Wednesday, May 13, 2015

People Get Together And They Do Have Their Meetings

It's good to be the King
Being the Mayor does make quite a difference. When John Harabedian was still holding down that gig he always had the option of yanking a Consent Calendar item from its hiding place on the agenda and opening it up for City Council discussion. However, last night Councilman Process no longer had that special power and the new boss, John Capoccia, not being asked by anyone to do so, decided to leave the Planning Commission's recommendations on those R1 CUP Modifications right where they were. Which is why it went to that rather anti-climatic 3 to 2 vote.

Without the matter being pulled out for special treatment  (or endless lawyeristic jabbering if you prefer to view it that way), all Gene Goss and John Harabedian had left was to cast rather meaningless protest votes. There was little else for the second story men to do but say nay and try to save face. So the whole matter ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

All hail the new Mayor. He is off to a good start.

The end result of this being the Planning Commission's R1 Modifications are now on the books. All that is left for us to do is figure out exactly what the heck John Harabedian had been up to all of this time. One of the wackier episodes in recent City Council history if you ask me. And yes, we're working on it. Stay tuned to this page for further developments.

Before I try and figure out what happened at the City Council meeting last night, I thought I would share with you my take on a recent event at the Kiwanis Club. A place that, while not noted for its sense of humor per se, does have its moments of unintentional hilarity. Just don't go boot scootin' on any spilled chili.

The occasion was the City Budget presentation held at the Kiwanis Club, and after John Capoccia and Rachelle Arizmendi had given their informative perspectives on this matter, none other than Father Mike Higgins of Mater Dolorosa fame suddenly emerged from the shadows. He then proceeded to give those left in attendance a mini-presentation on the development doings up on yonder hillside.

Interestingly enough erstwhile Mater Dolorosa development advocates Cam Thornton and Jerry Pearson also popped out from behind the curtains for this somewhat inappropriate invasion of the City's budgetary road show. I suspect they had to have been invited by Kiwanis boss lady H. Susan Henderson. Otherwise how would they have even gotten through the door?

Ms. Henderson-Poole-Carter's recently published front page olive branch to the Preserve Sierra Madre folks notwithstanding, of course.

The kind of desperate thrust of their presentation is that Sierra Madre's budgetary problems could be solved by the development impact fee revenue generated by that now at-risk 50 strong big bungalow housing project at Mater Dolorosa. Father Mike was left to make the sales pitch, probably because unlike Cam Shenanigan (Burbank), and Jerry Thorn-In-Our-Side (Arcadia), he lives in Sierra Madre.

Evidently Father Mike is now spending his time pitching housing development projects rather than ministering to the flock on more transcendent issues such as heaven and hell. Proving once again that in our little slice of paradise almost everyone eventually ends up in Real Estate. Whether they wanted to or not. We all have retirements to fund.

These guys are really pressing hard now that their faithless developer, New Urban West, ran screaming down the I-5 Freeway for the safety of San Diego County recently. Apparently they have seen enough of us to last them a lifetime.

The concern some have is that the Mater Men are trying to appeal to resident pocketbooks as well as fill the City's coffers. The scheme being to entice the City Council and City Staff to act against the wishes of the majority of Sierra Madre residents and turn the monastery's grounds into a bumping warren of indentikit California generic so-called "modern family" barns.

As a part of that pitch, the good Father was also pushing the entirely discredited "zero net water use" canard. The current rumor out there being that City Hall would, with a little help from an interested party, "sod" the local athletic fields with technicolor green artificial turf to save water equal to the demand of those 50 new homes.

Have you ever smelled fresh astroturf on a hot summer day? It gives off a quite dizzying polyvinyl chloride odor. PVC, as the stuff is widely known, is the third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer available today. And not so great for young baseball players to be breathing, no matter what the cause.

Remember, the development impact fees the city could realize from this development would be in the neighborhood of $3 million dollars. And you know how City Hall can get about money. Especially now that the UUTax is just now beginning its glorious sunset back to 6%. Those folks are getting a little hairy and desperate over there.

Which brings us to last night's City Council meeting.

If you stayed awake long enough to listen to the budget discussion at last night's meeting, you would have been able to sense the next big drama unfolding right before your eyes. The talk was all about closing down entire City Hall departments by July 1st. We're talking about such institutions as Community Services, and perhaps even the Planning Department.

Something that must have been interesting news to newly hired Planning & Community Preservation Director Vincent Gonzalez. Perhaps he might want to get on the phone to Metro and see if his old mouthpiece gig is still open. It is much easier to get a job while you still have one, you know.

In case you were wondering, apparently they can't shut down the Library because of some state law, but they can fire almost everyone working there should they so choose. Except for maybe one or two part-timers to keep it open a couple of hours a day.

Denise Delmar pointed out that the City Council shouldn't be too hasty about closing departments because the city does have ample cash reserves. They really do need to spend a few months making good plans rather than just going bananas and coming up with something that nobody can stomach.

Which, of course, is when the never much fun MPT Gene Goss got his Cotton Mather on and pronounced something along the lines of "they voted down the UUT and still wanted a balanced budget." So, quoth he further, we must do what we need to do by July 1st.

That date does seem a little arbitrary, right? So what's the big rush, Gene? Is there some kind of a point you're trying to make here?

Just a hunch, but expect the Mater Dolorosa $3 million dollar development impact fee circus to show up in Council Chambers very soon. Certainly the table is being set to make that a possibility.

Other things happened at the City Council last night. I particularly want to get into that ill considered move to make Sierra Madre's water supply 100% chloramine forever.

And I will in a day or two. As yes, things are still getting wild in town.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

78 comments:

  1. When we started purchasing water with chloromine, why weren't we told how difficult it would be to return to chlorine? Did Inman the water king not know? Or not care? Or did he figure we would be purchasing water for years, so it doesn't matter. And the house at 1145 Grandview can't be revisited? After they build that two story house up on that slope it will be a Camillo monster. I felt sorry that no one could do anything to help the neighbors. As for the so-called community budget meetings. What a farce! And all of a sudden we are advised there is a state law that says we can't close a library? Really? This has been bandied about over a year and now it can't be closed? Even Stockley never brought that up. I like having a library but in hard times something has to give, How about the police department? Isn't that a little high end? Now we're told that negotiations with the Sheriff will take forever? Someone please tell me what our PD does for the amount of money they make? Especially the chief who has a pension from another town and gets paid by us? He should have insurance from his last job, are we paying for that, too? And really, does anyone in their right mind figure that 3 million dollars in impact fees, ONE TIME, will fix our budget wows? Unbelievable.

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    1. Inman knew and continues to know nothing. He's a dolt. Unqualified for his position, and hanging on through the years, wily enough to avoid all accountability.

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    2. "I felt sorry that no one could do anything to help the neighbors."
      Agreed 5:28, so what can the council do? Talk to the developer? Get the Planning Director to show some skill and get the developer, who will never live in that house, to negotiate a better design that provides the neighbors with some privacy? The council better try to make a difference, or shame on them.

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    3. The choloromine issue may have been decided by availability. I'm not so sure that we had access to extra water that was chlorine treated. Maybe if Arcadia had agreed to sell us water, maybe the water they've been stealing from us?

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    4. Do we blame Mr. Inman for his incompetence or lack of qualifications, or do we blame the City Council for not firing the City Manager for not firing Bruce Inman. Whatever the situation the City Manager, Elaine Agrulair should be fired. The City Council should be fired if they do not fire the City Manager.

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    5. Sierra Madre has "definition of insanity" government. Doing the same things for years with the exact same people and expecting different results.

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  2. The Monastery Development is like the "Jason" of developments - it just refuses to die. Its somewhat ironic that we have Jerry Pearson from Arcadia, Cam Thornton from Burbank and the owners of the property who live in Chicago trying desparately to tell Sierra Madre what's good for them. I guess the powers that be have to come to realize that won't sit too well with Sierra Madre residents, so now they bring Father Michael HIggens in to makes the sales pitch and pull on our heartstrings. It really is becoming a little unseemly.

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    1. Let's not accept the bribe. There are other way to solve any budget shortfalls without ruining our City.

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    2. Cam and Jerry want to pay off the city. How Arcadia.

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    3. Unseemly? It's immoral.

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    4. Sell the city for $3 million. We are not for sale. The folks at the monastery should have planned better.
      It's not our problem.

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    5. You also need to consider the years of noise, dust and air pollution it will take to build 50 homes up there. Nobody owes that to those people.

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    6. They are going to "rescue" Sierra Madre from its budget problems with the money from the development impact fees but ruin the city in the process with more water consumers, more traffic, more pollution, turn Sunnyside and one other street into a highway, displace the wildlife - need we go on.
      But give these developers a little credit for trying to tell us how their 50 new over-sized houses will result in "zero net water use". What that means is that they will offset the water use from the 50 new houses by contributing towards conservation measures throughout the city. The only problem with that idea is that when you implement conservation measures, its supposed to save water and not just result in breaking even. So if the drought gets worse and we need to save additonal water, we've already used the conservation measures and have no where else to go to save water.....but we do have 50 more water meters and who knows how many people using more water.

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    7. 12:49, your remarks ought to be printed on a flyer and passed out at any city budget meetings.

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    8. We have to do the conservation measures anyway no matter who pays for them. At least when we pay for them, they end up saving us water rather than being a wash.

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  3. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mayor Capoccia and Council Members Arizmendi and Delmar for sticking to their gun on the CUP triggers. A huge victory for those who put the existing residents interests ahead of the developers interests.

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    1. Unfortunately, the R-1 improvements came too late for the poor people who showed up at the meeting to tell the City Council how the proposed demolition at 1145 E. Grandview is going to impact on their views and privacy. That home is owned by :8981 Inc." based out of Hollywood. This developer comes under the old rules so their 4,000 square foot house does not require a CUP and that's why they built it just under the CUP threshold. I wonder if those nice 8-year residents caused Goss and Harabedian to re-think their position or did their pleas just fall on deaf ears.

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    2. And per usual, the general plan does not exist, huh?

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    3. Deaf ears, 7:32. How dare Goss and Harabedian see those residents and their predicament and obstinately hold on to their pro-developer, anti-neighbors' rights, stance. Disgraceful behavior.

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    4. It is all about the money. They want to deliver for the city employee unions, and the only way they can do that is deliver the cash. I'm certain John and Gene will be entirely fascinated by the Mater Dolorosa efforts.

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    5. Don't kid yourself. This "budget crisis" is about raising the big $$$ that CalPERS needs to continue to pay Platinum Pensions. Oh, and Golden Health Plans.

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    6. these guys are going to cost the residents millions of dollars in multiple law suits!

      if you want to pay of it go right a head,
      I am not interested in funding 110 city employees, $40k health benefits, and multi million dollar law suits and judgements

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    7. The planning department needs to remeasure the plans and make sure when it is under construction every wall is not one millimeter over.

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    8. 8:01, the General Plan lives in a theoretical construct. It's not meant to be taken literally.

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    9. Good point. Kind of like the people Gene says he's been hearing from.

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    10. I feel really sad for those people on Grandview who have lived in Sierra Made for eight years and now see the enjoyment of their property adversely impacted by the get rich quick developer whose intends to be in and out of our community faster than you can say McMansion.

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  4. I hate to say this but the folks over at Mater Dolorosa are appearing almost like vultures circling around and hoping that Sierra Madre will be desparate enough to turn to them to fix any budget problems. Maybe we should sell off Memorial Park and turn it into a big housing project while we're at it. That open space would be worth alot of money too. Rather than give up our precious open space, displace the wildlife, turn Sunnyside into a freeway, carve out another ingress/egress point at either Grove/Carter or Crestvale, increase pollution, increase traffic leading to parking meters and traffic lights, why can't we simply live within our means. Cities get destroyed when they give up their quality of life and their small town character for a temporary budget fix. The latter is temporary, the former is forever.

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    1. The Priests and not just at Mater Dolorosa have lost their way. Not all of them but alot of them. They are putting their own retirements ahead of their mission and their vow of poverty. They are now just like any public employee looking for the big retirement package. Its very sad to know this.

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  5. Tom Love's presentation about the dire water conditions is quite a turnabout from what he said about a year ago when the City Council was deciding on whether or not to enact the building and water meter moratoriums. Everyone in the audience that night who spoke in favor of the moratoriums knew at that time that we were in the midst of an historic drought. Our local expert Tom Love thought otherwise. Hopefully, it was just malfeasance on his part and not due to a more sinister relationship he may have had with the development interests who did not want to see any restraints on their housing projects. But evidently he did apologize at World Water Day for being wrong at that time so we will forgive him and move on. However, when he talks about all the draconian conservation measures that residents need to do like the 5 minute showers that are "two minutes too long", he neglects to mentioon the 12,000 unit housing project that will be built at Tejon Ranch in Bakersfield, the big housing project recently approved in Montebello, the big housing project recently approved in Alhambra, the big housing project that will occur at the 2,500 acre historic cattle ranch being sold off in Chino Hills. And that's just naming a few. Sierra Madre took the prudent and responsible action in enacting the building and water meter moratoriums but unfortunately, we are affected when other cities allow these massive housing projects to keep being built when we have the worst drought in the history of California, and perhaps as Tom Love pointed out, the worst drought in 1600 years if tree ring analysis is correct. Somebody needs to yell stop building - we are running out water!

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    1. Tom's presentation made things look pretty dire. If the drought continues, we could really have problems.

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    2. Well, yeah 6:49. Was that really news to you?

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  6. Jerry Pearson has been showing up at all the dog and pony shows around town to pitch his wares. I guess he thought he needed reinforcement at the Kiwanis. BTW, one of the most avid member of the Preserve Sierra Madre, Clem Bartoli has been chosen along with Nina as the 4th of July Grand Marshals. Congratulations to them.

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    1. I hope they put a Preserve Sierra Madre sign on their parade car.

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    2. Preserve Sierra Madre should be the Hometown Hero.

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    3. Clem Bartolai has lended his good name, his support and his gravitas to the preservation effort in a big way. For that and all the other wonderful things he has done for our community, no one deserves this accolade more. He is also a first-rate gentleman.

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  7. So cut community services.

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    1. I agree. Let the people do their events like they used to before the city got involved.

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    2. Prioritize - what is necessary, and what is sugar on top.

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    3. Very little is necessary. We could contract for most of these services from outside providers and pay less in taxes. Emotional attachments trump reason for many people.

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    4. Former Mayor John BMay 13, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      But we're a Full Service City!

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    5. I strongly believe that staff should never be involved in any way with celebratory events. If the residents want parties for each other, or parades, or running up the mountain, or fairs, any of that stuff should be resident handled or not done. No staff in non-essential work.
      That would free up a whole lot of staff time for them to focus on their jobs - the business of the city, not the recreation.

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  8. Great to learn the Clem and Nina are the grand marshals.

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  9. I thought any council member could pull an item for discussion.

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    1. I believe the Mayor must be asked, and then consents to do so. It is at his discretion, though I have never heard a Mayor say no in Sierra Madre. Nobody asked last night. If someone knows better, chime in please.

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    2. No way Gene Goss was going to pull that item for discussion. Not after The Tattler outed the fact that he had only one emailer opposing the 2nd story CUP proposal.

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    3. The Tattler has turned several disconnected groups of people with very different interests into a strong political force in this town.

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    4. The Tattler has become the voice of diversity and inclusiveness. Go figure.

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  10. Off topic, but so outrageous my hands are shaking.

    10 members of Congress took trip secretly funded by foreign government - Oil money, 5 Reps, 5 Dems.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/10-members-of-congress-took-trip-secretly-funded-by-foreign-government/2015/05/13/76b55332-f720-11e4-9030-b4732caefe81_story.html?wpisrc=al_alert

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    1. Depressingly, routinely, corrupt.

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    2. The jails should be filled with these people. But they aren't.

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  11. Well done for beating on Harabedian & Goss for their pro-development ,anti Sierra Madre votes.
    And well done Tattler for exposing Goss's lies yesterday about the non-existent pro-development emails.
    God help us if Tattler was not in our corner.

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    1. I still want to meet Gene Goss' imaginary friends.

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    2. I hear his e-mails have dropped off after last night. From 1 to 0.

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  12. Thank you, Mayor Capoccia and Councilwomen Arizmendi and Delmar. You have listened to Preserve and we thank you. I think we need a list of outsourced city business. When we see what's outsourced already, and see if its really saved us money maybe good decisions can be made. It seems to me that a lot has been outsourced already which leaves city staff doing what?

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    1. For the 2016 City Council campaign, do ya think John Harabedian will put his "no" vote for preservation on his list of accomplishments?

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    2. What else does he have?

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    3. The Public Safety Commission, whatever the hell that is.

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  13. Full Service FanMay 13, 2015 at 12:59 PM

    Hey Mod,
    I'm getting tired of "Annoying delays when posting comments is likely."

    Maybe The Tattler needs a tax increase so it can get it's work done.

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    1. It appears that you have not yet received your fee application form for comment approval services.

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    2. If The Tattler doesn't get to charge fees, will it shut down like Gene Goss' library and 911 services did when the UUT increase failed?

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    3. The Tattler is only doing the work the Mountain Views News doesn't want to do.

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    4. The work the Mountain Views News does best is news suppression. Followed by making stuff up.

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    5. The Mountain View News doesn't want to report what's really going on? No!!

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    6. It might not be that the MVN doesn't report news or hides it. There is always the distinct possibility that they just don't know very much about it. They're not all that smart there.

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  14. Would like to hear if the Tattler readers are doing research on how to remove choloromines from the drinking water and showers without whole house system (inexpensive vs expensive) and whole house systems (for those with bigger budgets. The information is out there but complicated. I found information that choloromines have been in use in US for 90 years but that is a muffed statistic because it doesn't say how widely used. Currently it appears that only 22% of the public is drinking this water purification so the remainder is on well-water (rural communities) or free chlorine in other municipal systems. Erin Brockovich is engaged in the discussion and there are many communities that are raising grave concerns.

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  15. Just curious, has the Sheriff's Department Officers ever sued a city?

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  16. I don't believe the Sheriffs Department has ever sued a City.

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    1. Since they are an LA County service, I believe they would have to sue the county.

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    2. Works for me. Less fees for the City Attorney to bill.

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    3. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in our tax money Michael Colantuono had made off of boneheaded Sierra Madre PD lawsuits.

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  17. what is the justification for our tiered water rates, why are the tiers where they are, and how are the cost associated with those tiers?

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    1. Ask the consultant. we paid big buck$$ for him.

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    2. The consultant will argue in favor of whatever it is city hall wants him to. He is there to create a consensus on water and money. But little to do with transparency.

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    3. Most consultants take the side of whoever signed their check.

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  18. NO MORE CONSULTANTS, NO MORE HUGE POLICE FORCE , NO MORE WATER DIRECTOR, NOR CITY MANAGER, THEN CUT BACK "WORKERS" IN CITY HALL AND KEEP THE LIBRARY.

    A great problem in this country is a huge lack of reading and critical thinking. Why do people even listen to Mike, the so-called Priest? Because they are brainwashed to believe that all people in the CC are good and honest and do not know the truth about greed and power among too may men who run so called religious institutions.

    If Susan were a great journalist, which she cannot even come close to, she would have invited people from Preserve Sierra Madre to present the other side and tell the truth about the fact that THERE IS NO WATER, AND THAT MIKE IS NOT JESUS AND DOES NOT WALK ON WATER.

    POOOEY on anyone who sits and listens to lies from a so called ????? of God.

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  19. It is cynical to use a Roman Catholic Priest to push a housing development. Cam and Jerry are kinda skunks.

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    1. It's a cynical priest who would agree to do it.

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  20. The reason Cam and Jerry are here talking is because the Monastery owns property to the north and that property has water on it. Keep an eye on that water, those guy are sneaky.

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