Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Revenge of the UUT Sore Losers: Does Your Vote Still Count In Sierra Madre?

Thinks your vote doesn't count.
"This is all a dog and pony show to raise taxes and scare people. A good look at the police budget will show where the money is going and where they can cut back." - Reader comment 

Back in 2012 a total of 1,553 voters in Sierra Madre said NO to an increase in utility taxes. In 2014 1,372 people again said NO to City Hall increasing their utility taxes as well.

Both times the NO vote totals were more than the YES vote totals, which in a democracy means that the people here had twice delivered their verdict. One that City Hall didn't like. That being a clear majority wanted their utility taxes to be capped at 6%. However, apparently in Sierra Madre the peoples' vote no longer counts.

The reason given to justify this rather reactionary notion is that maybe a couple of hundred people, many of whom supported an increased UUT in both 2012 and 2014 and lost both times, showed up at what was called a "budget town input meeting," which was held at the fire station. Put together and run by the same City Hall that was not happy about those two election results.

There these 200 or so election losers loudly proclaimed themselves victors. And because this relatively small group of people went to the fire station last Saturday morning their opinions now amount to more than the votes of that vastly larger group of people who rejected their tax increase demands at the polls a couple of times.

A novel interpretation of democracy that the City Council appears to have sanctioned last night. That is, when they were not raising fees.

So let me ask you this, can we call it a coup yet? Or maybe the revenge of the sore losers? Perhaps a tax tantrum? And what can anyone say about the elected officials who have bought into such obvious nonsense? Maybe there is something they're afraid of? So afraid that they dare not even talk about it?

The elephant in the room, the one that no one attending dared to admit they had just seen, is the absurd amounts of money the Sierra Madre Police Department is being paid. At just under $4 million a year in budget, they are literally bleeding the town dry. In the financial and metaphorical sense. Here are some rather glaring examples of remarkably out of line SMPD compensation (link):


There is something else you might want to ponder. According to the Los Angeles Times the average income of Sierra Madre residents is $88,000 (link).  


As the graphic says, and for anyone out of touch enough to still believe our town is a bastion of economic privilege, Sierra Madre's holds a Los Angeles County rank of #51 in this category. It is not Beverly Hills.

So ask yourself this. What is it an SMPD Sergeant does that makes him worth almost $100,000 a year more in compensation than the people paying his salary? Anything come to mind? File lawsuits, perhaps?

This so-called budget crisis is really all about the power of a single municipal employee union. One that is currently negotiating with the city as we type to make even more money for its members than they do now. Something that City Hall apparently now wants to raise utility taxes to accommodate, despite the wishes of the taxpayers. The SMPD pretty much owns City Hall

So much so that nobody even dares to talk about the actual reasons for the city's budget shortfall.

In other words, it is freely given platinum compensation, and not services, that is responsible for the travails of a city government that cannot make itself work within the budget those who actually pay for things gave them through their vote. 

Twice.

Get ready to shoot down a UUT increase for a third time next April. And then again two years after that. This doesn't look like it will ever end.

The Honkin' Horn is gagged

It is once a week testing, not daily honking, that was the City Council's verdict last night. They also showed some real concern about the decibel level. The fact that no EIR was ever done for this obstreperous horn, nor was the city's noise ordinance ever adjusted to accommodate it, could very well have raised some legal concerns at City Hall

Silencing the blasting brute might take up to a week to implement. The horn is controlled by someone who works at Post Alarm, and apparently it can't be shut down that quickly.

Annaliese, the owner of Lunch Salon, which is located directly across the street from the horn, was the night's rockstar. Kind, thoughtful, intelligent and very well-spoken. She also has a video of a family whose kid was literally knocked over by a horn blast. Something the City Council chose not to watch.

You do know that the fire horn was always the practical joke of a few longtime residents, right? Backed up by a previous City Council

The only thing is, a lot of people were never in on the punch line.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

84 comments:

  1. John, the punch line is that even with the horn blowing once a day people still didn't know why it blew. They just wanted it silenced because it bothered them, without bothering to find out why. Frankly I could care less if it ever blew again but it does serve a purpose. Remember, the money to put the system (horn and radio) in service was raised by the people of this community who do care about safety. Have a nice day and remember 1630 on your AM dial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last 2 clock radios I bought didn't even have AM.

      Delete
    2. Why don't they, on the one day in the next century it may ever be needed, just replace the stupid horn with an actual loudspeaker broadcasting the radio station...

      Delete
    3. You can give this a try: tune in to 1630 and you will now hear public announcements for our city: library book sales and the like. At the end you will hear the statement: in the case of emergency turn in for information on that emergency. It transmission can be picked up as far west as Pasadena High School and east, the 210 Freeway at the 605 interchange.

      Delete
    4. Maybe the city should put a sheet about the emergency radio station in their next water bill mailing.

      Delete
    5. I agree wholeheartedly with 7:08 - use a PA system or loudspeaker to verbalize what needs to be communicated immediately, like a mudslide. Use common sense to tune into 1630 am on your radio dial. As was stated at the city council meeting, you know when there's a fire or windstorm or power outage. If a road is blocked, turn around, tune in to 1630, and find a road that isn't. We don't need a horn for that. Either get rid of it or turn it way the heck down.

      Delete
  2. I think people know why it bothered them. It was very loud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's an obnoxious relic - nobody knows what it's for or why and even then if it does have a purpose than a trip down memory lane, well who is it telling us to listen to? the city? the police? our FD?

      please, no thanks.

      and if it is such a brilliant idea, put one in the canyon, by the Passionate Fathers development, one down by the Arcadia border and a few here and there

      we don't need it - sort of silly to waste our time even having it a discussion except some old foggies want it dag nab it - sufferin succotash

      Delete
    2. Where is the Passionate Fathers development? I assume you mean the Passionist Community on N. Sunnyside. Orange County is anxiously awaiting your return.

      Delete
  3. Annaliese did make an interesting point: when her salon was down the street, across from Kirsting Court, the horn was not such a bother to her as it is now that her salon, Lunch, in across the street from the emergency signaling device.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As far as loudness, if it were not so loud and the same objectors made note of it they would say, why on earth do you think that would alert anyone, it is not loud enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There should be another way to publicize the emergency rado station. Obviously the horn was not getting that message across.

      Delete
    2. put up signs - add a notice to utility or property bills, a public service ad in the local paper

      or add a dozen more horns, let those up in the Canyon who think this is such a great idea try living next to it

      Delete
  5. The fire chief mentioned the fact that the horn's timer would be taken care of by a man who works for Post Alarm, who "volunteers" to monitor the timing. Fact that you missed. It is not a contract with the Post Alarm company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. so he's going to volunteer to hustle here and blast it in case of an emergency or zombie apocalypse?

      Delete
    2. No. It is only requires the technician to change the timer now that it will be tested once a week and not daily.

      Delete
  6. That kid who was knocked over. Did he have an AM radio on him?

    ReplyDelete
  7. 6:46AM What happened to common sense? People want to be told things today, not be bothered to look them up . Citizens do have more responsibilities. Again, the city manager could have recommended that simple signs be placed around Kersting to advise visitors. Shopkeepers could have signs in their shops. There were more important things last night than the sound of a horn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are right about having more important things

      just that somebody who insists that this is important had to resurrect it - there's a reason why it went away it's not necessary

      mute it and move on

      Delete
  8. Continuous exposure to loud noise is where the damage to hearing occurs:
    8 hrs for 85 dB 15 minutes 100 dB
    And the emergency horn, soon to be tested one time per week, is at X dB for how many seconds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So you're saying blowing the horn for 7 hours would be OK?

      Delete
    2. No, the minute time that the horn blows is just that, minute. It is dB over long time that is damaging. You have been on a street somewhere when a police or fire siren went by. Because of their long exposure to the fire truck siren as it rolls to the incident the firement have on ear protection.

      Delete
    3. Oh. The guy above you said hearing loss only occurs after 8 hours of steady exposure. Something that made me laugh.

      Delete
    4. He/she was trying to point out the hearing loss exposure to dB has a range of hours to intensity of the noise. Charts list 8 hr at 85 dB to way above 100 dB. It was an example to show that the emergency horn, test blow at a very few seconds, would not generate that harm. The "shock" of not expecting it is not injury from an overly loud dB exposure. Can't imagine why an EIR would be needed. Guess this is the next level of fight for those still opposed to the horn.

      Delete
    5. Don't know if you've heard. The fight is over.

      Delete
  9. Vote theft, Bueller? Bueller?

    ReplyDelete
  10. What, Mr. Mod? You're going to let slip by, the stream of Buchanan people at last nights meeting? Praise for Mosca and unkind words addressed to two of the council members? I agree that we need revenue, but only because salaries are out of line for the population of this city. Little if anything was said about that. So look forward to a 12% UUT with no sunset. We get the revenue, eventually, while salaries will remain the same and increase next year. Mr. Harabedian was absent last night, but he wasn't needed. The council was led by the ever charming Goss. Mayor next year. The sky is not just falling, it fell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forrest Goss was in rare form last night. Indignant, loud and clueless.

      Delete
    2. Where is Joe, anyway. Did he ever return to the United States?

      Delete
    3. Joe Mosca? Not back to the Sierra Madre that he "loved".

      Delete
    4. Joe Mosca is now living down in Encinitas. Another quaint and traditional town faced with predatory development demands. Apparently Joe now loves Encinitas because it is rumored he took a job in their Parks and Recreation Dept. Soon he will declare himself dedicated to "saving" Encinitas and run for City Council. Once elected he will stab his supporters in the back.

      Delete
    5. I hear he holds that town near and dear to his heart.

      Delete
    6. only a delusional resident has any praise for Joe Mosca

      he was a complete waste of our time

      within 30 seconds of moving here he "loved" the city so much he had to run for Council to change it

      what a jerk - stay gone Joe

      Delete
  11. Some people just don't get it. The horn also alerts you when important information is being broadcasted, not just to remind you that Sierra Madre has an emergency radio station.
    Don't forget that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people just don't get it. The horn has no purpose that signs can do. And I'd rather not tune into SM radio during an emergency. Like I want to hear what Elaine or Bruce or the "Mayor" lol has to say - sorry - when did become Mayor of SM become a big deal?

      Delete
    2. No one says you HAVE to listen to public emergency information on the radio. No one says you HAVE to store extra water/food/batteries/first-aid supplies/diapers/etc. No one says you HAVE to read the sign that you have volunteered to place around town so people will know there is an emergency.

      Delete
    3. Do you mean Depends? No diapers at my place.

      Delete
  12. No matter what the voter tells our city council members at a budget open house, it is in the voting booth where the truth will out. There will be a lot more information on the burdens of the UUT and the salaries that drive this approach for our, I predict, near to be bankrupt city.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will vote NO again.

      I said 15 years ago that the path we were taking electing utility company employees, construction dudes or mortgage salesmen that we were jogging straight into bankruptcy and changing the city forever

      let's not forget that John Buchanan's posse wanted and still wants to double the population of SM cause that is what SCAG wanted - now we got Goss and Harabedian

      Delete
  13. Mayor pro-tem Goss: sat at a table at the end of the process where people were to sit down and try to extract $1 M in spending by cutting from different departments. He did not see the impossible to hear, too tiny to read, displays at the front end of the displays. It was well put together, to make it seem more than it was. Oh, yes, and there were hot dogs and bottled water. Who paid for this? Your happily collected, into the General Fund, UUT!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It would seem that the City Council cares more about the city's employees than they do the people who actually live here.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why does a sergeant on the police department make $40,000 more than the fire chief, something is wrong some where.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better union. This is all being driven by the cop union.

      Delete
    2. and for doing what?

      not much

      Delete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Maybe the cops union has some hot coals in the back room no one knows about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or pictures.

      Delete
    2. I'd bet on the pictures.

      Delete
    3. But if we don't pay them double what the people of Sierra Madre make, they might go and find jobs elsewhere!

      Delete
    4. Cool. Let's pay them half.

      Delete
  18. oh, the pictures, thats it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's two sides to every story.

      Delete
    2. Stay frosty.

      Delete
  19. Other emergency notification ideas:

    Code Red is used by some southern California cities whose websites state there is no cost to the consumer. These cities have contracted with the Code Red system provider so the resident pays through their cities budget. It is a phone call service. If you do not have a residential landline that the phone company has record of then you have to register your cell phone or business phone for the service. Cell phone towers have been known to overload and crash in an emergency and your home phone on electric chargers will not have reception.

    ReplyDelete
  20. How about a banner across Baldwin? Or a permanent sign in Kersting Court? One everyone can clearly see when driving past?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Changing the test from daily to once a week is a good idea. It will be revisited in one year (or earlier if some issue arises with reliability.) My good friend, a retired LA City fireman, often mentions that for the most part people do not spend a lot of time thinking about their personal safety. They expect that the professionals will do that. In CERT (Commuinity Emergency Reponse Team) there is a saying: Look in the mirror. Your first responder is there looking back at you.

    I taught Public Health and Safety at Claremont High School and would tell my students when they would moan and groan during fire drills and earthquake evacuation practice: "You can only perform well what you practice often." The boys would say they can't get fully under the small student desks. I would tell them to secure their most important body parts, thinking they would be sure to get their head and neck under the desk. I would look up and see they thought some other anatomical area was most important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it was.

      Delete
    2. I heard that you're not supposed to hide under desks anymore.

      Delete
    3. Take a look at: Drop, Cover and Hold and you will see the link for 2015 Great Shake Out.

      Delete
  22. I was blown away by the police chief last night. What a major weight loss! Did he have bypass surgery? I heard that he was asked by the council to lose weight. Maybe they could ask Elaine to lose a little. Nothing drastic, just a little bit. However the chief achieved his weight loss-kudos. It is a hard battle that few appreciate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Addiction, be it to drugs or drink or food is hard. No one says otherwise.

      Delete
    2. Bagging on a person b/c of weight? Classless.

      Delete
  23. This town needs a reckoning .

    Episode 3 Wayward Pines

    ReplyDelete
  24. weight loss...

    it might be possible, that the insurance carrier of those Cadillac health plans and death plans instructed city employees to loose benefits if they failed to loose weight?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I guess that is why so few people vote anymore. It doesn't mean anything.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The "fight" about the horn is not over. The first time it fails a weekly test the prepared citizens will demand for safety it is returned to a daily test schedule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If this horn doesn't work then it needs to be replaced with something more dependable. The public's safety is far too important, and we should never rely on ancient equipment that doesn't work properly.

      Delete
    2. What if a little frail old lady is walking to Bean Town on Friday afternoon holding the hand of a toddler and the horn blows at its appointed time at 5:00. Will they both get blown over, or do they now had ample warning not to go to Bean Town on a Friday? I don't think the person from Lunch Box was all that charming, I think she is on a crusade all her own.

      And bless George Maurer

      Delete
    3. So you're saying the customers of our downtown businesses should stay away on certain days of the week because of the horn? Are you certain the people who own businesses there would think this is a good idea?

      Does George?

      Delete
    4. I just love the tattlers, with no and I mean no sense of humor. George spends most of his life at Bean Town. He hasn't been blown over by the horn no matter when it sounds.

      Delete
    5. Maybe you're not funny. That would be my guess.

      Delete
    6. We all adore Sierra Madre. AND we cannot selfishly stand by when our toy causes unnecessary harm, especially to our most vulnerable - children, the elderly, the handicapped, animals. That's what we've been saying all along, and thank God there is video proof of harm to show the uncaring and/or ignorant among us. Give us a chance to love the horn, too, by taking away the negative aspect - startling, illegal volume. And God Bless George Mauer, he is a treasure & adorable & passionate, and I LOVED his bagpipe entrance!

      Delete
  27. in the old days the horn was stationed above the old city hall at that time the firehouse was also at city hall the store the horn was blown to call volunteer fireman to the station so they could man the engine. It needed to be loud enough to reach all of Sierra Madre and the drunks on the force in the Buccaneer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you townies are funny

      Delete
  28. Here's a thought ... How about when school starts the Fire and Police departments have an assembly for all are wee ones explaining why we have the horn and tell its history .
    Kind of a community outreach... While they're at it how about a little bike saftey course.

    ReplyDelete
  29. We have a horn?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I remember those school days of ducking under the desk, how innocent we were. We still have dangers out there, some newer dangers for our children that we could never have imagined lurk in our surroundings. To be truthfu, some of the internet dangers are down right scary, not to mention wiping out peoples savings. Sierra Madre does have a few very innocent people, and it's not just the kids.

    ReplyDelete
  31. There was a guy last night who quoted Benjamin Franklin. "You get what you pay for." I looked all day for that quote. Never found it. The venacular is off for the time period, so maybe he was paraphrasing. If so, he should not have used the word quote. Not to mention that I hardly think Franklin would have ended a sentence witha preposition. And he did say it, I would have to say he was right, as usual (Franklin that is). If they pass the UUT, look at the city government we'll have....
    the same ole same ole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the same ole, same ole government. Isn't it wonderful. At least we don't have council members duking it out after the meeting like what happened in the '70's.Ah, life was simpler then.

      Delete