Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sierra Madre Votes to Oppose the 710 Tunnel

Tunnel to Nowhere
It was a long meeting. As a matter of fact, it is still going on as I begin typing this. A very extensive - yet quite worthy - conversation about trees is taking place. But I am pretty confident the story that will make the daily papers is the City of Sierra Madre has now joined with the likes of South Pasadena, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, plus most of the elected officials from Pasadena that are not named Holden, and announced its opposition to the building of the 710 Tunnel. Quite a victory for our little town. And judging by the people who showed up to talk about this issue, a very important one

South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti (who, as all celebrity gossip fans know, is the son of TV star Valerie Harper) gave a most impressive presentation on why this ecological disaster in the making should not happen. He pretty much carried the night.

Of course, Cacciotti was preaching to the choir because not a soul on our City Council wants this thing, either. After all, nobody lives here in the hope that someday helpful regional planners will succeed in replicating the 710 Cancer Corridor on our doorstep.

The unintended comedic highlight of the evening was presented to us by one Harry Baldwin of the so-called 710 Freeway Coalition. After defending this lethal project from every living person in the room, Harry was then asked by John Harabedian if he was being paid to advocate for the kinds of things he was claiming as true. Harry had no choice by to admit that yes, he really is a monetarily compensated consultant. Meaning that the only person in the Council Chambers last night defending the 710 Tunnel had to be paid to do it. Which is even better than if nobody at all had shown up to defend it.

A number of other people came to the podium to speak. One obviously wise gentleman from South Pasadena relayed a story that is just so typical of SCAG. Apparently the former Soviet planning official currently running our regional planning organization, Hasan Ikhrata, had freely admitted in a meeting setting that the 710 Tunnel really was "all about moving goods." Which, of course, means that its true purpose is all about moving cargo laden diesel truck traffic from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles inland. A few months after that Ikhrata completely completely denied that was so. The 710 Tunnel instead being a 16 foot high tubular hole that only cars would ever get to use.

Saying that this tunnel is being built to accommodate massive amounts of truck traffic out of the ports is apparently something so politically incorrect now that we are no longer permitted to discuss it in that context. Rather, to use Harry's memorable phrase, the 710 Tunnel is intended to "help reduce air pollution." Which begs the question, why is it people like Mr. Baldwin always peddle their obviously toxic projects by claiming they are good for us?

The next thing you know people will be claiming that building a couple hundred densely packed mixed-use condos in downtown Sierra Madre will help save the world from global warming. Oh wait, I forgot. That topic is being covered at our next City Council meeting.

A more realistic assessment was offered by Chris Koerber. This is very much a typical "process" situation. Metro, Caltrans and their compensated fellow travelers like Harry Baldwin, all claim that they need to be allowed to finish "the process." Which currently means getting an Environmental Impact Statement for the project finished by 2014.

The problem being that once this EIR is complete the deal is pretty much done, and the project can then start being built. Which is what a government driven "process" is really all about. Forcing through vastly unpopular projects like this tunnel. It is how the slow and inexorable movement of government bureaucracy pushes its goals forward despite the strong opposition of the very people it claims to serve, and whose money sustains it.

Another point that came up is Metro had recently incorporated Sierra Madre into its "710 Study Area" without informing us of that honor. And then when the time came for this matter to be discussed in a public forum, Sierra Madre wasn't even invited to attend the meeting. Nor were any of the other towns farther down the San Gabriel Valley included in this study, either.

A question I have asked that still hasn't been answered (at least to my satisfaction), is who or what exactly are the forces behind Metro and Caltrans that keeps pushing this developing disaster along? Obviously the case has been made that this is a terrible idea. Yet somehow they march on no matter how large an outcry in opposition. What exactly is the source of their power?

All in all that was a great moment for our City Council. We should all be feeling pretty proud of them today.

There were a lot of other things discussed last night as well, but I'll leave those for others to discuss.

One thing that I did find to be a little awkward is how the matter of the Dial-A-Ride was handled. I don't think there can be any doubt that the City Council showed some real compassion in helping to preserve as much of this vital service as possible. Obviously everyone watching was aware of just how important it is for senior citizens and the disabled of this community.

And if they weren't, all they had to do was listen to Heather Allen speak about it. Probably one of the most effective speeches given at public comment in quite a while.

But as one poster put it last night, didn't the Community Services do a proper survey over the period of a month or so to gauge what the actual ridership might be? There was either no data or the Mayor just decided not to refer to it. This decision was made, but it appeared to involve an awful lot of unnecessary guesswork on the part of the City Council.

I really do think this could have been handled a little bit better.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

58 comments:

  1. Community Services Commission gets lots of statistics regarding the ridership of the round about and the dial a ride each month. The Commission determined that there was an increase of ridership on the dial a ride and proposed that the hours be extended, and the round about be dropped. Last month, the Council ordained that the staff come back with the proposal that was presented tonight.(last night). It was the City Council that muddled the situation by their endless - "on the other hand" type of discussion. I fault Mayor Moran rather than the Community Services to not make a definitive decision. Funding was the issue, but that was not clear during the discussion except for Capoccia who said many times during the discussion that funds from Prop. C not be spent on the Dial a Ride program. But to use some of these funds is the only way to extend the services of dial a ride. As a postscript, Heather did a heck of a job in laying out the case for an extended dial a ride program.

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    1. Government is tasked to maintain infrastructure --- not provide $35.00 an hour transportation for shopping, dining, church and medical reasons. Proposition A and C funds come from a one cent increase in our sales tax that everyone pays. The City Council is using all of its remaining Prop A funds - $314,629 - to provide para-transit services. Four months of services have already been used since July. Proposition C funds will be used to fix and maintain the street infrastructure. To even consider taking funds from the General Fund is outrageous. Whatever happened to asking friends, family and neighbors to help you? Perhaps the speaker should work with the transit company to come up with a system that would help with coordinating trips. For example 1 trip a week to Target or Costco for an hour of shopping instead of Target on demand several times a week. Access is also available to the Dial A Ride patrons at no cost. The City must stay within its budget. Not doing so will lead to financial crisis.

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  2. What happened to the discussion about getting out of the COG?

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    1. That's on an upcoming agenda. But don't get your hopes up. Harabedian sounded distinctly warmer toward COG the last time he spoke of it.

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    2. Say it ain't so. Making an error on budgeting because you want to provide a service to residents in need is one kind of dilemma - supporting a corrupt self-aggrandizing jerk who flagrantly violates laws is a whole different thing. No more money to the SGVCOG.

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  3. Did anyone make it to the end of the meeting? Was the Green Committee elevated to a commission?

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    1. The multi-part Green Commission presentation has yet to begin. Believe me, you will know when it happens.

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    2. I think it will have something to do with a parade and sedan chairs.

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    1. Somebody woke up unhappy this morning.

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    2. Probably a Century 21 totalitarians.

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    3. Realtors Uber Alles.

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  5. The meeting length could be cut in half if Mayor Moran would give brevity a try.

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  6. Heather did a great service speaking out for all of those in the community that cannot or who are afraid to speak out about something that is vitally needed by them.
    It is their lifeline to Doctors appointments, food shopping, and other basic services, and is needed by that segment of the community who otherwise would be house bound... three "HAZZAHs"! to her.

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    1. Heather is eloquent, and she speaks with conviction and passion. Plus I think Josh is afraid of her.

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    2. Fan of "give 'em hell, Heather"October 10, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Yes, I think he is afraid of her too! We have noticed that.
      Buchanan always took a deep breath when Heather approched the podium.

      They are afraid of her, because they know she will always get up and speak the truth. Moran doesn't like that, at all.

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    3. Heather is a brilliant speaker and a person of great integrity. Who could forget her defense of her hometown from the likes of Joe Mosca?

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    4. Joe was afraid of her too. When Heather walked up to the podium Joe's hair would go up like feathers on the head of a worried parrot.

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    5. But he practiced singing out "Thank you Heather!"

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  7. It was reported out that even Nancy Walsh was on board with NO on 710, and commented about the lower 710. She worked for the County Health Department in Long Beach and was quite familiar with the health issues of residents adjacent to the freeway. In particular, she mentioned that there were cases of rare types of cancer along the corridor that were being studies.

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    1. When she spoke about that, she did seem to know what she was saying.

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  8. Both SCAG and COG were reported as being supporters of the 710 Tunnel? Anyone know why? Grants (or should we say payoffs) from Metro and Caltrans at stake, maybe?

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  9. The last time I was this proud of the City Council for adopting a resolution for the greater good of the area was in the '90s when MacGillvray and Doyle (yes, the often reviled Bart Doyle) were on the Council, and they voted to ban the sale of ammunition in Sierra Madre. Of course, we didn't and don't have a store that sells ammunition, but it was a token gesture that many of us appreciated. Of course, the evil NRA stepped in and threatened a lawsuit, so our Council backed down.

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  10. Moderator, I think you should cut Harry Baldwin a little slack.

    As Executive Director of the yes faction of the 710, he's getting paid to lobby in their favor. Its much in the same way as Sierra Madre pays The Ferguson Group $ 5,000 a month to hunt down $$ in DC and Sacramento.

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    1. I would disagree. It is not the small amount of money that this guy works for that is at issue here. It is what he is working for. The 710 Tunnel is a destructive thing. It will destroy the health of young children and degrade the environment of the San Gabriel Valley.

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    2. What!? You expect integrity from a paid consultant?

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    3. He lost me when he started talking about his time at SCAG as proof that he is a serious guy.

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  11. Patch has an article up on the 710 Opposition Vote:
    http://sierramadre.patch.com/articles/council-votes-to-oppose-710-tunnel-project

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    1. Ah, they've figured out they could get some hits....

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  12. Having lived in Pasadena for over sixty years and driving to CSULA for six years, I think the 710 Freeway needs to connect to something. Why not connect it to the 210 Freeway with a highway on which NO trucks are permitted? Use the old Meridian route that was proposed in the late 60s. By doing this car traffic would be taken off the city streets of Alhambra and San Marino, South Pasadena and other impacted cities. The trucks could continue to use their existing route. It is not up to the tax payers to help import goods from China to Walmart.

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    1. Since San Marino supports the tunnel it should be built there.

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    2. Why? What if the short "legs" implying a connection had never been built?(210 to California & 710 to Valley) would anyone logically assume that a connection should be made? I think not. Why not connect the 101 @ Melrose to the 10 @ Robertson? Wouldnt that be great! Well no...not for the folks who live there. But we would never consider that route because no one ever built short little "legs" suggesting that such a connection be made. Oh...and then...the issue of reducing car traffic, well sure for the folks who are willing/able to shell out $7-$12 per trip..hello trucks!! Oh and Walmart??! really?? my tax dollars to Walmart!!!! No thank you.

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  13. Josh needs to read Roberts Rules of Order. The Chairperson is not the first person to speak. Nor should he interrupt other speakers. "Members who have not yet spoken about the topic at hand always have priority over those who have. According to the Rules, each member can only speak twice on any given topic. (note: the standing rules of the national convention actually allow each person to speak only once). Additionally, the chair is obliged to try and alternate by recognizing those who are for and against the motion being discussed. For example, if someone just spoke against a motion the chair would say something like, 'Is there anyone who wishes to speak in favor of the motion?' and then recognize someone." From Roberts Rules of Order

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    1. If ALL the Council members adhered to the rules the meetings would be much shorter.

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    2. True enough, 12:27, but it is the Mayor's responsibility to guide the progress of the meeting.
      Josh, like Buchanan before him, misunderstands the position.
      He seems to think he is obligated to entertain and instruct.

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  14. It seems the city spends a great deal of time being sure the CC and Commissioners have gone through ethics training. It would be good to send all of them to "how to run a meeting following Robert's Rules of Order" training.

    NO CONSULTANT.

    Everyone downloads their own copy, borrow one from the library or dust off the one on your own book shelf, have it on the desk top of your laptop/ibook. Public meeting, community in attendance.

    Set up the meeting and get it accomplished with the help of each and every one in the room. The members of the CC and these commissions could each be assigned a section. present it and then discussion ensues.

    I can't imagine what it would have been like to be a student in English teacher, Mr. Josh Moran's classroom. The methodology he experienced at the high tuition university he attended went unobserved by him. I am sure his professors let students speak and connect their knowledge across the aisle. Team Work, Mr. Mayor, Team Work!

    I taught for 31 years, no one had the floor twice before everyone spoke once--that was in the classroom and at teacher's meetings, too. And not every one has to speak on every item. Very easy.

    You know why this won't happen here, because two people will not find this easy: the City Manager and the Mayor.

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    1. Josh seems to believe that leadership means talking over everybody else.

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  16. Its that Steve L guy again.

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  17. No the the Round-a-bout, how is this funded? But someone ok'ed to have the city put on a list for the 710 cancer fumes tunnel vote... seems to me, that this must be a federally funded project or another slush fund.
    The voters should be given an opportunity on how to spend the tax monies taken from us on which type of transportation makes common $ense. Are the drivers for the Round-a-bout now out of jobs? I also agree with the Maridian route; I've used it for years to connect to the 10 fry and 210 fry....no special studies for this one, only common sense. As far as the City being in a financial crisis the entire Country is in a financial crisis and don't even mention Europe.

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    1. I'm not sure this city is financially sustainable any more. Not if they expect us to pay more forth same old thing.

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    2. My question - is sustainability sustainable? Personally I don't think people believe this is important anymore.

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  18. PLEASE; PLEASE, PLEASE FOLLOW ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER. P L E A S E.

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    1. Cool guys don't like Robert's Rules of Order. It doesn't allow them to show everybody how cool they are.

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  19. Sorry if this information is clearly available somewhere, and I just haven't figured it out, but how much can we afford to subsidize people who need a ride? I'm not being mean - I wish we could give everybody rides - but I don't understand how to put which needs first.

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  20. Is there a general fund pie chart? It would be nice to see who is getting what laid out in a way that everyone can understand.

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    1. That would be a violation of the municipal government workers Code of Obfuscation. COO.
      The more confusing a staff person is, the more important they feel.

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  21. On the Sierra Madre News.Net site there is an article that says the City of Sierra Madre is having a compost giveaway. Didn't that take place last night?

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    1. Took me a while, 5:23. Very funny.

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  22. It's truly difficult to hear Joe Mosca's spiel again, but Heather is worth it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID7Rd0B4M74&feature=plcp

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  23. Like most people who follow city council meetings, I admire Heather Allen greatly. However, Cappocia made a pretty eloquent remark himself, when he said residents were also in need of infrastructure repairs, and that it was damaging to simply pass on the problems and not fix them. He's right, too.

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  24. Assisted living facilities often have the kind of coordinated services suggested by a poster at 10:25.

    Maybe the Kensington would care to help us on this?

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  25. We do not have accurate records to evaluate the transportation services?
    The speaker last night said there were 'lots' of people dependent on it, but we don't know how many?
    Have I got that right?
    And if that is the case, where does the $35.00 figure come from.

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  26. It is curious indeed that such a practical, physical thing as a car/mini-bus service has become so befuddled and befuddling.

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    1. radio flyer to the recue

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  27. Sure the Kensington will help us set up transportation systems. Just like they are going to help us with our water crisis.

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