Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Secret Mission To Washington DC?

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It seems that our city government has become quite secretive lately. Case in point. Candidates for the City Council have been trying to set up appointments with the Chief of Police and Fire Chief so that they can get a better understanding of their concerns for this City. It seems like a good idea, right? The kind of thing people who want to become informed about public safety issues would do? It is always a top topic in any town, and a candidate who would take on that kind of initiative is someone you'd have to consider voting for. Why? Because it shows that they actually care, and have made an effort to understand important matters.

So what happened? The attempts to set these meetings up have been turned down. Instead if the candidates wish to have a sit down with the Chiefs, or any other staff dignitary for that matter, they will have to attend a formal meeting where these city employees will be available in a Q&A format. A meeting that will be run by the City Manager, and in a tightly controlled setting. And why is this? No really good reason is given.

As another example, there is the mysterious decision by our Mayor to not seek re-election. In most cities when a sitting Mayor has decided not to seek re-election, it is considered big news. There are usually press releases, or even press conferences. It is treated like something important. Yet this year the sitting Mayor of Sierra Madre didn't bother to say anything. She just let the deadline for filing go past. And even after that nothing official was said. Why? Apparently it wasn't any of your business.

Yesterday morning a plane containing our Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, City Manager and Director of Public Works took off from one of our fine L.A. County International Airports, heading for our nation's capital, Washington DC. Nobody knew about this. We knew they were going to go sometime because it had been budgeted for at a City Council meeting last September. And yesterday's unannounced departure was a make-up trip for something that was postponed by last fall's sequester.

But did we know they were going yesterday? Nothing was ever said. There were no goodbyes.

We do know that the mission has something to do with lobbying for water funding. Which on the surface seems like it would be a good thing. There are some inherent dangers to this, however. No money given by Uncle Sugar, even for something as basic as water infrastructure, ever comes without strings attached.

The 2003 Water Bonds, which our secretive city government is loathe to discuss in any real detail as well, came as a requirement for receiving Federal money having something to do with water. A matching fund, apparently. And while we are unsure why this happened, we do know where it all led.

And in Washington DC, where the centrally mandated high density "Smart Growth" contagion is as strong as it is in Sacramento, certain onerous development requirements could easily be attached to any water earmarks coming our way. There is always dough enough available to small cities that would allow themselves to be turned into tightly packed travel villages.

We can only hope that the pressure Mayor Pro Tem Harabedian is feeling to "do something" doesn't lead these four mysterious travelers to sell the soul of our City in exchange for a few easy bucks. Things are becoming bad enough as it is without throwing things like that into the mix. And whatever deal they do work out, if any, will need to be looked at very carefully.

But for whatever the reason, yesterday's abrupt departure was unknown to the people of Sierra Madre. A closely guarded secret. And the reason for this trip taking place in such secrecy? Unknown as well. Who exactly are they meeting with? Nuh uh. Not for you to know, either.

The City of Sierra Madre has become a very mysterious place.

A rather bizarre headline

This from yesterday's Pasadena Star News (link):

Cops firing on newspaper carriers during Christopher Dorner manhunt violated LAPD policy, Chief Charlie Beck says - Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that officers violated department policy when they opened fire on two women delivering newspapers in Torrance during last year’s manhunt for Christopher Dorner.

The eight officers, who fired more than 100 rounds at a truck driven by a mother and her daughter, mistook the sounds of a newspaper hitting the pavement for gunfire, Beck said. The violent response took place during a massive dragnet for Dorner, who terrorized the region during a 10-day period last February.

“I sympathize with the officers, but I have very high standards,” Beck told reporters. Citing department policy, Beck declined to discuss what disciplinary action the officers will face.

Maybe a reason why unjustified and random shootings like this take place is because the people doing the shooting know that they will be shielded should their actions be later called into question?

After all, questions about appropriate department policy are far preferable to any discussions about 100 rounds being fired by Police at a 71 year old grandmother who makes her living delivering newspapers.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

51 comments:

  1. Speaking of the mysterious, does anyone know why tomorrow evening's planning commission meeting is not listed in the City's website list of upcoming events? http://cityofsierramadre.com. Here is the link to the agenda - http://66.92.220.85:8090/tylercm/eagleweb/downloads/02_06_14.pdf?id=DOC120S10.A0&parent=DOC120S10

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    1. I think that happens fairly often. The person who inputs the data for the events may think of the planning commission as more of a "happening."

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    2. It has been there for several days. You can find it under current city documents. You don't need to register.

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    3. Right 10:22, but I think 5:14 is talking about an events page - separate from the city documents.

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    4. Why is there a closed session before the PC meetng at 7:00? Somebody sueing? Or just develoment services making sure they vote Properly?

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    5. They did put the events listing up finally. More proof that if you want to get something done at City Hall, post about it on The Tattler.

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    6. I thought closed sessions were just for city council? What's this about?

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    7. The Planning Commission will get the news about the Crater Gate developer suing. It is designed to focus their minds on giving the developer the approval he wants. You know, to spare the city an unnecessary lawsuit. Our city doesn't like to stand up for laws that might cost it development fees.

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  2. I just went to your link and it says I have to be registered and logged in to use the City Web page. Why? Isn't the agenda a PUBLIC document?

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    1. You can just ignore it and click through.

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  3. Of course we all understand that the reason MPT* is off on the DC junket is to make those personal connections for his future jobs. Hope they don't get snowed in, but I'm certain all the politicians and lobbyists they speak with will give them the proverbial "snow job".

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  4. I don't think it is necessary to fly 3,000 miles to get lip service from Congresswoman Chu. She makes herself available for such things here, and quite often.

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  5. Maybe they need to raise the UUT so they can pay for more of these kinds of trips! How irresponsible and clueless these folks are.

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  6. It's a sneaky trip because they must be spending buckets of our money to do it.

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    1. Do ya think? At minimum four round trip airline tickets (what's the weight limit that triggers a two-seater?); four very, very expensive hotel rooms; taxi fare; twelve meals a day (are paying for their wine as well?); transportation to and from the airports... do we get to review the expense reports when they return? Will the MPT* be sharing his expenses with his hoity toity law firm that will undoubtedly be represented? And the lame duck dancin' Mayor? What's she bringing to the game? In fact, will we even get an explanation from the Mayor, MPT*, and Directors in open Council session? Can you say boondoggle?

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    2. And don't forget the costs involved with the extreme weather the East coast is experiencing - extra hotels, meals, transportation, and airline reservation changes. What happens if the folks they're going to see aren't even in the offices because they're closed down? Nancy can tell us about the National Museum of Cha Cha that she didn't get to visit.

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    3. Maddening.
      If they want face to face so much, what's wrong with Skype?

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  7. Mr. Harabedian begins his first step into his real career.
    Hope his schmoozing skills are a bit improved.

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    1. Yeah, being good enough to hustle Sierra Madre might not measure up in the capital of hustlers....a shoddy trick like photo shopping police officer uniforms wouldn't go so unnoticed there.

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    2. Washington demands a whole different level of falsehood.

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    3. Mayberry Machiavellians, meet the masters.

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  8. These special planning commission meetings on One Carter. The ones with only three commissioners plus the developer. Does anyone know when they will be taking place?

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    1. I think the commission will be setting that up tomorrow night. We'll see who's on the subcommittee and where and when the meetings will be. I'm sure the public will be invited - there's a long history of resident interest in what happens up there.

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    2. That's good. I thought because these special planning commission meetings would;t be Brown Act, they might keep the residents out.

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    3. I think Brown Act stuff applies to the people on a commission, not the public.

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    4. I hope the Planning Commission refuses to set up a separate committee of 3 people. If they do, then whatever comes out of it will have automatic approval, and then should also have automatic approval with the city council. This is a sneaky ploy suggested by none other than the developer's attorney. And, the city council did not demand that the PC set up a separate committee, they merely recommended it. I think these "remanded" developments need to be discussed by the entire planning commission during public meetings with community input. Going to the planning commission meeting tonight and advocating for a non-subcommittee solution would be good public input and help the commission with their decision.

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    5. I am sorry, but this whole thing reeks of "process." That is a long series of events designed to give people the impression that something is happening, but arriving at a preordained result. Which in this case is building McMansions at Crater Gate. If the City Council didn't want them built, they would have simply said "no."

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    7. Starter castles at CraterGate (!) will lead to starter castles any/everywhere

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  9. The people running for council are not allowed to chat individually with city staff? Good God.

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    1. They might say something that Elaine doesn't like. The truth for instance.

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    2. Elaine is a complete control freak. I don't think there is much doubt who runs this city. Sure isn;t the bobbleheads. Her need for more and more money is voracious.

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  10. We pay a lobbyist. Why are we sending anyone else?

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  12. They are probably meeting with Judy Chen. Wouldn't want to meet with her when she is in town.

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    1. And a video chat is not a possibility? This unnecessary expense is so offensive.

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    2. The quartet is probably convinced that their in-person charisma will carry the day.

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    3. Didn't Mosca make a similar pilgrimage? And Josh as well?

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    4. A video chat would required a really wide screen. Big egos and lots of hot air.

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    5. As well as plenty of bucks spent on getting the right coiffure.

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  13. Brown Act applies to a quorum of the elected or appointed body--in the case of the PC that would be 4 of the 7 appointed members at a meeting or the CC, 3 of the 5 elected members But the public is allowed at the sub committee meeting of 3 when and whereever they have this "PC subcommiteer on 1 Carter" meeting.
    Find out! I am out of town. Can someone call Development Services office and dig up this information?

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  14. Apparently we don't spend enough on lobbyists - Tiny Towns Spend Big Bucks on Lobbyists to Reap Federal Government Riches http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2011/05/tiny-towns-spend-big-on-lobbyists-to-reap-federal-government-riches.html#.UvFM1_1K7us.email

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  15. What a crock. Our Mayor will be on the council for a total of five more meetings. What good is it to spend city money for a lame-duck council member. There isn't anything that can be ginned up for the next few agendas that can make a difference, especially when it comes to water. Maybe she can tell us that there is an emergency response office in D.C. too as she did when she went to Sacramento, and invite them to come to Sierra Madre and tell us how it's done.

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    1. I think they are hoping to come home flush with victory and some new money deal - something the lobbyist has cooked up maybe.

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    2. Sure. Now that we're all patched up with Moody's we can float some more bonds and get us another Federal matching fund!

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  16. I hope they take the time to visit the Smithsonian. It is a wonderful museum.

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  17. The City Manager and the Director of Public Works got us into this mess. Now we find out that they are spending the tax payers monies in order to fly back to the East Coast in order to experience first hand a snow job ? Why not instead apply any amount of money to pay down the bonds?

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  18. Bonds are something that you pay for that does not benefit them directly. Not their concern.

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  19. 9:25 am Refuse separate committee of 3. It is a sneaky ploy... Some time ago, from a council almost forgotten... a council member (D. Hayes ?) had a special meeting in a "garage", for the conversation of how to go about planning for the future retirements of city employees. Maybe a good thing; but the problem was, not many others in attendance. Automatic Approval won.

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