Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2009 - 2015: At Long Last the General Plan Is Approved

Nancy never did take out the General Plan - link
This all started back in 2009. Then Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray had the idea that it would be a good thing to update the existing 1996  General Plan so that certain important protections could be put into place and Sierra Madre forever preserved from becoming the happy hunting ground of predatory developers. Yes, they have always been around, and still are.

This was, when you consider what has become of our neighbors in Arcadia, a pretty good call. A General Plan Update Committee was formed, concerned slow growthers appointed to it, and all seemed to be well. At least until disaster struck. In 2010 the City Council was taken over by people who were the pronounced enemies of maintaining Sierra Madre's low density small town character, and had no desire whatsoever to include anything like what MaryAnn wanted in any General Plan, updated or not. The project looked like it was doomed.

So adamant were those on the City Council at that time to defeat MaryAnn's efforts they even tried to stack the deck by forcing what they mistakenly thought were their people onto the General Plan Update Committee. Only to later see them cross over to the other side and become nearly indistinguishable from the dedicated slow growthers they were supposed to be opposing.

The power of good ideas won out.

And then, of course, there was Nancy Walsh's infamous speech. Something that I have long thought was a major turning point in this community's struggle to win its new General Plan. I posted a link to it here again today just for old time's sake. I believe it is a remarkable piece of Sierra Madre history.

Ironically, that speech probably saved the General Plan Update Committee and their project. Because after Nancy's utterly bizarre and unfounded attacks upon that Committee and its remarkable Chair, Denise Delmar, nobody dared to oppose them. To do so would mean being on the same side as Nancy Walsh. Something not considered a good look.

All ancient history now, of course. And with last night's unanimous City Council approval of the General Plan that never was "taken out," it really is possible to see just how this town has changed over the course of the last six years. It certainly has become a much more civilized and thoughtful place.

Today it is hard to even believe that some of the wacky stuff that went down around 2011 ever actually occurred.

Special congratulations have to go out to now Councilmember Denise Delmar for not only holding everything together back during some pretty dark days, but also bringing together a diverse coalition of very smart Sierra Madre residents. In the process achieving some pretty remarkable things, and against truly daunting odds.

One Last Gasp

Showing up at the public comment podium during last night's final discussion of the General Plan were Father Michael Higgins and Jerry Pearson. Two gentlemen that were hoping to sneak in some special advantages for themselves and their erstwhile bumping big housing project on the grounds of the Mater Dolorosa Monastery.

Fr. Higgins
And as you might have seen last night, this was one last attempt at delaying the final approval of the General Plan. That it involved what would be the biggest development project here in a long time only added to the fun.

It all goes like this. The 1996 General Plan had some very bad language in it about institutional zoning. Anyone can apply for a zoning change of course, but the 1996 General Plan for institutional zoning said that those landowners are "eligible" and "allowed" to down-zone their property to a number of different uses including "low-density" housing. While this didn't guarantee that they would be successful, it did open the door for them to attempt it. None of the other zoning categories opens the door quite as wide as that.

Jerry Pearson
As City Attorney Highsmith pointed out, it was taken out of the General Plan document a while ago when they were updating it because of the build-out limits and the water crisis. Both the Planning Commission and City Council took that bad language out, much to the chagrin of the Mater Dolorosa developers.

Mater Dolorosa's two worthies tried to argue that it was somehow secretly taken out and they never had the opportunity to properly protest. A conspiracy theory, I guess.The fact is, they were asleep at the wheel during some of the critical meetings where this was quite publicly discussed. You can bet they knew the importance of keeping that language in there because it takes away the discretion of the City Council to deny what would possibly be the largest housing project Sierra Madre has seen in decades.

That's why they sent their A TeamFather Higgins to tug on folks' heart strings, while Jerry "Arcadia" Pearson went in for the kill. And no, it was not a pretty picture.

Personally I think it is rather sad to see a Priest being used to peddle a specious real estate development deal. Should Father Higgins be spending his time on such things, especially given all of the problems currently facing the Catholic Church? There are many far more important things for him to do.

As one resident pointed out, of all the parcels in Sierra Madre, the institutional land owners are the ones that own over 20 acres, and can therefore have the most impact on this city. You want City Hall to hang on to its discretion over those kinds of parcels, especially when it comes to zoning.

Fortunately Higgins and Pearson and their claims were given short shrift, and the General Plan went through unscathed by what was basically a cooked up and desperate last minute appeal by a special interest.

Not a good evening for Bruce Inman  

Bruce Inman was finally called out by a couple of members of the City Council over the town's endless yellow water problems. John Harabedian questioned him closely on this water quality issue, and raised a point that we have discussed here at The Tattler on several occasions. That being Sierra Madre's severe water quality woes are a warm weather phenomenon, and again the city was not prepared.

Here is how we described this here last March:



 Last night, when Bruce Inman once again told the City Council he hadn't been hearing any complaints about water quality from the residents, he got a very different reaction from the dais. They let Bruce know that they have been hearing complaints, and wondered why nobody was talking to him about it.

The answer is obvious. The community believes that Bruce is no longer important to this process, or capable of getting anything done. Something the City Council now appears to understand as well.

Nothing Bruce has tried seems to have worked. Despite all of the money that was spent on consultants and materials. And now he has been reduced to standing before the City Council and claiming that because he hasn't heard any complaints, the problem is no longer there.

Something nobody believes. It might be out of sight for him, but it is certainly on a lot of peoples' minds.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

75 comments:

  1. Thank goodness the General Plan was finally approved by a unanimous vote. What a long and winding road! But its done and that means that with the protections put into plaee, the town of Sierra Madre has a fighting chance to keep looking like Sierra Made for the foreseeable future. A big step foward and all those involved have our gratitude.

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    1. Nancy Walsh's tirade should be required viewing before every election, with the caveat "be careful of who you vote for." Contrast her to the classy General Plan Update Committee Chairperson, now Council member, Denise Delmar, who facilitated the melding of the four additional members with the original five, withstood a barrage of nastiness from then Council members Buchanan and Mosca when she appeared before City Council to give them updates of the Committee's progress. In a concluding act of classiness, Ms Delmar presented staff member Leticia Cardosa, who helped immensely (yes, a very hard working staff member), with a big bouquet of flowers, and a thank you note and small gift to the Committee members. It is amazing how Walsh not only misrepresented the facts in her tirade, but lied outright! As has been posted, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to then Council member MaryAnn MacGillivray, for hanging in there, amid all the nastiness. Nancy Walsh, you were totally wrong - the General Plan Update IS a plan of the people, NOT just a plan of the City Council. Thank you Council members, Committee members, outreach team volunteers, and all of you who took part in the survey and Town Hall meetings. This is democracy at its best - I love you Sierra Madre!

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    2. 5:43, you're right that the town now has a fighting chance, as long as it's willing to stand behind the general plan and implement it. It's one thing to have policies written, and another thing to have them enforced. The residents need to know what the plan says and that they have a right to use it and the job to defend it.

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    3. In hindsight, Walsh was a great help to us.

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    4. Thanks, Nancy!

      PS: Hope you're enjoying that $100,000+ CalPERS pension.

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    5. We can thank Nancy for being the impetus for much of what has been accomplished.

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    6. Denise Delmar has been amazing for this community. You cannot underestimate what a catalyst she has been on the City Council.

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  2. Fr. Higgins lost all pull with this Catholic when he blockaded our family from the Stations of the Cross and my personal favorite, the prayer garden behind the chapel.

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    1. Remember when the Monastery land was open for all to enjoy the beautiful grounds. I heard that it even saved someone's life who found solace and comfort up there. Ever since they made the decision to monetize the land and try to get as much money as they can squeeze out of that sacred land, there has been nothing but problems for all involved. Its a disgrace. They need to go back to basics up there and concentrate on saving souls rather than pushing housing projects that no one wants.

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  3. Among all the other people who deserve credit for this accomplishment, we can't leave out John Crawford and the Tattler. The Nancy Walsh "I can take you out" tirade was a turning point. As she continued to spiral out of control, the pro-development movement she represented became increasingly discredited. However, without the Tattler to publish some of these crazy things and present in the inimitable manner that only John can, only a very few people would even know about it. That's how City Council Members and others in so many cities cities get away with it. So my hats off to the Tattler for keeping people honest, exposing hypocracy and corruption in all its forms and yes, helping to save Sierra Madre Madre.

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    1. and if now we could only have John Buchanan butt out of city business

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    2. The guy just never goes away.

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    3. The Tattler has played a big part here and continues to influence the city in a positive direction. How far things have come in the last few years.

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    4. Elections have consequences. We have to be very careful in the future about who wields the levers of power in this town. All it takes is one bad election and everything can be reversed.

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    5. 10:45 absolutely!
      All you need are 3 bad ones and the council could sell the whole town.

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    6. Well 12:22p, I am not so proud to be a Catholic under this Pope. He meddles in political affairs, has done little or nothing about the corruption in the church, i.e. Cardinal Mahoney dwells in the Vatican I hear, does not support his parishes financially, just expects them to pay the vatican, and so much more. If you're a socialist, I understand why you might be proud to be a Catholic.

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    7. Cardinal Mohone may live in the Vatican but he was in ElMonte yesterday visiting the sick.

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  4. Well said 5:43! As for the water debacle, how many times do you need to complain? I gave a bottle of orange water to Mr. Inman, also. I've never heard back from him. I also have nasty spots on everything water touches. My old stainless utensils had rust on them. I bought new a few weeks ago and they are beginning to rust, too. The water in the tap now smells like mildew. Not only should Mr. Inman be questioned, but how about the person who leads him? Dear Elaine deserves to be pilloried, also. Just sayin......

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  5. It seems that Father Higgens of Mater Dolorosa has now been turned into a full-time spokesperson for a development project on those sacred grounds. You would think that he would have other things to do with his time - like more things associated with his chosen profession. The other spokesperson for Mater Dolorosa is Jerry Pearson from Arcadia. No offense to Jerry, but I don't think too many residents in Sierra Madre take kindly to someone from Arcadia of all places telling us what Sierra Madre should look like. Since Jerry's home town of Arcadia is an example of what unmitigated development can do to a city, I can say to him "thanks but no thanks". Let them push their project somewhere in Arcadia where that corrupt City Council in which three City Council members may soon be recalled by the citizenry will be be a more receptive place.

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    1. Father Higgins is just taking orders from his bosses in Chicago. I suspect he is not having a lot of fun.

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    3. I don't know where these Mater Dolorosa people are coming from. They should work with those who want to preserve the land. If they were have as energetic in an effort in that direction rather than putting a big housing project up there, they would be successful.

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    4. Maybe that's why Father Pat got out of town. He wouldn't want to be in the position of pushing that housing project. Now Father Higgens gets stuck with that duty. Hard to know whether he's just following orders or really wants to see a windfall for his retirement.

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    5. The IBD on Saturday quoted the Pope in his sermon against Capitalism as saying "the unfettered pursuit of money rules" as a "subtle dictatorship" and called profits "the dung of the devil." I wonder what the Pope would say to Fr Michael had he had the chance to hear him last night? Or does Capitalism only work for the church?

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    6. The dung of the devil. It must take a big devil to make a McMansion.

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    7. I am dismayed that the order has elected to use one of their own as a frontman for avariciousness.

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    8. I took the liberty of sending this to the The Passionists of Holy Cross Province @ https://passionist.org/contactform/
      The IBD on Saturday quoted the Pope in his sermon against Capitalism as saying "the unfettered pursuit of money rules" as a "subtle dictatorship" and called profits "the dung of the devil." I wonder what the Pope would say to Fr Michael had he had the chance to hear him last night? Or does Capitalism only work for the church?
      Please pray with the citizens of Sierra Madre that the Lord will care for you in your retirement and you will no longer need to destroy our town. Dave Link

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    9. Pope Francis has made me proud to be a Catholic again. I never thought that day would come.

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    10. Hope you're going to mass evry Sunday, too?

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  6. Thank you to all who have sought to protect Sierra Madre all these years.
    We'll done

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  7. Good morning, Sierra Madre!

    Congratulations on the completion of your General Plan Update!

    I know not to start mentioning names on occasions like this (to avoid forgetting folks) but I will make one exception:

    Thank you to Denise Delmar for chairing the General Plan Update committee. Your ability to lead a TON of official and unoffical volunteers and contributors in this super important mission will not be forgotten.

    And I'd like to thank the people of Sierra Madre. This General Plan update is indeed the "people's plan". It's just another example of the special place that is the mountain village of Sierra Madre.

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    1. It truly is the people's plan, and thanks Mr. Koerber. We know well that you had to slog through a lot of junk when we were lucky enough to have you on the council. You had a hand in preserving Sierra Madre and we are grateful.

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    2. Speaking of names, Mayor Maryann should have been acknowledged last nite. Without her this plan would not exist. She fought for a year to get the committee in place and continued to fight to keep the process moving and to make sure it was the people's document. We are grateful for her efforts with the General Plan and the Canyon Zone, also her doing.

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    3. Mayor Maryann should have been acknowledged last nite. She started the process against great opposition and made sure it was the people's document.

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  8. This is a historic moment for Sierra Madre. The little town that fights back just won again.

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  9. The observations about our Director Inman are useful but not new. The disparaging assesment applies equally to his deputy Chris Cimino.
    People with specific experience on technical issues with both individuals have concluded both are plausible but utterly incompetent and clearly unqualified for the task. But that is the current standard that the Council condones. Elaine Aguilar another shining example of the same damning verdict.
    That they are incompetent,overpaid and immune from any significant sanction is a condemnation of successive Councils for aiding and abetting Aguilar, Inman and Aguilar. Why? In any normal business this issue would have been resolved with a firing years ago.

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    1. With Dr. Baribeau our man Bruce bought himself a little time. That time is now over however, and he has nothing left to offer. This comedy has run its course.

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    2. Chris Cimino holds the public works department together. It would take years to train someone else to take his place. He is well worth the money the city pays him.

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    3. Steve Pock was the cats meow. We all miss him........

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    4. With the fat salary+benefits package we offer,Sierra Madre could have the best qualified Director of Public Works.Instead we have unqualified ,openly hostile City senior employees. Why?
      The chloramine problem is not difficult or new. Many other places have the issue and have remediation. You don't need a consultant to do this.But you do need a competent Director who has some interest in the matter.
      And to say there are "no complaints" about the yellow water is just a bare faced LIE !

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    5. What would you suggest we use for water if not the MWD water? And is it Bruce's fault there is a severe drought?

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    6. Bruce's fault is that he spent a lot of taxpayer money to improve MWD water quality here and nothing he did worked. It is back this summer just like it was the previous two. Just because he is a city employee does not mean he can't be held responsible for his actions.

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    7. Inman needs to start solving the problem by becoming honest. The man lies endlessly from rusty pipes to "not hearing of any problems". He just says what thinks is politically expedient.
      The truth is that the best water solution for Sierra Madre is not what he is interested in.He just spouts whatever sweeps the problem under the rug.
      Meanwhile for safer drinking water for humans, the only practical method of removing most of the chloramines is catalytic carbon filters.Not activated carbon- not sufficiently effective. Very expensive unless you limit the filter to one 'drinking water only' faucet.No, I don't sell them :-).
      But instead of stating an unpopular truth ,Inman continues with potentially dangerous lies as cited above.

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    8. Inman is not qualified for the position he holds, and he knows it. Any questions directed to him send him scrambling to find the right bureacratize. Observe - he is always defensive and formulaic.

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  10. The city hall of Sierra Madre will take you out! Could of not been better expressed! City council and city hall are continuing to Tax All Property Owners and residents to " death".

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  11. Nancy Walsh, Joe Mosca and Josh Moran effectively killed the development cause in Sierra Madre. And they did it just by being their stupid selves. The approval of the new General Plan last night was the last nail in that coffin. Big development is dead in Sierra Madre. They did it to themselves.

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    1. I think you're right 10:40, they certainly precipitated a backlash. But people are concerned in a whole lot of cities right now that don't have the likes of Walsh, Mosca and Moran. They are seeing houses torn down and replaced by houses the size of aircraft carriers that block the neighbor's views, light and privacy - not to mention adversely impact on the values of those homes. They are seeing open space being depleted all over the place so developers can make their profit and so the rest of us are stuck with the pollution and traffic that results. I think people are now waking up to the fact that if we continue down the present path, the San Gabriel Valley, a once beautiful place to live will become unlivable. We are also using up our resources particularly our water. Why do we want to build more homes to attact more people who will use more water so that there is no water available for the rest of us. So this has been a perfect storm of events. Resources are finite. Perhaps just perhaps we are starting to reach our limits here and maybe housing projects should be placed in areas where the resources are not so precarious.

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    2. Every city has its own story.

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    3. Great comment, 10:54.
      Everyone needs to be aware, though, that the same people who pushed Walsh, Moran, Mosca, are still around, still organizing.
      We know what the cost of liberty is - it's the same for fighting over-development. Don't think for a minute that greed has been banished. We just made it harder for it to rule, but that doesn't mean it will stop trying.

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  12. I have some questions in regards to development/developers on the Arcadia side of Orange Grove (The Château Mega Mansion Tract ) .

    1. When it comes to dust abatement are the developers using potable water in those large hoses ?

    2.When it comes to developers I'm assured they're very cautious and mindful in regards to the issues of the older homes they demolish... Lead and Asbestos being the two bad boys ... I'm curious in regards to when they water down the property does all of that contamination seep into the ground water and will that contamination stay on the Arcadia side ?

    Just wondering.
    3.

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  13. As far as I know, developers can use potable water for dust control.

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    1. But people with lawns can't water? Not certain i understand what you are getting at here.

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    2. Cynthia, Thank you so much for your testimony. Is Dr. Razzi local here? You didn't give us any info to go on. There are many people in this town that are under a spell. Please tell Dr. Razzi to come on the blog and let help us with our needs. You have made the Tattler relevant today and given us all hope.

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  14. Hello i am Cynthia by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. One day when I was reading through the web, I saw a post on how this spell caster Dr Razzi have help a woman to get back her husband and I gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that I will have my husband back. I believed him and today I am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back because I am now happy with my husband. Thanks for His great work.

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    1. So this Dr. Razzi can help put the hex on Bruce and save a little holy water to keep the grass green at Mater Dolorosa. Just ducky. Anything that helps...

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    2. Dr. Razzi was at last night's City Council meeting.

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    3. Cynthia, get a grip. That husband is a worthless man.

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    4. Dr. Razzi has not done right by Cynthia.

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    5. I'm in. How can I send Dr. Razzi all my money?

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    6. Dr. Razzi will be playing an acoustic ukelele set at the Buc tomorrow night at 8PM. He will have his hat out for tips. You can put all of your money there.

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  15. Let's hope he is on the preservation side.

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  16. Mosca, is he still in Europe , I heard he was at the parade, is that true? Hope he never comes back here.

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    1. He now lives in Encinitas down in San Diego County where he apparently is working on a political comeback.
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2015/02/are-excess-water-usage-penalties-really.html

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  17. At tonight's EENR meeting the vacants are almost the majority.

    Kathleen Blanchard – Chair
    Cole Butler
    Kim Clymer Kelley
    Marguerite Shuster
    Vacant
    Vacant
    Vacant

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    1. Somebody really ought to put them out of their misery and just let them be the tree commission again.
      Then there would be a vigorous and meaningful commission.
      EENR is Walsh's legacy.

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    2. Buchanan, too. The EENERs are the ghost of a now dead agenda.

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    3. Do you really think it makes any difference?

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    4. They've come a short way in a long period of time.

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    5. Does Cole Butler live in town? I don't think so.

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    6. Why areas the eeners meeting? The Senior Commission and the Community Services Commission have been cancelled for the summer. If the staff is so overworked, they should not be having a shorthanded commission meeting.

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    7. You'll notice Caroline Brown resigned from the Tree Commission, morphed EENR (after years of volunteering for the city she now is a natural resources volunteer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) about the time the EENR was given the task of finalizing the cities water rate hikes and fines/penalities for the water conservation measures. What happened to that agenda item last night? The blog had mentioned the consultant hiring/fees to determine a "water budget" per family based on number of residents/land usage/etc. per meter. This is perhaps a fairer way than to tie the conservation water allotment to a point in the past usage when we were trying to keep our wells from going dry.

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  18. I believe the Mater Dolorosa in the city of Sierra Madre are Franciscan. The order may observe being lovers of; nature, poverty, social workers. I do not believe that this means they should keep open their private property. They have been wonderful in keeping the gates open for those that wish to visit the property, but it is their private property.

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    1. Their neighbors also own private property. Why is it so easy for you to forget that they too have rights?

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