Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Foot Dragging Continues At City Hall

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It was another KGEM nightmare of a night if you attempted to watch the City Council meeting on your computer. Maybe it was that way on television as well? Parts of resident public comments dropped out in the middle of a thought, City Councilmembers vanished from the screen mid-speech, and possibly strangest of all, segments from other now bygone City Council meetings would magically appear on the screen.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

60 comments:

  1. Everything costs $50,000. Assessing the historic homes in town, the French water consultant, and the money the city sent to the NO on 710 group. BTW, hae we heard anything from these last wo groups? The Historic Preservation grump and those who worked on the General Plan are very qualified to survey the properties in town. What the h--- ever happened to common sense?

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    Replies
    1. budgets are tight but the pensions are flowing

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    2. The health care plans are pretty awesome as well.

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  2. So they City begins the work slow down....hit the citizens where they will feel it. Of course, the UUT rate has not yet decreased and will not do so until next year. the City is doing its level best to make certain they cannot ever be trusted, even if they should decide to tell the truth. remember chicken little?

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    1. It's hard to tell who's rougher on the city - the developers who want to ruin it, or the city staff who want to bankrupt it. Both of them want one thing only. Our money.

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    2. Good point, 7:14. The city is getting the same 10% UUT rate (and more $$ since utility costs have gone up) they've received for years but they can't get the work done? Sounds like a labor slowdown for me. Is that legal?

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    3. I agree. It is a bargaining tactic. They're foot dragging because they want the UUT to stay at 10%. They think this will get them another crack at it.

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    4. how can you tell if there is a labor slowdown at city hall?

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    5. Before, I didn't think we needed to clean house at City Hall. Now I'm thinking its time. Starting at the top.

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    6. Here's what the next UUT increase flyer will say:
      "Vote for a UUT increase and we'll promise to keep City Hall open promptly at 11 AM!

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    7. 8:19 - Hmmm, good question

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  3. city staff can't work the counter but they can spend 2,000 hours on pre-event planning of the Mt Wilson Trail Race

    Elaine is so full of it

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    Replies
    1. Staff is always ready to put in plenty of hours on the festivities. The actual work of government? Not so much.

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    2. 2000 hours is actually 40 hrs for 50 weeks. Me thinks someone is fudging the numbers.

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    3. 8:53 - that's what Elaine charged the event through Community Services and what blows me away that the Race Director paid it without a quip after touting the event raised $ for trail maintenance. 200 hr - about $ 18,000 for "pre" event planning and no itemization of who did what or met with.

      she also charged the 4th of July parade some fudging numbers also and that was paid without any blowback

      what's appalling is that the city staff was already working and being paid

      it certainly appears that the events are okay with being ripped off or a part of the problem of city hall or told that if they don't pay they don't exist?

      we aren't supposed to question Elaine or those running the race either?

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  4. did Elaine pull out the cliche' "we'll have to close the library" or is that only reserved for Rob Stockley and John Buchanan?

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    Replies
    1. Stockly's got it trademarked.

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    2. Next time someone drags out this lie, all assembled should begin to laugh. It's a great way to ridicule them.

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    3. The signs look cute.

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    4. I *heart* books.

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  5. we don't need to refill the position of Danny Castro - we don't need a Director of Developer Services

    we need a Director of Resident Services

    this city manager is so screwed up with her priorities or are developers and realtors the priority?

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  6. wasn't an inventory of historical homes done a few years ago? what's changed since then?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe 20 years ago there was a big fight because people's homes were put on a historical register without their permission. I don't know the whole story, but then there was a big reaction, and the historical committee that had done that was dissolved.

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    2. Mayor Lambdin dissolved the Historical Committee along with gavelling input at Council Meetings that exceeded three minutes and declaring no more filming in the canyon in perpetuity. And he claimed to have identical education credentials as Kurt Zimmerman. Don't hear much from Glen these days.

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    3. Glenn has moved beyond mere mundane Sierra Madre topics and has now taken his fight to God himself. Some evenings you can see the lightning flash and hear the thunder roar high over the canyon. It is a sight to behold.

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  7. Another one bites the dust. Kyle the recreatiion supervisor is leaving in November. She spent her time on Huck Finn, 4th of July, Mt Wilson Race, and don't forget planning our special senior events.

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    Replies
    1. Let's freeze Kyle's full time position and let the part time senior specialist take on the job.

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    2. Kyle has got to be tired after spending 2,000 hours on pre planning of the Mt Wilson Trail Race - that's a full time job right there

      joking cause she did't have anything to do with Elaine's invoice the the race

      not joking about having Elaine explain herself

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  8. Where were you posters last night to demand the truth?

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    Replies
    1. Well, I for one, am on vacation 1,500 miles from Sierra Madre.but believe you me I've done my share of butt planting in the lovely red chairs in City Hall. Don't get so uppity for gawd's sakes. We all do what we can.

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    2. 8:57 - are you talking about last night or over the last 20 years. Please explain.

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    3. Newbies. You gotta love 'em!

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    4. For most of our village, activism means the other guy should do it.

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  9. Whew, here I thought it was my computer that caused the awful coverage of the council last night. I finally gave up. However, the City does own the equipment at city hall for transmitting, KGEM only transmits it. So, on that level KGEM is right. They have been trying to get the City to get new equipment for several years now, with the same excuse of "we can't afford it".

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    Replies
    1. BS. The city has the ability to render a complete file. Age of equipment does not create edits.

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  10. So has anyone seen the house up for sale on Baldwin being sold by one of our local realtors ... Century 21 to be exact .
    Instead of signage saying "Great starter home or I'm beautiful inside "
    It states "Huge Lot" maybe our local realtors need to attend a few city planning meetings to get a clue in regards to how we feel about certain issues .

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    Replies
    1. Is that the one whose address is on E. Bonita?

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  11. I was at the meeting. This is what I saw and heard with no glitches: the lawyer weasels her way out of the whole pervert thing. Harabedian and Capocchia were on the council at that time and said nothing. While goss got the city hall being open thing right, he also patted the city manager on the back because of the lack of help. When ms. Delmar told Elaine she wanted to know exactly how time was spent and who did what, Capocchia, again his usual condescending self toward anything ms. Delmar says, said Elaine is our CEO. He follows what she advises, that is her job. The council is only the board of directors. To which delmar replied as directors they act as a check and balance (paraphrasing). So there is a big problem right there. Ms Delmarva stated that city hall hours were changed to allow staff to get jobs done that were back logged. Those jobs are finished now. What's the problem? The. Rey brave city clerk got up and said she is saddened to see the line outside city hall, waiting to get served. I didn't feel her comment was in favor of Elaine. I wonder if she is being punished today. Previous to the meeting starting, the council was in closed session to talk about employee salaries. Elaine is the head of that employee group. I guess she has enough time to do that on the cities dime. All we were told was that it was put off. Another major point was brought up by a lady who lives on Algeria. The house next door to her was sold and since then she has been receiving letters in the mail asking to buy her property. Her. Sigh or has received them also. The three houses together would be over 30,000 sq ft. (I think I got that right). More Adele-like people. This same lady brought up the need for a historical survey that would protect some of these houses from development. Danny was asked how much this might cost and he said about 50,000. When asked if volunteers could do this job he said yes with the right expertise but Elaine was shaking her head no the whole time. She also did a few eye rolls at Danny, that he did not acknowledge. Elaine does not like citizen committees. She would disable them as she Sid the general plan by telling them when and where they could meet, delay, delay, delay. It was amazing to sit and watch the 3 men talk about, even subtly about reorganizing in city hall. All the things ms. Arizmendi's plan had in it and was savaged by them a couple of weeks ago. I wished I had brought along rotten eggs or very soft tomatoes to lob at them. The city plan needs to be finished, the environmental survey needs to be scheduled a sap. Elaine is dragging it on and on. Capocchia was all over the place last night. What an ego. Opening city hall was put off until January so Elaine can study it. Where does she find the time. She says people who come to city hall demand to talk to supervisors. It takes so much time, blah, blah, blah. Then make appointments for them on a given day. Sheesh! It's not that hard. I walked out of that meeting thoroughly disgusted, again. Oh, and let's not forget the ever so boring man who spoke about the wonderful event at the library. Wow!

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    1. Thank you 10:29.

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    2. Thanks for the rundown. The Council gave her an assistant who could see those complaining persons while Elaine does all she can to manipulate the council members. Fortunately, Delmar and Arizimendi won't fall for her tricks, but the others? not. Yes, I've finally had it with Capoccia, and I was one of his most ardent supporters.

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  12. the 3 men together have a collective IQ of about 100

    sexist and demeaning toward the ladies on the Council

    if Elaine is our CEO - no wonder we are a incoherent business

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  13. lol how can our staff be backlogged with work?

    amazing Elaine can say all of this bull methane with a straight face

    I have zero trust in her

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  14. We MUST get a new CEO. To do this we need to elect two new members to the city council next year. Now is the time to start looking for candidates who will support the ladies on the council and make the necessary changes.
    Then we can take our city back from those we pay to work for us. Now we are working for them.

    I would love to work for candidates who believe in protecting our village from the predatory developers and in reducing the high cost of employee health benefits.

    The people who post on this blog are very smart. Do any of you have ideas on how to find the right people to run for city council? I really believe this is the very best way to take our city back. If successful we could have four of the five council members dedicated to serving the people, not the Staff and the Developers.

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    1. I nominate Matt Bryant.

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    2. And Barry Gold

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    3. don't vote for any lawyers - all they do is talk talk talk

      or anybody who is endorsed by Buchanan, Moran, Walsh, Stockly, Torres and especially by the Mt View News

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  15. I agree on both of those choices.

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  16. maybe you all know what to do with this, 481 west highland, the jameson estate, is being actively marketed to only certain realtors from arcadia....as a potential lot split.....

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  17. http://www.ci.glendora.ca.us/residents/online-videos

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  18. 4:42 PM There is an ordinance in the General Plan that prevents this from happening. End of Story.

    Also, I can't recall if Mrs. Jameson had it written into the trust when she gave the property to her grounds keeper; who then passed it onto his nephew; that the property stay whole and in a trust? Maybe worth some research?

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    Replies
    1. Ordinances are ignored, general plans are not followed, and trusts are broken.

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  19. http://www.ci.glendora.ca.us/residents/online... October 14, 2014 Glendora city council meeting - agenda/video
    Click on this play bar move it forward till time nearly matches the time stamped video: 1:35:06 Douglas Tessitor blurts out the words "You Jack Ass." As it turns out Douglas Tessitor interrupts and snickers at speaker who speak at the podium and the rest of the city council member's and mayor does nothing to stop Douglas Tessitor's bad behavior and bullying of speakers.

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  20. How is there not 1 resident in Sierra Madre that believes in Megan's Law. Why is there not discord from residents about the threat imposed by pedifiles doing what they do in secrecy and with impunity here in Sierra Madre. Why do we not file a class action counter suit to require the following of Megan's Law, or are we the shining example that all the pedifiles will point to when they are asked where they want to live?

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  21. Off Topic sort of.
    Whatever happened to the City of Sierra Madre v. Hildreth lawsuit.
    The Hildreth's are still here. If they are still are, and judging by the topics of the Tattler, what if the City's lawsuit is a loss? Especially if we have no money now for city services. Are we covered. Why would Danny Castro being leaving now...

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  22. If you're that bothered by KGEMs lack of service do more than just write about it on here! Go and Voice your frustrations in an open meeting where everyone has to pay attention!! The Citizens of Sierra Madre Deserve Better!

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  23. I'd like to have a sit down at the Starbucks on kersting ct with the admin... To talk about this post.

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    1. Admin doesn't do therapy.

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  24. Don't need therapy

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