Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Boyle Heights - Sierra Madre Connection

Not how we do it, but cool anyway.
Here is an example of irony at its finest, and an example that you might only find in Sierra Madre due to the vast disconnect between the people living here and current City Hall management. Which, judging by the recent actions of City Manager Elaine Aguilar, apparently believes they are permanent and above any possible challenge.

Somebody yesterday made the following rather apt observation: "If the City Council saw fit to change the name of Development Services to Planning and Community Preservation, you would think that a new staff hire would need to be far and above qualified to fulfill that position." This comment referred to the inappropriate hire of our brand new Director of Planning and Community Preservation, Vincent C. Gonzales. Someone whose background as both a Pasadena Redevelopment Project Manager, and Metro flack for some of the bad things going on in LA County (including the 710 Tunnel), makes his coming here unfortunate.

Something that has those in town who have taken the "Community Preservation" part of that gig to heart in a state of outrage. And that irony we're discussing today can be highlighted by taking a look at what is going down in Boyle Heights, of all places. A community with very little in common with Sierra Madre. At least on the surface.

You see, it appears that the people of Boyle Heights are quite angry over the kinds of high density predatory redevelopment that are also unpopular here. With the actual connection between the two cities being our new Director of Planning and Community Preservation, Vincent C. Gonzales.

This from the Detroit local affiliate of Fox News (link).


So how do you get a new Director of Planning and Community Preservation here in Sierra Madre who until yesterday was also involved in things such as an exploitative and extremely unpopular Metro redevelopment project in Boyle Heights? Again we turn to yesterday's comments.

This was an inappropriate and secret hire made without the knowledge of the City Council. His past is redevelopment and high density mixed use planning. Is that the kind of guy that should run a department that calls itself "Community Preservation?" This is not how city business is supposed to be conducted. The fact that it was The Tattler who had to tell the people of Sierra Madre about this disaster is as good an indication as any of how badly this whole affair was mishandled. Elaine needs to go and find another job.

It is my opinion is that this hire, intentionally or not (I personally believe it's the former), completely undermines the judgment and decisions of the City Council when they created the Planning and Community Preservation department in the first place.

While under the current set-up at City Hall the City Manager does the government agency hiring in this town, such decisions should always be made with the wishes of the City Council in mind.

With this hire those wishes have been seriously subverted. In my opinion, anyway. The remaining question being will the City Council actually defend its policies on community preservation, or further cede its authority to run this town's affairs to a hired employee.

The San Juan Capistrano - Sierra Madre Connection

In the most recent City Hall e-mail blast the following observations were made about the recent Court of Appeal decision on tiered water rates.


I have no reason so far to doubt that this might all be true. Of course, I probably haven't looked into it as much as I should. At least not yet. But did you know that the same law firm that provides us with our City Attorney is also the one that lost this water tiers billing case for the defendant in this case, the City of San Juan Capistrano?

I kid you not. Check out the law firm in the following document from Capistrano Taxpayers Association, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano (link).


I'll bet Michael Colantuono (et cetera) told the City of San Juan Capistrano that they had their tiered water rates done properly as well.

Except a Court decided otherwise.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

65 comments:

  1. it is apparent that while Vincent Gonzalez may have so e planning experience he was mainly hired because of his ability to properly spin the communications about development from City Hall to the Public. Listen closely, Sierra Madre

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    Replies
    1. Development is preservation. There is always water to be found. Big houses built using green practices have a smaller carbon footprint than houses half their size. High density development will save the planet from global warming. The 710 Tunnel will reduce traffic and clear the air.

      How's that? Can I be a Metro PR guy now?

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    2. if he seriously believes he'll be welcome here he's seriously misinformed

      the realtor clan will be happy but the rest of us will assume he's like Elaine

      lying to us and smiling while he does it

      he hasn't even had one hour on the job and enough of us don't trust him

      let's see him "preserve" something

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  2. No City Manager report this week.

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    Replies
    1. Looks like Elaine could use some PR help. Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich isn't much of a plan.

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    2. I think city hall has retreated to the bunkers. Hopefully this all comes out at next week's City Council meeting.

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  3. How could costs possibly vary between homes that are next door to each other using different tier levels? Are there water pipes for each tier? I have to say this has got to be BS, but of course the City will fight it.

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    Replies
    1. water pipes for each tier? Of course not but if I am only using first tier amount of water and my neighbor uses third tier water, the city has to pump three times the water to cover my neighbor. If both of us use only the first tier, then less water is pumped through the pipes and thus costs less to pump. My neighbor then is paying the extra cost on the third tier so I don't have to pay it using my first tier.

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    2. Please think again, once the water is pumped to a reservoir it can be tier one water, or tier two water, or tier three water, cost is the same. The City is charging for the use not the cost of pumping. Remember that our water system for the most part is gravity fed so there is little pumping directly to your house or the house next door to you. The whole water system needs reservoirs to be full to function properly. If the City got the water at a reduced rate, have you seen any reductions?????

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  4. Do citizens know that the City charges only one rate, $400 per month, for zoned institutions, churches and schools etc., for all water usage. How can that be true cost delivery?

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  5. The City's email blast on tiered water rates is an attempt to calm the herd. The reason why they haven't been ruled illegal is because nobody has dragged them into court yet.

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  6. Time for Sierra Madre to hire Andre "Pay to Play" Coleman. He needs the money bad.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Put a quarter in his ear and words come out.

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  7. Chaging more for a limited commodity is a reasonable attempt to curtain the consumption of that commodity. However, this is contrary to other consumer purchases, such as x amount for 100 of something that costs less per unit if you buy 1000 of the item. I am not sure you are going to find a way around this. Water, currently, is in limited supply. Limited by California's drought of low rainfall and nonexistent snowpack. Just because you have the money to buy as much water as you want does it mean that water agencies can or will sell it to you. How they eventually limit the product is anybody's guess.

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  8. All of this projects are funded by big business. You need to follow how these people are lining their own pockets with money.

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    Replies
    1. I'd like to introduce Paul Cook. He runs a great blog called The Legal Lens out of Baldwin Park where he fights the good fight. How good? Check out this article in the Los Angeles Times.
      http://www.latimes.com/local/great-reads/la-me-c1-baldwin-park-gadfly-20150330-story.html#page=1

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    2. A special breed of cat, like our Mod?

      Guardedly respected, tolerated or quietly disliked by elected officials sitting behind the dais, local gadflies are part of the political landscape, from city halls to water districts.

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    3. Every city needs a Tattler.

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  9. Please stop using the false and misleading title:
    "Director of Planning and Community Preservation"
    He has nothing to offer that we want because he is a Danny Castro in a slick suit who will promote Development .
    And cost us a lot of money also!

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  10. So when is the city going to make believe nobody knows about this and announce Mr. Gonzalez to us? Has there been a press release yet? An article in the Looney Views News?

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    Replies
    1. It is strange. Gonzalez certainly gave his current employers more than a few days notice, so this has been a done deal for some time. Why wasn't it included in last week's city manager report?

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    2. I think the City Manager knew this would be a controversial and contentious hire. People here were expecting someone with a track record for preservation, not an individual from both a now defunct redevelopment agency and Metro. By keeping this hidden Elaine made her problem even worse. Since even the City Council was not informed, transparency was obviously not at the top of her list.

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  11. From the OC Register:
    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/water-658727-capistrano-juan.html
    Michael Colantuono, a lawyer for the city of San Juan Capistrano, asked the judges to consider the governor’s orders in a briefing filed with the court April 2. The judges made it clear they understood the gravity of the situation, opening Monday’s ruling with a reference to Marc Reisner’s 1986 book “Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water.”

    “We hope there are future scientists, engineers and legislators with the wisdom to envision and enact water plans to keep our beloved Cadillac Desert habitable,” the ruling says. “Our job, and it is daunting enough, is solely to determine what water plans the voters and legislators of the past have put in place, and to determine whether the trial court’s rulings complied with those plans.”

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  12. Elaine needs to be fired. It is the only way to take our Village back. Our City Manager is a classic carpet bagger, an interloper who single handedly is destroying our town. She needs to go!

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    Replies
    1. Yes she needs to be fired and take the new hire with her

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    2. You must always be careful what you wish for. We might get someone worse than Elaine. No one could be worse you say? Oh Yes!

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    3. I think the odds are better that we'd get a superior city manager.

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  13. Can this job offer be rescinded? We have had a couple of characters in the past that stayed for only a year before moving on. Also, Elaine has been here too long without looking for better pickings elsewhere. That is a red flag. She was headhunted by the ex city manager from Monrovia when she didn't even apply for this position. Her paperwork was not really vetter by that City Council. They had rejected all the original applicants and had a list of Zero to chose from when she arrived on our "doorstep" as a "viable" candidate. Egads!

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  14. Here's Vincent Gonzalez's salary info for 2012 from the City of Pasadena as reported by Transparent California (link: http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/2012/pasadena/vincent-gonzalez/):

    Vincent Gonzalez
    Project Manager
    Regular pay: $30,168.78
    Overtime pay: $0.00
    Other pay: $76,714.86
    Total pay: $106,883.64
    Total benefits: $8,948.31
    Total pay & benefits: $115,831.95

    So for at least part of 2012 he worked for the City of Pasadena, and for some reason scored $77k in "other pay". What's this? A severance package? Did he get fired? If so, for what? Just a layoff, political shifting of the winds, something worse? Also, did he disclose it on his Sierra Madre job application? I want some answers.

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    Replies
    1. He worked for Pasadena's Redevelopment Agency managing high density mixed use redevelopment projects. When Jerry Brown pulled the plug on redevelopment Pasadena decided they didn't have another job for him and sent Vincent on his way. He does have a background in this stuff, but it is exactly the opposite kind of experience called for here in Sierra Madre. Redevelopment and preservation are opposites.

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    2. Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
      Sun Tzu

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  15. If his job application is fradulent then can his offer of employment be rescinded. We need the CC to ask these very questions.

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  16. We all want some answers. If Elaine hired someone who lied on his applicantion then this is even a better reason for her time to say goodbye.

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  17. Can his application materials be obtained through the freedom of information act?

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Send Elaine an e-mail requesting that. Be sure to state it is a PRA request.

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    2. 10:33, what is wrong with YOU sending Elaine an email requesting a PRA? Do it!

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  18. Yesterday's City Manager Report is now posted on the City's website. Of note:

    NEW PLANNING AND COMMUNITY PRESERVATION DIRECTOR – VINCENT GONZALEZ
    Vincent Gonzalez has been appointed as the new Director of Planning and Community Preservation for the City of Sierra Madre, beginning on Monday, May 4, 2015.

    Vincent possesses more than 25 years of experience in the planning and development profession. He began his municipal career in the City of Glendale, where he worked for nine years, and gained experience in in design review, zoning, and the long range planning. He also worked on updating elements of the City’s general plan, served as the zoning hearing officer, and developed design guidelines for commercial districts. He also served as the Planning Division’s budget officer helping to streamline operations in the department due to budgetary cutbacks.

    From Glendale, he went to the City of Pasadena where he served as Project Manager for the Community Development Agency and as a Senior Planner in Design Review and Historic Preservation. He participated in projects such as Pasadena’s Del Mar Station Transit Village, Paseo Colorado and numerous mixed-use developments in Old Pasadena, the Playhouse, and Civic Center Districts. He also assisted in the creation of numerous residential landmark districts throughout the City.

    During the past three years Vincent has served as Metro’s manager for Community and Municipal Affairs for the San Gabriel Valley region working on various transportation projects and programs. His professional career also includes work as a landscape architect and land planner.

    Please join me in welcoming Vincent to Sierra Madre!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great. He is a redevelopment guy. Big urban stack and pack projects. Betcha he just loves SB 375 and other Sacramento development mandate legislation. Just what little Sierra Madre does not need to have running a preservation based planning department.

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    2. Redevelopment and Preservation are opposites.

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    3. can anybody explain why we need development manager?

      typical Elaine - she spread misinformation on the UUT - worked to undermine Measure V

      and then she renames the department so it looks all peachy fuzzy warm

      what a joke

      no wonder she hasn't gotten hired any where else

      hope this new dude understands that he won't be taken seriously and is nothing but a pawn for development

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    4. 10:46 - it's not a preservation based planning department

      Elaine just repacked and rebranded the "Director of Development Services" position

      it's like McDonalds rebranding the Big Mac as a vegan tofu burger

      she's still trying to scam us

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    5. Elaine was hell on wheels during the Prop 218 water rate increase waltz as well. It's all about money. More big development means millions of dollars in development impact fees. There are raises, pensions and benefits to fund. City govt is often parasitic. Sierra Madre is no exception.

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    6. 11:25 - I disagree. I think the City Council was sincere when it folded "preservation" into that mix. Elaine has gone on to subvert the City Council's will, however. Something that will hopefully put her staying on here in Sierra Madre in jeopardy. We will have to wait and see on that.

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    7. City Employees will often sabotage what the residents want and even what the City Council wants. Elaine needs to understand that we don't want to see Sierra Madre used to feather anyone's resume with mixed-use or other big development projects. We need the city employees to understand that mindset.

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  19. What I want to know is how well does Vincent Gonzalez know Richard McDonald? Gonzalez worked for Pasadena when McDonald was on their Planning Commission. Is our newly hired Director of Planning and Community Preservation buddies with the 1 Carter developer's lawyer?

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    1. another snake oil salesman

      jeez, aren't we lucky

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    2. Oh great. You're telling me that Gonzales is buddies with Richard McDonald. CETT just got a shot in the arm.

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  20. To get rid of Elaine, first we need to get rid of Harabedian. Election is next April. We need someone good to run against him and support that person with whatever it takes.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think Harabedian will run again. He has checked off a box on his political checklist and will want to move to the next level. My guess is he is going to take a job in Sacramento.

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    2. Your mouth to God's ear, 12:19.

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  21. Elaine came to us from Glendale! That is her connection with hm.

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  22. 150 signatures are required,
    from Sierra Madre registered voters,
    to force city hall to put the UUTax on November 2015 ballot.

    THE OBJECT IS TO REPEAL THE UUTaxes!

    Signatures will be taken Sunday afternoon in Kerstin Court!

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  23. Who is pulling Elaine's strings? DIC, Bart Doyle, Foghorn Leghorn (Buchanan), BIA, Realtors, It's not the people who like Sierra Madre!

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  24. 4:22 pm
    We will be there to sign the initiative, with the hopes the UUTaxes can be repealed!

    This will get Elaine's attention.

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    Replies
    1. Without our tax money City Hall is just another small group of people with opinions.

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    2. All it takes to get the UUT repeal on the ballot in Sierra Madre is 150 signatures.

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  25. 4:55
    the 110 city hall employees who are being paid the big bucks and the $40,000 yearly health care packages!

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  26. This is great ! At last a do-able plan to oust the devious and obstructive City Manager Elaine Aguilar. Am I understanding this correctly ? If we get the 150 signatures tomorrow we get a UUT vote on the ballot ? and if it is a resounding "NO", we can starve these parasites out of Sierra Madre ? Can joy & justice be within such easy reach ?

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  27. City hall could have some serious issues to address

    1) Repeal of the ( 10% ) UUTaxes

    2) the residents can also file a class action law suit and demand that city hall return all illegally charged tier 2 - 3 - 4 water rate charges to the water paying customer

    3) the residents can also repeal the ( 15% ) franchise taxes which city hall also charges residents for the same utility(s) purchased by residents which city hall charges UUTaxes for! ( its a double tax on the same utility ) 10% plus 15% = 25%

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  28. Yet more proof that our tax dollars are being used by city hall to promote things that are contrary to our interest. Shame on us for letting these people get away with it.

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  29. There needs to be a ( 4 year time limit ) as to being a Sierra Madre public servant ! ! !

    At the end of ( 4 years ) you need to find a new job!

    No extensions!


    We need to immediately clean house... we need to get a new city attorney, a new city manager & a new public works director for a starter(s)!

    there are

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  30. If candidates for President of the United States can't or won't be transparent in their activities what makes you think city government would or will show us it's above the fray ?
    I'd like to see an independent audit and an investigation into outside contractors in regards to nepotism I'm betting the city would have a very rude awakening .

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