Thursday, November 6, 2014

If You Like City Council Meetings, Then Next Week You Can Go To Three In A Row & Really Have At It

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You really do have to feel a little sorry for our City Council. No, you do. As the announcer of that famous and historic film clip cried as the burning Hindenburg crashed to the ground, "Oh, the humanity!"

Well, OK, maybe it isn't quite that bad. But then again, you don't have to go to all of them, and thank God neither do I. Next week there are City Council meetings three days in a row. And with the second two coming within about ten hours of each other, I think this must officially be considered some sort of a marathon. Kind of like the dance endurance contests in the movie "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Except that maybe what is going on here is more painful.

It is an onerous burst of activity. Even Gene Goss must be wondering if this is what he went door to door for during the City Council election campaign last spring. Here is a screen shot from the City of Sierra Madre website (link), which might or might not be run out of the Library now. I'm not sure.


That seems like a lot, and I am afraid it could promote things like alcoholism in the community. Maybe somebody should ask Chief Giannone if he's noticed any uptick in public inebriation this week.

Personally, if I ruled the world I'd do it a far safer way. On Wednesday have the City Council walk in, do all the rituals and whatever else they need to do to establish the specialness of the event, then vote to approve the new General Plan. Just do it. It is complete anyway, so why not just finally stop the madness? You'd help spare the city a lot of McMansions that way as well.

Then I would hold a vote to skip the Friday meeting and take everyone bowling instead. It is a healthy sport that everyone enjoys, plus it's a good team builder as well. Especially if everyone is wearing cool team bowling shirts with a funny name. "The Fab Five" would be a good one. Or maybe the "Pin Pushers."

Besides, those Strategic Planning Retreats are little more than the City Manager and staff attempting to make a lot more of City Hall's importance here in town than is actually justified. Nothing they do is really that vital.

Honestly, I doubt it will make any difference whether that meeting happens or not. Besides, won't this "Strategic Planning Retreat" eventually become little more than a series of final items on City Council meeting agendas, the ones most likely to get cut in favor of extended conversations about far more germane topics like leaky antiquated sewers and new Police Department physical fitness regimens?

Yes, I do believe that is true.

But then again, should that happen none of it would be a process, right? And if you believe in the process, as some most fervently claim to do, then obviously this just wouldn't be government getting done correctly. And isn't the process how things like government (and cheese for that matter) gets made?

So next week's City Council meeting marathon is on. As Jane Fonda used to put it, "Feel the burn."

Finally, an election result we can all celebrate

This from the Pasadena Star News (link):

Election 2014: Proposition P failure leaves Los Angeles County parks funding in the lurch Voters rejected a ballot measure that would’ve continued paying for park maintenance and capital projects throughout Los Angeles County, a decision that now leaves the future of such long-term funding murky.

Proposition P needed the high threshold of a two-thirds vote to pass but has so far only reached 62 percent, according to unofficial results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar on Wednesday.

The measure sought to set a flat tax on landowners in the county — a $23 assessment — to continue a revenue stream of $54 million annually for developing and keeping up trails, park maintenance, beach clean-up and park construction in low-income areas. It was the only countywide measure on the ballot.

The current tax that supported this was passed in 1992 and a supplementary one added in 1996 are set to expire next year and in 2018, respectively. Both were based on a weighted tax system that used a complicated formula tied to a location’s proximity to parks.

Parks and Recreation commissioner Russ Guiney said with the loss of revenue next year, the department would look at where to scale back on park maintenance covered by the expiring tax money.

I know, it is real painful and all. At least until you read this part:

He said no decisions had been made on where reductions would be taken and that officials may try and find money in the general reserve to keep funding at current levels. The department also has $134 million in the coffers from which it could draw to fill the $26 million hole created by the expiring 2015 tax.

Do you recall hearing anything about the parkies having $134 million dollars in the bank in the run up to this Prop P vote?

I don't. Maybe they just forgot to tell us.

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39 comments:

  1. I would like to suggest a goal for the Strategic Planning meeting. I think it should be: Work to create a vibrant downtown and a business friendly environment.

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    Replies
    1. How about attracting and maintaining quality staff?

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    2. Don't forget about trees - the Council could beef up the Tree Commission - by getting rid of it.

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    3. How about learning to live with a 6% UUT rate like the voters have told Council TWO times (2012, 2014?)

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    4. I think the Strategic Plan should include spending more money to tell residents that the City doesn't have enough money.

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    5. The Strategic Plan should pay a lot of lip service to preserving Sierra Madre while at the same time city staff approves monstrosities like Camillio Road over the counter.

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    6. and bring in extra revenue by bilking city events with bogus invoices for thousands of staff hours - that works.

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    7. I would like to add as an important goal: better communication

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    8. Telling people the city is going broke while give themselves $30,000 plus yearly health care plans.

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    9. 8:15 - I do not believe that is a process oriented best practice.

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    10. The Strategic Plan Committee is where all the staff members sit around and tell each other what accomplishments they made over the past 6 months. This means they list all the things they are supposed to do for their job. The next thing they do is to come up with some other things they think they may want to do in the future and decide is they are too busy to take it on. Fortunately, Denise and Rachelle will be there to make this a really productive meeting this time and maybe get something more out of them than just a maybe/perhaps we could do . . . . this, or that, or

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    11. One of the more remarkable wastes of time in town. I hear we even hire a consultant to keep the conversation moving along. True?

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  2. I like the ideas Noah Green had to promote city events and bring in revenue while he was running for Council

    He suggested that the Farmer's Market move to Kersting Court and the city do something to promote Halloween like a street festival.

    Didn't he also suggest that we have a 4th of July parade, start a Little League and have a summer series of concerts at Memorial Park?

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    Replies
    1. Green is a real brainiac. Let's close down Kersting Court so the local businesses lose parking! That way out of town vendors can make money at the farmers market.

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    2. don't despair, he was so pathetic with really really really MOMMY wanting to be elected to something, any political office, said it was a lifelong ambition (lucky us) so expect him to lay low, do the Chamber and volunteer and he'll run again hoping we'll forget just how moronic and immature his first campaign was

      no surprise his advisors were Nancy Walsh and Susan Henderson

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  3. It is a best practice to ask for a utility tax increase as often as it takes for the taxpayers to approve it.

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    1. 2012: If the UUT increase doesn't pass, we'll have to close down the library!!

      2014: If the UUT increase doesn't pass, we'll have to close down the library!

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    2. Blockbuster failed in the private sector due to advancements in the technology sector, and, as such, libraries need to fail in the public sector due to advancements in the technology sector.

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    3. People here have deep emotional ties to the Library here. Some may scoff at that, but isn't Sierra Madre a kind of throw back town? People come here because this town has saved things that have been lost elesewhere. When you are talking about preserving a town like this, you can't exclude the Library. It is as much a part of it as anything else.

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    4. You're missing the point, 11:41.

      The Tax Me crowd keeps saying the Library will close without a big ass tax increase, yet it's still open.

      (Hint: The City has plenty of money.)

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    5. No. I think certain individuals are trying to use the Library issue to drive a wedge between people who are instinctively on the same side.

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    6. It would be interesting to have a genuine discussion about the library and its role in the community, but the supporters are too frequently in a state of panic to do so.

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    7. 1:50 What a great idea. I will talk to the Library Director about that.

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    8. why do we elect neighbors who go out of their way to lie to us and spread misinformation

      so what if the library closes - it should if it's not economically feasible and we can always opt to annex into the Pasadena system and get rid of the ridiculous librarian and asst librarian salaries

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    9. The library is a part of the kind of Sierra Madre most people want. Preservationists and the library people are natural allies. That is why the development people are lying about the library closing. They want to divide the community.

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  4. The Bowling Stones.

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  5. As the saying goes, the library is more than just books. And, the City does not have plenty of money. If you believe that I have a mountain to sell you. The library will not close, but the library services will be cut considerably. I say let us get back to basics such as real volunteerism for our events, in the library cut out the politically correct stuff, (volunteers can't work the desk because someone may owe money for a past due book and a volunteer may invade their privacy), and cut out the senior commission and go back to a senior committee thus cutting out the need for a brown-act-commission.

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    Replies
    1. The city has plenty of money for Platinum Pensions and $20,000+ per year health plans. Just sayin'.

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    2. The city manager was very specific about no library programs being cut last week. Not sure where you are getting your information. People using the library as a political football to help entirely different agendas might find themselves alienating more people than they win over.

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    3. If you look at the budget, you will see that the city manager is playing games with facts and figures. Programs will not be cut from the library per se, but position freeze, staff changes and over all budget figures will truly affect the programs in the long run. Yes, they are using the library for a political football and it has to stop.

      The huge pensions you talk about will change in the long run, and that is not what is causing the budget crisis

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    4. Garbage. Give it up, Buchanan.

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    5. The budget crisis is being caused by the city spending too much.

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  6. We need medical marijuana dispensaries. No not the one's in the Canyon,legal one's we can tax and fill the city coffers.

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    1. At last, a solution to all that empty space at Howies. Gives a whole new meaning the the phrase "Sierra Madre is going green!"

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  7. No way you're cutting out the Seniors! I WILL NOT STAND FOR THAT. We can take you out.

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  8. If city hall doesn;t have enough money for the library, it is because they spent it all on pensions and perqs.

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    Replies
    1. Enough already with the pension gripe. That is not what is causing the budget crisis, the overall management structure is what is causing the crisis. If the guys would let Rachelle and Denise activate their plan, the problem will be solved in a couple of years.

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    2. The 'overall management structure' wants platinum pensions and big bennies. They are one in the same. If library programs are cut its because of those humungous health care plans.

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