Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Past Forgets and Hope Renews

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"I figure staff sits around and develops certain categories then just lumps them onto one person or another. Pretty amusing that they gave Moran fiscal responsibility. Walsh's accomplishments were pure fantasy, and I understand more now about how the Civility Party kids itself." - reader comment

We would all prefer to write our own history. Certainly that version of what happened during whatever time is being discussed would be far more pleasing to us personally than what others might write. And that is pretty much what a City Council reorganization is all about. Those who are vacating their seats at the dais attempt to put the best possible spin on whatever it was they'd been doing for the last four years. Done in the hope that their intended audience will forget all the evidence to the contrary, and remember them more kindly than they might actually deserve.

But while that was the case for some departed City Councilmembers, there are those who do accomplish great things. It is still possible for an individual or two to make a difference here despite the great pressures put upon this community and its elected representatives to knuckle under to the moneyed special interests, coercive political machines and general rot that continue to drag California low.

We have had a few of those. Kurt Zimmerman would be one. Don Watts and MaryAnn MacGillivray would have to be added to that list as well. And to that sadly rather short roster of recent worthy Councilmembers we need to add Chris Koerber. His greatest accomplishment, twice defeating unfair utility taxes that were the highest in the state (and will be still for another year or so), stands tall amongst those of the conformist nonentities who served with him.

I thought I would post Chris Koerber's remarks from last night here. For someone who was only on the City Council for two years, he accomplished a lot. It needs to be remembered.

When I ran for Sierra Madre City Council in 2012 I made a promise that I would stand for Clarity, Community, and Economic Accountability.

I believe I kept my word.  I did what I said I would do.

In the area of Clarity, I proposed the following ideas which the Council adopted. 

- A formal succession policy for vacant City Council positions.

- A transparent application process for appointing new Commissioners.  All applications are put now on-line for residents to review.

In the area of Community I was blessed to work with Sierra Madre parents, PUSD Board members and staff to finally, after a nearly 3 year long delay, get construction of Sierra Madre Middle School underway.  I’d like to give former PUSD Board Member, Ramon Miramontes, a special thank you.  His introduction of a Board resolution to commit to building Sierra Madre Middle School was integral to keeping the process moving.  I’d also like to thank the members of the PUSD Board who voted 6 – 1 to approve the middle school.  I called all School Board members prior to the vote.  I really appreciate your support.

I also lobbied the PUSD Board during the vacancy appointment process for Sierra Madre to have a Board representative in 2013.  Many thanks to Gretchen Vance and Dr. Mikala Rahn, both Sierra Madre residents, who applied.  I’m happy to report that Mikala Rahn was appointed to the PUSD Board in 2013, a full two years before the scheduled redistricting election of 2015 would have done so!
Economic Accountability

I proposed a competitive review of the City Attorney.  For the first time in over 7 years we conducted a competitive bidding process that resulted in a reduction of over $1,000.00 per month for the City’s Attorney base retainer charges.

Another matter of great concern was the City’s failure to effectively collect the money it was due, especially for paramedic billings.  If a bill wasn’t paid in 60 days, no further collection effort was made.  In my opinion, it’s wrong to raise taxes and/or fees to offset poor collection efforts.

I’m proud to report that we now have a formal collections process to make sure that those who owe money will have to pay.

Lastly, I’ve made it clear that we need to watch what we spend.  Even the Mountain Views News has called me a “known fiscal conservative” (thanks, Susan!)

People don’t work to pay taxes.

We need to make sure we’re spending the taxpayers’ money in the most effective way before increasing taxes.  (I don’t think we’re quite there yet.)

I’m proud to be part of the team that worked to defeat the 2012 proposed 20% UUT tax increase and also to defeat the recent Measure UUT with its proposed 25% tax increase.  Since the 2012 tax hike defeat, we’ve saved the residents over 1 million dollars, while maintaining current staffing levels for police, fire and paramedics. We’ve also been able to keep the Library open the same numbers of hours each week. And, after all that, the City has had a small General Fund surplus left over.

Starting in 2015 through 2019, we will save the tax payers an estimated $4.5 million in Utility User Taxes. That’s money that you can keep or spend as you wish - and I’m sure some of it will be spent at our local businesses. As a matter of fact, you, the majority of the voters, also made Sierra Madre more business friendly starting in July, 2015. All the businesses in town, as well as our residents, will enjoy lower UUT costs. 

I have been both humbled and honored to serve as your council member.  Sierra Madre is a very special place with very special and very nice folks.

I’d like to close with a quote that I believe sums up my service to Sierra Madre residents. It is from T.S. Eliot:

“Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right, decide on what you think is right, and stick to it.”

May God bless America and may God bless Sierra Madre. Thank you.

Where are we going from here?

While there is always hope, an examination of the new majority faction of the City Council would indicate that we are not in the hands of the best people right now.

First and foremost we find ourselves with a Mayor whose intended audience will continue to be the county political machine that he hopes will reward him with a career in politics one day. The people he will be performing for are not from here. His dreams lay elsewhere.

Do not expect John Harabedian to put the best interests of the taxpayers of Sierra Madre first. Instead look for him to lead the charge to put the UUT back on the ballot for the third time, and sooner than you might think. For the Mayor Johnnies of this world governing is a form of fundraising, designed to enhance the welfare of those who help finance the political machines and special interests they so badly want to join.

Our new Mayor Pro Tem is an individual who got himself elected by promising to push back against regressive overtaxation such as double digit UUT rates. Once on the City Council he quickly changed sides, and with Measure UUT went on to actively campaign against everything he had advocated just two years previously. It's a wonder the fellow isn't too dizzy to stand up.

And then there is Gene Goss. The guy who saw nothing at all inappropriate about employing the campaign treasurer of the disgraced Calderon political machine (link). And even went on to make hilarious excuses for it. This from the Sierra Madre News.net website (link):

I have a professional campaign treasurer keeping my campaign’s books because of my concern for absolute accuracy in my public campaign financial statements. She’s doing a great job and is not in any way a political consultant.

You can't make this stuff up.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. Last night after hearing hearing about the Armenian Genocide I wanted to mention all the Americans that gave and are still giving their lives to prevent another atrocity such as that. Thank you soldiers of the world for what you have done for the freedom of all. My family suffered the loss of 3 in WWII, realities I never got to know. I think us Americans understand the loss as well as anyone.

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    1. The Armenian Genocide was an atrocity. Many of man's remarks who spoke after receiving the proclamation were very political and inappropriate for the forum in which they were being presented..

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    2. The Armenian Genocide is a myth ask any Turk. fair and balanced........

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  2. Thank you Chris Koerber for staying true to your word. It isn't always easy but you did it and it is to be greatly admired. thank you for your service to our city of Sierra Madre.

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    1. Wish to add my Thank You as well Chris Koerber for standing up to the "wreaking crew". Takes courage to stand alone among such corruption !

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    2. We now go from the UUT4 to the Three Taxmen.

      Chris, we're ready for your political comeback.

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    3. I, too, would like to add my thanks to Chris Koerber. My national politics are vastly different than Councilmember (ex, sadly) Koerber's, but totally the same when it comes to the welfare of Sierra Madre. You will be sorely missed, and let's hope the new Councilmembers have your tenacity, integrity and backbone when it comes to standing up to City Hall. I know new Councilmember Delmar does - let's hope the other two will also. Did Walsh acknowledge Delmar in any way, since she was the object of her "We put you in and we'll take you out," diatribe?

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    4. I was a city hall last night having no knowledge of any of the outgoing coucil members and there to support a new member. I honestly was embarrassed for Chris koerber. Any person that is that insecure with himself andfeels the need to tell grandstand about his accomplishments is pathetic. Let's others write your history Kris. The fact that he was out after only 2 years tells me plenty.

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    5. Now now. I am sure that if Josh and Nancy actually had accomplishments like Chris's they would have spoken about them. But while we're talking, how's that Measure UUT working out for you?

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    6. @12:30. Hi Joshie, Welcome to the Tattler. Oh, sorry, it's you, Toni Moran

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    7. 12:30 Haters gonna hate.

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    8. 12:30 - you said it all: you have "no knowledge".

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    9. I'm thinking 12:30 is a Dirt. Trouble with spelling and basic grammar.

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  3. Josh Moran stayed true to form last night. After Koerber spoke Josh was heard stating that his remarks would be a lot shorter than Chris' and then Josh proceeded to thank every man, woman, and child in Sierra Madre for the great work they did and the help they provided him during his council tenure. I believe he spoke about twice as long as Koerber. Josh was also getting very upset, twisting around in his chair, as he does, when Koerber mentioned how much money the No on UUT has saved and will save the citizens and the business owners in town. It was rather amusing to watch. Josh, good luck in your future endeavors. I hope one of those endeavors includes anger management classes.

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    1. Josh couldn't help but make a snarky remark. I think it was about "self-promotion." When an outgoing City Councilman makes his summation speech, what else is he going to talk about but his accomplishments? The weather? At least Josh is consistent.

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    2. I was enjoying the looks Nancy had on her face when Chris was talking, and the glances she made to Josh and his very snide smile to her as if, I'll fix what Chris had to say when my turn comes. Chris had his talk written out, was thoughtful and relevant. Josh, on the other hand rambled on and on as his wont to do and that is why his was much longer. Nancy? Well what can we all say about her except good riddance.

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    3. Josh is a sour pants. Good to see he went out small.

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    4. Had to laugh when Josh's proclamation states: He kept City reserves at 50%. Well duh, you mean like every other Council in recent history?

      Josh and Nancy had 4 years and didn't do squat, except destroy the Tree Commission.

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    5. In Texas, the phrase to describe Josh is "Big hat, no cattle."

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    6. Agendize the return of the Tree Commission now.

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    7. what does it say about someone's 4 years on City Council when one of the listed accomplishments on the proclamation is "got a storage facility for the senior center"? really, Nancy, that's the height of your "accomplishments"?

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    8. I think that is a wonderful idea. Let's all email the new Council asking for it. Since I wasn't there, is Capoccia our new Mayor Pro Tem?

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    9. hey 10:13. Be nice. Josh tried to redo the Chicken Ordinance!

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    10. I hear it laid an egg.

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    11. Josh's accomplishments were nothing to cluck about.

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    12. It didn't stop him from crowing.

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    13. Or scratching in the dirt looking for accomplishments.

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    14. It's "All hat, no cattle"....

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  4. THE RESIDENTS NEED TO ABOLISH "ALL" UUT (UTILITY USER TAXES),

    CITY HALL HAS A BUDGET AND NEEDS TO CUT EXPENSES!



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    1. All Caps always gets right to the point.

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    2. We can only dream...the rot is too far along.

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    3. I'm with you, ALL CAPS guy!

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    4. Yep. Let's finish the job.

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  5. Dear, Mr. CAPS - Don't get sucked in to the idea that Sierra Madre should have no UUT. I was an active NO on UUT fighter in 2012 and 2014. Sierra Madre simply does not have the sales tax revenue other surrounding cities enjoy.The UUT will be decreasing soon enough.

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    1. I fully support the idea of putting a no UUT initiative on the ballot. It will scare the crap out of all the right people and make them realize how lucky they are to get their 6%.

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    2. SM has never had the sales tax revenue of other cities and we were fine before - it's just a ruse of scare tactics and BS

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    3. Why don't we resign our city charter and become unincorporated part of Los Angeles county? Some of you cry babies deserve to live where you don't have it so good as we do here in Sierra Madre because of our hard work and city pride. Move to Palmdale it's cheap I'm sure you'll love it

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    4. 12:14 - Oh, yes, let's waste our time and financial resources to "scare the crap out of all the right people." Whatever that means. Instead, quit electing tax and spend idiots and kooks.

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    5. Can we do both?

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    6. YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE AND DO THE MATH.

      CITY HALL HAS MORE MONEY TO SPEND THAN THEY NEED.

      Elaine - Bruce - Karen need to be replaced with qualified city employees!

      The city of Sierra Madre can balance their budget even if Obama can not!

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    7. Whoa there big boy! You're covering a lot of territory... Maybe you'd like to be a little more specific, like what services should the City not be providing? Elaine, Bruce and Karen are all qualified - you just don't like the way they administer their responsibilities... that's a City Council gripe. See how far you can get with that. And what is this about Obama? Way over the top biggy britches. Some examples of how the City's budget could be balanced would be more useful than your soapbox bluster.

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    8. I'm so glad that the current Council will have to spend less. Maybe we need to quit wasting staff time on the EENERs and bring the Tree Commission back to life.

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    9. Bruce Inman does not have the required degrees for a Public Works Director.

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  6. What struck me during the praise hour was how much more graciously Koerber was in accepting his honors than Walsh was in slugging through them.
    And interesting when Caroline Brown and Walsh were up there together for the tree thing, Ms. Brown offered her hand to shake Walsh's. Walsh was oblivious. She figured it out, eventually.

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  7. Thank you Chris Koerber! Thank you for being a promise keeper! Such a rarity these days.
    Thank you Halcyon Koerber for working so hard on behalf of the people of Sierra Madre.

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  8. Sale on packing tape at Arnolds!

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    1. What if I told you I would still do this blog even if I lived in another town?

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  9. Definitely seems to be a troll on the blog today. do you think it's Nancy or Josh? hey have lots of time on their hands right now.

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    1. Nancy knows how to use a computer? amazing

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  10. What I didn't understand last night was the great nonsense that the city won an award (was it Nancy or Josh this was attributed to?) for completing the budget is some special way. Wait! Wait, isn't the city supposed to have a budget? Why a prize, an award, a special mention for something you are supposed to do anyway?

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    1. It's a low bar award. Like Little League. Everybody gets a trophy.

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    2. The State honored Sierra Madre for their budget a couple of years ago. It wasn't anything the Council did, it was Karen's work. Karen also, at MaryAnn's request, completed in one year, audits for the past few that had not been done. She should have gotten the recognition, not the Council.

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  11. To Moderator: We will always love you and your family , no matter where you call home - - - You are one of Sierra Madre's finest families. Thank you for all of your hard work; research, great writing style and humor.

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    1. To moderator, your blog is a joke and makes many people laugh. Writing fake comments as "anonymous" people is truly pathetic and the fact that you think people actually believe this blog is anything more than bitter man trying to bully others is just sad. I know no one else will read this but guess what... you will loser hahahaha

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    2. You will loser?

      You're right, though. I can hear the laughter of the supporters of Noah Green and Measure UUT constantly.

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    3. 10:36 - how's that Measure UUT working out for you?

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  12. 11:58 am I was active with the first UUT for the Fire Dept.and Police PAY ONLY increase, and that UUT had a sunset clause.
    I now carefully read all material for the extra fine print that officials and attorneys like to tack on; especiallly if it has been sent out to all voters using the most expensive paper and print possible.

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  13. Thank you for your support and well wishes. See you around town and on...The Tattler.

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    1. You're the best Chris. It was inspiring to watch you work.

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  14. The Tattlers are discovering that winning an election can be anticlimactic.

    Focus on candidate recruitment to defeat Capoccia and Harabedian in April 2016.

    Or put a parcel tax on the ballot to fund a seizure of the Mater Dolorosa land by eminent domain and put in

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    1. Capoccia could be a better candidate than you think in two years. You are disenchanted with him re: UUT, but look at his record over all. You could have Green instead who doesn't even know that we do have a Halloween celebration in Sierra Madre, and that the City Council has already addressed the gray water situation. He also was close - but didn't come out and say it - to agreeing with the Mater Dolorosa plan. You forget all the times that Capoccia voted with Chris Koerber.

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    2. You should learn how the laws of Eminent Domain function before you assert there is a right to seizure of private property. Learn a subject before you blurt out a nonsensical statement.

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  15. Actually Sierra Madre can seize the property for a park as long as they pay Mater Dolorosa fair market value. And the fair market value now is as low as it is ever going to be.

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  16. The city has to have a planned use for the public good to seize it, such as a park.

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