Monday, October 29, 2012

Police Pay and Pod People

Run!
When I was a mere lad and therefore the unfiltered recipient of much of my father's wisdom (and this was a guy who believed he possessed quite a lot of that), he did have colorful opinions about government employees. The foremost being that they were people who, unlike himself, could not cut it in the world of business. And the reason they took such jobs was because it sheltered them from the harsh realities of the marketplace. In exchange for this sanctuary they accepted lower salaries than those who toiled out there in the jungle. In his opinion this was a fair swap and the way it should be. After all, somebody had to deliver the mail and catch stray dogs.

Of course, that was New Jersey in the 1970s. A much different time and place from California in the year 2012. Today government employment has become something more than the refuge of the unambitious. Instead it is now a place where you might consider going if you wanted to make not only more money, but retire in comfort once you hit the advanced age of, oh let's say, 50?

This from the High Desert Daily Press out there in cosmopolitan Victorville (click here):

Government employee pay soars past average Joe's: Salaries and pension benefits for California state workers grew three times as fast as the per capita personal income of all Californians, according to a new study released by the Center for Government Analysis and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation.

Estimated expenditures to state worker pension systems have increased more than 4 1/2 times, according tot he study that examined state compensation from 2005 to 2010.

"Given the importance of the topic of California's finances, the State's expenditures (and the lack of disclosure regarding them) further erodes public confidence in our State government," said Steven Frates, president of CGA.

(If) the state allowed State worker salaries and benefits to increase at the same rate as the general per capita income rate for the rest of Californians, the State could have saved more than $2.1 billion — enough to increase the number of California teachers by 8.2 percent, adding nearly 25,000 teachers. If the State had kept the State worker workforce from growing, they would have saved even more — nearly $3 billion.

"The findings in this study completely belie the excuses from Sacramento politicians that they need more money in state coffers," said Jon Coupal, Chairman of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation. "A rapidly escalating share of taxpayer dollars that is being spent in Sacramento today is going toward bloated salaries and pensions, not teachers and schools."

Now there are a number of theories as to why this may be. The one I favor is that for our de facto one party state government employees have become the political extension of a power that now controls many aspects of what goes down in California. And in order to maintain employee loyalty, and thereby completing their grip on power, these folks are rewarded with as much taxpayer money as possible. Which I believe is also how they do it in some of the third world republics we used to enjoy looking down our noses at.

In Sierra Madre, a truly mighty microcosm of the forces at play on both state and county levels, the struggle between a city government that clearly believes it is entitled to ever increasing amounts of our money, versus those who wish it would just dry up and blow away, is clearly evident. Our Police union has been quite aggressive in its belief that it is entitled to everything we can cough up, and then some. And three members of our City Council wouldn't dare dream of standing in their way.

The reason being that the party whose support a couple of them will need for their re-election efforts in 2014, which is also the one that has a complete monopoly on power in Los Angeles County, heavily favors government employee unions over the rights of taxpayers. Which means that this pair of encumbered elected officials are very unlikely to do anything but advocate for higher taxes and fees. Done in order to properly reward the SMPOA, our most obstreperous public employee union.

All of which is being done for purposes having a lot more to do with their political fortunes than anything this city needs. The result being that we as taxpayers have never paid so much to receive so very little.

How did the Chamber of Commerce miss out on this one?

I have long believed that Sierra Madre has some unused tourist appeal assets, potential attractions that far outstrip the allure of the World's Largest Flowering Plant, or even Frosty the Snowman. I've written before about Anais Nin, the celebrated 20th century author who lived a large part of her life here in town. Nin, controversial at the time for her bold depictions of female sexuality, sold tens of millions of books and is still taught at universities all over the world. A truly iconic figure in world literature.

Certainly the house where she lived here would be of great interest to those who continue to venerate her works and memory. Bring in some scholarly speakers on her birthday, put up a few downtown banners and rename the day in her honor, and you would have quite an intellectually uplifting and profitable occasion for this little town.

However, that idea was met with the sound of crickets. Perhaps because nobody at the Chamber of Commerce reads very much. Though I am certain they are all quite dedicated to our Library.

There was an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday that pointed out another potential roadside attraction, one that could bring many happy tourists to our town. Check this out:

"Saw," 'Body Snatchers,' and more: Tour L.A.'s spookiest movie locales: Los Angeles isn’t a city known to be particularly spooky. Sun, sand and movie stars, yes. Scary old castles, not as much.

Nevertheless the City of Angels has hosted plenty of demons in its time. L.A. has been the location for countless horror movies that have managed to take even the most picturesque parts of Southern California and turn them into something sinister.

Lovely downtown Sierra Madre has served as the backdrop for an alien invasion; a historic home in the West Adams district has housed a basement full of cannibals. Even a beautiful Malibu beach has welcomed a coven of witches performing an occult rite.

“Los Angeles is a unique mixture of aging buildings and bizarre natural settings,” said Harry Medved, author of “Hollywood Escapes,” a guide to film locations around Southern California. “Most people who live in Los Angeles don’t really explore Los Angeles, so there are a lot of locales unknown to most Angelenos.”

An array of creatures including the diving-helmeted “Robot Monster” and a giant creature from Venus in “It Conquered the World” have visited the cave at Bronson Canyon, a place that has “something mythical” about it, according to Medved: “Not only was it the Batcave [in the TV series starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter-ego], but it was the place where Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter hide from the pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’”

The fictional California town of Santa Mira, setting of the 1956 paranoia classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was made up of locations from throughout Los Angeles, but the town square in Sierra Madre served as the Santa Mira town center, where the alien invaders went about their business while looking like everyone else.

It is comforting to know that things have not changed all that much in Sierra Madre.

Now that Halloween is almost upon us, maybe we should consider taking a good hard look at recreating the downtown scenes from Invasion of the Body Snatchers for happy trick-or-treaters? Complete with wandering Pod People armed with coupons for Mother Moo? And a continuous all night showing of the film itself at Kersting Court, of course.

I think that, properly publicized, this could become an enormous tourist event for our little town. Perhaps the empty half of Howie's could be turned into a kind of pop-up museum for the occasion? Complete with movie memorabilia and other Sierra Madre products for the out-of-towner set to squander some discretionary income on?

Of course, City fees alone would probably kill it. And how this was not included in the now nearly forgotten Buxton study is beyond me.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

58 comments:

  1. the cemetery scenes in hitchcock's 'family plot' as well as 'twin peaks' and 'halloween' right here, kersting court hosted michael myers for 'halloween 2' and there are many sierra madre shots (tv store, inside the buc) in 'halloween 3' episcapol church was used for 'the fog', freddy krueger was in bailey canyon (nightmare on elm street 6) but hands down the best use of sierra madre was a totally bonkers what were they thinking movie called 'the worm eaters' i guess sierra madre isn't proud of its celluloid heritage.

    anais nin, wow. who knew. found this

    "there is a little community in Sierra Madre where they didn’t have a nursery. Instead of waving banners and getting very angry, a friend of mine there went around to all the shops and made each shop-the carpenter, the toy man, everyone in the village-contribute to building this nursery and running it. They weren’t going to get it from the government and they weren’t going to get it from Governor Reagan. So they did it alone. They got what they needed."

    steinbeck fan seminars are what put the city of salinas put back on the map. i had a friend who went to salinas in the late seventies and early eighties every year. they would read under trees and dork out. i thought she was nuts, but now there is a steinbeck museum and yearly fests as well as hosting meals at the steinbeck house.

    maybe you're onto something.

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    1. Matt Horman article re: Nin's stay in Sierra Madre:
      In retrospect, Nin was not very happy in Sierra Madre. Her observations of its citizens reveal how alienated she felt. "The people around me are so standardized that they are colorless, anonymous, and have no distinguishing characteristics," she recorded in her diary. "Once, a neighbor came, and in the middle of colorless talk, broke down and wept: 'I am so unhappy with my husband.' I responded, and we discussed the situation. But the next day the door was closed again and she talked about the weather."

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    2. Did the topic of unicorns come up?

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    3. Ooohh. You're bad, 7:26.

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    4. Maybe Nin isn't the best measure of what people here were really like.

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    5. The starkness of the contrast is interesting, though. Why would she have chosen this place to live?

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  2. On various times in the past the pods have appeared around town.
    We really had been invaded by alien pods, but we like to keep it secret, you know so we can procreate. If you are new in town, just don't drift off to sleep. Yawn...

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  3. IOBS was a documentary...

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    1. I didn't realize.....

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  4. 3/5th of our City Council are card carrying pod people.

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    1. Nancy Walsh's code name is "Okra."

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  5. Three members of our City Council are proven pods.

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  6. The first Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was filmed up in the canyon at the top of Woodland, and a number of cabins were built up there for use by the actors and scenery.
    Perhaps, placing markers locating the sites for films could be considered.

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    1. 7:04- That's a great idea. Markers for film sites with a map would be a great way to bring in film buffs- especially when you think of what Hollywood has turned into.

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  7. Anais Nin wrote that she thought Sierra Madre was boring. Might not be the best tourism marketing tool.

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    1. What do you expect from a town whose one major attraction is a plant? That is exactly why Anais Nin needs to be celebrated here. Because while it WAS boring, it is no more!

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    2. Exactly. Anais Non was married to someone else at the time, took up residence here, and whooped it up with a second husband. Maybe there should be more bed and breakfasts. there could be great promotiomals like The Anais Nin Bump And Scrump Getaway, or the Anais Nin Two for One package.

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    3. Good point. Kind of the opposite of Las Vegas. "What goes on in Sierra Madre, ends up in a bestselling book."

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    4. Very funny 8:09!

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    5. Her second husband was a forest ranger who worked in the National Forest. He must have been something of a timber expert.

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    6. I'm hearing that some of the Wistarians are interested in meeting him.

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    7. The desperate sierra madre housewives?

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  8. The more people who are aware of rising cost of government (city) employees the better. Watching the director of finance and city manager say they could make 100% more working in Glendora was rather startling first that they have not moved on (if they could get hired). Second the attitude that we should consider ourselves lucky to be afford the expertise of these two. Fire them both and roll back the postions pay. Maybe we could hire somebody who is a damn sight more transparant then these two

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    1. It was announced that the city manager of Glendora makes 100% more than the city manager of Sierra Madre, while the Finance Director makes half of what her colleagues in other cities make. One can only assume that those figures were given to make us appreciate the enormous sacrifice they are making, for our sakes.

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  9. Good news. Anais Nin's book are currently on the shelves at the Sierra Madre library.

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    1. Gasp! What kind of pornography are they peddling over there!

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    2. They keep them locked up in a glass case.

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    3. Ah. behind the curtain in the back

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  10. Yes, indeed. If they want higher pay, there is no law that I am aware of that says they must stay in Sierra Madre. Maybe they should take the "ban smoking in my apartment complex that I don't own" people with them.

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    1. Public health trumps everything 8:22.

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    2. So does political correctness.

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    3. good, maybe someone will cite those pesky trees next time they catch on fire in a "no smoking zone."

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  11. Just curious Moderator, where in New Jersey did you grow up?

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  12. As to your 100% more working comment from two insiders in Glendora, California city hall. That finance director no longer works for Glendora and the city manager is on shakey ground as is, since Chris Jeffers was hired and brought his "dream team" with him the finances haven't really been the same.

    His so called "dream team" just made a great big mess out of employee relations by firing those who saw through his trickery.

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  13. Don't forget Gutzon Borglum, lived at orange grove and hermosa, and W. C. Fields shot a movie here.

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    1. Right 8:56, and Borglum's dogs were poisoned by a neighbor. Just more of the boring Sierra Madre folk.

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    2. That's fascinating 8:56. I find out more Sierra Madre history on the Tattler that I can later look into- thanks!

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  14. "If the state allowed State worker salaries and benefits to increase at the same rate as the general per capita income rate for the rest of Californians, the State could have saved more than $2.1 billion — enough to increase the number of California teachers by 8.2 percent, adding nearly 25,000 teachers."

    Now, what is the argument for Prop 30?

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    1. As an example - the Citrus Community College has a budget of some 55 million dollars and graduates approximately 1000 students per year. The portion of the budget which will go to paying benefits is 25% of the overall budget...that is simply insane!

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  15. One more movie: Testament.
    Nobody thinks of it because it was so tragic.
    The end days after a nuclear bomb, Sierra Madre was presented as being just outside San Francisco.
    Every scene is someplace residents can recognize.

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    1. After I moved here in 1987 and saw "Testament," I nearly teared up every time I passed the Sheets house on Grand View, where the little boy was waving at the end of the movie. Anyone remember what movie was made around the late 80s, where the aliens were landing in the orchard at E Waldo Ward's? I just remember I was late in getting the kids to Little League practice, because of those pesky aliens! How about Picket Fences, filmed around St Rita and Allegria?

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  16. Tattler, using Sierra Madre's film history as a tourist draw is such an excellent idea that it will never be listened to by the Chamber. They specialize in repelling success.

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    1. bring on the loss

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    2. We need to create a Sierra Madre movie museum. The Howie's site would be perfect.

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    3. There seems to be a huge appetite for all things zombie in the public imagination. Of ourse that includes lots of killing of slow moving people-like things, which might account for the spectacular poularity. But there is money to be made on it, that's certain.

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    4. There is the Zombie Government Debt, Zombie Water Bonds and the Zombie Utility Users Tax, to name a few.

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    5. Invasion of the Tax Snatchers

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    6. an the populace shrugged

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  17. Tax to the max and business and opportunities flee for greener pastures.What's left but a imploded economy and a wasted State returning back to nature.The Political Class is in the process of Killing the Goose....oh well,nothing lost,just follow the money as people have always done.

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  18. POD PEOPLE, sgvCOG members - Special meeting of the sgvCOG Governing board..

    The now famous "Pod People" will be gathering Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 7:00 P.M. at San Gabriel Hilton Hotel, 225 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, Ca 91776.

    Looks like this will be a show put on by City Manager's to cry there case to keep ACE.

    What's at stake?

    6.0 ACE Independent Agency Feasibilty Analysis and Draft Transfer Agreement Quest.

    7.0 Temporary Work Agreement for Transition..

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  19. Looks like you've finally accepted your Libertarian roots. Welcome to the world of reality.

    Also note that Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead stayed in Sierra Madre, and The Eagles also rented a small house in the Canyon one year to write and rehearse songs. I'm not 100% certain of this, but I believe it was around the time of Hotel California.

    If ever there were lyrics that sang more true about Sierra Madre; "...you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

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  20. As for the SGVCOG Governing Board special meeting, October 30, 2012.

    7:00 P.M. to 8:54 P.M..

    The short and the tall of it, a majority of sgvCOG members voted in favor of exploring the seperation of ACE from COG, this only took one hour and fifty minutes to finally be brought to the floor for a vote.

    A majority of COG members were prepared and could have voted on this in the first fifteen minutes of this special meeting. But those die-hards who are trying to roll back time and stop progress just wouldn't quit talking in circles.

    When a forced vote came by those in favor of seperation it became apparent who were the foot draggers by their NO VOTE, which was bellowed loud and clear. Almost as a warning to those to those who did not vote as they did.

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    1. How did Sierra Madre's representation vote?

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