Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pasadena Star News: Tales of Sierra Madre Glory

Listen up, you.
(Mod: The latest of my every other Sunday opinion pieces in the Pasadena Star News - link.)

Sierra Madre, that little Foothill Village nestled against the Angeles National Monument (not to be confused with a National Park or Forest), has its share of problems, just like any other place. And like many cities in California these days, it struggles with money. How much can it tax people, what fee rates should it charge, and who in particular should be the big beneficiary of such citizen largesse.

In this case that would be the Police Department, which gloms up a full 40 percent of the General Fund all by itself. Let the strongest municipal employee union win.

In recent years the residents of Sierra Madre voted twice to hack utility taxes back to 6 percent. This from a theoretically California leading rate of 12 percent. The city’s citizen imposed tax cut was backed into existence in both 2012 and 2014, accomplished by rejecting City Hall generated ballot initiatives designed to extend jumbo taxes into a distant future few will ever live to see.

Now the time has come to actually make this new tax reality work, which means reducing city employee headcount and eliminating services. Nobody, of course, wants to do that, and in a series of community input budget meetings the citizens stated pretty much that.

The City Council, who should have been doing all this dirty work themselves and artfully sloughed it off on the residents instead, are happily interpreting it to mean people want a third ballot initiative to raise utility taxes. Something they are more than willing to oblige.

Of course, when this new initiative goes up for a vote next April, higher utility taxes will be rejected for the third time. Because while nobody wants to fire employees or cut services, nobody wants to pay high taxes, either. Which is when this starts all over again.

However, that is not what most people are talking about in Sierra Madre. Not by a long shot.

What they are concerned about is an extremely loud old air raid siren. One that was around many years ago, but only recently revived. It has now been spiritually merged with an emergency 2 watt AM radio station, one designed to inform residents of their odds of surviving should the end times arrive. Be it in the form of an earthquake, fire, or a spirit infestation from One Carter.

The idea is that when this bellicose horn blows residents will then rush to their AM radio sets and listen for emergency instructions. Or at least a verification of what is going down. Imagine the horror many younger residents will experience when they cannot find it on Spotify or Beats.

There is controversy, of course, and because of this horn’s great age, it must be tested every day. It is extremely loud, and some younger residents are unhappy. It turns sleeping babies into crying babies, causes dogs to whimper, and seems entirely unnecessary.

Many older longtime residents love it. They are reminded of their youth when the old horn blows, and see it as living proof that something from their salad days is still getting it done. They’re going to save the town some day.

Questions are being asked. Doesn’t “testing” this howling horn daily take away some of its emergency alert impact? If the community is hearing it often, what would make any additional blast stand out from all of the others? Most people would assume it is only another test, just like the other 365 a year. It cries “wolf!” too often.

Also, a horn that requires daily testing because of its storied antiquity might not be the best way to let folks know that they are doomed and need to make some quick peace with the Creator. It raises dependability issues. A modern horn would only need to be tested once a week, thereby retaining a true emergency novelty.

Modern siren technology would include both a battery option and solar power capacity. Things that would make it far more efficient in a power outage. The horn from days gone by requires a generator to work in an emergency.

If all civilization is crumbling about our ears, who is going to get in their car to drive downtown and crank that generator up? And what if that key person was hit on the head by a falling 2 by 4?

I’ll let you know if I find out.

sierramadretattler.blogpsot.com

44 comments:

  1. Us old-times like tradition. There is something comforting about hearing the blast of the horn at exactly 5:00. Tradition is back. Same thing for our city services. Back in the '80's the candidates for city council debated whether to have our police department farmed out to the Sheriff or to keep our own force. It's tradition. There is something comforting about having a debate and then deciding that we like not being beholden to the County, or State or whatever or whoever is pushing us around at the moment. None of us like paying taxes, but if we want to keep our tradition, we grumble and complain, then agree that the loud horn is what we want, and paying extra taxes (what was it Josh Moran used to say - A latte a day keeps the sheriff away) we'll do it.

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    1. Actually the residents have voted the Latte' Dah A Day tax hike down twice. Can we say that is a tradition, too?

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    2. A latte' at Starbucks costs $4. One of those everyday would run you $1,460 for the year. Quite a little tax hike. Is that what it takes to pay Sgt. Gonzalez $185,000 a year?

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    3. Obviously Tattlers have never heard about tongue in cheek.

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    4. I have. It's where you put your tongue when your latte' is too hot.

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  2. Why is it the City of Sierra Madre never hires anyone from Sierra Madre?

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    Replies
    1. It's an occupation government.

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  3. Several city employees live in Sierra Madre including our Fire Chief.

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    Replies
    1. Two, actually. Out of about 100.

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  4. The horn is evil destroy it.

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    Replies
    1. 2 seconds. It lasts about 2 seconds.

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    2. That's what she said.

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    3. The horn suffers from performance anxiety.

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  5. I think out of tradition as well as respect for George we should keep the horn until he passses.

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    1. Oh dear. Are you about to launch into one of those Joe Mosca "Treasures of Sierra Madre" speeches?

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  6. It does make you wonder where people's priorities are. I hope 6:31 AM is kidding. I like the horn and I do like tradition. And I would be willing to be taxed if it was really necessary. This tax is only necessary because our city council's have allowed the unions to run city hall. These town hall meetings have been a farce. Not many people showed up yesterday. Was that because they were tired of hearing the same old same old rhetoric from our esteemed leaders? Who prepared those ridiculous ballots? The city manager? I guess she did her job which is basically to secure her job and pay. Let the horn ring if for no other reason than to remind us of what we have lost. As for waking up babies and scaring dogs, well I believe it is known that both can adjust to noise if they are allowed to do so.

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    Replies
    1. 1) Never on the tax hike.
      2) Once a week on the horn.

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    2. Most people have a 0% trust rate when it comes to city hall and money.

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  7. NO horn, not ever, never. It is useless & ridiculous & embarrassing, pandering to the sad faded roses hanging desperately onto those glory-days flashbacks at the expense of the health & welfare of sane, considerate realists who live/sleep/pay taxes/contribute to the economy/appreciate peace & quiet in our own town.

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    1. Wow, very well put, and 100% agree with you. I'd be embarrassed to have any of my Orange County friends up here when the horn blows. It furthers peoples' opinions that Sierra Madre is an eccentric town.

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    2. I am not sure blaring a loud horn everyday to see if it still works can be classified as "eccentric." There are other words that are better.

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    3. 10:28 If you are so concerned about your Orange County friends opinions you are welcome to move back to Santa Anna.

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    4. Worrying about what people think is usually a waste of time.

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    5. Think about it.

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  8. One second a day? At the expense of the health & welfare of sane considerate realists who live/sleep/pay taxes/contribute to the economy/appreciate peace & quiet in our own town. It's one second a day that could save a "considerate realists" life. Attacking seniors Isn't gunna work. You must be new here.
    I smell a Troll........

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    1. If he's a "troll", then I am too, as I agree wholeheartedly. Seriously, "save a life?" You've got to be kidding. It would only add legitimacy to the siren if it ONLY went off during an actual catastrophic emergency, and not daily, like clockwork. Also, why is your punctuation and spelling so dire? That's much more characteristic of a troll living under a bridge, imo - lol.

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    2. Please stop trying to sound young and cool,you are obviously pre internet,imo-lol derp.My spelling is "dire" because I grew up here and went to PHS. Trolls don't live under bridges anymore they lurk the internet.
      How do you know a "he" wrote the comment? Was it you per chance?

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    3. I'm post Internet. I use brain waves.

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  9. Ask not for whom the horn sounds,the horn sounds the horn sounds for thee.

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  10. Elaine's sinister scheme: get the local yocals yarking about the horn while the employees bleed the town's coffers dry. When the City goes bankrupt will the horn still blow?

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. Can't go there.

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    3. Oh, now I really want to know what 3:06 said.

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    4. Trust me, you'd be disappointed.

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  11. Although the horn does not bother me, knowing it's 5 pm already does gives a bench mark.The simple solution: It is cost effective, it is old technology and doesn't need to be tested everyday. An Air Horn. Buy an extra one and a case of cans. A win win situation. I believe that an air horn is even louder. That is why most boats and ship carry them.

    On the "save the horn crowd" they could walk around town blowing their horns in support! Could make an interesting sound around town

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    1. I am sure the hornsters walking around blaring their resentment of the yuppies would be extremely popular with the many living here who have no idea who they are, or why they are entitled to ruin a perfectly good day.

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  12. Many of those talking about tradition are also those who were in favor of tearing downtown apart to put in high density development.

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    1. That is why Measure V passed

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  13. Only sound the horn when a city employee's wage or benefits are lowered. Then no one would complain, there would be cheering every time it sounded

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, except it would never go off.

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  14. Measure V
    or
    Prop 218

    city Hall is in violation of the law regarding both!

    Why make laws when there is no money to enforce them?

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  15. Disaster preparedness and city safety are really one and the same. History has shown that we the people really don't want to spend money on any of it, at least no more than we have too. Funny how government will spend a bundle on a police force / Army to protect us from the bad guys but a lot less on life and property saving. This is obvious when you look at the cost of the police department verses the fire department budgets. I would guess at the top of the list are non educated people making decisions regarding our safety without full knowledge of the problems we all face. The horn and emergency radio station are all a part of educating and informing Sierra Madres residents on what to do when a disaster strikes. I would like to think the community could agree on a time when the horn would blow.

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  16. We don't need the horn and ESPECIALLY DON'T NEED DAILY "TESTING", to tell us when to tune into a radio station. We need information on WHERE the radio station is on our dial. We can use common sense to tell us there's an emergency. Sheesh.

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