Wednesday, February 24, 2016

No Leadership - An Air Brushed City Council Meeting?

An important obligation of community leadership, particularly elected leadership, is to explain to the people the meaning of things. Yet last night two rather momentous and controversial events happened, and nobody at the dais had much to say.

Actually the City Council basically said nothing. Each just sat there and blinked their eyes. They did compliment whomever it was that delivered the information to them however, and then moved on like absolutely nothing had happened. This despite the historic magnitude of what was going down. Here are those two rather momentous events, psychological disconnect and all.

1) It was revealed in an actual city report that Sierra Madre's total CalPERS debt exposure is $9 million dollars. This in a city of 11,000 people. According to last year's UUT skeptic version of Martin Truitt, that comes out to $814 of city employee pension liability per living Sierra Madre resident. Small children and babies included. The City Council offered no enlightening commentary on the significance of this huge amount of previously unrevealed debt. Nor did they intimate how much of the utility tax hikes being asked for would be spent to meet so onerous a debt load. They did compliment the person who delivered the report, however. They thought it was nice.

Hiring agent.
2) Sierra Madre has just hired a second police force. The city now has a daytime police force and a nighttime police force. The SMPD and the LASD. And so novel a combination comes with two entirely separate pay obligations. The nighttime police is the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and comes at an additional cost of $400,000 for a few months, then the price goes up. How long they need to be here depends on how soon the badly depleted SMPD can hire new people. Chief Giannone is working on it. It could be by the end of June, or it might be much longer, with the eventual total cost going well beyond a million dollars. Approximately 150 individuals straight off the streets are now being interviewed, and once hired will then go to a police academy somewhere on the city's dime. Done because no actual trained professional officers will take a job here. This scheme is also dependent on what remains of the SMPD staying put. No guarantees were offered.

The City Council asked very few questions, and offered no insight on the significance of any of this. Nor did they even take the time to answer questions from the residents who came to speak at the podium. Despite assurances from Mayor Capoccia that they would. Why is this? Did the City Attorney forbid them to speak on these matters? Was it part of the time-honored tradition there to never admit that City Hall just might be at fault for its own failures? Did they believe that if they didn't talk about it, none of this actually exists?

I don't the know answers to any of that. This entire air brushed and largely content-free meeting was swept under the rug and over in less than two hours.

Barry Gold Addresses the City Council

There was some hope for leadership last night, however. And if it wasn't for Mr. Gold we'd have been looking at an entire night where very little was actually said. Here was Barry's take:


Just in case anyone has forgotten what real leadership looks like.

The City's illegal campaigning for Measure UUT continues

The following City Hall prepared publicity material is now up on the Pasadena Now website (link).


Of course, were you to attend this city sponsored pep rally for increased utility taxes and ask questions like, "What is the significance of Sierra Madre's $9 million dollars in CalPERS pension debt?" you will likely be ignored. It isn't a dumb bunny issue, and therefore not what they want you asking about right now.

Obviously nobody at City Hall wants to tell you anything about this stuff. Neither last night or at the upcoming affair being described above. They prefer instead to rely on staged and carefully controlled events like what is being cooked up at the Fire Station.

Brown vs. CalPERS: The ugly status quo wins

The following opinion piece comes from The San Diego Union Tribune (link):

Brown vs. CalPERS: The ugly status quo wins The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension agency, is desperately in need of a shake-up. That’s not just because of revelations about kickback schemes and other scandals. In a word, CalPERS is obstinate.

One historic example: In 1999, the agency persuaded the Legislature to approve a retroactive 50 percent pension boost for state workers with the argument that it would have little or no long-term cost to taxpayers because the stock market boom of the late 1990s would never end. This led many local governments to adopt similar retroactive pension increases. When this yielded fiscal nightmares, CalPERS launched a public-relations campaign that dramatically downplayed the problem.

More recently, the CalPERS board has blocked modest pension reforms sought by Gov. Jerry Brown. This and other decisions prompted the governor’s two appointees on the 13-member board to press for term limits for leadership positions. But at a meeting last week, board President Rob Feckner broke a 6-6 tie and became the deciding vote against imposing term limits. Feckner is serving his 12th one-year term as president, according to calpensions.com.

Why might Brown want Feckner out of the job? The governor has said the CalPERS board needs more independent voices. Feckner was president of the California School Employees Association for four years and executive vice president of the California Labor Federation for five. Such a conflict of interest wouldn’t be tolerated with the president of other boards of directors. But with CalPERS, it’s par for the course — for worse and worse.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

40 comments:

  1. None of the CC members answered Ms. McGire's question last night. She said she heard that the sheriff would be coming from Temple City for any call. She asked to be enlightened if she was wrong. The CC said nothing. If you look at the report from the sheriff from Lambden's meeting, you will see that there are 3 options. The option I heard at the CC meeting was the one with 22 officers stationed at our police department. I guess the McGuires didn't attend that meeting or read the handouts from the sheriff. I was amazed at the number of items, like traffic tickets that the city hasn't paid. It's like rob Peter to pay Paul. The meeting at the firehouse will be like the last meeting at the firehouse-bogus info given and taunted by all the CC as the will of the people. What a bunch of shucks!

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    1. Sheriff's Proposal, pages 52 - 62February 24, 2016 at 7:06 AM

      The proposal has two options. Each of which provides full time dedicated patrol deputies stationed at our current police department 24/7. Each option increases patrol hours by 20% over SMPD levels.

      Option 1 keeps the station open for walk ins all hours other than 10 pm to 6 am and provides a hot line phone during the off hours. This option saves $800k a year.

      Option 2 keeps the station open for walk ins 24/7 and saves only $100k.

      Again, under each option the dedicated officers would be stationed 24/7 at our current police station and increases patrol hours by 24/7. I favor option 1 as it makes no sense to handle over the counter police business from 10 pm to 6 am. Expect the council to attempt to bury option 1.



      Optioin 2

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    2. Agreed, we don't need to pay someone to sit in the station from 10 PM to 6 AM. Leave the lobby open with video monitoring to LASD and a blue emergency phone that goes to 911 if someone stops by and needs help.

      It is ludicrous to think the unarmed dispatcher (who is behind bullet-proof glass) is going to help you. If you are in danger, he would radio for a cop, same as the blue phone to LASD would do.

      I really don't think we should waste $700,000 so people can get parking permits all night. That's what the internet is for.

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  2. Unless you put a man on the council who will fight for us, the residents. ..Sierra Madre is doomed.
    Write in Barry Gold....please....will he save the city? I don't know, but we know Harabedian and Capoccia sure wont.
    So we need to trust Barry Gold.

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  3. Capoccia, Goss and Harabedian will sell us out to the developers once the election is over. Barry Gold is our only hope.

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  4. Barry Gold is the only person who can shake things up. Sierra Madre can be a very nice place for city employees to work - low crime, not too many fires or problems. However, the pay and the pensions have to be sustainable. For most cities, they are not because the public employee unions have run wild particularly with City Council's caving in to their demands for ever increasing salaries, benefits and pensions and they do it for three reasons:
    1. It is payback for union support during their election campaign (That's corruption but that's the system)
    2. The City Council members want to "keep the peace" with the unions during their tenure in office.
    3. They buy into the age-old union tactic that you must pay ever increasing salaries, benefits and pensions in order to remain "competitive" with what neighboring cities are offering. That is how salaries, benefits and pensions have leap-frogged ahead. It just takes one city to play fast and loose with the taxpayers's money and that becomes the new "going rate" that the unions point to in their negotiations.
    The public employees should never have been allowed to unionize in the first place and because of this monster that was created, on a state level, you have the prison guard union as being one of the most influencial players in California politics. Its because no one wants a walk-out. The same leverage applies in cities. I don't know if the genie can be put back in the bottle. But at least the unfunded pension liability debt is not hidden away. 9 million dollars for little Sierra Madre and growing. Include in that the over $100,000 we pay the retired librarian for the rest of his/her life which gets added on to the amount we pay the current librarian. One gets paid for the rest of their life not to work and the other gets paid to work. Pretty soon we will be paying a higher cost for retired workers not to work or perform any services for the city than we pay those to do the work of the city. We need to raise the retirement age. 50 is simply too young to retire and most don't anyway. They just supplement their pension by taking another job. Because no one in office has the courage to raise the retirement age, all we can do is starve them of money by voting down the UUT. Unfortunately, the powers that be don't end up curtailing the ever higher salaries, benefits and pensions, but penalize the residents by cutting our services or letting infrastructure go to hell. That's our punishment for having the temerity for wanting to control out-of-control spending.

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    1. "The public employees should never have been allowed to unionize in the first place...."

      I was about to complain about that, but then I checked my handy pocket guide to the Bill of Rights:

      1st Amendment

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people except those who 6:13am dislikes peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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    2. I call BS. The state of NC doesn't allow public employee unions. CA has fat public employee unions becuase Jerry Brown version 1 and Gray David signed legislation to make them fat.

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    3. Thanks for the civics lesson 7:42 but let me ask you a question: Under your erroneous interpretation of the bill of rights, why shouldn't the men and women who serve in the armed forces be allowed to unionize? The reasons why they shouldn't is the same reason that Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave for why our police, fire and other government workers should not be allowed to unionize. Unlike in the private sector where the leverage between management and employee is more of a level playing field,and where private sector workers will be somewhat less over-reaching in their demands because they don't want to bankrupt the compnay that employs them and even if they are over-reaching, the bankruptcy of a private company will have minimal consequences other than opening up the field for their competitors. There is no such constrain on government workers. As Roosevelt said (and he was about as liberal as they come, we depend upon government workers to perform vital, often life an death services for the public at large. It is simply too easy to reach into the pocket of the taxpayers to pay their inflated salaries, benefits and pensions and, it goes without saying that bankruptcy is really not a viable option for a city or state when government workers and their unions overreach.

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    4. You want to know why government workers shouldn't be allowed to unionize? The $9 million dollars in CalPERS debt that is driving Sierra Madre into bankruptcy.

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    5. Coulda, woulda, shoulda They have the right to join a union ......and did several years ago. So? The issue is, the city should explain why we are 9 million unfunded, not that our employees are unionized.

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    6. The unions own city hall. The taxpayers are suckers.

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    7. 8:03am I call NC and states like it fly over land. I don't think a state containing the descendants of traitors, many of whom long for the return of antebellum "values," is a shining example of liberty.

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    8. Thanks for agreeing that public workers are vital, 9:46am, but Roosevelt's opinion on the subject is not law.

      You seem to argue that civilian government workers should not be able to unionize because members of the military cannot.

      If you believe that members of armed forces who must be ready to go to any place on earth at a moment's notice to defend the U.S. are indistinguishable from civilian government workers who process your car registration or help you pull a permit for your home improvement project, I doubt I can explain it to you.

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  5. All able bodied volunteers need to help Barry distribute his fliers. He is NOT ACCEPTING money. He is self financing.
    Please help him by being a working volunteer.It will help a lot.
    This guy , Barry Gold is honest and unafraid of the usual bullies in town?

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  6. The phrase 'budget workshop' is a buzz word for brain washing the public all the while wasting more money and time, the public knows what's wrong with the city's budget it's going into are already in the RED and bleeding more each day that passes with out the city manager an city council taking the bull by the horns to save the city now.

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    1. Yes. A room full of city employees, all of whom will personally benefit from a 66% tax hike. No bias there!

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    2. How can this be legal?

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    3. Scare tactics if the UUT get voted down again.
      Just a brainwashing meeting.
      If anyone goes, listen and document if and city person advocates for the UUT .

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    4. Gold is fearless and, because he used to live in Arcadia, knows firsthand what can happen if you let the city get away from you. He's been a staunch preservationist and seems to believe in fiscal discipline. He's just what we need right now. On top of that, he's a genuinely nice person.

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    5. I love it when city employees spend their time and our money on trying to convince us of the need for the highest UUT possible when they are the primary beneficiaries of the additional money. A slight conflict of interest perhaps?

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  7. Does Mr. Gold have a website or how do we contact him?

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  8. My e-mail address is: barrygold4citycouncil@gmail.com, My cell number is 213-804-1820. I can use all the help I can get.

    Barry Gold

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  9. New Bumpersticker for Sierra Madre:

    My Two Police Departments Cost More Than Your Single PD

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  10. We owe 9 million dollars -all employee related ! And it is growing exponentially while infrastructure crumbles.
    How much worse does it need to get before heads roll?

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  11. Why, please tell me, are we investing in hiring more SMPD? These people will use us to get through the academy and then leave the force in a few years. The amount the city invests in attracting these people who leave is huge. What are we doing? The fact is we're a small city that cannot afford the services that full service cities enjoy. That's it. Move on.

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    1. Yeah, except the City Council doesn't have the spine to make the tough decisions.

      It's much easier to burn through $$ reserves and then insist a 66% tax increase will solve things!

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    2. The CC must be made to understand that if they are not honest and transparent with us we will take away the one thing they actually care about. Money.

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  12. We the people are pretty stupid. We believe the City Council was elected to lead, not be brainwashed. There will be NO change as long as we have the current City Manager!
    The Greed Wins

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  13. Basically our infrastructure is crumbling,the machines that are required to help fix our infrastructure are sitting in the city yard in a state of disrepair because there is no money to repair them.
    Since the machinery is dead or dying what are the city yard employees doing ?
    Rest assured they're all getting payed pondering ,How many maintenance workers does it take to screw in street sign
    As we all know if you don't have the proper tools or machinery you aren't allowed to do anything outside your union contract .
    Kinda like Chief Whiggam and Elaine coming across a piece of trash it's not in their contract to pick it up that's a maintenance/janitorial issue.
    When ever I think of these clowns of CALPERS privilege I hear Darth Vader's theme play in my head ... Barry Gold may the force be with you.

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  14. Harabedian is much worse than Capoccia. He will do favors for his cronies if they are named Felikian or Salisian. We don't need that kind of favoritism in this town. Its corrupt. Say what you want about Capoccia but he's an honest guy and can't be brought. If you add Gold to the Delmar and Arizmendi block, this town would turn around in a heart beat.

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    1. John "Wolf" Capoccia is a turncoat. John is the Wolf guarding the hen house, looking after the sheep, hence John "Wolf" Capoccia. John is slaughtering the taxpaying sheep. He should be recalled NOT reelected. We need another Write-in! No to the Johns, it will only put Sierra Madre further down the crap er.

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    2. I'm with you 12:31.
      Yes, Capoccia changed his mind about the taxes. Everyone knows that and he has talked about it.
      Harabdeian is just a hustler.

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    3. Capoccia was taken over by the pod people.

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    4. 1:05 If the taxpayers are sheep, who are the hens?

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  15. So everyone knows, I have forwarded the California Fair Political Practices Commission the press release for this March 5th propaganda tax party. I think they needed to know.

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    1. To: FPPC

      Here is a copy of their latest press release as published on a local news site.

      http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/city-of-sierra-madre-to-host-budget-workshop/#.Vs4WX8dln6Z

      Measure UUT is on this April’s ballot. The City of Sierra Madre has been spending public funds and city employee time for things like mailers and this public event. The purpose is obviously to get the residents
      in town to vote Yes on a 66% utility tax increase.

      Copy of the mailer - http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_212309/File/Departments/Finance%20Department/UUT%202016/2016_UUT_1_Page_20160204.pdf

      Copy of a 4 page brochure - http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_212309/File/Departments/Finance%20Department/UUT%202016/2016_UUT_4Page_20160224.pdf

      Information sheet found on the city website - http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_212309/File/Departments/Finance%20Department/UUT%202016/2016_What_10_Provides_20160210.pdf

      This is obviously a taxpayer funded effort to raise utility taxes in Sierra Madre. Done by city employees who would personally benefit should Measure UUT pass.

      Thanks for your time.

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  16. Last night John Capoccia quoted from an article in the Mountain Views News about the passing of Fay Angus. For the record, Fay Angus despised Susan Henderson and her paper.

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    1. There's a wonderful Neuroblast video of Fay educating Sierra Madera's about Henderson.

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  17. Almost choked reading the MVN the other day......Day dislike of mz Henderson was a subject she could lecture on but was to ladylike to.
    She did tell me it was not a long trip from being a thief to liar.
    She was referring to the editor .

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