Monday, December 10, 2012

The Sierra Madre City Council Meeting Preview

Evolution in government is possible.
Tomorrow night is the last Sierra Madre City Council meeting for 2012, and now all we can do is ask: "Where have the good times gone?" It seems like just yesterday the big number changed from 2011 to 2012, and here they go changing it again. At least it keeps the calendar makers in business. And in this economy we will take all of the blessings that can be received, including the inexorable creep of time. Just don't send me any calendars with unicorn or rainbow pictures on them. That is so last year.

Based on the Agenda Reports found on the City of Sierra Madre's somewhat murky website, here is how we believe this meeting will all roll out. But please do remember, just like with the sports betting line in any good daily newspaper, our predictions are strictly for entertainment purposes only. Bet wisely, and always know when to stop.

The meeting will open as it always does, with the rituals. If you think about it, the origins of the rituals of today likely go back all the way to the dawn of time. I suspect that even in the caveman times, when the elders got together to discuss the business at hand, certain rites had to be performed, Gods appeased, and recognitions observed. We are no different. To do otherwise would be to risk bad luck, or worse. Since we here in the Foothill Village live cheek to jowl with nature and the mountains, we always need to be cautious about these things. One false move and we could be buried in mud.

Once all of the above are fully observed, the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association will take a few moments to discuss their plans for this year's entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Which, by the way, should never ever be called the Rose Bowl Parade. I did that once and some people got quite upset about it.

The great thing about our unstoppable Rose Float people is that year after year they create these incredible floats, and the millions of people from all over the country that watch the Tournament of Roses Parade on TV get to see the name Sierra Madre attached to something lighthearted, colorful and positive. If only they knew what we're really like. If the Rose Float Association proves just one thing, it's that it is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Just kidding.

After all of that the meeting then begins in earnest, and with it the bloodletting that makes watching these affairs such a guilty pleasure. Let us get to it, shall we?

1. CONSENT CALENDAR: After all of these years I have yet to quite figure out exactly what a Consent Calendar might be. But that hardly matters, I suppose. I have yet to see the City Council turn any of these kinds of items down, so I am going to assume it means that they're consenting.

a) ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION NO. 12-94 OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE RATIFYING CERTAIN DEMANDS: This is where the money gets spent. And as spending money is always the most important thing a City Council does, it gets to go first. Those getting paid need to hear nothing more, while the rest of us have to slog on through the meeting in hopes of making certain no such mistakes are ever made again.

The checks going out in the mail this time add up to a somber $460,550.27. Items that make you ask why include a boatload for Liebert Cassidy Whitemore, a ton for Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak, but nothing for Colantuono & Levin. A first as far as I can tell. Maybe they just didn't get their paperwork in on time.

b) RESOLUTION NO. 12-93, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL RECITING THE FACT OF THE SPECIAL MUNICPAL ELECTION HELD NOVEMBER 6, 2012, DECLARING THE RESULT AND SUCH MATTERS AS PROVIDED BY LAW: This is to ascertain once and for all that God's Waiting Room (for people w/ adequate equity that is) was approved by the voters of Sierra Madre in November, and by quite a comfortable margin I might add. It is the opinion of The Tattler that once this large eyesore begins to get built very few people will remember having voted for it. Josh Moran will likely claim to have never met the place, and that it was always just a building in the crowd. In time there will be increased nostalgia for the old Skilled Nursing Facility. A "blight boom," as it were.

c) RESOLUTION NO. 12-91: ADOPTION OF THE NEW COMPREHENSIVE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE SIERRA MADRE POLICE ASSOCIATION: I find it odd that this has been placed in the Consent Calendar because I can recall no public discussion of a new "MOU" with the Sierra Madre Police Association. I know there were lots and lots of meetings conducted that the public was not allowed to take any part in, or even watch, but nothing done in full view of those whose taxes actually pay the salaries of the Police Department.

I have a theory, however. If you go to the City website and look up the Agenda Report on this item, you will be pleased to note that the Sierra Madre Police Association literally got their butts kicked here, both black and blue. For a union backed by the supposedly fearsome Lackie, Dammeier, McGill and Ethir (?), they hardly got anything. The only thing that I can figure is that our local cop union got happy feet from all that talk in town about replacing them with security guards and meter maids, they panicked, and by the end of the process were relieved to still have jobs.

So why is this being rushed through so unceremoniously in the Consent Calendar? It just might be to spare the feelings of one jejune Councilmember who was supposed to deliver for the SMPA, and quite obviously did not.

d) ACCEPTANCE OF PEDESTRIAN EASEMENT ON LOT C OF TRACT 54016 (ONE CARTER): This is a pleasant enough exercise I suppose. But since nobody is crazy enough to buy a lot with the intention of ever actually building something at what remains Sierra Madre's greatest environmental disaster ever, it is actually quite meaningless.

2. DISCUSSION – CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FISCAL YEARS 2013-2015 BUDGET PLANNING - PHASE II COMMISSION INPUT AND POLICY DISCUSSION: This is Part 2 of an ongoing City Council discussion designed to convince the taxpayers of Sierra Madre to change their minds about sunsetting the UUT rate increases of 2008. Something that the people of Sierra Madre voted overwhelmingly to do last April. Apparently City Staff is engaged in a time consuming and quite expensive process of creating two budgets, one with the UUT at its current 10% rate, and the other showing the effects of it sunsetting (over time) back to 6%.

The unhappy fact remains that Sierra Madre, when you consider the total amount of utility categories taxed, has the highest UUT rate in the State of California. Even higher than Bell who, while also at 10%, taxes 4 fewer categories. That Sierra Madre still can't keep its fiscal house in order despite this bounty is really quite unfortunate.

3. DISCUSSION – RESOLUTION NO. 12-92 ADOPTING INTERIM MEASURES TO COMPLY WITH NPDES PERMIT NO. CAS004001 AND DECLARING THE CITY’S INTENTION TO DEVELOP AND ADOPT PERMANENT LOCAL MEASURES FOR PERMIT COMPLIANCE: What is an NPDES Permit you might ask? It deals with storm water runoff and the effects it has on our beaches and ocean waters once it gets there. The County, through its  Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, wants to get cities such as ours to pay vast amounts of cash in order to clean such runoff water so that when it hits the 7 Seas it is as clean and pure as rainwater from the skies. But none of that is in place yet. So this NPDES Permit is a kind of interim measure, and we need to get one of these until the real thing comes along. The really horrible stuff comes later, including parcel taxes on people like you and me, along with far larger similar demands levied on our City. Which, of course, means even more money out of our pockets.

All of this will be a topic receiving considerable attention on The Tattler in the future. This is an odius disguised L.A. County tax increase, and those most affected are gearing up to stop it. Including many thousands of property owners. We will support that effort.

4. DISCUSSION – WATER AD HOC COMMITTEE: SCOPE, DUTIES, TIME COMMITMENT, AND SELECTION PROCESS: When the City has a problem they believe can only be solved with substantial amounts of additional money, and it will require a tax or rate increase to get it, the first thing to be done is start an Ad Hoc Committee. Using this as an example, we are talking about Sierra Madre's water problems, something that will apparently require a lot of cash to remedy. Rather than have the City Council just come out and say it however, the preferred option is to appoint a small group of citizens to sit on an Ad Hoc Committee and come to these conclusions on their own. Then, after delivering that conclusion to the City Council, the hoped for rate and tax increases can be asked for in their name, with the City Council only repeating what a group of independent citizens has already said. This allows our elected officials to ask residents for more money with the minimum amount of political exposure to themselves.

Hopefully that will not be the case this time. This particular Ad Hoc Committee was formed at the request of residents concerned about City inaction on the water situation in town. We have seen little movement on this problem so far, so perhaps the members of this committee can change the outlook.

5. DISCUSSION – AWARD OF BID TO WILLDAN FOR BUILDING INSPECTION AND PLAN CHECK SERVICES: Our so-called "Full Service City" will now outsource all of its building inspection and plan check services to a company called Willdan. This might not save us much in the way of salary were we to hire an in-house person to do this work, but it does spare Sierra Madre the wear, tear and inconvenience of having yet another employee.

6. DISCUSSION – COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT, THE RAYMOND BASIN MANAGEMENT BOARD, AND THE CITIES OF ARCADIA AND SIERRA MADRE – EAST RAYMOND BASIN WATER RESOURCES: Proposition 1E provides an additional $20 million for Sierra Madre, Arcadia and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to finance and build various flood control projects in the area. These include the Santa Anita Debris Basin, Santa Anita Dam, Santa Anita Creek Diversion Structure and the Santa Anita Spreading Grounds. And you thought Santa Anita was only a racetrack. This shows a lot of faith that someday we will have floods again, and that the severe droughts that have afflicted us in recent years will finally come to an end.

7. DISCUSSION – STRATEGIC PLAN FROM OCTOBER 24, 2012 RETREAT PUBLIC COMMENT: This is pretty much a repeat of the same thing that has often been found at the end of City Council meeting agendas in recent years. It is an effort by City Staff to show that progress is being made on the goals and objectives established at whichever Strategic Plan Retreat was held most recently. These things are always stuck at the ends of meetings and rushed through as by that time people are anxious to get home. Which goes to show, carefully laid plans only rarely take precedence over expediency.

Tonight's Pasadena City Council Meeting on the 710 Tunnel has moved!

This shindig kicks off at 7:00 p.m. The meeting has been moved to a far larger venue due to the anticipated large crowds of unhappy people, with most demanding that this environmental disaster never be built. The new meeting location is the Pasadena Convention Center, located at 300 East Green Street in the Rose City. My advice is get there early because the good seats will go fast. Rotten tomatoes and cabbage optional.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

41 comments:

  1. The water adhoc committee was born out of requests from the citizens as a counter to having a full-fledged Green Commission. The problem of our water supply (or lack of) is far more important than building stack and pack. This doesn't however keep the council from continuing to push for a Green Commission, so I hope that everyone can support the water committee not as the way to raise taxes, or punishments but how do we deal with the shortage of water. One of the things that could be recommended is stronger building codes for water run-off. The ALF is one example of not having any water saving devices, which would have been easy to include in their plan.

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    1. It is troubling that after Bruce Inman warned of an impending water crisis in this town that the City Council did not agendize a discussion on the matter. It is good to see residents jumping in, but where is the leadership? All I have seen so far is politics.

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    2. The "Politics",is how can we grab as much money under whatever scam from the homeowners"

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    3. Hope 7:09 is applying, or joining the committee!
      Who decides who is on the committee?
      Am I being too optimistic - this might really help!

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    4. Whatever, the Green Committee has already got the 3 to 2 vote. Moran has been stretching it out for some purposes of his own that I can't begin to fathom, because I think it makes him look very dense indeed, but the votes are set.

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    5. Whatever, the Green Committee has already got the 3 to 2 vote. Moran has been stretching it out for some purposes of his own that I can't begin to fathom, because I think it makes him look very dense indeed, but the votes are set.

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    6. The only reason the Mayor gave for postponing the inevitable that I heard was, "You know that I don't work that way." This artificial amount of time before the vote has something to do with his self image and the way he thinks he works.

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    7. Yes, but this is the opportune time to whittle down the amount of "goals and committments" that the group will be charged with. Already 9 of them have been removed. Let's keep cutting away at the number of items they will be charged with being the "experts" over.

      The city manager, when asked, has already gone on record saying that if there is no green commission, then all the state mandates, etc will be dealt with by city staff. So, really, why do we need them?

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    8. The Green Commission is a sock puppet. The state so-called green mandates will be about as popular as heart disease in this town once they are revealed. So much better that the Green Commission be the messenger. That way the City Council can just throw their hands up in the air and ask what exactly can they do? This has precious little to do with "exprets" and everything to do with public relations.

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  2. Send in your NO vote on the Flood Control -- Prop 218.
    City Hall will be behind this thing passing because they will get 40% of the money taxed in Sierra Madre. Your property taxes will go up at least $200 a year. Just another cup of coffee a week according to Josh.

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    1. If you want to get really depressed, start calculating how much all your taxes, Federal, State, Local will increase beginning Jan. 1. Begin with Obamacare, continue with Prop 30 (and it's retroactive tax on 2012 capital gains)and this proposed water rate parcel tax.
      Afterward, stay away from sharp objects.

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    2. Tax hikes are back in style. Of course for City Hall they never went out. Water rate hikes and blitzkrieg of propaganda on the UUT. Guard your pocketbooks well Sierra Madre. This is what they are planning for you.

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    3. Yes, you must always remember that your money is not yours. You did not earn it by your hard work. It is not the fruit of your labors. It is not your private property. Therefore, when the government needs money, it sees no moral wrong in taking yours.

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    4. It is next to impossible to stop any increase at the State or Federal level!We can ,however,draw the line at the City level and shove their phony shakedowns straight to the spot where they belong!!!

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  3. The water ad hoc committee is just another way of shifting the blame to residents. The City is doing the same thing with the commissions on the budget. They want all of the commissioners to rally behind the UUT hike.

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    1. This is why MaryAnn is missed, and why the refusal of the residents of this town to reelect her is killing Sierra Madre. This water issue would have been upfront and in everyone's face by now. Pushing responsibility on goodhearted residents so that certain members of the City Council can play politics is irresponsible at best. We need action, not a bunch of Buchananoid shape shifting.

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  4. "the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association will take a few moments to discuss their plans for this year's entry"
    A few moments? Never, ever "a few."
    Twenty minutes is more like it, complete with self congratulations and nobility of sacrifice.

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    1. this year's theme, "Thanks, Suckers!" with the most grandiose float ever, the Alf, transported by the greenest thing ever- on the backs of the citizens of Sierra Madre

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    2. Will there ever be a Tattler float in the 4th of July parade?

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    3. hope so. 4X4 gass guzzler, armed with slingshots

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    4. Too green. How about a coal burner?

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  5. The SMRFA does not take a penny from the City. All of their money comes from donations and fundraising. It even pays rent on the building that they built many years ago. Yeah B.Y. talks to much, but tonight the presentations will be from the three "princess" who are from Sierra Madre. IT is a true volunteer organization.

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    1. Nothing better for the kids than to see "princesses."
      Hey, maybe some will even be inspired to get into real beauty pageants, or at least become living Barbie dolls.

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    2. Is there anyone in Sierra Madre who does not know that the Rose Float volunteers are volunteers? We're not allowed to forget it.

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    3. Charity is best given without anyone knowing who did it.

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  6. I don't have the dedication to look at the agenda reports, so I'll take the Tattler's word for it that the Police did not score another victory against the residents. But the money didn't decrease, did it? So they still take 53% of the budget?

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    1. It takes a special kind of dedication. But worry not, there are a couple on the City Council who don't read them, either.

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  7. Willdan has been hooked up with Sierra Madre for forever. Agreed it's better than yet another employee for us to take better care of than we can of ourselves, but after so many years of them, I wonder if the RFPs are really legit.

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  8. Wildan has been hooked up with Sierra Madre for forever. Agreed it's better than yet another employee for us to take better care of than we can ourselves, but after so many years of them I wonder if the RFPs are really legit.

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  9. Hey. What's going on with the Brandenbergs. We've not heard from Tony in 24 hours?

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    1. Tony currently has the #1 hit post in the Tattler Top 10. Plus 2 others in the Top 10 as well. We decided he could take a day off. The guy works hard, and deserves the break.

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  10. We have always had good building inspectors in Sierra Madre as far back as I can remember, with one exception, a man who was so overweight and in poor condition that he could not make it down the hill to look at the sewer trench a canyon resident had dug. Did the inspection from the back porch.

    Years ago the city tried to fire one of the best of the bunch and the citizens took out a full page ad in the newspaper supporting him. If you do not have a local employee as the building inspector all sorts of junk will slip by and it will be under your overhang at the neighbors fence line before you get up the nerve to go find out the rules and complain.

    This avoidance of the rule of neighborliness was the push behind finally getting a Canyon Zone in place so everyone could play fair. So far two projects underway following the new rules and one misled person, behaps self-deluded, thinking they are going to get a multicar garage or carport in a tiny place where there is not room for the project is going to find out the hard way if they have already closed escrow with out full understanding of the Canyon Zone.

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  11. The man second from the left in the picture looks like Andy Cohen of Bravo TV. He's the guy who brought us down to the level of the Real Housewives series. His place in evolution is accurately portrayed.

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  12. If you look around at other cities in the SGV, you'll see city council's and staff load each agenda's calender to the top.

    This is a all to common a tatic used to "slip" heated topic past the public, since a majority of residents are fully involved in the holiday spirit, traveling or having guest come to visit etc.

    Remember "RUST NEVER SLEEPS" so keep a close eye on your scheming local politicans and developers.

    Have a safe and happy holiday to you all.

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  13. The meeting at the Civic should be starting about now. Any Tattlers there?

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  14. Myself, Mr. Glen Springer and John Harabedian are in the house.

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    1. Let me guess - Harabedian was there to proclaim his oneness with the people.

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    2. His commitment lasted until a little after 9. But I got to tell you, having to stay until these chuckleheads vote is stretching my commitment as well.

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  15. Anthony Portantino gave a pretty good speech. A lot of other very articulate and quite upset area residents are speaking as well. It is a pretty good turnout.

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    1. Look forward to your report!

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