncomfortable should they become public knowledge. Those would be the zombies. This could be a reason why certain parties might be dragging their feet over the RFP. Because should we change law firms the zombies could be let loose. Or at least that would be the fear. That would be the Zombie Apocalypse.

      I'd be willing to answer any questions.

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    6. Would those Zombie secrets include the Emperor of Maoranistan?

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    7. Yes. That is why most open houses are filled with zombies.

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  3. Hey, maybe the city should hire Lackey, Dammeier, and Beelzebub as the city attys. That way they couldn't represent the POlice Assoc in town.

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    1. Good point. Though I still don't think they'd give a damn for what the taxpayers want. City Hall isn't that different than the PD.

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    2. They should rename the firm Lackey, Smith & Dammeier. Or LSD for short.

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    3. Smackdamm. Comes on blotter paper.

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  4. Anybody have a clue as to the Wachovia Bank thing?

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    Replies
    1. Is it connected to the Hildreth property?

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  5. Damn right about those doppelgangers!
    We had one for years.
    Mosca was really some kind of hologram.

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    1. Don't think so. If Joe Mosca were a hologram, he would have attended the meetings he was supposed to have attended, right?

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    2. Maybe the light was bad.

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  6. New Hires. Of course. Economic collapse? What economic collapse? Hire away.

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    1. You misunderstand 11:12. The hiring is a part of the restructuring that was done to save the city money. It wasn't just shuffling things around to keep everyone employed.

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    2. @11:12, if you read the last part of the article, you'll see the way the reorganization is working. The effort is to eliminate full time where possible and turn it into part time, pensionless. This keeps the current pension holders in place, while throwing some meat to the wolves howling at the door.

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  7. I think you're right Tattler, that "After the spiritual and patriotic needs of Sierra Madre's citizens have been succored" the council can actually get down to business.
    As an old time Sierra Madre council watcher, it drives me crazy.
    If the meetings could start with the city's actual business, we'd all be able to get home or turn off the tv a lot earlier in the evening.
    And put those stupid council reports as the last item of the night. We'd see just how much the council members want to strut their stuff.

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    1. I think it is deliberate. First you get softened up with all the happy talk and patriotism, then they drop the money bomb. I am sure it is traditional and evolved over the years.

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    2. It would be far more efficient to have a celebratory gathering once a month for welcomes, thanks, parades, and such, and reserve the council meetings for council matters. Thus it will never happen.

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  8. What kind of American are you Crawford? Our city council decisions represented by an Aussie beer cap!

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  9. The streetlight might refer to the one on Michillinda and the Boulevard. Maybe we have to pay for some portion of that?

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  10. Sierra Madre does too have traffic lights. Sob, sob, that has been a PR fiction in this town for Years. Driving southbound on Michelinda you get to observe one set of light, of which Sierra Madre has half of within its corporate boundaries on the west side of the intersection with Sierra Madre Blvd. Traveling further on, Sierra Madre shares the ones at Orange Grove with Pasadena and Arcadia and we get to demythify our selfs by having 1/4 of that intersection's traffic light system in our corporate boundaries.

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    1. This is utter balderdash. Both of the lights you describe here are not in Sierra Madre. They are close, but in no way cross city lines.

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    2. I think that what 12:36 wrote is true - those lights are just a wee bit connected to us - certainly we stop at them. However! We can still say there are no traffic lights IN Sierra Madre.

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    3. They are either in Sierra Madre or they are not. We cannot do anything about the traffic light choked streets of Pasadena. But just because they can park the damn things on our doorstep doesn't mean they are ours, or in our city.

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    4. Maybe we can get a solar-powered traffic light.

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    5. sorry to break your Mayberry heart but Sierra Madre does have 1 traffic light in town at the Michellinda curtain. And one at Orange Grove and Mich. Theres no argument that the light is on SM city property. If it were up to me Id put one smack dab at the intersection of Baldwin and SM Blvd.

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    6. Dear 2:53, we found your marbles. If you would like them back they can be found on the bar at the Buck in a small jar of weasel grease next to the pig knuckles. I'd hurry if I were you. Some hungry people are there today and the price on the jar is a nickel each.

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    7. And 2:53 your plan to redo all the parking on the streets downtown to go along with the light? Let me guess: multi story parking structures perhaps, sprinkled here, there and everywhere? Just so we can be like every other town in the San Gabriel Valley.

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  11. Just another annoying observation on the "I'm not going to use any stinkin' reuseable shopping bags' bunch. What would have been their complaint when the paper bags for produce were done away with or when the butcher paper and string tie disappeared? Drive across town, the county even, to find a store where they could still satisfy their idea of the good old days?

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    1. Just go to Taylors meats. They wrap up your meat in butcher paper. And yes I griped back in the day when those flimsy plastic bags came out. I prefer paper bags and a nice smile thank you come back again from my stores.

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

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    3. Why do you think they call it dope?

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  12. Introduction of yet more employees the city cant afford ???? I understand that there will be 4 captains introduced at tomorrows council meeting. Were we not told that there would only be 3 captains hired. I have spoken to some folks on the department and understand that this forth position was created for a volunteer captain by the chief and mayor.?????? What is going on here?

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    1. I was just so sure the city had a hiring freeze! When did that expire?

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    2. After the election probably. The "hiring freeze" was put out there to make you feel warm and fuzzy about extending the UUT.

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    3. What hiring freeze?

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  13. Drive the corners and see where the taffic light poles are!

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  14. We clearly have traffic lights on our borders. But that is not characteristic of the town, and it makes perfect sense to say we have no traffic lights - particularly as our bigger neighbors own and control them!

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    1. It is equally correct to say we own 50% of the two traffic lights on the east side of Michillinda at Sierra Madre Blvd and 25% of the traffic light on the NE corner of Michillinda and Orange Grove. The center of Michillinda and the center of Orange Grove are the boundary lines between Sierra Madre and Pasadena, and Sierra Madre and Arcadia. Say what you will, but facts are facts.

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    2. Really? So why isn't Pasadena paying us?

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    3. So we maintain those lights?

      But even more, would we even really be pounding this issue if it weren't so damn hot?

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    4. I will answer that, thank you. We pay Pasadena because they are Pasadena's lights. Which goes to show that indeed Sierra Madre has no traffic lights. We need to tell Pasadena to go pack it, we ain't paying.

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  15. For me the point is a symbolic one.
    We do not have stop lights in town because we don't need them, they were not planned for (hello to all that parallel parking that would no longer work if there were lights) and God Willing we'll never be so overdeveloped, a la downtown Destruction Plan, that our traffic requires them.

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    Replies
    1. More stop signs = greater chance of catching a driver at a rolling stop = more ticket revenue.

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  16. As fascinating as the Who's-your-Daddy-streetlight? talk is, does anyone have the straight info on the hiring freeze? I thought that there never was one, just that there was the potential for it. The City Manager redesigned everything enough to avoid it. But I could certainly be wrong. Has there ever been a time in the last decade or so that we weren't hiring?

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    1. Once the election was over the hiring freeze was, too. How soon before our new salaried employees in the Fire Department join the cop union and start suing us as well? 3 months?

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  17. Tattler, I too am disappointed that nothing on the RFP for legal representation has been done. But I didn't expect it. When the gumint wants to move slowly, it does.
    They couldn't start anything til the council discussed it and 'gave staff direction.'
    The staff can move slowly again, and in a few months or so, cobble together a form for an RFP.
    Then they'll have to find a time to fit it on an agenda, so the council can discuss it and 'give staff direction.'
    Then staff will......

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    1. You're right, of course. And still staff can somehow find three meetings to give the Green Committee time to explain the reasons why they should be allowed to continue doing whatever it is they do.

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    2. The Green committee does very good pretty things with words.

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    3. Yeah, cut and paste them from UN documents.

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    4. They should put a traffic circle with fountain at Kersting Court.

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    5. I do like that idea. Ive been pushing that same idea for awhile. Maybe it will some day catch the eye of council.

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  18. Why doesn't the Council drop out of the COG and save the money going into Nick Conway's craw? That would take two seconds in a consent calendar!!

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  19. Attached article in the Patch. I thought only kids down below behaved like this. Apparently our own youth have issues too.

    Juvenile Batters Family
    Monday Aug. 27
    Parents brought their uncooperative and combatant juvenile daughter to the police station seeking assistance. During the investigation, officers determined that the juvenile had battered both her mother and a sibling earlier in the day and she was taken into custody. During a search of the juvenile a dagger was found concealed in her sleeve. The juvenile was arrested for Possession of a Dagger and detained at Eastlake Juvenile Facility.

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