|Anything can happen in Sierra Madre|
And there really is a good reason why we saving that one for tomorrow's post. It is very possible that those bizarrely expensive $35,000 a year plus city employee health plans will somehow not get mentioned by the City Council. It's one of those government things, you know? The more miserable the mess the less likely the chances it will be discussed by any of the elected. That is just how things work. So we're going to make it a stand alone.
You have to face it, often your rights and interests are considered by some to be uncivil and politically incorrect, especially by those certain city employee insiders whose oxen might be gored. And for some reason their voices are far more likely to be heard downtown than yours. Try and figure out why.
There are plenty of other things to be discussed, of course. After all, the long wait for the City Council to return from its Summer siesta is finally over, which is certainly good news for this blog. Not that it was that much of a vacation for them, or us. That emergency building moratorium meeting, plus the city-wide concern over our latest woefully botched prodigal child pornographer episode, did keep everyone on their toes. Never a dull moment in Sierra Madre.
But enough of that say I. Let's get down to it, shall we? There is so much to cover!
When you still have the highest utility taxes in California, and you're paying state leading health plan benefits that are beyond comprehension, of course you're going to be spending a boatload of bucks. It's only taxpayer money, so why should City Hall care? The total for this item comes to $610,327.52. A fair amount of change. So what do we get for all of that? Not much, apparently. If you want to go through the checkbook yourself you can do so by clicking here. Just so you know, my favorite is the $14,401.11 check sent to the City of Arcadia for NPDES compliance. Since it hasn't rained in a couple of years, why should we have to pay that?
But wait, there's more! Since there was a meeting missed in August, we need to do some catch up with other "certain demands" stuff. It is no sneeze in the sleeve, either. This one comes to $415,631.41. And when you add it to what was spent in the previous item? We are talking over a million dollars, suffering citizens. $1,025,414.41 to be exact. Not bad for a little town of less than 11,000 souls. Figure around $95 per resident, including the kids. My favorite spend here is the $10,493.11 that went to Studio Spectrum to repair the audio system in Council Chambers. You can check this and all the rest out by clicking here.
As we all know, City Finance Director Karin Schneider fled screaming to a far better life in the Bay Area, and I suspect she is not missing us already. Well, OK. Maybe a little. But certainly not enough for her to change her mind about leaving. Though I do hear that she and Earl Richey still e-mail. But you didn't read that here. Until they find someone new to juggle the books, a temporary solution had to be arranged. And that is where M.V. "Moving Violation" Cheng comes in. For what it is worth, M.V. is classified in city talk as a temporary consultant hire. Oh, and the cost for those services comes out to around $115 per hour. Good money if you can get it.
Waterworks will likely get their additional five years, and despite all of the towel snapping from certain Councilmembers during the July meetings, this is a good deal for the pool boys. So you know, for the months April through October the City gets $10,000 a month for the lease, with the other months coming in at $2,000 per. Or less than it costs to rent a house in this Sierra Madre. Even though the facilities at the pool are bigger than most rental properties here, and come with large tiled bathrooms and a swimming area. Go figure.
When I was running for City Council Elaine Aguilar gave me a tree for my front yard. Skinny little thing it was, too. It died shortly after I lost. To this day I can't figure out how she did that. Of course, that tree was never replaced. And now that the water meter moratorium is in place, nobody else is going to get a replacement tree, either. Tough on you.
More people are volunteering, which is good. This report also states that 43% of the new volunteers are coming from outside Sierra Madre. I assume most of those must be new firemen. As always, volunteers work without expecting to get paid.
On Monday through Wednesday the Library will, if approved, open one hour earlier and close one hour earlier. It will now open at 11AM, and close at 8PM. It will still be open 47 hours a week, so it is just a matter of shifting some hours. Hopefully this will not be interpreted in certain quarters as an attempt to close the place.
The chances of City Hall ever turning Edison down on anything are next to nil, and this will go through. The easement in question here involves getting electricity up the hill to run a new Verizon cellular communication facility somewhere near Dapper Field. Since the project will hopefully improve certain cellular signals in town once it gets built, the City Council should ease away.
If I understand this correctly, in order to get Federal funding for highways we have to have an agreement in place with Caltrans. We don't have any highways, but since we are talking a government process that is probably besides the point.
Every 5 years Sacramento requires cities such as Sierra Madre to approve a Sewer System Management Plan. I guess it is a way to keep the sewer boys up on their flows and on their game. You just don't want people taking this stuff for granted. Pay particular attention to the Overflow Emergency section of the plan. With 5.5 bathroom McMansions possibly going up all over town, this could become the most important part of that document.
The City finds itself with another $100,000 in Sacramento money to spend on frontline Police services. Apparently they are having a hard time figuring out what to do with all of that cash, which makes you wonder why the state is giving away this taxpayer money in the first place. There is a list in the Staff Report of the things that this could be spent on. My favorite is a $15,000 camera system to be placed at Bailey Canyon Park and the entranceway to Chantry Flats. The question being who exactly is going to watch all of that fast-paced action on the monitors? Unless they're just shooting video content.
There is something in the Staff Report that I found to be a little disturbing. I thought I should post it here so that you might better see what I am talking about.
I was not aware that under current City of Sierra Madre ordinances the hunting of domesticated animals was permitted in town. Is that a malapropism? Is there a dog and cat season here?
That aside, this is a good measure. It stems directly from the poaching of a deer at Mater Dolorosa. Something that sent shockwaves of revulsion through this animal loving community. Apparently the poacher did something that was legal under National Forest rules, though I was not aware that the Monastery was a part of that. Then again, no one knows for sure where the deer was exactly killed, so that observation is probably superfluous. Whatever the case, Ordinance 1355 will fix this problem for areas within the borders of Sierra Madre. It is a needed move.
As you simply must be aware, the City Council spent $50,000 last June for a water quality consultant. The problem was discolored yellow water, and it still is. Three or so months later this consultant, Dr. Helene Baribeau, has come up with an interim plan to deal with this problem, which involves a pilot program. Most pilots programs are interim, I believe. It's a good thing nobody was in any hurry here. This involves added a form of zinc, along with something called orthophosphate, to our drinking water.
These items will cost just under $30,000 for the year, or 60% of the cost of the consultant. But extra, you understand. And for a "pilot program" no less. Maybe they should call these combined chemicals Pepsodent. You know, so we can wonder where the yellow went (link)?
We'll have our take on that last City Council Agenda item tomorrow. Complete with informative bar charts.