Monday, September 8, 2014

Almost All of Tuesday's Tattler City Council Preview

Anything can happen in Sierra Madre
Mod: We're calling it the "Almost all of Tuesday's Tattler City Council Preview" because we are leaving off the last number. That is the item where Sierra Madre's outrageously expensive employee health care plans (among the very highest in the entire state) are supposed to be discussed. We're going to save just that one item for tomorrow. It is special.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

52 comments:

  1. A few drops of rain falling on Sierra Madre, almost as rare as a UFO landing!

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    Replies
    1. Is the red flag up yet?

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    2. For the agenda go to the city hall website. Not always easy to navigate. But it is posted there.

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    3. Not the easiest thing to do. Especially if you are new to all this.

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    4. Yahoo, more than a drizzle, it's really raining! :)

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    5. What are the chances that entire tropical weather system will get as far north as LA County?

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    6. It all went to Arizona.

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  2. How do or where do I go to see the agenda for the CC meeting tomorrow. Thank you.

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  3. I think we need the no hunting ordinance to protect Neil.

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    Replies
    1. as long as he doesn't fall asleep in the back of a Nissan Murano he should be safe

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    2. where's our jokester Mayor Moran? he decided we needed a chicken ordinance in SM like it was El Monte

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    3. The laughter died way before Josh left the scene.

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  4. Sierra Madre needs to become a wildlife refuge.

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    1. It is. Has been officially for decades.
      Enforcement? Not so much.

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    2. it is, for wayward blowhard lawyers who seek the political limelight by blathering silly nonsense at Council meetings or huffing and puffing and ready to sue but actually settle cause

      we got lawyers coming out of the woodwork at Council Chambers

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    3. What lack of enforcement have you witnessed?

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    4. seriously, Council has the time to waste to discuss a "no hunting" ordinance?

      if only there was a season on realtors and lawyers...

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    5. or 6:19 the lawyers who run for Council, had my fill of them for now and forever

      Kurt Zimmerman is the only attorney that'd get my vote for Council - the rest -forgetaboutit

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  5. In 14-70 the legal fees are for what? And who is the Ferguson Group and what and whom are they lobbying? In 14-69 who or what is Willdon assoc. to the tune of almost $20,000. So many other questions. The city must have the best repaired vehicles anywhere. Many of these items need a clearer picture and a lot more info.

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    1. Willdon is the company contracted to perform any building inspections. They've been on board as consultants forever. Especially needed since the last city employee inspection left a couple of years ago. The real question is where have you been and why are you just now looking at this?

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    2. Inman loves Willdan.

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    3. Wildon is an expensive joke. We haven't had an honest building inspector in Sierra Madre since Steven Pock.

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    4. ferguson group is a useless lobbying firm inD.C. That arranges for our city council members to visit woth the staff only, not the congressperson from our district when they are on citizen paid junkets to Washington D.C. ather expensive travels agents, I say.

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    5. to 8:46AM I moved here 2 years ago. that's where I've been. I am beginning to feel sorry that I did. I just reviewed the regs for salaries. What a crock. We are a city of 11,000 people. The cities they surveyed were generally double our size. That means more money coming in for them. No wonder the city staff wants to allow building on every available site. I am throughly disgusted with almost all I have seen. So, I ask you , 8:46 AM, where have you been that you allowed any of this to happen?

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    6. Well, we defeated the UUT a couple of times. The idea behind that being if the city had less money they'd have to curb our rapacious in-house city employee unions. But that was before people started selling their houses by the dozens for $400,000 or so more than they paid for them. Which is becoming a vast new surge in property taxes. Now there is optimism downtown that there will be more money after all. And straight into their pockets it will go.

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    7. 4:06, the only reason there was a city for you to move into was because of the long tradition of citizen involvement and activist response.

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    8. 4:06 - looking forward to your ideas and energy.

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    9. lol our PD compared itself to Arcadia and Pasadena - San Gabriel etc as a point of negotiation

      and we caved to their union demands and we had nothing to lose (except 53% of our city budget) and everything to gain by contracting out with the Sheriff's dept

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    10. how did our inspector consultant miss the Cong Church doing all that banging and building across from city hall?

      didn't the Cong Church get a free pass on the unpermitted construction and no fees or fines?

      hmmmmmm, wasn't a former planning commissioner on the Cong Church board and he didn't know that the Church needed permits to build out and up?


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    11. to 5:17...long time activism, huh? Seems there weren't enough of you that showed up at meetings. There's the salaries, the water, past councils that were crazed and self-important, a police dept. that does"t do its job. As a newbie, I could go on. These are serious things we face. People need to care enough to attend meetings and I haven't seen that routinely. Sierra Madre was always a dream. I should have scratched the surface cuz the realtors tell you nothing. Kind of like the city government.

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  6. Why do we need cameras in Bailey Canyon? Where will the next cameras be placed?
    A year ago, I remember attending the August meeting at City Hall regarding the ALL the home burglaries. Gianone spoke of future cameras around town. Residents, keep your eyes and ears open before big brother overtakes Sierra Madre!

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    1. Wish they'd put cameras at the top of Carter, and monitor the drunk teens who are smoking up there, and throwing the cigarette butts and bottles in the bushes.

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    2. Will the coyotes and bears have to stop hunting pet cats?

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    3. I moved here 2 years ago.

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    4. Welcome to the puzzle palace.

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    5. the PD has an audio feed to the doughnut shop so they can monitor our crime wave from only seconds from the city limits

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  7. Wonder where the yellow went? Well, I'm still dealing with brown water, not yellow.
    I already have to purchase drinking water which really frustrates me and now you tell me they want to add more additives to the water. It's outrageous.
    Didn't Kevin Pascal say his fish died when using the water? Enough said!
    It's maddening how the water dept has ruined what used to be the world's finest drinking water.

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    1. My water was improving a little. Now it's worse than ever.
      I forget was the discoloration only going to last a few months?
      It's been almost a year.

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    2. It is maddening 9:25. And I hold the past city councils responsible too. Who would trust Bruce Inman?

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    3. $50,000 got us a test. What if it doesn't work?

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  8. gotta love the state of California sending out all this money to local towns and cities when the state is broke.

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    1. Can't we just give it back? The last time I checked most of us pay state taxes, too. It isn't like it is "free" money that we should spend just because we have it.

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  9. Love the new banner! !

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  10. time to get rid of the library management and contract out with Pasadena to dump the pension plans and the idiotic benefit program

    who in their right mind pays the highest rates possible and top tier perks as a podunk city employee?

    oh those that get to select and purchase them

    guess if we allow the city manager to fleece us then we deserve it cause she signed off on the packages - I blame her I guess

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    1. Contracting to Pasadena or the County is a possibility for the library, but few realize the many benefits that the library brings to our town in terms of services to the school children and the other programs they offer. Those of you who are rabid about no development, "keep our town the way it is" and how quaint our town is, should realize that most of the quaintness is because of the town control of the library, the police department and fire department. To change these things would lose the quaintness of the town altogether. If you advocate sheriff and county control over our fire and library, and eventually parks, is to lose Sierra Madre. I hear daily how the loss of our Community Pool to a commercial entity is tragic. Imagine what it would be to lose control of our government to outside entities.

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  11. A camera at Bailey Canyon would be of enormous benefit to the preservation of wildlife in this city declared wildlife sanctuary (1973). As you can well imagine, policing this secluded parking area for rogue hunters poaching our "protected" wildlife is not an easy task. The poacher bamboseled the hikers that saw the deer in the trunk of his car last Dec 31, waving a hunting liscense at them (which I doubt was real). The deer was trucked down from behind the monastary on a dolly. These men violated most of the hunters ethics and were in outright violation by hunting on private property. With the new no hunting regulation, posted for all to see, even the hikers/non hunters, much will improve.

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Here's an ironic article I just found:
    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20090701/sierra-madre-gets-tough-on-sex-offenders

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  14. And lo and behold, I missed the real reason things changed:

    http://californiarsol.org/2013/12/sierra-madre-stops-enforcement-of-sex-offender-ordinance/

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    1. Disgusting. The cities need to come together to fight this in court.

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  15. Temporary financial director...M.A. CHENG & Associates...lovely... Who chose them?

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