Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The UUT3 Takes SMPD Hostage

Help!
How's that for a tabloid headline? Having spent my childhood reading the New York Daily News and the New York Post, it just seems comfortable to slip back into that sort of thing once in a while. It is language stripped of all but its core essence, and once you get the hang of it there is actually a level of comfort in that. It is clean, brisk and refreshing, like a cold shower. Something you might have felt you needed after having sat through a 3 hour City Council meeting as larded over with phony baloney and malarkey gymnastics as the one I witnessed last night. Even John Capoccia and Chris Koerber couldn't fend it all off.

Not everyone I spoke with last night agreed, but to me the big issue was wrapped tightly around the sales pitch delivered by John Harabedian pushing an RFP for his Public Safety Master Plan. An earnest chat designed to create the public will necessary to spend upwards of $50,000 on a consultant for a study on whether our Police Department is worth the money we pay them. Or, to put it tabloid-speak, spend a ton of dough to get some paper together that'll make the cops look good. Which is probably the only way it will ever happen.

This happened, of course, exactly one City Council meeting after 3 City Councilmembers (UUT3) recommended that our utility taxes be raised to 12%, by far the highest in California. A dubious distinction and something opposed by over 60% of the voters during last April's election.

After a whole lot of back and forth between various Councilmembers, it was finally decided by the UUT3 (Moran, Johnny and Ms. Walsh) that this RFP for a Public Safety Master Plan could be boiled down to just a consultant borne survey of the residents in Sierra Madre. One that would question them about their feelings for the SMPD, with the gamble being that most people would feel a love pulse for our brave men and women in blue when taking the survey.

A result that would then be brought up repeatedly in 2014 when a new Utility User Tax (UUT) Measure goes on the ballot. Despite the voters having overwhelmingly rejected an extension of the UUT last April, Moran, Johnny and Ms. Walsh decided that the vote was not a legitimate one, and that they are entitled to a do-over. With the issue this time being the survival of Sierra Madre's Police Department. Because, and let's face it, unless the UUT does get extended, the chances of this City retaining our public safety arrangements in their current form is not a guarantee. All of which makes for a classic case of political hostage taking.

As an aside, here is something to ponder. Has Councilmember Harabedian ever had to pay for anything himself? The guy is now in his thirties and still living in the home of his parents. Since John has never owned a house, made a mortgage payment, paid property or parcel taxes, or purchased much of anything in his entire rather privileged life, how can it be considered appropriate for him to decide whether we, who do live in the big boy and girl world, should have to pay more taxes?

Another unfortunate moment at the meeting revealed itself last evening right about the time Elaine Aguilar made her rather lengthy speech about why City Staff is no longer capable of attending resident Committee and Commission meetings as much as they used to. Her reasoning being that with recent cutbacks a work load that includes having to attend all of these commission/committee meetings had become too arduous to even contemplate any longer. This coming from a facility where the employees work only 4 days every other week.

Since nobody on the City Council wanted to entertain the radical notion that Sierra Madre resident volunteers might be capable of holding commission and committee meetings without City Staff on hand, the discussion naturally went towards either reducing the amount of these organizations, or combining some of them together into single units. The assumption being that their responsibilities are similar enough to do so.

One grim aspect of this scheme that seemed especially sneaky was the notion that the Tree Commission and the Green Committee could be combined. What preserving trees versus using them to build transit village condos have in common is beyond me, but perhaps logic wasn't the point in this case. This would allow the stack/pack/rack development loving Green Committee to assume the Commission status of the tree people. A kind of hostile takeover, except most of the victims probably wouldn't notice.

This would also help to avoid a public debate on the downtown development agenda contained in what was formerly known as the Green Committee Accords. A name they had to abandon after the development agenda hidden within it became known to the public.

But perhaps there is a bright side to all of this. Without having all of those meetings to go to, City Staff won't have as much work to do. Which means we likely won't need quite so many of them. As anyone who has worked in the corporate world can tell you, the day you start giving up responsibilities is the day you start getting shoved out the door.

The Rain Tax came up, and apparently the City Council concluded that they had already pushed for enough tax increases already, and instead chose to protest this new parcel tax to the County of Los Angeles. Which is fortunate. If you have not mailed in your protest to the County and are a property owner not keen on having to pay a new parcel tax designed to fund yet one more useless County bureaucracy, you can find the necessary paperwork by clicking here.

Most of what you will see there has to do with some deceptive greenwash that calls itself the "Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure." You'll need to pass by all of that to get to the actual protest form. It can be found on the bottom quarter of the third page. Mail in your protest today.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

71 comments:

  1. From the January 7th Tattler:

    "Easy peasy. They're going to say they're responding to the community's demand for fewer commissions and comittees and therefore less staff time will be involved. In a nutshell, they're doing what we've asked..."

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    1. The real point in this is how unnecessary the staff is.

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    2. Why no one on the City Council questioned the necessity of city staff sitting in on commission and committee meetings mystifies me. The closest anyone came was when Harabedian asked the City Atty if it is a violation of the Brown Act if City Staff went to Starbucks instead. The answer was no.

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    3. Staff needs to be consulted now and then. I always figured their insistence on coming to meetings was so that they could do their part of the work while at the meeting, and maybe in some cases get time off credit for attending. The real motivation - laziness.

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    4. Lining up the ducks to be able to say, "We must have the UUT increase - look at all the cuts we've made."

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    5. Thank you City Attorney for making it clear that staff DOES NOT need to be present at commission and committee meeting. I sat in the audience of the General Plan Steering Committee when they pleaded for extra meetings so they could get their work done, only to be told they could not meet because there was no staff. I also was at a committee meeting when there were THREE staff sitting in the room. Staff is not needed at most meetings. Volunteers can make special events happen. It there is not community help, it is obvious the community doesn't feel it is an important event.

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  2. There is no need for a "green committee" and especially no need for a "green commission".

    The large majority of Sierra Madreans are conservationists and enviromentalists, several friends of mine in town are actively involved in these things.....they don't need to be on some damn green committee. This is just a front for pro-development...it's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    We have a Tree Commission, let them alone to do their volunteer work for the city, the people I know on this are very good people, unlike some of the "green committee" gang.

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    1. I agree that the Tree Commission functions at a very high level and is seemingly incorruptible. Trying to slide the controversal Green Committee under the Tree Commission's umbrella smacks of tampering.

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    2. I think it has already happened 7:31. That was just the groundwork being laid last night. And it was pretty damn clever. Our next mayor has been repeatedly talking about a Natural Resources and Environmental Green Commission or some kind of like-named body, in all the other cities, and she wants one here. It's to get us in line to receive all the many dollars that will be flooding this way. The Dirts and Downtown Investment Club Members are positioning Walsh to ride into her mayorship with an environmental commission victory.

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    3. Her pro tem Mayoress doesn't have a clue what she wants! Her handlers have told her she needs a Natural Resources and Unicorn Preserve Commission. She is an embarrassment.

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    4. I think she is also concerned about where rainbows go when the sun sets.

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    5. Why does it take a commission of seven residents and a staff person to determine it's ok to cut down a dead tree. Waste of time.

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  3. Campaign theme for 2014: Either you vote for a 12% UUT or we'll take your police away." Classy.

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  4. Oh yeah! Let's hope that's the choice!!

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  5. Sounds like they're attempting to blackmail the tax payers.

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    Replies
    1. If 3 members of the City Council have kidnapped the SMPD, then we need to call the Sheriffs to rescue them.

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    2. The POA is getting what they were promised when they endorsed John, Colin, and Gene. M O N E Y and P O W E R

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    3. The Library Board, the Park Master Plan Committee, and the General Plan Committee all did their surveys without consultants. Why can't the Police????

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    4. Excellent point 9:09.

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    5. Not certain blackmail is the best word. Extortion is more like it.

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  6. Walsh, Moran and Harabedian should each chip in their own money together to pay for the public safety survey.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe they should go door to door and ask the questions themselves. That way they can save time when they change the answers.

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    2. Question number one:
      Would you like to live in a state of total anarchy with no police protection?
      Answer yes, no or undecided.

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    3. Your honor, the poster is attempting to lead the witness. besides, as any of the 3 homeowners who were robbed last weekend will tell you, we live in anarchy now.

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    4. Better, more professional protection, please.

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  7. Are there any old Joe Mosca seats that Harabedian hasn't acquired yet? Does this mean Johnny Metro is going to start taking the bus?

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  8. Attention UUT TAX PROTESTERS:

    We had better have a meeting and get organized, again.
    We can't let this slide, or we may as well give up the fight.
    I know those of you reading this who agree....will never give up.
    That's why we will WIN...AGAIN.

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    Replies
    1. Starve the Beast.

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    2. The beast has a lot of reserves. It will take time.

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    3. Plan the meeting, I will attend and contribute.

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    4. 8:58, we can starve them. Look how frantic the UUT 3 are already!

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    5. Without taxpayer money the UUT3 are just another small group of people with opinions.

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    6. That sounds good to me, 2:44.

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  9. The three studges want the residents to pay for a city survey?

    "MAI".... means "MADE AS INSTRUCTED"

    More wasted Residents money...

    enough is enough....



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  10. Downhill stop sign alert!
    SMPD patrol car just east of Mt Trail facing westbound watching for rolling stops at Orange Grove. What a hoot!

    That is one of the stop signs with the least "rolls" as the traffic in the morning is so dense that you stop out of self-preservation (actually what a stop sign is meant to accomplish).

    So, if a traffic stop is made by this cop, for some unfortunate to get to the sign and feel the freedom to roll, which I doubt as there is no cover for this ninny, I mean SMPD officer, the officer would have to pull over the offender and block traffic.

    There is no parking area along Orange Grove. The cop was barely off the street, with his patrol car angled into the drive-way entrance to the corner property garage! The west bound traffic would be blocked up behnid this, or I guess they could cross the double line against on-coming traffic. The lack of grey matter this represents is huge!

    I figure this is a cop hiding out from the real needs of Sierra Madre, patrolling our streets and keeping our homes safe from roberies. But no, that would take real policing. All we really have here is traffic cops. Probably every area surrounding worksites is vunerable. People leave for work or the week-end on a regular basis and their property is staked out. That's my guess. The police report (as Tat readers have mentioned) have most always included that the door (car, home) was left unlocked. What should be added to the police report was "the SMPD was sitting down some side road waiting for a rolling stop sign violation and couldn't be expected to be seen as a presence in our neighborhoods to twart this illegal activity".

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    Replies
    1. The point for the SMPD is to establish a presence where they can be seen by a lot of people. It usually gets pretty heavy after a rash of home robberies like the ones we had over the weekend.

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  11. Co Parcel Tax funds LA City responsibilityJanuary 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    The proposed County tax measure is a result of City of LA's inability to fund infrastructure repair.

    http://citywatchla.com/lead-stories-hidden/4307-city-council-declares-open-season-on-la-homeowners

    As a result of the City’s unwillingness in 2009 to fund its stormwater mediation system, the County absorbed that responsibility and is now proposing a $300 million, vote by mail, parcel tax to finance its stormwater project, of which $100 million will be from property owners within the City.

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    1. For those not "getting" the importance of the above article, this is how failing BIG CITIES (Detroit, LA, NY, etc., etc.) tax the suburbs.

      In other words, they already blew thru all their money, so they want the 'burbs folks to pay with their money! Shame on you, fleeing the big city.

      Same theory on a larger scale is California wanting a fed bailout. You can bet your ass that it'd already have happened, except the GOP took over the House in 2010.

      If the Feds bail out Cali, then the folks in flyover country can pay for us! How cool is that?

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    2. I remember Joe Mosca waxing dreamily about a time when all cities would work together to "solve each others' problems." Now we can see where that all led.

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  12. Harabedian lives with mommy?

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  13. ... And his wife lives there too

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    Replies
    1. He said he bought a house on S. Lima.

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  14. Onward and Downward!January 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    must be nice for the Missus.

    In any event, along with a move to rate cage transit hub living our betters will move us into a new Victorian age of multi-generaltional dwelling.

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    1. Very 19th century. Mansions and row housing.

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  15. Private property is the ultimate cash cow used by unprincipled government Hacks in order to confiscate citizens wealth feathering their own nest!The individual citizen has the ultimate responsibility to stop this swindle!

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  16. just think...

    the bulk of the voters wanted johnny h...

    now you got him, how are you going to get rid of him?

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  17. It is time for the adults to start running the city.....do not let walsh become mayor. Just because she was pro tem does not make her mayor! Make the council take a real vote!

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    1. Let me look in my crystal ball: Mayor Walsh.

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    2. Mirror mirror on the wall
      Who will lead the cha cha ball?

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  18. When did Councilman Harabedian get married? His fiance (of several years) was introduced at a few candidates nights and other election functions a year ago. Very nice young woman. But when did they sail down the aisle?

    And Josh, married for the third time. Gasp! I knew the missus number 2. Glad she chose him, that saved another young man, who was crushed when she left him for Josh, the agony of having to deal with a real breakup with her (after a few months/years of marriage. These kids!

    But why, why did number 2 dump Josh? It would be a real corker to know.

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    1. Better question is: Why did he have to leave Flintridge Prep? It's hard to fire a teacher. But remember, teachers have a morals clause in their contract.

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    2. Here is the part that I find mystifying about Moran Marriage #3: why was it such a secret? Usually when a Mayor of a City gets hitched, it is a very big story. And at a meeting like last night's City Council get together there would have been congratulations, cake, silly stuff, the whole shebang. But nothing was said. This to me is very odd.

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    3. I believe Harabedian tied the knot in early November 2012 and Josh's is more recent. Maybe by the time you get to #3 you don't want to advertise.

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    4. The third time shows a deep belief in the institution of marriage.

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  19. wait, I get to vote against a higher tax rate AND get rid of the SMPD at the same time?

    can we vote next week?


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  20. As for the fate of the SMPD here is the crystal ball answer:

    A trend where most small Police Departments would be
    defunct; Compton P.D., Lynwood P.D., Maywood, Yorba Linda P.D. and Bell P.D. are all gone.

    Due to financial strain of cities budgets he trend continues and is picking up steam to balanace cities budgets.

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    1. If my fading memory serves correctly, I think every L.A. County city thats incorporated since 1960 has contracted out police services to LASD.

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  21. Besides the liability connected with a small local P.D. funds to cover their retirement has dwindled to near nothing. A long hard look back at the small P.D. function, protect the political power machine in the town that feeds them.

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  22. Renters pay property taxes, it's called rent.

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    1. That would be nice if renters paid the tax bill when it came along. Usually the rent does not cover the taxes, at least in my experience.

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    2. No, property owners pay property taxes. I've never seen a property tax bill addressed to a renter.

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    3. 5:17, You must know some pretty dumb propery owners.

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    4. Wow, pretty strong.

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  23. 50 Shades of Nick Conway.

    Andrea Travis-Miller, has been preliminarily chosen as director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.

    Travis-Miller confirmed that she's planning to take the job, if the full board of the Council of Government reps must vote to approve the decision.

    Of course there are few sgvCOGer's who will not like a female being in charge plus she isn't on the take with them that could start a problem. Take Douglas Tessitor and Gene Murabito, these two are known for being difficult.

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    1. Bad news for Bart! Does he know?

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    2. Bet Ms. Travis-Miller is a BIG fan of the 710 Tunnel. Messina is pulling the strings.

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    3. Of course. A lot of Asian cash is up for grabs. All those bums are dropping trou for that!

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  24. Flintridge Prep is a private school and they can fire/hire when ever. It is not public and Josh can tell people anything like he does now.

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  25. Didnt Joshie boy marry Linda Lindforth the Sierra Fitness personal trainer and have a child or two with her? Now this women lives in Florida with Josh's kid? Is that a correct story?

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