Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Most Clueless Headline Ever?

We just don't seem to have much luck with our weekly news journalists in this town. One because their associations always seem to be with the usual small town real estate hustlers that we all hold in such high regard. But also because they're kind of lazy and just never seem to put in the effort necessary to understand what is really going on.

And every once in a while they lay an egg of such magnitude that the effects rumble through town like an aftershock, causing The Tattler news room phone lines to light up for hours. Which is a good thing. Besides, who else are people going to call? Susan Henderson?

So one of the calls I got Thursday was from our hard working City Manager Elaine Aguilar. And usually when I get a call from Elaine it can only mean that word has gotten to her that somebody has misquoted City budget numbers again, and that she needs to put that wandering genii back in its bottle. Which, given the high quality of news reporting in this town, has become something of a full time job for her. And I am always available to assist in damage control.

As an aside, it has been my contention for awhile that Elaine needs to start using press releases as a way of getting information out to our esteemed local news weeklies. With the data spelled out in ways that are clear, unmistakable, and simple. Maybe she could include a set of wood blocks with each of these press releases? It couldn't hurt.

So anyway, I asked Elaine about her appearance on the front page of The Sierra Made Weekly beneath the headline, "City Manager: Sierra Madre Has No Surplus." She replied in a way that confirmed my belief that she wasn't very pleased. And why should she be? It is obviously something that is as far from the truth as you can possibly get without going to Monrovia. And since this Weekly article covered the very City Council meeting where surpluses were actually discussed, well, you get the idea. Too much sunshine, as they say.

So here's the real picture. In the Fiscal Year 09-10, the City of Sierra Madre will have a surplus of $86,000. And in Fiscal Year 10-11 that surplus will grow to a very handsome $541,000. This comes from a document called the General Fund Summary, and can be obtained from City Hall for the cost of a phone call.

Now we here at The Tattler did reprint that fateful day some passages from a Pasadena Star News article entitled, "Sierra Madre in better financial shape than its neighbors." And this article spoke of surpluses of $800,000 and $1.1 million, far larger than what City Hall is putting out. And while it is unfortunate that those numbers are not accurate, at least the PSN is aware that we do have surpluses. 

There is one other unfortunate and mistaken notion in this Sierra Madre Weekly article that requires some maintenance from their friends at The Tattler. Here is the paragraph in doubt:

"In response to the controversy, City officials are making the rounds telling citizens that they should be grateful for the UUT, even if it seems like an unnecessary burden at the moment. It's saving the City's budget and ll those popular services - like the Police and Fire departments - that it funds."

The patronizing air of the quoted passage aside, this really is a remarkably poorly informed statement. Not just from the misrepresentation that our City employees are out campaigning to keep the Utility User Tax hike, which they most decidedly are not. But to suggest that people working for the City of Sierra Madre have taken it upon themselves to promote tax policy is just, well, civics challenged. 

Here in Sierra Madre, as in most other places where democratic rule is the accepted form of governance, policy matters are something handled by elected officials. Our City employees do not go out and campaign for things, especially those as politically charged as the UUT. 

I mean, who do these people think we are? Sacramento?


  1. Wow, that is just about as bad as it gets. The Weekly used
    to be a much better paper than it is now. So let me guess,
    the article was written by Terry Miller?


  3. Sir Eric,
    as always, you set the record straight.
    I've posted several times that if and when the Tattler makes an error, you always correct it.
    Unlike the local "drive by media".
    I'm sure Elaine was not happy with the "Weakley's" stupid front page! It must have been disturbing to be misquoted like that.
    you're close, they had Terry Miller as the PHOTOGRAPER. Some woman wrote the article, probably on Terry's fabulous reporting of the council meeting. This guy(Miller) is a joke!
    Too bad they have to allow him at our Council Meetings!!!!!!

  4. Chances are good, Elaine won't be giving any interviews to the local papers.
    Elaine? You're welcome to post comments on this board!

  5. Terry Miller? I hear his pictorial contributions to The Cumquat were .. um .. special.

  6. Got my 4th of July parade line up yesterday in the mail. Looks like it was designed by "Buck Or Two Communications." Nice to see the 4th of July Committee is keeping those old connections alive. And they also ask for a donation on the sheet. Seeings how we know where money sent to them goes, I'd say my chances of honoring their request are just about ... nil.

  7. We have a questionable City Manager in Pasadena as well.

  8. The city calls the Tattler to set the record straight. Go Tattler!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Elaine knows where the truth is printed.

  9. Virginia - there seems to be a strange dynamic with City Managers. While they do work for the city that pays them, they are career people as well. And the path to the bigger and better jobs they dream of more often than not are influenced by BIA-front regional councils such as SCAG and SGVCOG. And in order to please them a City Manager will have had to have made significant progress in bringing new development to town. In other words, there is little career advancement or resume' enhancement to be found in advocating slow growth and preservationist positions. So often cities end up having City managers, City Planners, etc, who wear two hats.

    The key to making sure we have City Managers whose loyalties are 100% with the people who pay their salaries is to sever relations with SCAG, SGVCOG, and the rest of that nasty ilk. That way their influence is greatly diminished and managers will be free to do the work of the people.

  10. Sir Eric, who did write that woefully misinformed article in the Weekly, and who told that person to write those things? To what purpose? Perhaps it was based on interviews with Mr. Buchanan or/and Mr. Mosca.

  11. Good post Mr. Finewine.
    The need to get out of SCAG now is very important.
    Sierra Madre can no longer afford to have to pay them for their negative influence on dirt politicians like Mosca and Buchanan (Doyleists)
    I urge everyone who doesn't like what's happening with this bureaucrat pro development scam to lobby our councilmember's to dump SCAG, asp.

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  13. Mis-manners!

    We are creative writers here on the Tattler.
    Even "dirts" are allowed that here!
    Excuse us if we offend you! LOL

  14. Day - apparently the author of the article is a Morgan Carpenter. Judging by the style of writing and simplistic assumptions Morgan must be a kid. Photographer is Terry Miller. On the website the article's title has now been changed to somewhat reflect reality. They must have caught an earful over the last 48 hours or so.

  15. I suggest that these "reporters" send their article to Sir Eric to edit (for a small fee, of course). Would save a lot of embarrassment.
    Specifically, Harriet, Larry Wilson and Miller.

  16. Kudos to Elaine Aguliar for calling the Tattler to set the record straight.

  17. Obviously accurate coverage by our local press is not a priority. How is it these papers care so little for accuracy or the truth? Don't they know people depend on them for the facts? If all they print is nonsense, then what good are they? Unethical to say the least. Very very disappointing.

  18. To Anonymous 9:02 --I would like to know if the 4th of July Parade "committee" is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) so that when they ask for donations folks can claim it on their taxes. Then you could see the articles of incorporation, who serves on their board ("committee") and learn what self-serving set of town folks make up this group. I too was interested to see that Bucks printed the program which speaks volumes about the committee and its connection to the DIRTS. See who is driving around in the golf-carts with radios, who mans the obnoxious parade announcers booth--last year's group made such snide comments about participants while laughing and snorting that you would have thought they had just been dismissed from the Buccaneer. (Neuroblast--that would be a good YouTube post--see if you can find the tape of that--it was showed repeatedly ad naseum on Channel 3 after the 4th last summer.)

  19. A family member just asked, should we donate to the 4th of July Parade......I assume he was reading a request for donations from the city or the "committee"
    I like the parade, my problem is this year's "committee" consisting of Matt Bosse (Mosca's domestic partner) and who knows who else, that was never made clear far as I know.
    My answer was "hell, no" not this year.
    I'm still angry about not choosing the old WW2 veterans. Chicken s**t move on the part of Bosse and Mosca.

  20. Qustions:
    How much did the printing and mailing of the 4th of July program cost?
    Who is on the Committee?
    How much do they take in?
    What are the expenses?
    Does the Sierra Madre Foundation contribute to the committee?
    Why can some groups sell things in the park but the Rose Float Association can't sell their T Shirt?
    Who else was nominated to be the Grand Marshall?
    How much is the flyover costing?

  21. anon 9:16, I missed the comments @ the 4th of July parade last year. What exactly am I looking for?

  22. 11:50
    I would like to know the answers to your questions, as well.
    Only one I know, there were at least two others nominated for Marshal. The WW2 vets and Sir Eric.
    Sir Eric withdrew his in favor of the vets.
    Mayor MacGillivray had set up all the official military bands to come and perform in the parade if the vets were honored. Didn't matter to Joe and Matt......they weren't going to let us have the vets. Why, because they are a couple of mean spirited jerks!

  23. The fascinating thing about Joe Mosca is not just his constant dishonesty, it's how deep it goes. There is no decision coming out of Joe's small circle of chums that doesn't have a political component to it. In this case "4th of July Committee" (Joe and Matt) chose for the parade grand marshal a very nice lady with impeccable ecological credentials. And why? Because Joe plans to run as a "Green" candidate in April's election. Meanwhile, over at his BIA job at SGVCOG, Joe is working his little heart out for SB 375, something that, if implemented, will result in a massive binge of government imposed high density development throughout the LA County area. No matter whether the people living here want it or not. Something that is about as green as a landfill, and as democratic as North Korea. Big lie politics as played by a very little man.

  24. Ain't it the truth, Bad Karma!
    You got Joe figured for sure.
    I sure hope people vote him off our council.
    He's been nothing but trouble for so many people.

  25. Sierra Madre business ownerJune 28, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    Wow Bad Karma, great analysis.
    Hope it can be included in campaign material next April.
    In fact, there are many comments in the Tattler, as well as the great articles themselves, that hopefully will be widely distributed come election time.
    Best source of hometown news we've got.

  26. MS Aguilar (Sierra Madre's City Manager)is playing both sides. She is getting a little worried about how the wind is blowing and the upcoming election. Rememeber who had the 3 to 2 vote in the council when she was hired and she had meeger qualifications coming from Glendale to be a city manager.

  27. She should be worried.
    We will win the election.
    Hopefully all three seats. We have a very, very good chance.
    We just need to win 2, and we are sure things to do that.

  28. I feel a little sorry for Elaine. On the one hand she has to work with the current city council, but she also has to be concerned about the wrath of John and Joe should they somehow regain power. Not an easy line she has to walk.

  29. Don't worry Elaine....they won't get back in power anytime soon.
    The Bart Doyle Titan scandal didn't help them either.
    Dirts have nearly destroyed the town.
    No way they continue their plundering of Sierra Madre.

  30. Anonymous 11:50, yes indeed! How much did the design, printing and mailing of the 4th of July flyer cost? And, who made the decision to award the design to Ross and Beth Buck's Buck or Two Communications? As I understand it the Bucks, after participating in the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on Sierra Madre residents, sold their home and moved away. A Buck or Two Communications seems to be located in Altadena. Aren't there talented hometown graphics folks who could have benefited from the work?

    PS Did you notice that the envelope included to send in donations mis-spelled Sierra Madre? Great job, Buck or Two!

  31. Hmm. Yet more editing work for Sir Eric.

  32. Thanks, Marierose,
    That old battleaxe Beth Buck needs to be off our payroll.
    I'm sure Don Watts would agree with me. She cost him plenty and it was all bogus law suits and threats of law suits.

  33. I put a link to this story on the Beacon Media site and they pulled it down. Bunch of sourpusses those guys.

  34. Anonymous 2:43 pm..Don't feel sorry for Elaine Aguilar she picked her side from the start.Pretty hard for the citizens agenda to protect this town to go forward with a city manager, Community Development Director (Danny Castro...mixed use background), Public Works Director (Bruce Inman) and a city attorney, Sandra Levin, who is partners with our ex- city attorney Michael Colantuno who was deeply entrenched with the Building industry Association & writing articles for League of Cities Magazine of legalities of implementing smart growth. Not to mention a Fire Cheif who has an interest in one of the largest sites proposed for lower income and a Library Director that has her own agenda for that library build-out,too. So it isn't just getting the right council but weeding out the city personell who have their own personal agenda and will be working to set up road blocks at every turn.

  35. Great post 4:28.
    I hope you can get that info, detailed, to our council members who might care.


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