Monday, July 26, 2010

Agenda Man Speaks Out About Tuesday's City Council Meeting

There are really only two items here worth discussing in any depth. The General Plan Committee and the Water Rate Protest Tabulation. But they are both closely tied together by the one real issue that drives the agenda of this City Council, and that is development. It is time to call any denial of this obvious fact for what it is, deception and propaganda. This City Council wants to put into place the groundwork for the kinds of high volume development that was stopped cold by Measure V. And that is the reason they are fighting so hard to contain the obvious distrust of them shown by the residents here over the water rate hike. Basically this meeting is about damage control. They know that if their real agenda becomes any more exposed than it already is, their ability to get the job done could come to an end.

How strange it must be for John Buchanan, Joe Mosca and Elaine Aguilar. To be working so very hard to make something happen, yet never being able to discuss it in an open and public way. The people of Sierra Madre overwhelmingly oppose the agenda that these people are quietly pushing. The Water Rate Protest proved that. And Buchanan and Mosca know that the only way they'll be able to pull this off is if they can keep their real goals under wraps. Something that is already becoming more and more difficult to do. The more they have to deny that development is driving such actions as the near 40% water rate hike, the less believable those denials become.

Items 2 & 3 are really the same. Item 2 (Discussion - Water Rate Protest Tabulation) is a topic that has degenerated into yet another politically motivated Swift Boat exercise during the last week, something along the lines of what we saw in the past election. It seems this is the only trick these folks know. Apparently set in motion by the Gang of Four with the assistance of City Staff, they've called out the same old war ponies used last April. But this time the attacks and misleading accusations from Susan Henderson and Bill Coburn have fallen upon deaf ears. Coburn's News.Net site is now the home to three long and deceptive articles on the tabulation process, but he has yet to receive a single reader comment to any of them. As of Sunday evening large stacks of Mountain Views News are sitting unclaimed in their racks. People just aren't buying into that garbage this time.

The target of this politically motivated attack is the City Clerk, someone charged with the huge task of tabulating the forms and petitions cranked out in unprecedented numbers by the water protest. An elected official, Nancy Shollenberger had been repeatedly, and inappropriately, stonewalled in her requests for information by the City Manager, a salaried employee. Ostensibly charged with cooperatively looking over the results of the water protest by Mayor Joe Mosca, the activities of the City Manager have been rather to set into motion a divisive and secretive recount in hopes of discrediting the water rate protest. Something the concerned enablers apparently hope to achieve through use of the narrowest of technicalities.

Which begs the question, why did the City Manager's office do the recount at all? Since Mosca has said the water rate hike as it now stands is not going forward, what was the point?

You'd have to assume that the purpose of the recount is to scapegoat Nancy Shollenburger in hopes of shifting the blame from where it really belongs, the ineptitude of Mosca's City Council. Rather than facing up to the real message of the water rate protest, it was decided that it is better to blame the tabulator. The City Manager can't possibly have been doing this without the sanction of certain elected officials.

Item #3 is called the Water System Outreach And Education Program. But it comes from that same bag of tired tricks. The wacky assumption we're being asked to make here is that nearly 2,000 Sierra Madreans filed water rate protests because they didn't know what they were doing. And now all it will take is a few rusty show pipes and Director Bruce Inman holding PowerPoint presentations to make it all good again. If there is a better indication of just how out of touch these people are with those actually living in this town, I don't know about it. They really should get out of their bubble more often and actually talk to people.

Item #4 (General Plan Update Identification Of Technical Committees / Areas Of Expertise) can be summed up in three words. Hiring expensive consultants. Stymied in their attempts to increase the number of members on the General Plan Committee from 5 to 9 in order to better influence its decisions, this City Council gambit is designed to enable consultant dependent subcommittees. These subcommittees would then attempt to plug key planning elements into the General Plan in order to facilitate the kinds of large scale SB 375 development called for by Sacramento through Federally funded strawman agencies such as SCAG. Done with the full and eager support of John Buchanan and Joe Mosca, of course.

The ideal of resident staffed volunteer committees taking care of the important business of Sierra Madre is obviously not something this City Council shares in. It has nothing to do with technical expertise or any of the other bogus justifications being ladled out. Rather it's that this City Council does not trust these all too independent citizen committees to give them what they so badly want. They'd much prefer to hire expensive out of town consulting outfits they know will give them results that are in compliance with the regional and state development mandates they support.

As an aside, I can't see how very many people will be wanting to volunteer for committees under this City Council. Part of the appeal of Committee work is getting involved with things that are of true importance to the community. But with much of that now being given to expensive consultants, who is going to want to volunteer? I can't see too many skilled persons really wanting to spend their evenings exploring the possibilities of basket weaving.

I hope everyone will be at Tuesday evening's City Council get together. The issues are huge, and your participation is more important than ever.


    Why didn’t Danny place it on the agenda?

    Why didn’t Josh, who should have been at the Planning Commission Meeting place it on the agenda?

    The City of Sierra Madre has NO onsite parking requirements as long as there is “in lieu” of parking on the books. You can pay $2,000 an the city gives you a space.

    The money goes into a fund for more parking. If the money is not spent in 3 years the developer gets their money back.

    Between the three new eating places and Dr. Sami the city is giving away 27 parking places. Twenty seven street parking places equals about 100 yards. For you football fans that is a football field in length.

    Danny and Josh really fkuced the city big time on this one.

  2. How about an emergency moratorium on all commercial development until the General Plan is complete? Regulations are too chaotic to enforce right now, obviously. Put it to a vote. Along with other possible personnel changes in the City's representatives.

  3. At last,the masks are off.The players in place.No more pretense.

  4. Exactly. No doubts about the real intent behind the smiles.

  5. If the citizens of Sierra Madre let these people get away with this outrage, we can all kiss our little town goodbye.
    Show up at the meeting tomorrow night and express your outrage.

  6. the reason that there isn't any comments regarding Coburn's mindless editorials is that....NOBODY CARE WHAT HE HAS TO SAY!!!!

    and no opposite respones to Henderson's dribble drool editorials in her rag is because she doesn't have the journalistic cojones to publish any response or articles that she doesn't approve of - it's her Sierra Madre and we are lucky we are living in it

    at least I had the pleasure of throwing away 12 copies of Henderson's paper this weekend

  7. I can't think of a more important meeting in quite some time. Two big issues of importance, with both sides about as far apart as they can possibly be. Yeah, I'd say this is a big one!

  8. what part of STOP doesn't Mosca and Buchanan understand?

    Item 3 should be retitled, "Wait, You didn't believe our last bag of LIES about the water tax to build and inftrasructure to help developers so here's some more convulted miseducation and we hope that you are stupid enough to fall for these new lies you bunch of freeloaders"

    Meet the new bullship, same as the old bullship.

  9. I'm not sure that throwing out the Looney News really helps. It leaves the impression that people are actually picking them up.

  10. I've come to the conclusion that the stipend we are playing this council is a gross overpayment

    It's almost like Mosca and Buchanan think that since they are doing their public service for free, we should cater to their agendas

    However, this development push for Sierra Madre supported by Buchanan and Mosca directly benefit their respective employers and the career agenda of Mosca.

    And Moran, his Mom is a real estate agent and Moran reportedly sells home loans, so you think he's unbiased?

    Poor Ms. Walsh, she's been convinced that the developers have promised to include a big sqaure dance hall so she can host old foggie dance offs in Sierra Madre.

    It's come to a point where I don't believe one word that Mosca, Moran or Buchanan utters, both have become quite deceptive and outright condescending towards the regular citizens of Sierra Madre. They are both on the council to benefit themselves, their friends or their employers.

    They hide behind "consultants".

  11. Consultants are all part of the "expert culture." The idea being that regular people cannot handle the important stuff, so professionals or experts have to be brought in to do things for them. Of course, the experts are hardly agenda nuetral, and more often than not serve as the people who will make the "tough calls," which are the things nobody wants.

  12. I have a suggestion for the council.
    Appoint MaryAnn MacGillivray as your "consultant".
    The price is right and you'll get the expertise of the smartest person at City Hall.

  13. Of course they are not going to put the parking issue on the Agenda right away. Dr. Sami will most likely appeal the decision of the planning commission denying his project and it will be coming up before the Council shortly. That done, they will then close the parking loophole. This, of course will cut out some other legitimate projects that would enhance our downtown that have been turned down in the past couple of years because of lack of parking.

    By the way, what ever happened to the "blight" law? I haven't noticed any improvement in the SNF. Graffiti is still there having been there for months.

  14. The Blight Law is being ignored. Blight is only a problem for in Sierra Madre when it occurs on a piece of property a connected developer wants.

  15. When Kurt, Don, and Maryann were the majority on the council everyone screamed about the condition of the SNF. A blight law was passed to protect the look of the town. Now the majority has changed to John, Joe, Josh and Nancy and everyone is quiet about the elephant making a mess in the room even though the city now has the resources to make the owners clean it up. So when will the city enforce its laws?

  16. It's called Cronyism, 11:39.

  17. When has the City ever enforced the laws when it comes to development, big or small?

  18. 7:59, please add to your insightful questions, why isn't the Canyon Code on the next PC agenda? They are not even having the first meeting in August - why isn't that meeting devoted to the Canyon Code?
    Why isn't the completed code already approved by both the PC and the CC and in place?

  19. Dr. Sami only had 10 days to make that appeal 10:37.
    Don't know what the status is, but the 10 days have come & gone.
    He will no doubt bring back plans for even greater expansion, say 20 exam rooms, with even less parking.
    Such a deal, $2,000 and ignore the code.

  20. Ah nothing better than committees for committees to help committees set up other committees to carry out additional committee assignments.

  21. Rumor has it that volunteers in political arenas are seen as too independent and difficult to control. Who knows, you might actually hear from a resident who just wants to live here.

  22. Committee assignments will now be going to bobbleheads. And a pleasing smile is a bonus.

  23. If those committees are handpicked by the current council majority they'll be as skewered as shish kabob, with the layers alternating between tough old pro-overdevelopment and innocent green.

  24. Another long term residentJuly 26, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    A lot of residents had a wake up call with the water tax hustle, and now maybe more of them will want to be involved in the general plan.

  25. I'm looking forward to another night of the rest of the council trying to keep up with MaryAnn. She's always five ideas ahead of them when they look kind of dazed and sputter into action.
    Embarrassing for the town though.

  26. Check out the money that kicks off the agenda. That's close to one million dollars in the consent calendar 1)a. Is somebody minding the store? We really do need a money watchdog citizens' group.

  27. It will be another evening of Joe desperately looking around for someone to talk besides MaryAnn. But when he looks at Josh and Nancy all they'll do is smile and nod.

  28. Follow the moneyJuly 26, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Good point 1:18.Anybody know when all the administrative costs the city has will be spelled out with the new half a million dollar software and be available for public review.

  29. Fiscal year ended June 30th, didn't it? I'd be putting in my Freedom of Information Requests right about now!

  30. Not sure that the city council is interested right now in the kind of easy access to information that this new software promises. I'd say we'll see the results of that around the same time blight citations start getting handed out at the Skilled Nursing Facility.

  31. Agenda Man,

    What is item 1.e) of the Consent Calendar? Is this the same as the Art in Public Places Ordinance that is now being put in place by so many cities across the USA? Sounds like it is more of the DSP agenda being adopted by many other cities including Monrovia...another All American City!

    I suppose that City Hall wants to control all the art in public places too. Seems they have their dirty hands in controlling everthing from Channel 3, the newspaper, the bank books, to the 4th of July parade. Is the General Plan/ Committee next on their agenda?

  32. The Canyon Zone is not on the agenda yet because it is going through the enviromental review process.

    They must make sure that not overbuilding will not damage the canyon.

  33. Well, according to Sacramento building lots of condos is going to help save the world from global warming, it only makes sense that putting up large homes in the canyon will help preserve it. You really need to learn to think like these people.

  34. From the "Nothing New Under The Sun" columnJuly 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    "Nearly every police officer for a small north Texas city was terminated from the payroll during a council meeting Saturday.

    The Combine City Council in Kaufman County let go 11 of their 13 police officers with a 5 – 0 vote, citing a department reorganization and lack of funds.

    Mayor pro tem Tonya Ratcliff also said officers were expected to conduct themselves in a professional, open and honest manner, and councilmembers acted because those responsibilities were not being met.

    Despite citing budget issues as a factor in the decision, Ratcliff could not provide specific information Saturday as to how much money the city would save when questioned by reporters."

  35. maybe the opposite approach is warranted regarding volunteers.

    maybe there should be an overwhelming attempt by qualified residents to volunteer for committees and the general plan committee just to keep it in check

    there is nothing a consultant dislikes more is a smarter person asking questions or having to explain themselves

  36. Tomorow night is BIG. Be there and rsponsive, or better yer say something to the City Council. You do not have to be elequent, in fact sincere trumps elequence every time. Against the backdrom of Bell City we have every right to ask that our Council and Administration pursue an agenda that is transparent and balanced. City Couincils are so "out of touch with residents" and instead promoting the "vested interests" of developers that one wonders just how dumb they think we are. Get vocal!!!

  37. fed up and then someJuly 26, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    More people got involved in the water rate hike protest than VOTED in the last election, right? That ought to tell the city council something, and punch a hole in the absurd claim Buchanan makes when he emphasizes he was elected, so his ideas have special merit. These people can't stop hemorrhaging our money, and you can tell damn well that they do not take it seriously (Oh well, it's just 4 million, oh well it's under fifty thousand, oh,oops I guess we're going broke)

  38. Bell has done us all a favor.

    Corruption that stinks to high heaven is good to inspire citizens to

    Get Out and Get Active!

  39. old as the hillsJuly 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    It's our town.

  40. 1. The city followed the Prop 218 rules.

    2. The city will claim there weren't enough valid signatures, but they will not vote to pass the water increase tomorrow night.

    3. The city will "educate" the masses.

    4. The masses after a while will calm down and think they have won because the council did not pass the water rate increase.

    5. The city will pass the Orginal Water Rate increase 4 to 1 because legally they can because the No Protest failed to have 50% plus 1 No Protest..

  41. This council clearly needs a lot of community input.
    I don't expect Mosca or Buchanan to listen, but MacGillivre does, and Walsh and Moran might too...

  42. 6:17, I disagree with "qualified" If a person lives in this town, pay's their bills, pays their taxes, that is qualification enough. If the general Plan is supposed to be from the community, the community needs to be in on it.

  43. Unfortunately Fortune Teller is right. They'll go through the motions of educating us, then pass the original ordinance, since they've already gone through the process. That will mean we have lost round one, but we can't let them win round two which is the General Plan update. If you only say one sentance, let it be in favor of letting the GP Committee do its thing without interferrence by the City Council.

  44. Again the original water rate notice sent out did not spell out how the protest would be tabulated ours just referred to a city website for that information and that is not a legal notice-- must be in writing (seniors do not always have access to internet) Other cities put in writing how the protest would be tabulated ( only one prostest counts per parcel- whic means even if you have 4 units on one lot only one protest will count). So you see how hard it would be to get 50 percent plus 1 of all the water paying customers when you can only count one vote per parcel(lot). but if the public had been rightfully noticed don't you think they would have at least had the opportunity to work harder to gather signatures or signaturews that would count????

    tomorrow night at the city council meeting demand that they renotice or cancel the water rate hike the Fortune teller is right they will go forward this city council group (the 4) does not care what the community thinks because there is a dollar sign waiting for them buried in the LLC's of Howie's Market , Skilled Nursing Facility and whatever other hidden properties that will be part of this build-out (including Dr. Sami's & the Steamers property) . District Attorney anyone????

    Attending the Tuesday 7/27/10 city council meeting is imperative if you want to save our Mayberry ...not Joe Mosca's or Buchanan's but the residents of this special town!!! A last Oasis in the tangle of mix-used, smart growth high rise communities!!!!

  45. If seven maids with 7 mops swept for half a year?July 26, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    Late owls, they have posted a story in SGV tribune, that the protest failed, they claim 274 invalid letters, they keep stressing property tax rolls as the only way the votes count. It states customer. You need to form a protest representative committee and examine the invalid signatures and be told or showed why.

    Bell the Basta

  46. How can the General Plan for downtown be changed if Measure V is in place? Or how can Measure V be enforced if the General Plan is changed? I smell a lawsuit or some pretty convenient interpretation coming down the road. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.


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