Monday, November 26, 2012

Your Tattler City Council Meeting Preview

Wear comfortable shoes
Who knows where the time goes? I certainly don't. But another City Council meeting is now upon us, and we must be prepared. This is what we here at The Tattler were able to glean from both the documents provided by the City and those available on the Internet. It is the best that we can do for now. However, only the meeting itself will reveal what is truly at stake. It is your duty as a citizen to follow these proceedings and know what is actually going down. As always, we are here to help in any way possible. We're not afraid to share, care, or even be there. Though, of course, we'd rather not.

The first moments of Tuesday evening's meeting will not be witnessed by us because this is the closed session. There are two topics to be discussed behind locked doors. The first stars our hapless Sierra Madre Police Association and their seemingly endless series of attempts to get blood out of a stone. Here is what we know:

CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR: Pursuant to California Government Code Section 54957.6 - City Negotiators: Elaine Aguilar, City Manager, Elisa Weaver, Director of Human Resources, and Karin Schnaider, Finance Director
Employee Organization: Sierra Madre Police Association.
Our Notes: California Government Code Section 54957.6 states the following: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a legislative body of a local agency may hold closed sessions with the local agency's designated representatives regarding the salaries, salary schedules, or compensation paid in the form of fringe benefits of its represented and unrepresented employees, and, for represented employees, any other matter within the statutorily provided scope of representation.

In other words, the SMPA (formerly known as the SMPOA) is trying to get more money.

The second closed session item is as follows:

CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL Pursuant to Calif. Government Code Section 54956.9(c) - Initiation of Litigation.
Our Notes: California Government Code Section 54956.9(c) says this: The receipt of a claim pursuant to the Tort Claims Act or some other written communication from a potential plaintiff threatening litigation, which claim or communication shall be available for public inspection pursuant to Section 54957.5.
In other words, somebody is dropping a law suit on the City of Sierra Madre.
Our Notes: Cal. Gov. Code Section 54957.5 says this: Notwithstanding Section 6255 or any other provisions of law, agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1), and shall be made available upon request without delay.  

In order to find out what all the excitement is about, somebody is going to have to go down to City Hall and ask about it. This was written on Sunday, and The Palace is shut for the Sabbath. However, if somebody can get in there tomorrow we can divulge this deep dark secret on Tuesday.

OPEN SESSION: Once the doors fly open the anxious masses will stream into Council Chambers to witness the peoples' business being accomplished. Certain rituals will be reenacted, both spiritual and of this here world. The elected officials will share intimate details about their efforts on our behalf at meetings, conferences, and social events as well. As they supply the leadership for our community, their lives and what they do are important to us all.

Superior Court Judge Geanene M. Yriarte to swear in newly appointed Sierra Madre Police Chief Giannone. The guy who told us that Robert Matheson could not be registered as a sex offender in Sierra Madre despite Federal laws that state otherwise will now be rewarded with the leadership of our Police Department. That's how things roll here.

CONSENT CALENDAR: This used to be the easy breezy part of the meeting, but thanks to the efforts of Councilmembers Capoccia and Koerber these things get looked at a lot more closely now. What a concept.

a) ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION NO. 12-89 OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE APPROVING CERTAIN DEMANDS - Here is where the money gets spent. And as always there is a lot of it going out the door. When you include the sum from item (b) the total this time around comes to $1,384,703.48. Among those items being paid are the following:
- Payroll Transfer: $320,164.14
- State Water Resources Control Board Annual Vigorish: $1,512.00
- Edison: $55,078.24. I wish people would member to turn out the lights.
- Athens Street Sweeping: $7,592.45
- First Transit: $17,944.50
- The Ferguson Group: $5,000
- Pasadena Humane Society: $2,265.92
For all of the money changing action I would recommend that you go to the City of Sierra Madre website and look at the agenda report for this item. It is spelled out in detail there.

b) RATIFICATION OF PAYMENTS ON BEHALF OF PUBLIC FINANCE AUTHORITY AND SUCCESSOR AGENCY - The sum involved here, at $949,422.50, is immense. You may recall that this item was on the Consent Calendar for City Council consideration last time, but for reasons that were not made clear to the public it was pulled off live time by the City Manager. The agenda report on this matter was rather opaque last time, whereas now it is quite transparent. Perhaps that was the reason it had to be pulled last time? It didn't meet the transparency requirements? The irony is rich here as this is cash money due on water bonds from 1998 and 2003. With water mains bursting all over town lately, it is obvious this bond dough was not spent on too many pipes. The amount due was sent electronically in 4 increments to the Bank of New York on November 3rd.

c) AUTHORIZATION TO PROCEED WITH PROCESSING OF APPLICATION FOR VERIZON WIRELESS COMMUNICATION FACILITY AT 611 EAST SIERRA MADRE BOULEVARD - Verizon has filled out the city paperwork required to build a "mono-deciduous tree" here in Sierra Madre. Which is the inelegant term used to describe a 50 foot high transmission pole with 12 antenna panels up top. Verizon will attempt to disguise what this actually is by attaching some green plastic leaves to it. Done so it will not look like what it is, which it won't. It will look like a transmission pole with 12 antenna panels and some plastic leaves attached.

d) APPOINTMENTS TO THE UTILITY USERS TAX OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE - This is where perfectly earnest Sierra Madre citizens will be used in an attempt to convince people here that they made a mistake in voting down Measure U. And that it will now need to pass when it is is repackaged for the ballot in 2014. Sierra Madre now pays among the highest UUT rates in California. When you take into account the actual number of categories that are taxed, we are unsurpassed in this regard. The UUT Oversight Committee will be tasked with turning this sow's ear into a silk purse. I'm quite certain some of them will try.

e) RESOLUTION NO. 12-90, A RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE USE OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES FOR THE CONDUCT OF CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS - This is the completion of an effort to keep our talkative Mayor from attempting to dominate City Council meetings through volume and low level aggression. Hopefully it will work. Though I personally have some doubts.

f) DECLARATION OF CITY OWNED EQUIPMENT TO BE SURPLUS - Surprisingly the SMPD is not on the list this year. However, items that are up for auction include:
- A 1999 Crown Victoria Police Cruiser with 97,674 miles on it. Which at my household is considered low mileage.
- A Ford Taurus. Have you driven a Ford lately?
- A 1991 GMC dump truck with 188,748 miles on it. Used by the Water Department, it is just now getting broken in.

g) RECOMMENDED APPROVAL OF ROOF REPAIR CONTRACT - A company called Protech is looking for $101,312.41 to fix the roof damage caused to City Hall by the December 1, 2011 wind storm. The good news is the City only pays a deductible of $5,000. The rest is the problem of some insurance company.

h) SECOND READING OF ORDINANCE NO. 1332 – MUNICIPAL CODE TEXT AMENDMENT NO. 11-03 ADDING CHAPTER 12.34 TO THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO REGULATE SPECIAL EVENTS OCCURING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY, REVISING CHAPTER 17.88 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO TEMPORARY USE PERMITS, CHAPTER 12.12 RELATING TO ENCROACHMENT PERMITS, AND CHAPTER 12.16 RELATING TO EXCAVATION PERMITS - The purpose here is described in the Agenda Report as follows: "This chapter is intended to further the goals of the General Plan by regulating the use of public property for temporary events where a large number of people will congregate, and ensuring that the public property is utilized in an efficient, equitable, secure, and safe manner." Apparently this applies to everything from farmers markets to weddings to parades. I believe them, but I am curious about what permanent events might be.

i) RECOMMENDATION TO AWARD A CONTRACT TO GENERAL PUMP COMPANY FOR REPAIRS TO WELL 3 AT A COST NOT TO EXCEED $93,480 - Ever since Bruce Inman's electrifying announcement that the City of Sierra Madre will run out of water in a year, I have been awaiting news about what exactly is being done to prevent such a tragedy from occurring. This could be it. Then again, maybe not.

j) APPROVAL OF PURCHASES/SERVICES IN EXCESS OF $25,000 FOR FISCAL YEAR 2012-2013 - When something costs the City more than $25,000, it has to go out for bid. And once those bids are collected and put into a stylish binder, the City Council decides who the lucky winners are. There are 21 current categories for the $25K per year rule, and some of them are personal favorites. Colantuono & Levin is listed at $225,000, though this one is now out to bid. Axontech gets $200,000 for "technology consulting" and "computer licensing and equipment purchases." Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore receives $125,000 for "City Attorney personnel and labor relations." But the grandaddy of all the Sierra Madre Money Kings is none other Edison. Their take? $700,000 big ones. Hopefully the City Council will take a minute with this item.

k) QUARTERLY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, FIRST QUARTER AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2012 - This one is interesting, especially if you are concerned about where the City's money comes from, and then goes. It lays out everything. As an example, the big kahuna in the expenditure department is the Police Department at $3,634,646. It by far dwarfs anything else in the list. Coming in at a distant #2 is "General Government" at $1,342,140. Culture & Recreation - Library is #3 @ $894,936, with #4 being the Fire Department at $697,868. Today's post is a meeting preview, not a financial analysis report. If this is of concern to you (and it should be), I suggest taking a look at the documents provided on the City of Sierra Madre website.

2. DISCUSSION – CONSIDERATION OF APPOINTMENT TO THE LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES - Nancy Walsh once famously commented on how a certain candidate for this gig was suitable because he "fit in." Which is, of course, one of the more unfortunate aspects of Sierra Madre. The notion that a special few people are socially acceptable, and only they can be considered for things reserved for such individuals, is very sad. In my opinion some of the most narrowly focused and self-serving individuals in this community are people Nancy would feel "fit in." The purpose of this item is to fill an open vacancy on the Library Board created by the departure of Colin Braudrick.

3. DISCUSSION – PUBLIC SAFETY MASTER PLAN - Just when you thought that "government by consultant" was on the way out in cash-strapped Sierra Madre, this body floats to the surface. The brainstorm of Councilmember Harabedian, it is estimated that the cost of such a "plan" will come in at around $60,000 to $80,000, and will take 8 months to complete. My take here being this is payback to the SMPD by Harabedian for their support during last April's election. The likely purpose is to define the role of the SMPD in such a way that it would become difficult to replace them later on should financial pressures dictate the necessity of looking at such a move.

4. DISCUSSION – CONSIDERATION OF MODIFICATION TO SIERRA MADRE MUNICIPAL CODE 6.08.010 REGARDING POULTRY - I will be so disappointed if this meeting runs long and the City Council doesn't get to this Mayor Moran agendized item. The very last one in the stack. The other day I posted a question that read, "Why did the Mayor cross the road?" I received quite a few answers, but none rang quite as true as this one:

Having a stocked chicken coop is all the rage with the hipster and foodie crowd. I have quite a few friends who now have chickens for fresh no hormone/no antibiotic eggs. It's cool but I also roll my eyes when the fun wears off and you realize chickens can be a*******. That would be my guess for the chicken topic ... the hipsters.

Then there was the following comment posted yesterday, which had me laughing out loud:

I was out of town so missed the dialog on "chickens coming to Sierra Madre". What better tag than "Sierra Madre home of the best Chicken Fricassee"? I remember when many homes in our town had coops with 100 or so hens and the mean old rooster, who was lord of the sunrise and made sure everybody knew it. Eventually chickens were banned because of the odors, flies, and chicken s--- never cleaned up. Chicken wire was never very effective. It kept chickens in most of the time, but never really worked on keeping the hawks out which was probably the reason shotguns were kept at the back door. 

My grandmother's preferred technique for the Sunday Dinner was to sneak up on the "young layer," grab it by the neck, hold by the feet, twist the neck, "step on it and yank", release it to flap in a circle causing the expression, "behaving like a chicken with its head cut off."

There is potential for Sierra Madre though. Recent arrivals to LA seem to miss the time honored sport of "Cock Fighting" Our City Council might be the first to stage these fights with their own Cocks named after themselves fighting to the death on Saturday nights. Maybe the Mayor should be picked from the winning Cock Fight. There is such potential here although rather than "green" this activity should be called "brown" because that is what you step in as a chicken keeper.

Since I grew up in a state where there are almost as many chickens as there are people, the appeal of these noisy creatures is lost on me. And I am certain that there are many residents here (like our commentator above) who are equally unimpressed. But there you go, Sierra Madre residences as organic boutique chickens farms. It certainly is a world of wide-ranging interests and concerns. I for one cannot wait to hear the public comment.

For reader bonus points, you can check out a rather large compendium of California chicken laws by clicking here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. Would an area where chickens are permitted be zoned C-1?

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  2. chickens roam free here every day.

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    1. That explains all the coyotes.

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    2. So do wolves aka DIC members.

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    3. Unicorns, Rainbows, and chickens. Quite a coalition.

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  3. this could be very lucrative. we can sell eggs from an empty storefront or even hustle the ALF director to buy local yoke-l. dang, we could even have a new city chicken inspector position and use surplus folks from the water department to run the new chicken and gerbil department

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    1. We'll need to do an RFP for a chicken coop inspector.

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    2. How about an EIR for all of that manure? The kind from the chickens, I mean.

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  4. The green committee can then round up all the chicken s@#& and pack it up all pretty in recycled bags with ribbons and bows and sell chicken s@#& at all said "permenant events" that could help to fund our stellar SMPD

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  5. I think the ladies of the Civic Club are behind this chicken ordinance. After all, they need hundreds of dozens of empty eggshells each year to stuff with confetti to sell to the children who create a colorful mess with them as they gleefully smash them on peoples heads. How better to obtain all those empty shells than from your very own chickens?

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    1. By George 8:09 I think you're on to something. As one who has stuffed hundreds of eggs for Civic Club, I hope the City Council can also pass an ordinance to require every household in Sierra Madre to save their egg shells so Civic Club can have more money to give to the Community Services Dept. to help the kids pay for their window painting, Huck Finn Day, and the famous YAK child care program.

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  6. It is absolutely outrageous that Harabedian suggests we spend that money on a consultant for the public safety plan. It shows what a newcomer he is to the local political scene. There have been a few very vocal and well known advocates calling for a public safety master plan for years, and these guys could write one in their sleep. A citizens volunteer committee is perfect for the chore.

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    1. $60,000 to $80,000 to brush up a political resume' is a lot of cash for the taxpayers. Are we really obliged to help him out like this?

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    2. Don't forget all those volunteers recruited to help the General Plan rewrite committee and the City still hired a consultant. Wasn't that a $250K hit even with the volunteer's time and labor?

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    3. A ridiculous waste of money. What happens to some people's good sense once they get elected?

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    4. If you want a career in LA County politics, you have to help government employee unions. Helping them meaning getting more of the taxpayer dollars into their pockets.

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  7. When I read about the proposed monies earmarked for this and that;I do wonder when the "Chickens Come Home To Roost".

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  8. Johnny is padding his resume for future government positions. This "Safety Master Plan", will help ensure the Fire, Police, and other safety union's support. He doesn't give a damn about safety. To bad Prop 32 did not pass.

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    1. Kind of a two front operation. On the one hand the cop union sues us, on the other their owned councilmember attempts to spend out money on them. Isn't this the guy people said was supposed to be so smart? I for one do not see it.

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  9. 10:05 AM, Obviously little Johnny is in the POA's pocket, no wait, there in our pockets. A good Police Commission would take care of that but NO, they would not want that. Go figure$$$ ?

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  10. I'm so depressed at the thought of Nancy Walsh representing Sierra Madre as its Mayor that I can hardly participate in any of the downtown holiday festivities this year. This is a new low. More and more she's in the "news" and her photos with the seniors are appearing in Susan Henderson's paper. How did we get to this state? How is it that MaryAnn MacGillivray or Pat Alcorn isn't representing us? Women who work had on our behalf, who are smart and intelligent. No wonder poultry is on the City Council Agenda and the lawyer is nesting with the SGVCOG!

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    1. Agreed, 11:25. And going lower than Joe Mosca is really quite a feat.

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    2. Ah cheer up. At least there are 2 adults on the council.
      Her idiocies will not be slam dunks.

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    3. Nancy's reign will be more one of comedy than terror. She will make Sierra Madre a laughingstock.

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    4. She is only one of the Three Stooges!

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    5. Josh is Moe, Harabedian Larry and Nancy is Curly.

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  11. Absolutely right 10:05. Little Johnny over priced education taught him that the way to be popular and endear yourself to others is to appear to be concerned for their health and welfare; to ensure that their lives are risk free and filled with bounty. Little Johnny also learned that the way to do this is to make other people, via their tax dollars, pay for his beneficence. and then, presto, he will move on to bigger and better elected offices where he can spend more and more of your tax dollars and be held even less accountable for his ignorance. added bonus, he will make a lot of money for himself while he does this.

    We do not need a master safety plan and we do not need to spend this money!

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    1. I'm OK with the idea of a plan, but it needs to be written by the residents.

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    2. So what else is new..Johnny is just going for the Gold on the backs of the Taxpayers!

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    3. In Los Angeles County that is known as leadership.

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    4. Funny you should mention Joe. There is something called the Southern California Leadership Network. The L.A. Chamber of Commerce funds much of it. Mosca attended in 2009.

      http://www.leadershipnetwork.org/clientuploads/Agenda_PDFs/LSC2009/LSC09.PDF

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    5. The Southern California Leadership Conference is holding a "Visionary Awards" party on Dec 4th. Sponsored by SCAG, The Gas Company, Metropolitan Water District, Wal*Mart and the Port of Los Angeles. Sounds like a regular hotbed of free thinking.

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  12. John, Please don't waste money on the public safety plan. The last election shows it is unnecessary.

    Let's just cut to the chase, roll over, play dead and give the police union (and the nice Lackey law firm) the money they want. Yes, we have no crime (except for that nice couple on Manzanita that keeps burning down their own house). Yes, we could save $1.5 million a year by hiring the union represented sheriff's department. But then we wouldn't have our very own police union to feed our excess city cash to. And then officer berry wouldn't be able to work out his anger issues while petrolling the town and busting the gansta' soccer moms.

    Resistance is futile. So let's get a new utility tax increase on the ballot. However, let's do it right this time and target only the rich people in town that live houses greater than 1500 square feet. They can afford it.

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    1. Haven't you heard? The name of the town is being changed to Suckerville. The folks who live here are only good for bamboozling and flim flamming. In this case it will be an $80 grand consultant report that will conclude that we have the finest law enforcement in the land, and that in order to avoid any risk of losing so great a thing we will just have to dig deeper and pay even more than we do now.

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    2. I would include brain dead as well.

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    3. Apparently there has been an epidemic of that.

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  13. Never would have supported you, if I had known you were a chicken hater. Never would have even talked to you.

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    1. Nobody here hates chickens. We are just having some fun with the Mayor.

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    2. I keep picturing a set from Hee Haw. Will there be chickens in Council Chambers tomorrow night? Will the City Council be seated on hay bales?

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    3. Bonus points to anyone wearing blue overalls and a red checkered shirt. Blacken out one tooth and you get to sit in the front row.

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    4. fear not, the masked avenger shall rise and strike down the fowl fiends.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKss2pBYQ6Y

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    5. pickin' and grinnin'

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD09hBDdw7k

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    6. If I go and wear overalls, can I sit next to Wady Listeria?

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    7. You'll need to wear them. Her unicorns are a veritable manure factory, and she refuses to go anywhere without them.

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  14. Yes to chickens, no to consultants!

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  15. We are a simple small town. What is all that money for?????

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  16. If a peacock wanders up, who gets cited? Just wondering.

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  17. So, Josh and his socialist backers want to make it illegal for people to be able to feed themselves?

    How will he enforce this absurd and unconstitutional law? Are granny and grandpa going to jail for trying to feed themselves while paying for their overpriced pharmaceuticals?

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  18. Socialist backers? These posters are really taking the blog . . . . . . . . .

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    1. Those are the guys from the Chicken Peoples Republic. They are very militant. Sometimes they are known as the McNuggets Brigade.

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  19. Don't too crazy here about chickens! It was a simple matter of a neighbor looking for any excuse to prevent another neighbor from having chickens as pets for two children who are allergic to almost all other animal pets. Good grief. Even when this mayor (who I did not vote for and don't like very much) tried to do something right we go all smack.

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    1. Ahh, just trying to have some fun with it. Let me ask you, what did people go for, the budget questions or the chickens? The chickens, of course.

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    2. I didn't make a peep.

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    3. Have you seen my comb?

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    4. Would this Mayor trying to "do something right" have anything to do with a couple of his friends asking him, like the drunks who didn't like their cars being towed after midnight did? Can just hear it now - let's call our bud Josh and get him to change things for us.

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    5. Chickens, drunks with towed cars, there is a pattern here somewhere.

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  20. Is our city council really going to spend time discussing the chicken issues? I don't get it. You would think we don't have any real problems.

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    1. Right 7:40. Instead of concluding the long drawn out charade of the Green Commission, instead of discussing cuts to make at city hall, instead of working on an RFP for police services, they're going to get the poultry problems straightened out.

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    2. The city is running out of water. Suddenly I have the urge to talk about organically grown eggs

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  21. cocka-doodle-doo!

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  22. Oh man, i HATE chickens. horrible, god-awful stinky grumpy two stones short of totally stupid. once i was at a fair and this chicken was doing a clever hans trick, and for a micro second i thought i was observing a truly unusual specimin. that didn't stop me from wanting to bonk it, pluck it, gut it, dip it, and fry it though.

    I for one can't wait for the new Verizo-tree. i have fake bird we can put in it. we can put in a fake treehouse, and take fake yard sale signs to it, too. oh joy of joys!

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  23. As for your Athens Services contract "Athens Street Sweeping: $7,592.45" this is usually added as a sweetner to secure the trash contract and it's for "free."

    What happened to the Athens Sweetner this time?

    Did they have the trash side of the contract in the bag all ready?

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  24. Nice post.
    I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughtschildcare hills area

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