Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Politics Behind Moving Sierra Madre's Elections From April To November

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Traditionally Sierra Madre has always held its municipal elections in April. This has served the community well over the years because it has helped to focus the minds of the voters on the often highly complex and comparatively obscure issues involved in running a small and at times idiosyncratic local city government. Freed from having to compete with the roar of the often bizarre circus that is national and state politics, those running for offices like City Council have been able to receive the attention they need to properly explain issues that many of those living here might otherwise never get to opportunity to hear properly discussed.

However, and in the name of saving a few bucks, Councilmember John Harabedian has taken it upon himself to upend 100 or so years of Sierra Madre tradition and attempt to move municipal elections here to November. Thereby giving our very local leaders the unenviable task of trying to get heard over the national billion dollar political campaigns of the likes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

A competition for the attention of the voters I am not certain the local guys will ever win. Making our city's politics little more than an obscure and irrelevant afterthought for most.

But who knows, maybe that is the point. The less informed people are the more likely they are to vote for the high tax and employee benefits agenda of Councilmember Haradedian.

Here is how this item reads in the staff report prepared for Tuesday evening's City Council meeting.


So why would Councilmember Harabedian want to take the trouble to move Sierra Madre's elections from their ages old traditional April date to November, thereby causing our important local governmental issues the unenviable task of having to compete with national elections and politics?

If Councilmember Harabedian loves this community so much, why does he want to take away the individuality inherent in Sierra Madre's hometown elections? Certainly that had to have played a role when this community's founders decided it was best to hold our local elections here in April.

Are we going from Lucky Baldwin to Unlucky Harabedian here?

There is also this. If they were move the election from April to November it extends the term of Harabedian and Capoccia a full half of a year. What did they do to deserve that? And would they have to recuse themselves from a vote that would grant them extra time in office, time they were not elected by the people to serve?

This November election tactic is exactly what Governor Jerry Brown is doing for tax increases and bond issues. Getting them in front of the casual voters who are more likely to cast ballots for them. This isn't exactly an original idea.

So can it be that City Hall's unprecedented third attempt at getting a big utility tax increase passed has something to do with this? The answer to that one is yes, of course it does. As always, it is about the money. Here is the most relevant passage from this week's City Council Agenda Report.


Like it or not, there are a considerable number of people who only vote in national elections. Here that number is apparently around 1,100 persons. These folks think little about local government, and therefore know nothing about the issues that concern those who do care about Sierra Madre government and politics.

These low information voters are more likely to vote for things like utility tax increases because they do not understand what the real issues are. Making them more susceptible to misleading and baseless appeals to the emotions like "they want to close the library," or "we won't have ambulances anymore and granny will die."

And that is what Harabedian is banking on. He believes, and not without justification, that it would be far easier to get things like tax increases and bond measures passed when more people are paying attention to national politics than local issues. And, perhaps more to the point, when people who know nothing about Sierra Madre governance and its often difficult to grasp politics are more likely be going to the polls and voting.

It is a kind of underhanded and cynical thing for the Councilmember to be doing. 

But hardly surprising.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

65 comments:

  1. Could be Johnny Harabedian is planning to run for reelection and wants to hide his record in the hoopla of a national election. If he had to face the voters of Sierra Madre in an election focused on candidates and a UUT, why I do believe he would lose.

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    1. coming from another mouthy lawyer dude who skirted campaign ethics with his first election, sure we can trust him....

      he does right by the community when it's in his best interest or he knows it's popular

      lawyers are such as waste of time on the Council

      but at least he's not a lawyer for SoCal Edison but certainly acts like one

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  2. An advantage for Harabedian to moving the election to November is that when he casts his hat into the ring he can have all the national election folks and union members who will be working that election also work for him. They will just add his literature and name to their walk packets. That means Johnny won't have to work as hard as he did last time.

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  3. Question. If this idea is adopted does that mean Harabedian and Capoccia get to stay in office longer? that would be from April 2016 to November 2016. That's a long time to remain in without a vote of the people.

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    1. Great point. Added it to the post. Thanks.

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    2. How can they vote themselves a term extension? Is that even Constitutional?

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    3. Dictators do it all the time.

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    4. Maybe they'll be passing out crowns. Courtesy of Athens Services.

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    5. Thrones courtesy of Gem Plumbing.

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    6. Wouldn't all council members receive extensions of their terms, just in subsequent years?

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    7. Good insight 5:58, you make a very, very, good point!

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  4. We don't want the wrong people voting,or to save money keep the election the same date.

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    1. Everyone should vote. But those who do have a duty to know what they are voting about.

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  5. This is simple.
    Does anybody in town except Felikian trust Harabedian ?
    Right, so why would we go along with his "proposal" ?
    Does anyone believe Capoccia anymore ?
    Right ,so why go along with his proposal?
    I wish these to manipulators would focus on the important issues for Sierra Madre instead of their political masters.

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  6. Voters in Sierra Madre should be required to show I.D. and prove that they "know what they are voting about" A simple multiple choice test given before the ballot is received would be easy to administer by the voting authority/S

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    1. Curious Dave. In your opinion how are people prevented from voting now?

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    2. Yes, Dave. Out of an abundance of caution, let's make your literacy test very, very hard so that only those with the most knowledge of law will be allowed to vote. Then rather than Rule of Law we'll have Rule of Lawyers!

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    3. Free beer would certainly increase voter turnout.

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    4. I like it 10:01! Hold elections in the Memorial Park Drinking Cage(TM)!

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    5. @ 9:41 I don't think people are prevented from voting is Sierra Madre or California in fact you don't even need to be a citizen to vote in California

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    6. Don't get your panties ruffled folks remember the /S means satire.

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    7. Dave you are correct. Guv Brown just signed legislation that automatically registers to vote anyone who gets a CA driver's license. And we all know that one need not be a legal citizen to get a CDL.

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    8. Quick! Grab the extinguisher, 12:11! Your pants are on fire!

      According to the 9-10-15 Assembly Floor Analysis, the Senate amendments to the bill would:

      "Require the DMV to transfer [to the Secretary of State] records of each person who submits an application for a driver's license or state identification card, or provides the DMV with a change of address, and who attests that he or she meets all voter eligibility requirements. Provide that the records of a person that are transmitted from the DMV to the SOS pursuant to this provision shall constitute a completed affidavit of voter registration for that person unless a) the person affirmatively declines to register to vote at the DMV, b) the person does not attest that he or she meets all voter eligibility requirements while at the DMV, or c) the SOS determines that the person is not eligible to register to vote."

      ....

      "Provide that if a person who is ineligible to vote becomes registered pursuant to this bill and that person votes or attempts to vote in an election held after the effective date of the person's registration, that person is presumed to have acted with official authorization and shall not be guilty of fraudulently voting or attempting to vote unless the person willfully votes or attempts to vote knowing that he or she is not entitled to vote."

      People will still need to attest voter eligibility just as always, and the SOS will check eligibility against its records.

      Here's a link to the bill: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1461

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    9. Yes, government in California works so well ...

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    10. How nice. When was the last time anyone asked to see your identification before you gat to vote?

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    11. Sounds to me like a person is automatically registered to vote unless the deny wanting to be able to vote or they affirm that they are not eligible. How many people will do that? I gues you are automatically registered t vote bless you tell them no.

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    12. Geez, 2:38. Attesting is what we have now. Same as when you registered. You didn't object then and demand to show your birth certificate to the Secretary of State, did you? Didn't think so.

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  7. Isn't higher voter turnout a laudable goal? November elections have a higher turnout, period. Lower turnout only favors fervent special interests typically not supported by the majority.

    "Competition for the attention of voters:" Does anyone really think the national political circus that's been going on for the last few months will wane between February and April so people can focus on local issues? Besides, the attention of voters nationally/locally is not a zero sum game.

    Generalizing and dismissing certain people as "low information voters" sounds very similar to something certain people in the Southern U.S. would call certain other people they didn't want to vote. Sounds like a de facto political literacy test.

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    1. How are people prevented from voting in April elections? I am sorry but you are making some assumptions that are both ugly and unfair.

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    2. Who said anyone is "prevented" from voting in April, 10:16? Surely, you realize that the empirical data soundly demonstrates that voter turnout is lower in April than in November. Hence, "November elections have a higher turnout, period."

      Kindly articulate the assumptions you refer to and how they are ugly and unfair. (Heck, even Dave got the execrable subtext when he called for a literacy test and photo ID, both of which are known voter suppression techniques.)

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    3. Whew. Dude, too much coffee, man.

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    4. Must be the donuts.

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    5. The donuts have been handed to the Detectives Bureau.

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  8. What is the October date for the Hildreaths law suit ? How much money is this going to cost All Sierra Madre Residents? When is enough ... Enough and when will the CC & the city manager be impeached?

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    1. Anon@ 10:26
      I don't know
      Nothing I hope
      Never
      Never

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    2. It seems the Attorney representing the City Of Sierra Madre is playing dirty.
      But don't worry ,he gets even more billing hours. And we pay !
      Here is a good place to get the Hildreth case info:
      https://sterlingoak.wordpress.com/

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    3. They should post copies of their permits, along with copies of the negotiated checks they used to make the payments.

      For those who have seen the purported permits, would similar documents be acceptable to you if, say, someone wanted to McMansionize his or her property, spoiling your view, looming over your yard, etc. If not, why would such documents be acceptable for one person but not another?

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  9. This is Councilman Harabedian playing tax politics again. It doesn't reflect well on him as an ethical person.

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  10. The election doesn't necessarily have to be in November, it could be in June when the primaries are run, or in another when, for instance, the PCC election is held. Last school board election we had 40 voters at our precinct. What a waste of time and money. But, lets look at it rationally, Crawford is right. People are focusing on state or national elections and wouldn't focus on the local election.

    It costs lots of money to run for local office and imagine having to compete with postcards, yard signs, and forums in June or November. The council candidates would be lost in the shuffle, not to mention the local issues on the ballot. I also believe that those who do vote in a local election tend to be better informed . . .look at the UUT votes. Those who vote in a national or state election are voting for the higher offices and don't bother to study up on the issues.

    So I say, no to changing our election date.

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    1. What evidence do you have supporting the proposition that people who vote in national and state elections don't bother to study up on [local] issues?

      I think you're speculating. In fact, it could be argued that interest in national and state elections enhances voters' interest in in the entire electoral process, including local elections.

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    2. Yes, it could be argued. Hardly makes it correct.

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    3. So what's your evidence, 3:47? Any studies you can cite?

      I'd respect your argument more if you just came out and admitted that April elections have lower voter turnout and lower voter turnout helps the candidates and positions you support.

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    4. Absolutely no direct evidence that the April voters are more informed, however being involved in Sierra Madre City politics for over 45 years (won and lost elections), it appears that people will come out to vote if they have a clear idea of what they are voting on. I was on the election board for the Pasadena School Board election when Measure V was voted on. Same venue, same time, different ballots, different election boards. The measure V people came out in droves, the school board election not so much, although some came to our table to vote as a "I might as well vote as long as I'm here" attitude.

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    5. Measure V people would have come out in droves for a November election, too, perhaps more so.

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  11. If Harabedian is for it then I am against it.

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  12. If Goes is for it then I am against it.

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  13. Speaking of elections, I just sent in my absentee ballot and voted for Osterling. Hope you all do the same.

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  14. 2:49 "I also believe that those who do vote in a local election tend to be better informed . . .look at the UUT votes. Those who vote in a national or state election are voting for the higher offices and don't bother to study up on the issues".
    Sure sounds like an attempt at voter suppression.Voters in regional elections don't "study up on the issues" or they would vote properly like you?
    Some voters may vote incorrectly on the UUT because you are better informed?
    You sound like a disgruntled Republican that can't win a fair election,or a rigged one for that matter.

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    1. National politics or state politics do not have a voice in elections in Sierra Madre. You sound like a disgruntled Democrat who didn't win the last election in Sierra Madre and you are less informed than the average Sierra Madre Citizen.

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  15. An ID card will cause voter supression, huh? I've worked the polls many times. We could never ask anyone for ID. There were many times many of us wanted to because the voter could not read English or could barely write his name. Just because you have a DL doesn't mean you are a citizen. Linkiing the 2 together only creates voter fraud. It isn't about higher voter turnout, it's about people not entitled who are voting. They need to be supressed.

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  16. There is a YES and NO portion to this article. First of all more voter show up or cast a vote during a national election than any other time, but the timing of the change over is quite a shock to some especially the incumbents or the old guard who want to stay in power they will say anything or do anything to keep their coveted position of power or thrones.

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    1. It serves the purposes of the big tax crowd. That and the govt employee unions. Get ready to dig deep and cough up, sucker.

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  17. I voted for Martin Enriques. His election statement opens with a focus on more students attending community college. Osterling opened his statement with a reference to the university he teaches at. Also, Enriques attended PCC for two AA degrees.

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    1. I also attended PCC - twice, although only one degree. I went on to higher education. That does not give me qualifications to be on the Board. Someone with a university degree does not automatically qualify or disqualify them from being on the Board, however if you look at other qualifications, Osterling appears to be the most qualified.

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    2. Caroline, I am wondering if you actually spoke with Mr. Enriques. Did you take the time to attend one of the two forums he participated in? As one who did attend 2 forums, I can assure you that he is neither qualified or what PCC needs right now. PCC is on academic probation, and PCC"s general fund operating reserves have significantly dropped. Osterling is a CPA and has been the CFO of a very large company. What we need right now is Osterling. He is the only candidate who has the experience to pull us out of this mess.

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  18. So you have wanted to deny a voter voting privileges because the voter could not read or write. You are a perfect example of why we made the laws as they are. Yes you would have suppressed many votes,asserting your majority privilege.
    And the conspiracy theory you express about Aliens even wanting to vote in our elections is another Fox news farce

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    1. Yes 5:55. Sounds like 4:36 would like prevent from voting people who he considers as not worthy. No proof at all that the voter who could not read English was ineligible to vote, but if 4:36 had the power, he would have disenfranchised that voter. All hail the Polling Place Potentate!

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    2. I would not have denied them the ability to vote. I am questioning their right to vote. Why must you be so nasty? Your right to an opinion is as valid as my right.

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    3. 4:36/3:13: YOU said there were many times YOU and other poll workers wanted to ask for ID. YOU gave poor English and writing skills as YOUR example why.

      So what did YOU expect to accomplish by asking for an ID?

      Suppose the person who didn't meet YOUR minimum standards of felicity with English says s/he didn't bring an ID: Would YOU send that person home to get a birth certificate? Suppose s/he simply said "no" to YOUR request for ID: Would YOU send that person away?

      If the answer to those 2 questions is "no" you would allow him or her to vote, as you suggest at 3:15, what possible purpose would YOUR request for ID other than to intimidate aka voter suppression?

      There is nothing nasty about pointing out YOUR desire to intimidate, even if YOU don't see it as intimidation. And while you do indeed have a valid right to express your opinion, YOUR opinion is invalid. YOU do not have the right to intimidate a voter.

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  19. Councilmember Harabedian is a pettifogger by profession. What else would you expect from him?

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  20. Everybody calm down. This is all about money. Harabedian needs to get more money to the cop union for their support in 2012. This is how he thinks he can get that done.

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  21. You are right 7:28 and that stinks.

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  22. Well there's an idea. Fire the SMPD, bring in the Sheriffs, and then maybe John Harabedian can start working for someone besides the SMPOA. What would he do with all of that time?

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