Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Did Library Board of Trustees Important Person Richard Procter Talk Tax Smack in the Pasadena Star News?

Bulldozer Bait
Mod: In a Pasadena Star News article dated Oct. 3o something rather shocking got said. And it wasn't just that notion of razing the existing Library building and selling off the property, which is plenty shocking enough already. No, this wayward wonderment involved a need to raise taxes, an assertion made by Library Board of Trustees member Richard Procter that just might not be true. One possibly made to frighten people into making what many believe would be an awful decision. The article is titled "What questions will be on the Sierra Madre library survey?," and can be accessed by clicking here. Here is how it all kicks off.


To claim that the Library Board of Trustees, which has come down firmly on the side of razing Sierra Madre's venerable Library and selling off the property in order to pay for a move over to the YAC, has no agenda does stretch the credulity just a little bit. Maybe only a mile. Things then got really wooly when Mr. Procter made this claim:


I certainly had never heard that one before. As is usually the case when I need some deeper understanding on an important City of Sierra Madre matter, I turned to City Manager Gabe Engeland for answers. Here is how he replied.

The initial discussion of this item at Council identified two paths, the "minimum" option and the "meaningful" option.  The minimal option would make the building safe, accessible, ADA compliant, and repair the roof, HVAC system, electrical, and windows. The meaningful option would include either expanding on site, in addition to completing all repairs, or moving the library to the YAC. I have not heard the option of tax increase coupled with the minimum option.  At the forum someone suggested a parcel tax to expand the library at its current site and not sell either parcel.  The majority of the discussion I have heard is on either moving with no tax increase or doing the minimum with no tax increase, but I am not getting nearly as much feedback on this item as the Library Board or the Community Services Commission. 

Apparently the City Manager hasn't heard about any tax increases, either. Meaningful or otherwise.

What this does suggest, at least to me, is that Mr. Procter is playing a little Sierra Madre politics here. Tax increases have never been very popular in this town, and suggesting that repairing the current Library (as opposed to moving it), would result in more taxes could be upsetting some folks.

Should they be credulous enough to believe any of that stuff is true, of course.

What makes this even dicier in my opinion is that the Library Board of Trustees is also tasked with curating the theme and questions of the community survey postcard discussed above in the Star News article. A project that is supposed to help inform the City Council on whether to go forward with the Library move. Or not.

Does all of this seem a little overly complicated? Has the tangled web been woven enough for you yet?

I asked one informed resident about all of this and here is the reply I received via e-mail.

Regarding Procter's quote, I don't recall any resident every posing such a suggestion at the forum. Do you? Perhaps it was said at a council meeting. But I suspect not. I think this question is being posed from someone on the library board (or behind the scenes), and he or she is trying to make it sound like it is coming from the resident(s). Very underhanded.

I have not studied the budget, but I find it hard to believe that the library cannot afford the repairs and ADA upgrades. I think the idea of the repairs and upgrades were used as part of a pitch to "sell" the public on the idea of building a new center down the street. 

It reminds me of the Kersting Court renovation project. All that really needs to be done is replace the rotten wood and fix some bricks. The rest is completely unnecessary. But in order to offer this "solution", it's easier to present a "problem" first.

Back when the library project was first presented to the council, selling the property was pitched as a way of avoiding a tax. But back then, no one mentioned that if we DIDN'T sell the property, we would possibly be taxed simply to repair and upgrade. Why wasn't this mentioned? 

It's convenient to bring it up now, posed as a survey question. People don't want be taxed, so they will naturally pick the other option.

I think the article is a PR piece. They want the town to begin thinking about whether or not they want to be taxed. But the problem is: people don't understand how important it is to keep the city's land. It's a valuable asset. They also don't understand that the cost of building the center could rise, or that they could be taxed down the line to keep it going. I doubt any of that will be in the survey.

It’s clearly been some kind of development hustle from the beginning. That has been my opinion all along, and nothing has come along yet to change my mind. So who on that board has ties to real estate? Or development? That is the question that clearly needs to be asked now.

Since I doubt the Pasadena Star News will be covering that part of the story anytime soon, I'll have more on the matter soon.

Oh, one more thing from City Manager Engeland:

The Library Board will determine the areas they want feedback on at their special meeting on Nov. 15th at 7 pm.

I do hope you will attend. Even if it is only to give them feedback they don't want.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

33 comments:

  1. Wouldn't a tax increase have to be voted on by those who will actually pay it?

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    1. At our last election the UUT tax passed by 72%.

      It seems that voters do not mind increasing taxes.

      I was one of the 28%.

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    2. So was I. The funny thing is, a lot of the 72% who voted for Measure UUT did so because they thought it was going to save the Library. Could they ever have imagined that a year or so later a bunch of city connected nuts would be talking about tearing it down?

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  2. Don't close the library.
    It is one of the gems of Sierra Madre.
    And, children are there reading
    beautiful books.

    And, they are appreciating how serious a book is.
    Fix it.
    Don't spend money digging another hole.
    Existing property is already there!

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  3. Revenue needed to fix the current Library building is supposed to come from the sale of the unused back lot. Not raising taxes.

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  4. Let the Library Board build a new library and a contractor can bulldoze that old building down. Actually the city can make a law that every structure that is not maintained to an attractive appearance should be tore down and replaced with a new bigger building. Every vacant lot should be built on and deep lots should have a house in the back. The city needs the TAX base to maintain the high quality of the Police and Fire service. The city needs to afford the best employees at a living wage with health care and funding for senior living. Preserving old structures and old ways of living is just old school. It is time to listen to Sacramento and increase our density so that we fit into the big picture of housing for everyone. This action would provide jobs that would stimulate our local economy and make our town great again. It is time to embrace the future and the Library Board is trying to do just that. Just look at the money condos or apartments would bring in where that old library is. The weather here along the foothills will attract people of means from all over the world. Seniors who can no longer take care of themselves and property could live in senior housing with an elevator to take them to their floor. This would provide more jobs and again stimulate the local economy. Support The Library Board as they can see the future of Sierra Madre.

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    1. Dree-ee-ee-a-eam... dream dream dream...

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    2. Good heavens.

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    3. 7:17, you would have loved the Downtown Specific Plan.

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    4. Why don't you move to a town that you like, rather than trying to redo one that you don't like?
      Perhaps some investments keep you here....

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    5. "Make our town great again?" The town is great. Or at least it is until clowns like you start mucking everything up.

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    6. Sierra Madre is successful because it is small, because it is not like every place else around it, because it was considered as not desirable until developers ran out of other options. Our smallness and slow development is what makes us valuable.

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  5. Wasn't $800,00 a year enough to run the Library, now the board says they need more.
    I can imagine a council member or two introducing an increase in tax or a parcel tax, that has never been a secret.
    Sell the back lot. Repair and upgrade. Keep the current Library and the land.

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  6. 7:17 thanks for the political humor.
    Just how many Sierra Madre youth require an expansion? I thought that's why the YAC was built
    The pool is contracted out; Sierra Madreans are treated as second class if they inquire about swim time.
    The girls softball teams scramble for field space.
    The Pasadena School's ( Sierra Madre on Highland) allow the kids to walk residential areas for their Library experience, a combination of recreational education.
    Just how many children from Sierra Madre really utilize the Library?
    Why should it move.

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  7. $1.3 million versus $3 million. But the tax hike comes from the $1.3 million, and not the $3 million? OK. Am I missing something here?

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  8. When will the city having a meeting of all departments? How has this reorganization benefited the community? What real savings have occurred?
    The town has a youth center, what's the head count on attendance for programs?
    What am I missing?
    Keep the Library where it is.

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  9. Bring the library up to code. Use the back lot as a self sustaining habitat/park where kids and family could come to experience such a place. The latest technology could demonstrate and educate right by the Library, which is a place to learn, right? I'm positive that given the opportunity volunteers and money would come forward to support such a project.

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  10. Sell off Greenberg Park, the city is still paying that off.
    Put the Green Space behind the Library.
    Repair the old building with the monies from Greenberg Park.

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  11. The development issue looming in the background is BIG. There are more of us on the same side if we keep our eyes on the ball here. I could care less about saving the library in its current form. But above all else I'm for the city hanging onto city property. To that end, I'll trumpet saving the library all day. When we argue the merits of libraries we're kind of dividing ourselves.

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    1. I agree with much of what you are saying. The preservation of Sierra Madre works on many levels. Keeping over-development out is one thing. And preserving the Library is another part of the same picture. Selling the Library property, razing the Library and then merging its content with a gym is a defeat on both of those levels. What Procter et al are pushing is very bad. They must be stopped. That the city is allowing them to write the so-called outreach postcards is nuts. And this company that will design and send these postcards out to 60% of the households in town? What is their criteria for selecting those homes and not others? It is a big company with vast demographic experience. They are perfectly capable of screening certain elements out. It is what companies like them do. This is bad on so many levels.

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    2. So correct, it is bad on so many levels. It's outrageous that the Board is composing the questions. Talk about bias! Excellent point regarding who will receive the postcards. It doesn't pass the smell test.

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    3. Why leave out 40% of the residents?

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  12. The Library Board is getting very creative, combining bait-and-switch with blackmail. Approve a tax increase or we will demolish the library. Or you could look at this plan for a shiny new library at the YAC (don't worry that it requires selling off the current library land and probably a tax increase as well).

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    1. Mr. Procter has expertise in that sort of thing.
      http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_212309/File/Services/Library/PressRelease/lincoln_pr_20161101.pdf
      and
      http://houston.culturemap.com/news/city-life/10-30-12-an-exclusive-look-at-the-plans-for-houstons-40-million-cultural-center-and-its-epcot-link/#slide=0

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  13. Never never never sell that land

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  14. Greeberg, Goldberg, that park is a huge cat box. It was also one of the most expensive parks in this town.
    Sell that lot along with the area in back of the library inorder to make the 1.3 million for repairs.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Goldberg Park was the result of City Council corruption under Enid Joffe. It remains a monument to a bad time in Sierra Madre.

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  15. We need to see 3 estimates of costs to bring the Library up to code. Without that info we don't know what were talking about.

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  16. I can hardly wait to see who the developer behind the scenes turns out to be.

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  17. If it's the same guy that designed the school on Canon, then the fix is in.

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  18. Procter is just not very smart. What a stupid and dishonest thing to say.

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