Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So It Really Is Patriarchy Seating At Our New Mayor John Harabedian Led City Council?


Well, there you go. Men in the middle, and all the women seated out in the wings. Awaiting their turn to speak, I suppose. Or at least waiting until they're called upon to do so. Thankfully they aren't required to wear a hijab and boil some tea.

So didn't anyone give a moment of thought to how bad this could possibly look? Shouldn't a Mayor who is supposedly the darling of the L.A. County Democratic Party establishment be aware of these kinds of potential image problems, and how they might appear beyond the City Hall bubble? Where is the inclusivity? Didn't they teach him anything?

This came up in the comments last evening, and naturally I think it is important enough to be discussed here. I was at City Hall last night, snapped the above picture, and I am telling you there is something of a consciousness problem here.

Of course, not everyone agrees with that assessment, and here is a pointed comment challenging the assertion.

There is nothing out of line with the seating of the ladies. Harabedian is Mayor, and Cappocia is Mayor Pro Tem. Goss was the top vote getter, thus his seating position. The ladies are in the correct configuration.

However, and as one commenter quickly pointed out, if this really is so, how do you explain the consistently remote seating arrangements for the top vote getter in the 2012 City Council election, Chris Koerber?

If what you say is true, 7:03 (it isn't) why was the top 2012 vote getter always seated on the outside? Hmm.

To which a poster named Calamity Jane added:

Could not agree with you more. Harabedian ... was not the top vote getter (in 2012) even though he bamboozled everyone into thinking that somehow Koerber's seat didn't have the same weight as his. He is not only a bully, but someone who is dying to be someone in the political world.

Of course, there could be another possible explanation for the controversial City Council seating arrangements we saw last night. Perhaps preferred positioning is only being made available for those Councilmembers who favor raising the UUT. Both in April of 2014 and at some not too distant future date as well.

As the evening wore on it became quite conceivable that is the direction Mayor Harabedian is hoping to take us again. And should it happen, this would be the third such vote in six years. You have to wonder how many times the taxpayers will have to say NO before they are heard.

The McMansion development issue

The biggest and most controversial issue in town right now is the move to built massive McMansion developments at Mater Dolorosa, One Carter and Stonehouse. This matter didn't exist at last night's City Council meeting.

Barbara Leigh's good point is left hanging

Bruce Inman lamented the current water use rates in Sierra Madre, and pointed out how they seem to increase markedly at certain times, while mysteriously dropping at others. At which point Barbara Leigh brought up a point that she has raised on several other occasions. Is it possible that these wild fluctuations in water usage have something to do with dust abatement at the Kensington and Middle School construction sites?

Once again Barbara received no answer to that question. You can only wonder why this might be.

Is it possible that City Hall doesn't really want you to know just how much water is being used at these large development projects? Done because they don't want to see that issue ever used as a reason for opposing possible future massively scaled development projects at places like Mater Dolorosa

Why so many Strategic Plan meetings?

Someone tweeting under the handle of NoOnUUT brought up some very good points. And, along with the rather painfully obvious City Hall tweets, we cut and pasted them into last night's comments as part of our City Council meeting live blogging. Here is NoOnUUT's take on the city's rather repetitious strategic plan get-togethers:

NoOnUUT (@NoOnUUT)
5/13/14, 7:27 PM
Council Strategic Plan Goals same as last 3 years. So why do we spend taxpayer $$ for a 2X a yr. retreat? #MySierraMadre #SierraMadreCC 

The point is a good one. We pay thousands of dollars a year to some consultant in order to hold these affairs, with the results always centered around the same handful of rather mundane and jargon filled goals. Those being:


Vibrant indeed. Rather than planning anything realistic, these so-called strategic meetings seem to have a lot more to do with political agenda reinforcement. They ironically also serve to remind us about just how little progress Sierra Madre has made in achieving these goals.

As an example, in the time since water became one of our sustainability goals, we ran out of it. Not an intended planning result I'm sure.

If City Hall is looking to save some money, this would certainly be a good place to start.

The budget shell game

The lion's share of the meeting was spent discussing future budgets in this our brave new post-Measure UUT world. And, in what was a fairly strange and rather arbitrary way of putting all of this up for review, Mayor Harabedian insisted on separating the discussions on the current budget from anything that might follow. Which is pretty unprecedented if you think about it.

The unstated rationale for this being that the 2016 budget (and beyond) comes after the effects of our decreased utility taxes would start being felt. And rather than starting to plan for that now, and perhaps saving some of our current $750,000 in budget surpluses for any coming rainy days, we'll just throw all caution to the wind and live for just this moment.

This is a tactic we have seen here before. Spend all the money now so that the pressure on residents to pay more in taxes later will be that much greater.

So what we ended up with is having the 2015 budget being worked on now, and any discussion of what comes later being pushed off for six weeks. All at the insistence of Mayor Harabedian. Apparently done so that future budgeting becomes an entirely different conversation. One that will likely take place after any available budget surpluses have been spent.

More budget

NoOnUUT (@NoOnUUT)
5/13/14, 7:55 PM
UUT revenues ~29% of budget +$500,000 of surplus in Gen. Fund. They forgot to tell us before UUT vote. #MySierraMadre #SierraMadreCC 

If you add to that half million dollar figure the $250,000 in carry-over money then Councilmember Koerber prevented from being squandered on various Mayor Walsh vanity projects, we really are talking about a fairly substantial rainy day fund.

It has been my contention all along that we are headed for a third referendum on raising utility tax rates. Something the voters have already rejected twice. Nothing that I saw last night convinces me that this is not the case.

And while Councilmembers Delmar and Arizmendi did bring up the topic of budget cuts in order to meet the mandate of the voters that City Hall get its irresponsible spending habits under control, this was definitely not where Mayor Harabedian wanted the conversation to go.

To her lasting credit, Councilmember Delmar did bring up the matter of this City's outrageously expensive health care plans. Harabedian couldn't change that topic fast enough, either.

Nor did the City Manager seem overly excited when Councilmember Arizmendi told her that she wanted to see a line by line breakdown on any of the budgets under consideration. With the idea being that this would be a good place to start some of cost cutting made necessary by the rejection of Measure UUT.

These are not the kinds topics the Mayor or the City Manager care to see discussed. Not now or in the future. For them there is only one solution to our fiscal problems that is acceptable. Raise taxes and cut nothing.

Can anyone remember a single things that Gene Goss said?

I can't. Can you?

One More Thing

City Council Liaison Appointments were handed out at the end of the meeting, and Mayor Harabedian secured for himself the plum COG and Sanitation District slots. In case you aren't aware, these are the two assignments that come with cash stipends attached. Money that gets paid for what can be as little as 15 minutes of attendance.

In one party Los Angeles County this is the gravy train the establishment likes to get its most loyal cronies on. Quite a fitting spiff for our current wannabe pol.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

57 comments:

  1. we said no to Noah Pants, and now we have Mayor Training Pants?
    Man, I love this town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. being Mayor in SM is not a big deal, it's not automatic respect or passing the decisions to you cause you are on the Council and realtors in this community should not be given more attention

      the local papers are almost soley supported by realtors and/or city legal notices so everything printed by the papers is pro-realtor "rah rah rah" or tows the city line of it's own agenda, often directly antagonistic against the residents, such as having an employee soley dedicated to fostering large scale development in the city and they don't even live in our city.

      Personally, I'd don't care about what is the opinion of the attorney, city manager, developement guru - they don't live n the city so they have zero vested interest, other than a paycheck and an outrageous pension. Just interpert what we vote on and don't change what we asked and take your next tax requests and stick it where the sun don't shine - city tells us to cut back on water or I'll get fines and they invite developers to ransack our water suppy or dust us out

      if SM was a real world business, a consultant might suggest 20% paycuts to all executive staff - police chief, city manager, fire department, librarian, etc etc

      SM spent $ 30,000 on one of it's seasonal marketing consultant plans and all we got was mistakes, fluff and the idea to reduce the size of parking spaces to fit more units.

      I'm still puzzled by Noah Green, didn 't have a clue about the city but in less than 18 months of living here he just HAD to run for Council and go figure....another lawyer BORING

      no more boring lawyers on the Council, let Harabedian be our last


      Delete
  2. Maybe Gene Goss and Capoccia are talking turns talking. last night Capoccia did all the talking and Gene sat there looking frightened. Maybe at the next meeting they'll reverse roles. I think that's a "real good" idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. finally! A Council that puts women in their place - Men's Club

      we have it backwards

      Delete
    2. if Goss starts his lectures tune him out

      he reminds me of Buchanan loves himself a little too much

      Delete
  3. Next election, Harabedian has to go. He's just another politician whose sees the City Council as a stepping stone to advance his political career. Because that's his reason for "serving", every action he takes will be filtered by what is best for his political career and not what is best for the residents of Sierra Mardre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust me, next election cycle, Harabedian won't rub. I mean he really doen't have any investment in this town. when he returned from ten years of college he lived with his parents and now he and his wife RENT an apartment in town. so, no, no roots here. He's really quite the carpetbagger.

      Delete
    2. John Harabedian is here to build a political starter kit. The key for him is winning some victories for the city's municipal employee unions. You need that on your resume' to win the backing of the big Dem leaders that run the LA County political machine. That is how that game is played. And he cannot do that without a 10% utility tax. He will try very hard and bring it back for a third vote. Cutting jobs and curtailing benefits is political suicide for him. There is only one way for him to go.

      Delete
    3. yeah, but he's a lawyer -

      I wrote him off when as a "lawyer" he flipped us the middle finger by photoshopping out police patches and using the SMPD as an implied endorsement and HE KNEW he was violating the regulations, they just dont' apply to him.

      He's the first one to jump at a trip to Washington or Sacremento and all he does is embarrass us or schmooze cause I havent' seen anything come out of his mouth that helps us, mostly himself.

      Delete
    4. lawyers just can't shut up when they get an audience or political ambitions

      aren't we seeing alot of spoiled brats showing up in politics these days? not just in SM but at the national level

      Moran's big accomplishment on the Council was him leading the charge to protect the city from being overrun by imagined chicken farms.

      How many votes did Neil the Pig receive, that should be public information

      Delete
  4. No duh. Why else do you think he appointed himself to the COG and the Sanitation district? It's these non-elected regulatory agencies where the real power and influence lies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't forget the Metro board. Somebody's got to make the trains run on time.

      Delete
    2. How much you wanna bet the Metro gig pays a stipend, too?

      Delete
    3. he shouldn't be allowed to appoint himself

      he's going to throw a Joe Mosca hissy fit soon - he will take his ball home if he isnt' the star

      Delete
    4. wow, the Council of Governments

      that's a real classy bunch

      do nothing - talk alot and pretend to be big shots

      Delete
    5. 6:53, we do know that SM has somewhat of a swarmy reputation cause our Councilmembers and Mayors (bfd) aren't people of signficance within LACounty or even in the SGV

      the top brass at those organizations or those who are actual movers / shakers forget our Councilmembers as soon as they meet them


      the only exception would be Kurt Zimmerman, he was / is a procescuter and had the credentials to turn heads. Imagine we almost elected another "lawyer" whose claim to fame is he knows bankrupcty law, which might actually come in handy next election given our Council doldrums.

      Delete
  5. got to thinking that the reason Elaine looked so angry when Arizmendi asked for a line item budget is because in the past, the councils have simply directed the staff to locate XXX dollars to cut from the budget and bring it back to them. so, as Elaine once stated, "they sharpen their pencils" and locate the places to cut. the fact that Arizmendi wants the council as a group to look at it means one, that she is stepping into Staff territory, and two, that she doesn't trust staff to recommend the appropriate cuts. it may be called micromanaging, but I think the staff needs a lesson in how to properly allocate funds. After all, they are the very one screaming that the police and library were in jeopardy if the UUT tax increase failed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elaine misses Nancy.

      Delete
    2. Good luck in getting an accurate line by line accounting. They promised that would be the case when they got the new software 4 years ago and we still haven't seen it. Mumbo Jumbo is the answer of the day as they spread costs here, there and everywhere. Delmar is right, we need to see exactly how many employees the city has in terms of FTE's not in terms of hours. And why not a hiring freeze in every department except police and fire? Then there wouldn't have to look for cuts.

      Delete
    3. Didn't that software cost some ridiculous amount of money? Like $100,000 or something? How can it not work?

      Delete
    4. Wouldn't it really be funny if it turns out that the city really hasn't reduced FTE employees? Hardy, har, har.

      Delete
    5. Elaine needs to be angry or she can quit

      There would be a line of qualfied applicants from City Hall to the Library and they'd be older than her, with more experience and willing to put the residents ahead of her/his own resume

      not just Elaine, we've had a series of blunders at City Manager

      and why do we have a Director of Developerment?

      stupid way to run a business

      Delete
    6. wait I'm confused, is the City Manager refusing to explain the budget on a lne by line basis, she should do that anyway

      I do sympathize cause to get a new Councilmember and he or she wants to be a ball buster or worse the clueless ones asking for your service

      The city manager needs a buffer from some of the moronic tasks or pet projects (like Walsh wasting 4 years on a single park bathroom project)

      one of our previous city genius development director told Maranatha that it would be easy to get the high school approved at one carter and he bolted hours after doing that cause he should have been fired

      Delete
  6. If council members are using the CC as stepping stones what are the 2 women step stoning too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will have to go to the woman's section and ask.

      Delete
    2. we need another couple utility company lawyers on the Council and if we could get a commerical banker on the Council, that'd be wonderful

      Delete
  7. If people were made aware of just how much water is used for dust abatement at building sites they would be stunned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So what do you expect when the citizens continue to hire and elect racketeers!

      Delete
    2. Water use during construction is a MAJOR issue, and many agencies require preliminary information on water consumption as part of the approval process. This would be a municipal responsibility in the case of local construction projects. There are internal records of water bills and quantities used for all construction projects which could be surveyed as means of establishing guidelines for project approval as well as for project construction and ultimately the entire lifecycle use by the facility (this is part of the design engineering). This is simply not being done now. Brief outline is here:
      http://www.oregon.gov/energy/Siting/docs/SBW/ASC/O.pdf

      Delete
    3. Using gray water has been discussed since Carter, but ruled out. Why? Pollution caused by the trucks to bring it in, and great expense to the developers. Yep.

      Delete
    4. It seems to me that the surge in water use may be due to the fire department opening up all the fire hydrants to flush out the yellow water.

      Delete
    5. The way this is presented in City Council meetings by the Director of Public Works is that residents are no longer conserving like they did a while back.

      Delete
    6. Yes, and who is paying for that water used by developers during construction?

      Delete
    7. Look on the bright side. If residents aren't conserving, the UUT revenue on water will go up. Not that this Council leadership would ever admit that.

      Delete
    8. Actually, I find it very strange. I had a bill for two months that said I used 9 units, and the next I used 85. I don't think I change my patterns that much.

      Delete
    9. It's called mood swing billing.

      Delete
  8. Re-bids, line item budgets - looks like city staff will have to do some work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the prehistoric newspaper lobby exerts influence to keep legal notices from being posted online and saving the city $ - the city can post online and post at City Hall and at the Library - that's all we need

      Delete
  9. Seating from the center is based upon seniority, then votes received. That's the way most political bodies arrange seating. then again, you guys hate everything about Haribedian and Goss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that is how it used to work. However, in 2012 John Harabedian leapfrogged over Chris Koerber to take the Mayor Pro Tem position even though he had received far fewer votes. And he based it on some of the most transparently phony reasons ever heard in Council Chambers. Those rules were broken by Harabedian. Are we allowed to talk about that, or is it a civility issue?

      Delete
    2. As the #2 vote reciever in 2012 Harabedian should now be entering his year as Mayor Pro Tem.

      Delete
    3. Darn, 2:37. the facts got in your way again. Don't ya hate that?

      Delete
    4. based on seniorty and votes? that's a dumb idea - do it alphabetically or random but leave it to three brain dead egomanical guys to think what they are doing is appropriate

      Delete
    5. Harabedian has a set of rules for him and then everybody else

      trust me on this, if he moves beyond politics from SM, we'll end up reading about him being indicted somewhere along the line

      I'm bored with him and soon others will be also but we've got to watch him cause his reason to get on the council was all about him, not us

      come on Gene, lecture us on something, you know he's dying to put is in our place with his politcal science gooblygook

      Delete
    6. You are correct, Harabedian is a huge disappointment. What I find the most fascinating is the fact that he is simply not very bright.....with his educational pedigree I was expecting an intellectual heavy weight - boy was I wrong.

      Delete
    7. Johnny never had to hoe.

      Delete
  10. lol what a doofus, Harabedian "volunteers" for two organizations cause they both pay a little cash (thought he was a brilliantly successful lawyer???) and the organizations he cherrypicked for himself gets him exposure

    this dude is so transparent and what I see isn't very charming or good for the city

    ReplyDelete
  11. Goss and Arizmendi both received more votes than either Harabedian or Capoccia.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tomorrow night at the Planning Commission the Stonehouse developers will introduce their plan for 13 new houses. The change they are asking for from the settlement agreement is that they want garages not to be counted in the total square feet of the houses - meaning the houses can be bigger than agreed to in the settlement agreement.
    Some of the houses are required to have 3 or 4 car garages, so that's a lot of room. How big does the community want those houses to be?
    This is just an informational meeting - ya know, community workshop and all that - so no decisions will be made. But it's a good time to chime in by attending or emailing or calling - the size they are suggesting exceeds the agreed upon limit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Garage square footage is never included in homes for sale, new or resale.

      Delete
    2. It's included in our zoning requirements.

      Delete
    3. 8:26. If I want to remodel or add on to my house, the city counts my total square footage including garage. Hell, they even count covered porches, walkways and patios in the total square footage. We are not talking about "sale,new or resale"! Give me a break! You must be a realtor....or, Josh...is that you?

      Delete
  13. Hey, if you agreed with the proposals from "A Draft Guideline for Community Preservation" then show up in large numbers tomorrow night for the Planning Commission meeting and get involved in preserving this town. Don't expect somebody else to do it for you. We all need to help.

    ReplyDelete
  14. we've got a top superstar lawyer on our Council, he'll get us out of this mess

    he's our Superman and will always put us first, right paw?

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Thankfully they aren't required to wear a hijab and boil some tea."

    Really? Negative stereotyping women of a certain religion is not exactly the way to make a point about gender discrimination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll take mine with lemon.

      Delete