|"An 8 cylinder green dream"|
Last night was also the first attempt at speeding our City Council meetings up a little. One of the key points made at the recent City Council Strategic Planning Retreat was that Mayor Moran did not seem to have any reasonable control over the pace of some previous confabs. Nor, apparently, the use of his mouth. With the required impartial outside observer at the Retreat recommending that the Mayor learn to trim his trap a bit so that the peoples' business might get done in a more timely manner. Of course, when Josh went on about it for a bit at this meeting, he attempted to create the impression that all the members of the City Council were responsible. That is not what came out at the Strategic Planning Retreat. There the onus was firmly affixed to Mayor Moran.
This also resulted in the return of the enforced 3 minute public comment. And wouldn't you know it, the very first speaker from the podium to run afoul of this reinvigorated rule was none other than Paulie Goosebumps himself! Paulie was even a little edgier than usual, and apparently was suffering the effects of a severe overexposure to cable news. He ranted wildly about the presidential election, even claiming that any "old white guy" who didn't vote for Obama did so out of racism. Paulie once again proving to all who watch these meetings that he is a couple of lamb chops short of a rack.
John Harabedian is sadly starting to show all the signs of having fallen into the same trap as Joe Mosca. That being he apparently has been informed by certain LA County political types that he truly is their golden child, and that as long as he plays ball with them a fabulous career in California politics awaits him. Which is, of course, how canny old pols procure the allegiance of naive young Councilmen. And it doesn't cost them a dime.
A telling example of John Harabedian's willingness to carry the political establishment's dirty water came up during a discussion of his attendance as our representative to a recent meeting of the eminently corrupt San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. The topic at hand was ACE, or Alameda Corridor East. ACE is currently being funded to the tune of many millions of Federal dollars to build things like railroad crossings and underpasses. ACE is currently attempting to get itself out from under the SGVCOG, who it legally answers to for now. The reason being that the SGVCOG, due to the multiple felony arrest of its former Executive Director, Nick Conway, now has a terrible reputation in Washington DC. Which means that it stands little chance of getting funded by the Feds anymore. ACE fears being tainted by this association, and is desperately attempting to claw its way to freedom.
Harabedian's rather haughty take last night on this unfortunate situation was pure unfiltered SGVCOG. He and his colleagues have yet to make a decision if ACE should be allowed to go we were informed. Preferring instead to keep them locked up so that presumably the SGVCOG can continue leeching off of ACE's Federal funding. It is not certain if the SGVCOG would even survive the loss of the sadly captive ACE. Or at least its money. It is an exceedingly ugly situation, and neophyte pol John Harabedian apparently checked his ethics at the door on this one.
The main round last night was a lengthy discussion of the Green Advisory Committee (GAC) and its sadly underprepared Sierra Madre Environmental Accords Work Plan. The City Council had previously told the GAC folks that they needed to prepare a Cost Benefit Analysis and SMART Assessments to go along with their somewhat sophmoric Accords. Without that the material they had previously handed in was for all intents and purposes unworkable. It quickly became obvious last night that the GAC did not get their homework done, which was a pretty shoddy performance on their part.
These Accords, as some of you know, were essentially cut and pasted from the United Nations Environmental Accords, and once a few local notes were added was slapped into a notebook with the GAC's logo on it. So basically what the City Council wasted around 90 minutes talking about last night was some purloined climate propaganda from an international organization that only on occasion has our nation's interests at heart. Instead often preferring to serve as a convenient soapbox for such terrorist havens as South Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Iran.
And why would Nancy Walsh, Josh Moran and John Harabedian even care about the Green Advisory Committee's cribbed Accords? Because at the very core of the document itself is the call for the kind of Transit Village style downtown development that nobody in Sierra Madre wants built. Except developers, Realtors and those having investments there, of course.
Here is what the United Nations, and now three of our Sierra Madre City Councilmembers, is calling for. This from Action Item 21 from the Green Advisory Committee's Accords:
Adopt urban planning principles and practices that promote appropriate density and land use for walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods; and transportation is coordinated with land use to provide access to open space for recreation and ecological restoration by 2013.
This is basically a standard boilerplate description for Sacramento mandated Transit Village high density development. Which in turn is strikingly similar to the kind of Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) development that was happily rejected by the voters of Sierra Madre when they passed Measure V.
The practice of using ecological themes and symbols to market things that are basically the antithesis of sound environmental practice is called Greenwashing. Something the GAC is at the heart of here in Sierra Madre. This is also why the New Gang of 3 is attempting the elevate the Green Advisory Committee to full Commission status. They are in the pro-high density development community's tank, and this is the current strategy for getting that done.
To build this junk would be a bad thing to do, both economically and aesthetically. Within the decade no-emission personal transportation will become widely accessible to all. And the notion that you have to dramatically shorten commute lengths by building highly dense communities around public transportation hubs in order to cut greenhouse gas production will then be obsolete. People would instead choose to drive their pollution-free personal transportation to those far flung suburbs where single family homes remain the rule. What the GAC is pushing for here is a 1980s solution to a problem that is about a decade away from solving itself.
There were two comedic lowlights on this matter at last night's meeting. The first was the complete and utter absence of the Green Advisory Committee from the discussion. Though some of its members were in attendance, not a single one of them got up to speak. Which to me seems odd. If these are the people the New Gang of 3 wants to call the shots on so many important policy matters here, why is it that at this meeting they didn't utter a single word? And was Paul Alva, the erstwhile chair of this timid clutch, even in the building?
The other wryly amusing sidelight was the renaming of the GAC's "Accords." Apparently the Committee no longer wishes to use that word because of its association with the United Nations documents they borrowed so heavily from. Yet rather than change much of what is problematic in the document itself, they chose instead to merely change the name. This, according to Mayor Moran, was done in reaction to criticism from the community over the contents of the Accords.
In other words the solution here was to leave the document untouched and instead give it a new name. You can't make this stuff up.
The meeting pretty much ended with a discussion about the Auburn parking lot adjacent to our downtown. It seems that in 2008 a decision was made by the City Council to tow cars that were left there for too long. Apparently Josh had been hearing complaints about this practice from some of his acquaintances, and wanted a change. The decision was made to swap things up a bit, and citations will be issued in lieu of towing. Now when customers from some of our more bibulous establishments exit those bars at closing time, their cars will always be there.
I still haven't figured if this is entirely good news.