The result was it gave the whole thing an eerie - though arty - kind of video mash-up feel. The kind a freshman art student at an expensive university might make if the mood enhancers are right and there is no pressure whatsoever to create anything revenue enhancing, either now or in the future.
This was all very annoying, of course. So I did what I usually do every week and called over to KGEM to give them a helpful first hand report of just how awful the service they're providing actually is. Think of it as a form of tough love, with my criticism hopefully becoming a catalyst that could inspire them to do great things. Like fix whatever is broken. Call me a dreamer, but I still believe.
So what was I told by the dude at KGEM? That budgets are tight in Sierra Madre and we can't afford to replace the old equipment that is responsible for this mess. An theory that sounded very familiar to me. I can only assume that the KGEM guys have been spending some time recently talking to the City Manager.
But I did find a way to get around all of this. If you go sit in your flivver and pull the meeting up on your smartphone, then link it through bluetooth, you can listen to the City Council meeting on your car radio. And the sound was flawless. Not a single interruption or drop. So perhaps KGEM's borrowed "blame it on the voters who defeated Measure UUT" theory about Sierra Madre's supposed old equipment is not quite correct?
A few things happened at the actual meeting that were interesting. The City Attorney, nearly 10 months late mind you, finally explained to the residents of Sierra Madre why this city's ordinance dealing with registered sex offenders such as child molesters was put on hold. And it was as we said here previously. We'd lost a lawsuit to an organization that advocates for the civil rights of sex offenders, and part of the settlement was taking away legal protections designed to safeguard our children from such unhinged persons.
The City Attorney did not tell the entire truth, of course. This is Sierra Madre city government we are talking about here. Nothing was said about having to pay the legal costs and fees of that organization out of the public purse, nor were any theories about why this was kept a secret from the residents and taxpayers ventured either. Thanks to the brave resident who asked about this at public comment. Otherwise we wouldn't have even gotten the modified truth that we did.
We got to hear the entire gamut of foot dragging excuses about why City Hall cannot properly serve the people who want to do business in Sierra Madre. The worst of them being that the so-called cuts in staffing had been so awful that there is no longer the personnel necessary to perform what for many people is the most important function performed there.
Apparently all the laid off lifeguards at the community pool were integral to this function in the past.
According to the City Manager the work hours of city staff are better used doing things like preparing the documents referred to by City Councilmembers during meetings such as the one held last night. You know, so they can properly discuss things like City Hall services.
This was discussed by the City Council in a way that was rather heartening and hopeful. Gene Goss, bless his heart, actually got this one right. The perception in town is that City Hall does not care very much about the needs of those whose taxes sustain it, and one thing that is often given as an example of this is that the place is closed to residents except at the most inconvenient times.
The agreed upon solution was that full City Hall hours would be restored in January of 2015. This because the jobs of Karin Schnieder and the soon to depart Danny Castro would be filled by then. That neither of them spent a whole lot of time working at the front counter was brought up, but you know how that went.
Here is a thought. Is it my imagination, or is it only those things directly affecting the public that now seem to be a problem for the city? KGEM broadcasts and performing the most basic services for the public at City Hall are suddenly beyond the reach of those running the place. Perhaps we really are being punished for not passing Measure UUT? Maybe certain individuals believe they are laying the ground for putting what are still some of the highest utility tax rates in the state back on the ballot and for a third go around?
This almost has the feel of a city labor union work slowdown at times. A tried and true public employee tactic often used to help shake more money out of reluctant taxpayers. The POA used it to good effect in 2008.
The much needed reorganization of our favorite city's government was also discussed, and will be returning to a City Council meeting agenda next month. Perhaps then the City Council will also consider the possibility of getting someone in the City Manager position who is attuned to getting the job done with the resources at hand, rather than endlessly politicking for more and more money. Which no matter how much is agreed to never seems to be enough.
Right after that the possibility of hiring a historian/consultant to inventory the places in Sierra Madre that have historic significance was discussed. This at a cost as high as $50,000. Fortunately wiser heads prevailed and the possibility of getting someone living in this town to perform that function was considered the better path to take. It would certainly save a lot of money.
This is actually a necessary thing to do as it will create a class of homes and buildings here that will have some protection from predatory development. There are towns who did not do the necessary things to establish effective preservation ordinances, and they pretty much lost their souls to the schlockmeisters of California generica. Folks who today are loudly banging on our door.
That was pretty much it.