Monday, October 22, 2012

The Week Of Too Many City Meetings

The week of too many meetings continues with the second of our three confabs, Tuesday evening's Regular Meeting of the City Council. This follows what is as of this typing tonight's Special Joint City Council and Commission Meeting (click here), and Wednesday's Strategic Planning Retreat Special City Meeting. All of which adds up to two specials and a regular. A potpourri of city palaver designed to satisfy even the most ardent City Council junkie's need for this kind of stuff. And honestly, I'm not sure there are any of those in Sierra Madre. I'm going to follow this stuff, but only because I think I am supposed to at this point. You, the more fortunate partner in this deal, can decide whether it is worth your time or not.

Here is this week's Tuesday evening City Council meeting preview:

CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL: Pursuant to Calif. Government Code Section 54956.9(a) The City Council/Agency finds, based on advice from legal counsel, that discussion in open session will prejudice the position of the local agency in the litigation.
Existing Litigation: Case No. GC046442 Case Name: City of Sierra Madre v. Jeffrey M. Hildreth and Taryn N. Hildreth d/b/a The Sterling Oak; Suntrust Mortgage, Inc. a Virginia Corporation; and does 1-50 inclusive - For the first time in recent memory there is nothing to do with a Sierra Madre Police Officers Association lawsuit in the sub rosa session with a City Attorney. This is yet another episode in the City's vastly expensive effort to get Jeff Hildreth to fill in the hole he dug beneath his house. It is, of course, a secret meeting. Meaning we will continue to have no idea just how much the concerned City Attorneys are raking in on this effort, or how much longer they plan on keeping the gravy train rolling.

1 - CONSENT CALENDAR

a) ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION NO. 12-85 OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE RATIFYING CERTAIN DEMANDS - This evening's total spend comes to $662,770, rounded off. This mighty sum includes $73,241,47 for Southern California Edison, $11,952.88 to Aqua Metric for water meters that might or might not work, $1,300 to Arcadia Body Shop for the repair of a police vehicle, $15,906.05 to Colantuono & Levin, $249.60 for Tai Chi Chuan lessons, $18,045.39 to First Transit for the Dial A Ride and Gateway Coach, $7,500 to the Pasadena YMCA, $16,300 to Rogers, Anderson, Malady & Scott LLP for a CRA audit, $5,000 to the Ferguson Group, $29,000 to Tyler Technologies for downloading staff reports on to the city website, and $27,000 to Willdan Associates for inspecting buildings.

b) MOSQUITO AND VECTOR CONTROL DISTRICT LOCAL APPOINTMENT - This is meant to reappoint Dr. Janice Nelson to the esteemed position of City Bug Hunter. Seeing how she brought The Fly here, she is intimately familiar with insects. The particular purpose of this office is to warn people that if you get bit by a mosquito you might contract West Nile Disease. Something we can never hear too much about.

c) APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 12-84 OPPOSING THE TUNNEL ALETERNATIVE (sic) TO THE SR-710 EXTENSION STUDY - Proving that good things can be done, particularly when there is no money in it for anyone with special connections, the City Council will officially sign off on Sierra Madre's opposition to the 710 Tunnel. We still do not have our answer to what or whom exactly is pushing for this thing, however. I know we're supposed to be blaming Metro or even Caltrans, but the notion that those people would ever do anything without some considerable power center forcing them to seems unrealistic to me.

d) AWARD OF JANITORIAL SERVICE CONTRACT FOR FY’S 2012-2013 THROUGH 2014-2015 TO UNITED MAINTENANCE SYSTEMS - The big winner of Sierra Madre's lucrative janitorial contract is United Maintenance Systems. They get $3,358 per month for the remainder of this year, and then $43,000 per year for the next two fiscal years. $3,358 times 12 does not equal $43,000, so there must be something I am missing here. Unless we are getting a Christmas discount for the remainder of 2012. The big loser here is Jani King. Sorry Jani King, your bid was too high. Change your name to Jani Deuce.

e) AWARD OF CONTRACT FOR CITYWIDE LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE SERVICES TO MERCHANTS LANDSCAPE SERVICES - And the winner is ... Merchants Landscape Services. They were the low bidder. Plus, when the CRA money dried up, they were considerate enough to trim back (so to speak) their costs a little to accommodate our need for less costly landscape work. For the yearly total of $118,596 our parks will remain trim and tidy and our sparkling assessment districts second to none.

2. PUBLIC HEARING – CITIZENS OPTION FOR PUBLIC SAFETY (COPS) GRANT FUNDING FY 2012-2013 - This has to do with the $100,000 in law enforcement money being sent our way by Sacramento, also known as Bedlam on the American River (BAR). As it states above, COPS is the acronym for "Citizens Option for Public Safety." To which is added SLESF, which stands for "Supplemental Law Enforcement Service Funds." Very important information. Chief Giannone will speak to the matter, in particular about how this windfall is going to be spent. There is nothing regarding any seminars on how to register a sex offender convicted of child pornography possession by Canadians. We are getting some new Handheld Ticket Writers, however. Just so you know where the City's law enforcement priorities might be.

3. PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE NO. 1332 – MUNICIPAL CODE TEXT AMENDMENT NO. 11-03: ADDING CHAPTER 12.34 TO REGULATE SPECIAL EVENTS OCCURING (sic) ON PUBLIC PROPERTY, REVISING CHAPTER 17.88 RELATING TO TEMPORARY USE PERMITS, CHAPTER 12.12 RELATING TO ENCROACHMENT PERMITS, AND CHAPTER 12.16 RELATING TO EXCAVATION PERMITS - This clarifies some of the more subtle nuances in the City's permits racket. A widely reviled scam that forces you the taxpayer to pay the City for services that you have already paid a ton of money in taxes to get. Everyone is familiar with the maxim, "There is no free lunch," right? In Sierra Madre you not only pay for the lunch, but you do so a second time as well.

4. DISCUSSION – DISCUSSION REGARDING THE CITY’S MEMBERSHIP IN THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS - The City Staff report is filled with SGVCOG generated rubbish detailing all of the supposed benefits we supposedly get for belonging to this corruption-wracked organization. Something that indicates to me that the City Manager is going to dig in her heels on this one. With the arrest of its Executive Director, Nick Conway, on four counts of felony conflicts of interest by the District Attorney's office, our liaison to this den of iniquity, John Harabedian, called for an examination of our role there. Last week the COG cut loose Nick Conway, something that those among the executive leadership there hailed as proof that they're not the dirtbags everyone seems to think they are. However, they also gave him a highly lucrative golden parachute worth hundreds of thousands of our taxpayer dollars. Proving that at the COG crime pays. 

Additionally, Conway is also threatening to sue the COG to pay for his $1,000 an hour attorney, putting us at risk of having to shell out even more money. There is also a considerable danger that should Conway be convicted of any of those felony charges it could be established that money allocated to the COG by state and federal government agencies had been used for illegal purposes, and therefore must be returned. Something that would make the COG's member cities responsible for some rather extraordinary amounts of money. The City of Sierra Madre would have to be insane to remain a member of this extremely sketchy organization. Unfortunately, on this City Council insanity could very well have the votes.

5. DISCUSSION – CONSIDERATION OF ORDINANCE NO. 1333 REGARDING PROCEDURES FOR FILLING CITY COUNCIL MEMBER VACANCY - This is an important matter that somehow keeps getting kicked down the road. When Joe Mosca abruptly ran away from the City Council responsibilities he had committed himself to, it became apparent that there was not in place any set and proper way of replacing him. This establishes a procedure for doing so that removes the risk of crony appointments to the City Council in place of a vote by the people.

6. DISCUSSION – GREEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO COMMISSION: CURRENT INVENTORY OF GREEN PRACTICES/PROGRAMS AND CONSIDERATION OF POSSIBLE ROLES AS A COMMISSION - Falsely billed as a potential commission interested in environmental issues alone, this is in actuality an expensive and unnecessary boondoggle designed to give further impetus to the needs of the downtown development and real estate interests that control certain key aspects of this City's agenda. It would also become a lobby for certain rather specious "social equity" requirements. Something that could put you the taxpayer on the spot for low income housing, transit village development, homeless shelters, and other initiatives that would degrade the lives of those who have found a livable home in this small green (in the real sense) enclave of a town. There is also a thickly laid on politically correct guilt trip included in the Green Committee's tendentiously labeled "Accords." That being if you personally don't accept your responsibilities to care for the world's unfortunate here within the borders of our little town, you would need to be held accountable for possible prejudicial behavior towards those of ethnicities and economic classifications different from your own.

City Staff has presented the City Council 10 reasons why the Green Committee should become a Green Commission. They are mostly open ended and vague, probably by design. There is also the claim made by City Staff that establishing a Green Commission would be no further "direct cost" to the City in the way of funding as it has already been assigned a staff liaison. Correct me if I am wrong, but as a commission wouldn't they need to be assigned a City funded attorney as well? The Staff Report doesn't shed any light on this question. 

7. DISCUSSION – PUBLIC SAFETY MASTER PLAN - Somebody wants to hire a consultant so we can figure out the meaning of things like "best practices," in particular regarding how they might relate to public safety. This would result in a report detailing what the public safety services the City supplies are, and how they can be made better. In reality this will cost a lot of money, and will produce a thick wad of paper that no one except maybe me and a few others would ever bother to read. There may also be an agenda at work here, one designed to alleviate some of the pressure to consider replacing the litigious and expensive SMPD.

8. DISCUSSION – UPDATE AND REPORT REGARDING CITY REORGANIZATION - Who knows if the Council will get to this one tomorrow night. This one has been pushed down the road so many times it really should apply for bonus miles. The purpose here is to give the City Manager an opportunity to once again explain just how much money she has saved the City through restructuring the responsibilities of the 60 some odd souls that work here. Obviously it has not been nearly enough.

Thank you for playing. You may pick up your coat and hat at the door.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. I laughed (and laughed some more) over the graphic you chose for today's blog. What's the meme for this? Some days I have three "meetings" to squeeze, in late for one, leave early for the next. And I am RETIRED!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found it attached to an essay I was reading on something called chaos theory. As far as I could tell the essay didn't make a whole lot of sense, but I loved the picture. I think you're right. It works for this week perfectly.

      Delete
  2. Another attempt to hook wink the peons into supporting the City's wanton reckless agenda for an" enhanced " Sierra Madre.Sorry gang...This isn't Monrovia or the other pathetic communities which have been turn into urban sprawls by the likes of you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. City Hall kind of lives in an alternative reality. The residents voted down the UUT, so let's make up a budget that includes 10% UUT revenues. Nobody wants high density packed development downtown, so let's make up stories and tell people it is green and will save the polar bears. The residents are sick of being pulled over the the PD for very minor infractions, so let's buy some gadgets that make ticket writing even faster so we can pull over even more. Have we been occupied by another country?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Some money questions:
    $249.60 for Tai Chi Chuan lessons - but it's free in parks daily all over LA County
    $18,045.39 to First Transit for the Dial A Ride and Gateway Coach - how long before that's modified to just help the disabled and ill? Should be for medical matters only.
    $7,500 to the Pasadena YMCA - this is for their running the day care program?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why encourage residents to participate in free exercise classes when we can pay for it instead?

      Delete
    2. Good point. I wonder who it was for?

      Delete
    3. I thought residents paid for rec. classes.
      It's a small amount, but small amounts add up.
      Chop enough of them and your finances improve.

      Delete
    4. Residents pay the city for recreation classes and in turn part of that money goes back to the instructor.

      Delete
    5. As long as residents pay for services they want individually, I have no objection.
      It's when everyone pays through our taxes for individual use of services that things get dicey.

      Delete
  5. More about the money - of course the regular big chunk to C & L is obscene, but that's being worked on, and then:
    $29,000 to Tyler Technologies for downloading staff reports on to the city website - one time fee? This is one of those things volunteers could have done for free.
    $27,000 to Willdan Associates for inspecting buildings - for the year? Month by month? How does Inman's go-to company charge us, and why can't developer services do it?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Item d., nice math catch Tattler. Looks like a little number flip between 3358/3538. Or they're getting a raise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good enough for government work.

      Delete
  7. The reason for the postponement of the decision on how to fill council vacancies, i.e. Joe Mosca's gift to the city, is that the meetings are so poorly run by Mayor Moran that they go way too late and run out of energy to handle less immediately pressing matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a fitting legacy for Mosca - a matter that needs to be handled repeatedly delayed.

      Delete
    2. But it's party time! And your Emcee is Motormouth Moran!

      Delete
  8. To be reasonable,city staff needed to present 10 reasons why we should NOT have a Green Commission to go along with their 10 reasons for.And do they really value their staff member so little that they cannot see that time spent translates to money?You bet there will be some kind of city legal counsel all over this.In fact, the primary rationale that's been pushed forward is that we need it for the state mandates,UN mandates,and it will bring in grant money.Without a lawyer,huh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes "to be reasonable." Not gonna happen on this.

      Delete
    2. Reality is a dish served with ketchupOctober 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      City Staff advocates for their priorities only. I believe they view the taxpayers as rivals for the attention they need from the City Council. They are in survival mode. There isn't much they won't do to get the money they need to stay employed.

      Delete
  9. Not all Commissions have an attorney present - Tree, Community Services, Senior. However, there are always several staff members attending (including our City Manager) each commission meeting, there are minutes to take and publish, and agendas, packets and time spent gathering information. This all takes time away from staff. If they can spend time on another commission, then it figures that they have too much time on their hands and therefore should be cut from the payroll. Carlson in particular is one staff member with a dubious job description.

    The Green Committee should be disbanded. They did their work for the General Plan Update Committee which is why they were formed, and other Commissions can do the "green" work from here on out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much help did the Green Committee give to the General Plan Update? I wasn't aware the GC members attended any of those meetings?

      Delete
    2. I think the Green Committee believes that others should go to them. It appears they have been led to understand that the GC is entitled to a kind of deference befitting persons who are engaged in saving the world.

      Delete
    3. I never saw a green committee member attend either the GPU meetings or the planning commission meetings. In talking with some GPU committee members, the Green Committee did nada to help them. If they couldn't do that simple task, then tell us how they are going to do the task of advising the City Council re: environmental concerns?

      Delete
    4. We should not spend one penny on a consultant for a public safety master plan. The Chief plus a panel of volunteers should do this much like the General Plan.

      Delete
    5. They expect to be put in charge.

      Delete
    6. The biggest irony of all this is that Sierra Madre is light years ahead of most of its neighbors in terms of being green.

      Delete
    7. Yes. Which is why the DSP was never built. Because Sierra Madre is green. We hardly need another one being pushed on us now.

      Delete
  10. Excellent suggestion 11:59.
    There are great volunteers with the knowledge and the willingness to help.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Item #4 is the one I will be watching especially closely. There can be no sound reason for the city to stay connected to an organization that has a leader who is accused of committing felonies, and that has a subordinate structure that exists solely to support him. The disgrace is that it has taken us so long.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Didn't we say No to the UUT extension in April? Why is there even any question about this?

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is my understanding that the whoopee days of Development are receding rapidly .I hear ,it has something to do with the economy,Really!People fleeing the state chasing after jobs that have left California,vacancies growing and the expected increase of taxes no matter who wins the election!so what is the mantra we hear..Build build to the max...the City will gain revenue as well a little bit for the City's friends.SORRY..those days are bye bye.Instead of a Green Committee,how about a "City Watch Dog Committee" made up from our talented citizenry who have had real experience in balancing the budget for REAL Businesses,You know.that make a profit.What a concept!
    As long as the present cabal is in charge,our residents are at risk for future exploitation and manipulation.No to HUMBUG!!!Demand budget CUTS....Immediately!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you know, 1:39 is probably right! If you think this is too negative....think again. What is this poster at 1:39 is correct?
      What if it's all over for development, what if it's outlived it's natural lifespan, what if this happens? What if we go bankrupt/default?
      Let's have a managed default! An unmanaged default will be a lot more painful, let's face the truth.

      Delete
  14. $73,241,47 for Southern California Edison

    now can anybody explain how or why we should ever trust John Buchanan's interest in Sierra Madre politics as being anything other than protection his employer's (SoCal Edison)interests and furthering development, which also benefits his employer

    I gave Mr. Buchanan the benefit of the doubt with his first election and regret it - after his debacle where he lead a charge of public lies about the UUT - he's involved and still sticks his nose into city business because it strokes his ego and benefits his employer

    Now when he speaks at City functions I assume he's still playing a ConEdision game with us

    ReplyDelete
  15. with the way Moran runs the Council meetings and his demeanor it's no surprise that he sort of bombed out as a realtor - it was easy for realtors to sell during the heyday and now it's back to normal where a realtor is almost nonessential to the transaction

    realtors blow smoke about "marketing" properties and few can actually "sell"

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just finished wading through the staff report for tonight's budget meeting. It all comes down to this: Big push to Increase the UUT and raise the water and sewer rates and cut community services, library and public works. And they want to create a Green Commission?? Wait'll you read that staff report!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tattler, you have that great "Respect the vote" by Measure V; we need it for the UUT too!

    ReplyDelete
  18. City Manager Aguilar just called Eugene Goss "Gross."
    Looks like half the town is there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The audience is city staff, along with Barbara Leigh and myself. The front of the room is packed, though.

      Delete
  19. What gave Mayor Moran the authority to say that the "vast majority of people up here (meaning the front of the chambers) and elsewhere" are in favor of the alf?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Johnny Walker told him.

      Delete
  20. Ya sur he can read it, maw?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, he can read it alrighy. It's just a matter of if he properly gits it.

      Delete
  21. Sitting up there with the "majority" who are probably voting for the ALF...ha, ha, ha...I am voting NO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank goodness 11:09!
      I'm one of the people watching the meeting on TV who is also voting NO.
      Looks like the Mayor didn't read or hear the report about the state of our water supply.

      Delete
  22. I'm voting no on ALF

    we were told we are in dire straights with water and on the verge of running out

    then our brilliant city staff wants to put in a massive development that will use more water than ever imagined

    I'm tired of the lies double talk and gooblygook that oozes out of City Hall

    ReplyDelete