Saturday, April 26, 2014

So Sierra Madre Will No Longer Be A Full Service City?

City Whizzle Pockets
One rather newsworthy topic coming out of the city's Strategic Planning Retreat yesterday were the revelations about the apparent demise of Sierra Madre as the proverbial "full service city." Something that, until a mere 24 hours ago, was the ongoing justification for sky-high utility taxes and other costly and unpleasant things.

So if Sierra Madre is no longer a full service city, what is it we are in the process of becoming you might ask? It could be that City Hall is about to embrace the idea of outsourcing services as a way of dealing with its now curtailed cash haul, brought about because the voters just rejected the City's attempt to raise utility taxes here for the second time in two years. Something that the City has no other choice now but to deal with. As much as they'd hoped to have had different options at this point.

As you know, City Hall is big on its memes. Bold "new think" examples of linguistic pithiness used to define their current opinions on the issues without in any way actually acknowledging the real reasons for them. Done in the hope of making it seem that whatever is going down was all their idea all along. Which for them is far preferable to having to admit that the taxpayers just yanked the financial rug out from under their feet, and with no regard to how this might play upon their feelings. Which, I assume, are hurt.

So the new message, as first revealed yesterday at this instance of our twice yearly Strategic Planning Retreat, is that "Sierra Madre will supply city services in the most cost effective ways." Which, while being pretty much what many residents have been calling for the last six years, is to now be taken as the City's idea.

What this might mean to We The Townies is anybody's guess. Should we now believe that City Hall will begin to abandon some of its most expensive practices? Is the era of the $36,000 employee health care plan really over? Or, and possibly more likely, will they now be seeking to outsource certain former "full service city" functions in order to sustain the kinds of financial excesses that benefit them personally?

And, just as important, does this actually mean that the Utility Tax Three (UTT4UUT) faction of the City Council will now be abandoning their rumored attempt to put a return to double digit utility taxes on the ballot for an unprecedented third time?

I myself rather doubt it. Just because they're becoming so-called "cost effective city service providers" does not necessarily mean they're getting out of the tax raising business. It could very well be that they are hoping to change voter perceptions of City Hall and its big spending ways in order to maintain as much of the old regime as possible. All done with the idea of making a later tax increase proposal more palatable to the residents.

But I guess we shall see. One thing is for certain, the fight is not over.

Another thing. There was a brief discussion regarding why the voters have twice rejected the City Council's expressed desire to raise utility taxes. Is it because residents here have an "aversion to taxes," or an "aversion to tax increases?"

The Utility Tax Three, which is made up of John Harabedian, John Capoccia and Gene Goss, adamantly insisted that it be declared that the former is true. To do otherwise could have been seen as an admission that they really had been trying to raise our utility taxes all along.

Funny how they just can't seem to let that one go.

Ageism Is Hate Speech

There have been a series of attempted comments (attempted because I've deleted almost all of them) made here by certain individuals demeaning seniors. I have no idea who is attempting to post these kinds of sentiments in The Tattler's comments section, but it does seem to indicate that there is some resentment of Sierra Madre's older "tax averse" citizens among the supporters of the so-called "Civility Party."

Here is an example of what I mean:

Only an elitist uses the word "classes" I assume you are an old white man … Poor old white God fearing folk. So oppressed such a hard fight against the sexist racist minorities WAH WAH! Go back to England if you don't like it. 

Sierra Madre, which has a large population of older residents, would seem to be an odd place to launch such written attacks on seniors. And, being a gracefully aging older dude myself, I can hardly be expected to tolerate this sort of garbage here on my blog.

The Pasadena Weekly this week has a series of articles about the problems older people are facing these days. And one of them is ageism. An article written by Ellen Snortland, called The Stupidest 'Ism', pretty much lays this ugly phenomenon bare.

You can check it out by clicking here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

69 comments:

  1. So Sierra Madre is supposed to supply services in the most cost effective ways? what a novel idea! Shouldn't this have been a guiding principle since day one? Like from back in 1908? I think it's an interesting phenomen that folks will spend other people's money with abandon, yet will be quite stingy when it comes to spending their own. The citizens' pocket books are sorta like the water wells here in town; they are running low and it's long past time to conserve.

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    1. I know that people haven't been too excited about the city spending thousands of dollars on these "Strategic Planning Retreats," but to have them reach the conclusion that "Sierra Madre will supply services in the most cost effective ways" is a stroke of genius that makes all the money spent on those retreats well worth it.

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    2. The townies will now get "cost effective city services". I would rather pay higher taxes to not have my city services be cost effective.

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    3. 7:06 - I don't know if finally reaching a conclusion we here on this blog came to years ago can be called a "stroke of genius." Nor do I necessarily believe that they are being sincere.

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    4. Yup. Sounds like triangulation to me.

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  2. yes, we need to pay attention to the "leakers" like $36,000. Health insurance fees.

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    1. Those employee health care plan costs are an obscenity.

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    1. Many, many municipalities and county areas are served very well at reasonable costs by outsourcing all utility services, particularly the smaller cities. That's the economy of scale. And regional utilities are not subject to the special-interest takeovers that happen in smaller communities that have been so blatantly obvious in Sierra Madre, which is another consequence of very small scale municipal operations. As the cities of Bell and Vernon have demonstrated, it's much easier to corrupt the process and the system when there's a very small base of voters and the special interests overwhelm the locals with their money and influence. I should think that in self-defense, this city could outsource its utility services, as well as police and fire, and focus the City Council's efforts on community concerns such as building and planning, traffic (there's not much of it here) the library, and recreation/social services. A strong focus on local control of zoning and building would make the priorities really clear, which is bolstered by the biggest tool in the box, the General Plan. An emphasis on the library and development of supplemental educational/recreational programs at its core could go a long way towards improving the local school experience in spite of dealing with the PUSD's shortcomings. A parcel tax that keeps the money in the community could fund these local efforts as well as improve property values because the residents are participating in community efforts that benefit the city and keeps the funds local to the benefit of their families.

      It seems that the time has come for the residents of the city to jettison the top-heavy municipal staff and lawyers and consultants, as well as the police/fire unions and utility services and focus on things that provide a real return to the residents and relieve them of these ongoing battles that drain their financial and emotional resources. Make it about the community, and defend it with the tools designed for that purpose.

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    2. Great post. It would be a very good thing if the #1 priority in this town became the taxpayers once again. Right now we are being treated like we are ATMs for city employee labor unions and the ambitious little politicians that serve them.

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    3. If you want San Marino type service, then move to San Marino. We can't afford that here.

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    4. That is part of the problem. Some people want to institute San marino style services so they can build and sell San Marino style houses. High taxes and high priced services are a part of gentrification. They want the middle class out of Sierra Madre.

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    5. I would not support a parcel tax for the library.

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    6. Nor would I.
      Small town. Small library.

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  4. I hope we can still afford the library with the coming cuts. To abandon the library would be as big a mistake as selling the monastery.

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    1. There is plenty of fat that can be cut before they get to the library. The problem is that in order to protect their exorbitant health care and pension costs staff will attempt to throw the library overboard. Don't let them do that. Remember, Measure UUT was largely about labor costs.

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    2. outsourcing the police would be a good place to start, if La Canda can get the sherrif for half of what we pay for our police, then Sierra Madre should be able to get the Sherrif for even less.

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    3. An example of a local model for the Library could be Altadena, which is a county census area. A parcel tax could allow for the development of enhanced educational and technology services to the community that supplements the public school curriculum, perhaps even for credit on student records for college admissions.
      http://www.altadenalibrary.org/about-our-library

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    4. I think it would be great if those who support the library would back their devotion up by making sustaining cash contributions. Like KPCC listeners do. That would be a great example for the community, and certainly more popular than a parcel tax.

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    5. My library is Vromans.

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    6. Perhaps you're new here? Ever hear of Friends of Sierra Madre Library? It's mainly our children that use the library............ KPPC has a budget of over $22,000,00.00 btw and is supported 90% by corporations and grants (tax deductions for the rich) Listeners 1%. Our library has a higher community support level per capata.

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    7. If the library has so much community support why is that not enough?

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    8. 8:46 If it's county we (Sierra Madre) are already paying the Parcel Tax for Altadena.

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    9. Some of the people who make a lot of noise about supporting the library have alligator arms when it comes to reaching for their wallets.

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    10. It will be as soon as we allow the Monastery to be developed in a sound way. As of now the property,view, is only enjoyed by the few that live next to the property. When developed the revenues will benefit all the residents and public services will be flush with new tax dollars.

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    11. Selling off Sierra Madre's birthright for temporary financial benefit is like the guy who pimps his wife to make the rent. Neither strategy will work for long.

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    12. I'm an older Sierra Madrian if we can sustain for 20 years that's fine for me. No free lunch today at Senior Center guess I'll go to Wistaria...........

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    13. Did you know that part of the library budget is used to keep the city's website going. That cost should be in the administrative budget not the library.

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    14. Huh. That explains why the city's website still doesn't have the final City Council election vote totals.

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    15. why won't the Council order staff to determine if we can annex our library into Pasadena's and how much would it cost us to maintain not as a city owned library but as a managed library with a 50 year lease management arrangement?

      we are paying our head librarian over $80,000 a year plus benefits - I sincerely doubt that the Hastings Ranch branch manager makes that much and we have a smaller library




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    16. The average salary for Managing Librarian in Los Angeles, CA is $83,000.00 plus benefits. A good education pays off.

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  5. The Civility Party was always driven by resentment and fear. I am not in the least surprised that some of that bunch are now attacking seniors.

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  7. I saw on Facebook that the city staff would like to gather more input on future privatization of the S.M. pool. It further stated we will be including any concerns raised at the meeting, as well as ideas for improvement into the report continuing to contract out the S. M. Pool to the Community Services Comm. Listed on Apr 22, by C. Canterbury

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    1. We could raise lot's of money by subdividing the whole "Pool Park" Baseball or education? I prefer education (library)

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    2. You'd pit the Library against Little League? Can I buy tickets to that?

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    3. We can have L.L. at Sierra Madre School and save money.It's more centrally located still in town.

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    4. The residents of this town will not let Heasely Field be turned over to a developer, or allow the Library to go away. This is a very dumb conversation you are having with yourself, 10:19. Don't you have a dog or a parakeet to talk to?

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    5. Especially since Heasley Field and the settling ponds were just recently rezoned "civic".

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    6. We should zone the Monastery "civic" How do we do that?

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    7. 10:27 My child is dumb do you know what the word even means and how offensive it is? Are you one of those that parks in Handicap spaces illegally?

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    8. Time to outlaw all adjectives

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    9. God bless Barbara and Jim Heasley.

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  8. forget about the Library, let's get control of city hall, too many city employees are over paid, they hire expensive consultants to do their work. It's time to hire a city manager who can work with the funds that are available. Stop this constant tax increases, Sierra Madre has a spending problem, not an income problem. When will the public employee unions read the goose that laid the golden eggs fable.

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    1. I think the only way out of the union contracts is bankruptcy? We are scr**ed...........

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    2. 10:42....On the mark...Spending problem is the issue! The rest is irrelevant! First things First!

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  9. Properly sized city staff could comfortably work out of a back room at the Pantorium.

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  10. It seems to me that some of the bloggers here have never been to a Strategic Meeting, nor have they read it. There has always been something in there about financial stability, or living within our means, or some such thing. I wonder if Crawford has a copy of the Plan that was developed yesterday? If so, I'd like to see how different it is compared to the last one.

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    1. Call the City whenever they get back to work. Tell them you want copies of those reports. The new one is supposed to be posted on the City site, but it isn't yet.

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  11. I'm sorry. I don't get the dumb to dumb conversation above.

    And a world without adjectives, help me understand that!

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    1. Just some dumb troll.

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    2. In some circles, the word "dumb" has entered the 'never to be spoken' category.

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  12. Nancy is gone, and so is her signature Farmer's Market which is closing on June 4th. The only thing that she pushed that came to pass is now in the past as is Nancy.

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    1. Don't kid yourself. The only reason the "farmers market"/swap meet didn't close earlier was that'd embarrass the (former) mayor. How come she didn't list

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  13. How can we have a full service City without a Farmer's Market? And here we thought it was the Library they were going to close!

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  14. It's closing?
    That is great news for the local business Taylor's. City hall should make a proclamation apologizing to Taylor's for trying to cut their business.

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  15. The Dirts own Taylor's property. Taylor's will be gone as soon as the dirts can get their way!

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  16. Check out the snarky editorial disguised as an article on the front page of the MTV in which Susan writes "It was also the first time in a very long time that the transition was done in a very dignified manner without any animosity or personal attacks from the audience." Where is Hail Hamilton, anyway? Susan apparently also wasn't listening when Walsh gave her swan song whining that people had been mean to her and her grandchildren throughout her term, even poking fun of her. Why, the nerve!

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    1. Odd. I thought the ceremonies were marked by Walsh's singular lack of grace. Woman doesn't have a cue how to give an honor with dignity.

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    2. Nancy Walsh can dish it out but ...

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  17. Here is another example of the tell the lie early and tell it often business that the unethical likes of Susan Henderson follows. She needs to be put out of business. She is no journalist and she fabricates her own reality. It is the reason why we need a real newspaper in town as in the Pasadena Star News. I suggest that we do a big subscription campaign so that the Star News does a larger section on Sierra Madre.

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  18. The Farmer's Market was a farce. Let me repeat, it was a farce. The participants were not happy with the small traffic that they got and wanted to drop out but the woman who was the director told them if they didn't come to Sierra Madre she would not let them particpate in the other markets she controlled.

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  19. Please be prepared for the local politician's doing the swain dive or death spiral complete with a long winded speech about what could really stop them from perishing from this earth's surface - MORE MONEY AND UNCONTROLLED AND TRACABLE TOO. Spoken like a true con-person. Let them parish along with their lies and unethical behavior too!

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  20. So no one came to the market. And I thought it was all for the Seniors so they could walk to the market and have fresh healthy veggies. How ungrateful of them to not appreciate what was done for them by Ms. Walsh.

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  21. We are long time residents of the City of Sierra Madre. We have constantly checked our water meter readings throughout the year. Recently the City meter reader was off by " ten thousand units" over the correct amount. We looked at the previous billing and the current billing meter numbers and were shocked. Our current meter numbers a billing cycle later were not even close to the previous reading stated by the City. If this occurred to us, either by mistake or intentional. how many other mistakes have been made to other city water users ? Please check your water billing over the last few months. The water meter reader may have his marching orders to inflated the water usage in favor of the City Billing Services. Thank you.......... "Trust but Verify"

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