Thursday, March 26, 2015

City Council Meeting Review and Commentary

Mod: With the exception of both the City Council and Attorney, nobody really knows what went down with all of that behind closed doors legal stuff Tuesday evening. Which was also the lion's share of the meeting's festivities.

But that isn't really a bad thing. When you are in an all out war with both developers and their ax wielding lawyers like Sierra Madre is right now, you are not going to want to start giving out all of your big secrets. The enemy will just turn them around and use your own words to beat you. Which is why even under the Brown Act meetings with the City Attorney are held in private. Otherwise small cities like the Foothill Village would be pretty much legally defenseless. I'm sure that is not how people want these things to go.

But other interesting things did happen, and can be talked about. Though I am sure some might wish we weren't going there. 

Yellow water is on people's minds again. Gary Hood brought in jars of San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Gold for those seated at the dais to check out. Despite assurances from the folks in the Water Department that this problem had been fixed, water is obviously still yellow for some in town. Nobody seems to have heard too much from the consultant hired by the city lately, either. Perhaps Dr. Hélène Baribeau is concentrating her vast energies on spending the $50,000 she was given to solve these problems?

Remember, it was just a year ago that people (including City Hall) were talking about topics like Nitrification and something called "Blue Baby Syndrome." We wrote about that three times here last June. It was a big deal.

Spring is the time of year when the nitrification of our water can begin to become a problem. When warmer temperatures, along with the chloramine-rich water pumped into this city by our substitute supplier, mix it up in some of the more low flow rusted out pipes in town, rather awful things can happen. 

Here is how this is explained in an article called Chloramines - The Good & The Bad (link). 


Which, of course, is all tied in with that yellow water Gary Hood brought with him to Tuesday's meeting. Think of it as the equally yellow canary in the mine. There is a real possibility that nothing that much has changed since last summer, and as the hot weather returns, so will yellow water and the potential for nitrification.

Bruce Inman has been indicating that since nobody has complained lately, then the problem must have gone away. But it hasn't really. Winter is over and yellow water now appears to be on its way back. People need to e-mail Bruce and let him know if their water is still discolored. Be sure to copy the City Council as well. They should be in on this conversation.

Apparently if nobody complains, then the water is just fine.

The Completion of the General Plan Gets Pushed Back Yet Again

Members of the City Council were quite upset to hear the City Manager state that the final version of the General Plan would not be finished until July. This after they had been told previously that it would be finished up next month. The reason city by Elaine for the change being, with the departure of certain key personnel, the resources to complete this venerable project were just not available. That plus City Staff is very busy already.

John Capoccia was particularly unhappy to hear this, and reminded Elaine that she had been instructed to go out and hire any additional resources needed so everything would be ready for April. Elaine replied by pointing out the extra time and effort that would have been needed to train new people to do this work. Something that left some Councilmembers feeling a little exasperated.

Did I tell you City Staff is very busy?

One Carter Settlement Agreement has now ended 

A little piece of unfortunate history has now finally come to a bitter end. We're talking about the better part of a decade here, all the way back to the Greg Galletly/Dorn Platz days. And, may I add, with nothing ever getting built at One Carter, even under what were some rather favorable terms. 

Should CETT wish to go forward now with their plans to McMansion up the hillsides, they will now be forced to follow all of those bothersome HMZ and R1 ordinances.

Poor things.

Other items of interest:


Another piece of former Mayor Nancy Walsh's fading legacy is now gone. Membership in this organization costs money, yet there apparently was no return on our investment. The City Manger noted that staff had unfortunately been way too busy lately to take advantage of what the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership has to offer. 

Perhaps the possible benefits were oversold when our association with them first began. Certainly no new businesses arrived in town because of the SGVEP.

Apparently the only thing the SGVEP really did have for Sierra Madre officialdom was the opportunity to network with businesspeople and talk to government officials from other places. Oh, and attend buffets with open bars.


The skinny on this one is it was approved about two years ago. Permits had been cut and the only thing left was this formality. There was nothing the City Council could do but ole' this one through.


This was approved. None of the money will come out of the General Fund, rather it was all raised through donations and benefit events. Personally, I think the purpose of this assessment will be to show that the condition of the Library is a little funky, and therefore that parcel tax the Mayor has proposed to help the place out really will need to be put to a popular vote. 

I guess we could call it consensus building. 2016 could be a big year for tax raising efforts in Sierra Madre.

Library Woe

This one comes to us from Valley Public Radio out of Bakersfield.

Kern County Could Explore Privatizing Public Libraries In Kern County, the state’s leader when it comes to oil production, the industry not only drives the local economy, it also helps drive the county’s general fund.

That’s because the county’s assessor puts a value on all of the oil that remains deep underground, and uses that figure when it comes time to collect property taxes. When the price of oil goes up, county revenues soar. But when the price of oil goes down, officials are left scrambling to cover the shortfall.

Leticia Perez is a member of the board of supervisors. She says the recent drop in oil prices could cost the county as much as $60 million next year.

Perez:“For us for budgets that we’ve been cutting and trimming over the past few years it could not come at a worse time. It’s a very difficult time for Kern County.”

One of the budgets that’s been under pressure in recent years has been the one for the Kern County Library. Many branches are only open two or three days a week and two-thirds of libraries lack wifi. And unlike many counties, the Kern County library system is almost entirely reliant on money from the county’s general fund.

For the rest of this article, click here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. of course the General Plan is not ready. The city is holding It hostage so they can use it like they use the closing of the library when it comes to needing more money for the city in the form of an increased UUT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taking Care of BusinessMarch 26, 2015 at 6:09 AM

      The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council. If she is not getting the General Plan Update done, the Council has the option to get a City Manager who will get it done.

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    2. Right now we have a City Manager who uses these two answers:
      1) We are too busy.
      2) We need more money.
      What we need is a City Manager with these two answers:
      1) We'll get that done right away.
      2) We can make that happen within budget.

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    3. 6:19, excellent comment.

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  2. What could be a more important priority than completing the General Plan? Busy at what?

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    Replies
    1. You just don't understand.

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    2. That is not always how things work.

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    3. Ask Mayor Harabedian. He'll explain how important the process is.

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    4. He believes in it.

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    5. Results be damned.

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  3. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/water-368124-leaks-copper.html

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    Replies
    1. I'd be more likely to point to cheap copper pipes in the condo group that's suing. Condo contractors are notorious for using crappy materials.

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  4. The City Manager must go. She does not do her job and has cost more money to our tax base than any other.
    She is the direct cause for a number of the lawsuits. It is going to take years to repair the damage caused by Elaine!

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  5. Bruce Inman is not qualified to do the job he has. The only reason he is still employed with Sierra Madre is that he couldn't get the same job in any other water district. Mr. Inman is only waiting for retirement and his big fat pension, not to mention healthcare. He is counting the days, and that the day is very close.

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    Replies
    1. We're not a water district. He's the Director of Public Works.

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    2. Really? Is Inman almost out the door? That would be very, very good news.

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    3. Inman will be staying for a while. Why retire?

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    4. If Bruce goes who will be there to pick the consultants?

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    5. Maybe there is a consultant hiring consultant who could do it?

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  6. If the General Plan had been finished years ago when it was supposed to be we wouldn't be having the problems we have now. Who stopped it?

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    Replies
    1. It's a process.

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    2. The City hasn't even released the Draft EIR yet. The Notice of Preparation was released in 2013. What gives?

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    3. 11:51, see 7:54

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  7. Train new people to do what - type? The hard part is done. Now a typist needs to pull the notes and changes together.
    This general plan delay is just emotionally motivated revenge for the city going ahead and having volunteers do it, instead of shipping the whole thing off, as Aguilar and Castro wanted.

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    Replies
    1. Passive aggressive revenge, 8:03. City Manager to city: Ok, you forced me to do this, against all my efforts, now watch what happens.

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    2. Tattler has chronicled the many failures & obstructions of Bruce Inman and Elaine Aguilar.
      The equally incompetent City Council has done nothing about replacing them.
      The citizens deserve an explanation.

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    3. I bet an interim City Manager would make sure to finish the General Plan. It keeps the paychecks coming.

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  8. The delays are deliberate.

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  9. If the 7 new condos on Mariposa were before the planning commission today, the project would never be approved as it is. It obliterates the views of any neighbors, and rises like a box (a good looking box, but still a box) to overwhelm the land it's on.
    What really freaks me out is how many of these things, from 2 or 3 or 1 year ago, are going up all over town right now? The total of overdeveloped lots is worrying.

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    Replies
    1. A lot of that has to be laid at the feet of city staff. Apparently there is always time for development impact fees, never any for the Gen'l Plan.

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    2. There's the outbreak on Camillo, the new MacMansion on Lima, the condos on Mariposa, the threats on Stonehouse and Carter, can we count those lot busting Bowden condos on the Blvd, a block east of Baldwin where the vacant lot used to be....given our water situation, too much by far.

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    3. 8:09, 8:23, 8:24. Thank you. It is time we said "Enough!"

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  10. I have been a strong library supporter since kindergarten, and will continue to be as long as I'm or they're around. But I can see it is an institution that has been revolutionized away.

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    Replies
    1. I've been talking to the grandkids about this.
      Question: Do you use the library much?
      Answer: You mean my kindle? All the time!

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  11. If you were out in the community as much as I am, you would hear how valuable the library is to this community. From new residents who are taking part in the many programs offered, to the oldsters who continue to use the library in the traditional way (and learning new ways) our library is an asset to the city. While I was helping with the sign-ups for the Mt Wilson Trail Race, a brand new resident chatted to me how much she loved her new community and especially the library where she has met many new friends.

    A proposal to create a parcel tax to support the library is not new. MaryAnn MacGillivray brought it up at a Council meeting years ago as a possibility. This would be done by a Prop 218 vote. It would guarantee the funding of the library instead of it being at the whim of general budget planning. I'm sure there are downsides which would come out should this route be considered, we could then weigh the pros and cons. Until then, lets wait and see. Pat Alcorn

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    1. I believe that saving the Library and preserving Sierra Madre are pretty much the same thing. A Library goes along with the small town life preservationists hope to keep here. Why are people at odds here?

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    2. Libraries are casualties of the technological age. I give them a decade, at most, and then some will morph into museums, or town halls or computer centers - some readapted use that is good for the community. It's sad, but these kinds of changes are inevitable and going on all the time.

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    3. Yes, 1:19. But this is Sierra Madre. We don't have to be practical.

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    4. The people can have whatever they are willing to pay for.

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    5. The Sierra Madre Post Office will be seeking a new location when the lease is up on the building. Why not open a discussion on duel purpose for the Sierra Madre Library? The basement would support the relocation and the vacant lot could have additional storage bins for the book sale items. BarbaraLeigh

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    6. Awesome idea Barbara Leigh!
      Parking could get hectic, but it does where it is now, too.

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  12. How Claremont worked out the amount of time to spend on the General Plan Up-date a few years back. They decided to only revise the open space element, the historic element and the housing element. A city does not have to rewrite the whole darn thing. That was Joe Mosca's stupidity.

    An excerpt:

    Staff received approximately 75 comment letters/e-mails during the public review period associated with the Preliminary Draft General Plan (November 18, 2005 - February 3, 2006)...

    ...The City Council will be the final decision-making body at a future meeting, anticipated to be in Fall 2006.

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    Replies
    1. Claremont is a beautiful town.

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  13. Please do not forget!

    Bruce Inman & Elaine Aguilar are also employees of the water & sewer funds which do not exist!

    Bruce & Elaine also receive monies from those funds.
    O I see now, lets raise the water rates so they can receive raises, salary increases!

    City Hall can not pump water, why do we pay these idiots?

    from a 37 year concerned resident!

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    Replies
    1. Bruce and Elaine need to be fired. Period. Perhaps Bruce "rusty pipes" FlimFlamMan, can run away with his $50,000 French Canadian pipe fixer, or is that hoser. You're doing a great job pipey! Elaine can just...go away. Please, go away!

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  14. Here is the "Open Library" link:
    https://openlibrary.org/
    With lending library of over 250,000 eBooks!
    We should all the money used on the library to find us some more water.
    Maybe there's a book on that....

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