Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sierra Madre Weekly: Citizen of the Year Nominations Due – We cast our ballot for Neil the Pig

The most famous Sierra Madrean of all
(Mod: It is that time of year when Citizen of the Year nominations are being solicited and, as is usually the case, I can't think of anyone to nominate. Or at least anyone who might actually win. As a matter of fact, I am not really all that sure what a Citizen of the Year is anymore. Our current Mayor, Nancy "Take You Out" Walsh, seems to be at war with the entire concept of traditional volunteerism in this town, so it does look like the rules have radically changed. All that said, however, there is an instance where somebody did fight the power at City Hall, and won. He fought for his life, actually. Making this individual a most fitting hero for what are truly difficult times. For this story, and perhaps 2013's best possible COTY nomination in what has been a most idiosyncratic year, we happily turn to Terry Miller of the Sierra Madre Weekly.) 

Citizen of the Year Nominations Due – We cast our ballot for Neil the Pig (Sierra Madre Weekly link) - Not all animals are created equal…or are they?

How often do you read that a person you may have never met, let alone seen in town become  ‘citizen of the year?'  Well, not to put a ‘hitch in their giddy-up,’ the fine folks at the Chamber of Commerce and other select committee members who decide such an honor on whom to bestow, often choose from community input. That being, your nominations.

While we agree that most of these individuals selected as COTY have served the community well in years past, this year we need some humor injected into a what can really only be classified as a truly difficult year.

This year we humbly nominate Neil the Pig for both Citizen of the Year and July 4 Grand Marshal.

It’s not so much as what Neil has done but what he represents to so many in Sierra Madre  –  a bright future without an absurd bureaucracy dictating his domicile and other aspects of his life.

For those of you who didn’t manage to read about Neil, we’ll re-cap the juicy details for you:

Neil has lived in Sierra Madre for 17 years without a single citation, complaint or traffic infraction. In fact Neil doesn’t even drive. No, Neil is an upstanding citizen Sierra Madre of the porcine family. He has a residence on Montecito thanks to the kindness of his family.

Some likened it to Charlotte’s Web but a Sierra Madre porcine’s predicament went far and away beyond anything E.B.White could have written or imagined.

The whole episode actually started out as a simple request from resident Dr. Katherine Emerson about a rather noisy rooster in a neighbor’s yard that had been disturbing the peace for some time and waking people up at all hours apparently.

According to Emerson, she had contacted the city several times and got no results two months ago when she complained about the rooster’s existence…which was in violation of city ordinance.

Within 2 hours of that phone conversation, the Pasadena Humane Society was as Emerson’s door complete with a citation to have her pet pot-belly pig Neil, removed from the city of Sierra Madre limits due to a “code violation.” Emerson told Beacon Media, ” that would have killed Neil…a modern day Charlotte’s Web indeed…”

Emerson said this wasn’t a mere coincidence. “The city had never before contacted me about Neil…or any code violation,” she said. Emerson also stated she feels city manager Elaine Aguilar is “not doing her job …” and believes the decision to target Neil was politically motivated due to upcoming elections. “Even the Mayor (Nancy Walsh) was not on Neil’s side,” Emerson said.

Ludicrous yes, but nonetheless the letter of the law…well, almost.

News spread fast…very fast indeed thanks to a handful of Neil’s real friends and his “Facebook friends” who immediately launched a campaign that attracted the attention not only of local media but national news organizations and Facebook friends worldwide.

This wasn’t just any old swine story … this was about justice for a long-time resident of the tiny foothill city.

After considerable review of the code and fearing a public relations nightmare just in time for Halloween, Sierra Madre officials granted Neil a reprieve and allowed his to remain within city limits as he’s a pot-belly pig and not a “hog” as the ordinance dictates.

Sierra Madre Chief of Police Larry Giannone gave Emerson the good news personally, and also attended a special celebration in Memorial Park with 30 others who had supported Neil’s cause.

Neil has been living in a front yard behind a white picket fence greeting kids for 17 years. He was adopted by Diane Emerson in 1996 from Pet’s Delight pet store in Monrovia. Her daughter Dr. Katherine Emerson inherited Neil after Diane passed away about six years ago.

Neil was apparently in violation of Municipal Code 08.030, entitled simply “Hogs”. The code prohibits hogs from residing within the city limits. However Neil is actually a pot belly pig, not listed in the code, anywhere. Dr. Emerson said she was warned if Neil is not removed from the city limits they will proceed with legal action to have him destroyed.

A social media campaign began to save Neil on both Facebook and Twitter traveled like an epidemic of swine flu. Neil’s supporters garnered a huge following which led to the delightfully happy ending and Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said that they will NOT pursue any action against Neil. He is free to stay in his home with the Chief’s full support. Pride , Integrity and Guts.

Emerson said she was glad it’s all over for now but hasn’t ruled out a career in politics for Neil. Emerson added that whatever Neil and she could do to support the local police and fire departments in Sierra Madre, they will.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 made a huge resurgence this year with the  classic books rising to the top ten best sellers list – decades after they were written.

The reason:  Simple, and deeply complex at the same time. But I’d like to think Neil had his nose in this. Fear of Big Brother interfering with our lives ( NSA – Nudge Nudge,  wink wink); lack of transparency in government;  the list goes on. Thanks Neil. Perhaps, just perhaps, pigs will fly in 2014.

(Mod: Nominations for COTY are due to the Chamber of Commerce by January 6. Time is short, so do not delay. To place Neil's name into nomination for this quintessentially Sierra Madre honor, click here for everything needed to do the right thing.)

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43 comments:

  1. I will mail in my Citizen of the Year application today. Do we know when Grand Marshal nominations are due?

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  2. The pig is a winner.

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  3. Will they serve pork at the celebration dinner?

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    Replies
    1. I believe the dietary recommendation will be corn. Though I understand a certain rooster might be on the menu as well.

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    2. Everyone will be served acorns.

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  4. Many say they can't picture their own local politician as being a HAM, but here is living proof. Well done Neil, happy new year.

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  5. I would say that Sierra Madre is Hog Heaven, but I think there is an ordinance against that.

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  6. The Citizen of the Year Dinner is really just an excuse for the Chamber of Commerce to have an event to install its officers for the coming year. Since the Chamber is essentially a non-existent entity, composed of only a few folks, I say we nominate Nancy Walsh and Noah Green, our council candidates and chamber volunteers for the honor. They could use the publicity. Truly, Nancy has done so much to unite the town (against her), and Noah Green has lived here for almost 3 years. Just about everything the Chamber touches turns to mush, and Noah and Nancy shuold be recognized for their part in that process.

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    1. Nancy only talks to her handlers, city staff and 10 or so seniors. She has no idea what the town thinks of her.

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    2. She's in a city hall bubble.

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    3. The air in that bubble must be awful.

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    4. Great Idea. I second the honor.

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    5. The last thing we need is another lawyer who moves into the city and immediately starts with a political campaign.

      Didn't we learn our lesson with Joe Mosca and John Buchanan, who both moved into the city and proclaimed that they "loved" the city and yet run for Council to change it almost immediately after moving in.

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  7. Who pays for the celebration?

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    1. If Neil is chosen Citizen of the Year will the party be a case of pearls before swine?

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    2. Those that go pay for their food.

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    3. I'll try the corn.

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  8. I think that our first wayfinding sign should be to Neil's house.

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    1. I agree. Properly marketed Neil could become bigger than the Wistaria Vine. The Chamber needs to hop on this one pronto.

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  9. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for a city that is in such desperate financial shape to stop spending money on parties for itself?

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    1. I am not sure the city is in desperate financial shape. I think city staff and their pet councilmembers are saying that because it helps them fund raise for their pensions and benefits.

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    2. So they should walk their talk and stop spending money on frivolities. And I think being in debt beyond your capacity to pay is being in desperate financial shape.

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    3. The city spends money on nonsense.

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    4. If you keep the residents amused with silly things they will be more likely to approve rate and tax increases. It is a small amount of money when you consider the millions they'll take in by raising taxes.

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    5. Bread and circuses (and fat pensions) for all!

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    6. Actually, the city has nothing to do with the Citizen of the Year. This is strictly a Chamber thing, and everyone pays for their dinner and drinks. But I do think someone's idea of honoring Nancy for the "volunteer of the year" would be poetic justice for her anti-volunteer stance. Maybe this will help to take her out for good.

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    7. Um, no. She'd use it as proof that she is liked.

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  10. The pig resides here but is not a resident.

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  11. "The Pig Resides", but the city management and city council needs to go!

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  12. While the readers of this blog discuss things like taxes, water rates, city finances and the upcoming city council elections, The Mountain Views News has the real scoop today on what is going on in town.
    1) Frosty the Snowman is back.
    2) A gentleman who rode his bicycle 1,200 miles returned to Sierra Madre in time for the holidays.
    3) The Roess Park Bungalows are finished. They have all the modern conveniences, but are styled for the look of yesteryear. The Realtor and phone number are listed, so they must not be selling like hotcakes.

    So there.

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    1. The Roess condos are the first nice development to happen in Sierra Madre for years.

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    2. According to the Looney Views they're bungalows. Or is that just a disguise?

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    3. People want single family homes. Low density is greener.

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    4. 1,562 sq feet is quite a bungalow.

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    5. The Roess condos, being those big hulking things that block out the sun?

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  13. The look of yesteryear, hah! That would be yesteryear tenement style, faux craftsman packed in as closely together as possible.

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  14. This whole Sierra Madre awards dinner thing is like something out of the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt. A group of about 30 to 40 people gin up a few awards, and then at dinners held to present these awards give them to each other. All of which reinforces their opinion that they are the best people in town, and you can tell that is true because they are the ones that win all of the awards. You just have to laugh. Better that they give them to a pig.

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  15. So we try to increase the Tattler influence in the city . I think a good way to do that is to attack every citizen of the year award winner. (NOT)

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    1. I don't think the attack is on individual winners - more like on the self-congratulatory exercise in rewarding behavior that should actually be normal.
      Quite right, though, that the Civility party would hold this up as an example of how rude and disrespectful the Tattler and its readers are. Funny that the truth is actually the opposite.

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  16. In the court of flatterers, the truth speaker sounds harsh.

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