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