Monday, January 30, 2012

The Downtown Investors Club: What Elections In Sierra Madre Are Really All About

As we are reluctantly dragged into yet another of our somewhat troubling 2 year voting cycles, I think the time is right to talk a little bit about an issue that has underpinned every election here since 2006. It doesn't get discussed in the press at all, and you don't hear the candidates discussing it very much, either. But like a crazy uncle living in your attic, it is always there, and try as you might to ignore all that muffled thumping and bumping, this one never really does go away. And it doesn't look like it will this time, either.

Our crazy uncles in the attic are known as the Downtown Investors Club. At one time they considered themselves to be the really smart money in town, insiders closely connected to the powers that be back in the mid 2000s. And they were offered a sweetheart of a secret opportunity by those calling the shots in the City of Sierra Madre at that time, one that would make them lots and lots of money. Or so the DIC was assured. They cleaned out their 401Ks, trust funds and other accounts containing their life's savings, then eagerly shoved it all to the center. Their payoff was going to be some of the easiest money imaginable. They were all going to get rich.

The great investment opportunity they had been offered was a part of something known as the Downtown Specific Plan. This was a project style very popular with developers back then, and can now be seen all over the Western United States. Mixed-use by design, fueled by the cheap subprime loans available at that time, and about as cookie cutter and generic as can be imagined, these high-density storefront and condo combinations would now, had this happened, cover our entire downtown area. Most likely, and as was the case almost everywhere else this junk was built, only partially inhabited. Much to the detriment of our community's good looks, along with the property values of those owning homes here.

Unfortunately for the Downtown Investors Club, things didn't work out for them in quite the way they'd hoped. Some Sierra Madre residents, savvy from the beginning about how this boondoggle would change our downtown from the charmingly eclectic kind of place it had always been into something drab and depressing, put an initiative on the ballot called Measure V. Ostensibly a measure designed to curb over-development downtown, it placed strict limitations on what could be built there. And, when approved by the voters, it effectively killed the Downtown Specific Plan, along with the get rich quick schemes of those unhappy souls who'd invested almost everything they had.

The people who put their nest eggs into the Downtown Specific Plan never went away, of course. How could they? Most everything they owned was tied up in properties that wouldn't return any profit, and could only be sold at a loss. Even now they remain none too happy about this, and just like most people who an unkind fate had made its fools, still dream of getting their hopes, dreams and cash back. And the way they plan to get this done is to install a city government here that will overturn Measure V and allow them to finally wreak their havoc on this town.

Their only concern being to turn the kind of profits they were denied nearly 5 years ago. While most living here regard Sierra Madre as their personal place and birthright, these folks see it as an opportunity to make some big money, and then get out. Which, having been denied that opportunity a few times before, has now become a source of considerable anxiety for them. None of that crowd are getting any younger.

Like I said, this doesn't get talked about very much. But really it should. The acrimony of our political campaigns, the smears and innuendo, the paid cut-throat political consultants, and the large sums of outside money pumped into our little community's political affairs by concerned lobbying organizations such as the Building Industry Association and California Association of Realtors, all of this would not be a factor here without the assistance of the Downtown Investors Club.

Faced with an electorate that opposes the kind of development they need to build in order to get their lost fortunes back, these folks work instead to create a lot of false election issues and bogus controversies for their candidates to run on. Candidates that will invariably claim that they oppose the very things those supporting and financing their campaigns are determined to achieve. It is now almost a tradition here.

All of this will happen again this year. It's election time in Sierra Madre. It always does.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

55 comments:

  1. Can't stand a liar.January 30, 2012 at 6:10 AM

    Thank you Tattler. Every thing you wrote is true. Wish you were in hard copy then every home owner could read this so they could get the truth. Our family just gets sick of the outside money coming into town to spread lies. Some of these people smile so nice at you as they lie through their teeth, you've heard of the knife in the back, well that's what goes on every election.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you John Crawford and poster at 6:10 am.


      These few misguided "downtown investors" do not consider the majority of Sierra Madre residents "investments" otherwise known as their homes to be of any consequence.
      What about our investments? Our homes? Our future here in this small town?

      A small minority of gamblers who gambled that the corrupt city council of 2005, fueled by BIA, CAR, and Sacramento development whore politicians, would just destroy the essence of Sierra Madre.
      Our beautiful little quaint town, they were willing to sacrifice our hillsides, and our downtown and eventually, the entire town.
      Just so they could make a "killing" with their insider trading.
      Their "killing" would have killed the town.

      Delete
  2. The smears started way back in October with Nancy Walsh's now famous "lookie here" rant from the dias of the City Council. It is continuing with John Buchanan's scare tactics and his lies to the Women's Club members telling them that they will lose their paramedic service if they don't campaign for the UUT initiative, and with the not-so-subtle undermining of Measure V and the ALF project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those were just the latest smears, the smears started back in 2007, when a small group of brave citizens formed Sierra Madre Residents for Sensible Development....SMRRD,& were viciously attacked by nearly $200,000 of out of town money to defeat their Measure V, they were getting passed by voters who wished to protect their homes. This small group, was backed by the majority of Sierra Madre voters in 2007. They raised less than $30,000 to fight, along with the brave voices on the city council minority, Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts, & with the help of the good people of Sierra Madre, they won that Measure V.

      The smears continued in 2008, when candidate for City Council & candidate for City Clerk, MaryAnn MacGillivray & Nancy Shollenberger were viciously smeared in the Mountain Views News & by our "friendly enemies", the Downtown Investors Club.

      It continued in 2010. Don Watts, John Crawford & Pat Alcorn were smeared, mostly in a secret smear attack. They lost the votes in the canyon, due to the Josh Moran headquarters at Mary's Market.
      Along with lies by city hall insiders in the volunteer fire dept.
      Fast forward to 2012. It continues. Same people, same lies.
      They intend to persist until they get to realize their greedy dream of the destruction of our hillsides and downtown.

      Delete
  3. It is kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. Expect all the usual faces to say all the same untrue things. You'd think people would be on to this stuff by now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sierra Madre resident and volunteer, John Crawford, writer of this blog, is sure on to this stuff.

      Delete
    2. Personal experience, I suspect. Remember, during our last election Susan Henderson claimed John had been reported to the PD for going through peoples' garbage cans. When the PD said no such reports ever existed, Susan refused to back down from the claim. It was a ridiculous lie, the kind only Susan can tell.

      Delete
    3. I hadn't heard that one. It does sound like something Susan Henderson, the town LIAR would print or tell her misquided supporters.

      I know John Crawford and trust me, this man wouldn't have time to go through trash cans, even if he wished to do so, which of course he did not.

      While Crawford is the "town crier" Henderson is the "town liar"

      Beyond disgusting

      Delete
  4. What is the role of the Congregational Church here?
    They were big supporters of NO on V....against Measure V.
    Do they not own a huge chunk of property downtown, they were planning to develop?
    Why are they so interested in supporting pro-development candidates who wish to destroy Measure V?
    Does anyone know?

    ReplyDelete
  5. The church, as I recall was denied expansion of their property because it was in a commercial zone. Now that the ALF is going to be classed "institutional" to avoid a vote by the people on Measure V, I'm sure the Congregational Church will come back and demand that their property be classed as institutional also. The City bosses are screwing the citizens again and again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for that information 7:38, that makes perfect sense.
      I remember they were fighting to massively expand their buildings.
      Didn't they get away with a non-compliant building on the north side of Sierra Madre Blvd?
      I recall reading about that, I believe on the Tattler?
      Anyone know the details of this?

      Delete
    2. If the ALF is allowed to build in the Commercial Zone as Institutional the Cong Church, if denied the right to expand, will sue the city on religious grounds.

      Do any candidates belong to that church?

      Delete
    3. The question for me: Is Fountain West in on the Measure V demise that Buchanan is attempting to engineer. From a business standpoint that wouldn't make much sense. Which means City Hall must have been telling Billy and his guys some scary and untrue stories about the people of Sierra Madre.

      Delete
    4. Billy Shields and the Fountain West folks are the victims of Buchanan's attempt to throw some cash to Bart Doyle. The Kensington could be in final planning stage if the local building cartel hadn't convinced Mr. Shields to try to sidestep Measure V. The quarter of a million they're paying out to Doyle to subvert the voters was totally unnecessary. All they had to do was put this on the ballot. It would have, and still will, pass because in spite of its outsize square footage and under spec parking it's a project most voters will agree fits in with small town Sierra Madre.

      Delete
    5. You have any proof of that, 10:23? Pretty major scandal if Barty is getting that big a cut, you know.

      Delete
  6. Since the Star News won't print the stories important to Sierra Madre, we have recently cancelled our subscription.

    Just one paragraph on Buckminster's Alfy would have been enough to clarify the G3's malicious attempt to thwart the will of the people.

    The PSN is still a big part of the problem. The truth remains hidden from too many people. And I don't know how the editor can pretend that investigative election coverage in this polarized environment would not make interesting reading.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So, when is a hard copy of all this important information going to hit the newsstands so that the innocents that read the other rags can have a true view of what the Tattler readers know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seeings how the Tattler is averaging over 45,000 hits a month now, I see no point in sinking a bunch of cash into creating another throwaway.

      Delete
    2. So you're saying, Mr. Crawford, that the Tattler is green and environmentally sensistive? Shouldn't the Tattler have a representative on the Green Committee? I think to celebrate I'm going to brew a cup of green tea.

      Delete
  8. 6:10 and 9:09: Print out several copies of the Tattler, and put them in your neighbors' doors. Attach a note saying it is from you, so that it won't go right into the trash. Help the Tattlers and the Candidates spread the truth. Don't just sit back and complain about what is happening, DO SOMETHING!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The problem is not that the Downtown Investment Club members are greedy - the problem is that the majority of them are delusional, and that delusion can be contagious. For instance, let's take a member of the D.I.C. who thinks that he is exercising a healthy self-interest and philanthropy, looking at the downtown and thinking, "Yes, gee it would be swell if it was like Old Town Pasadena, chic and prosperous. And let's get the riff raff out of town so it'll look better." He is not thinking, "I am a greedy son of a gun and I want to make the others suffer."

    This deluded fellow then goes out to neighbors with his pitch. "We need to protect our wonderful community. We need to help the poor workers, and put in reasonably priced housing. We need to help the teachers, the fire fighters, the good people of our community, and the way to do it? Develop downtown in this comprehensive plan. And two more things: would you like to invest, and do you have a dog I could borrow for a photo shoot?"

    Faulting the pro-development folks for greed is accurate, but it is not the whole picture, and it does not explain their success in fooling residents.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 10:23, the quarter of a million paid to Doyle regarding the alfington?
    What are you talking about?
    Do you know of an arrangement or a contract?

    ReplyDelete
  11. At one time, the Congregational Church had plans to expand to Mega Chuch size, to be an Evangelical Center of the San Gabriel Valley. But the pastor of that time moved on, and there's been a new one in place. Don't know if the Mega Church is still on the menu.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The smears are coming, the smears are coming.
    Another true thing: follow the money.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Honest John's Used Town. Step onto the lot and take a test drive.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you accuse the investors of being evil, you're going to be called anti-capitalist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be bad, huh. I guess the entire community should roll over and be grateful.

      Delete
  15. Off topic, but has anyone heard anything about the gas station skimming investigations?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not 1:14, and I think if you call the police they will probably say the word 'ongoing'

      Delete
    2. "We cannot talk about ongoing investigations." Saves a lot of time I guess. Since all investigations are ongoing in Sierra Madre, all that is left to talk about is the weather.

      Delete
  16. I heard from a woman who was retired from state politics that Sierra Madre for many decades had been hostile to development, and developers avoided the place as not worth the effort. Then, she said, Bart Doyle of the Building Industry Association was elected to the council, and the word went out in the development community that we were open for business and ripe for the picking. It's been a fight ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been what, 10 years since the Barticle wandered around City Hall? Has even 1 building been built that could be credited to him?

      Delete
    2. Not for want of trying.
      I remember when a resident carrying the petition for Measure V came to our house and unfolded the downtown Specific Plan map on the dining room table.
      It was breath-taking in its ambition.

      Delete
    3. No Bart Buildings Built in a decade. He sure is a smart guy. Of course, he is not as smart as John Buchanan. John hasn't gotten a single building built in 8 years.

      Delete
    4. Maybe not, 1:55, but Buchanan did accomplish destroying part of the hillsides.

      Delete
    5. I guess that means he is a tree removal guy, and not the vaunted developer's hero.

      Delete
    6. Bart didn't get anything built in El Monte, either.

      Delete
  17. There are good and ethical people in the development industry.
    They are just few and far between.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The alliance of developers and government has been an unholy one. Plus an enormous waste of taxpayer money.

      Delete
    2. Don Watts is a good & fine architect. I'd vote for him anytime!!! I LOVE his building on Montecito. It's beautiful. I'd live there if they were condos'

      Delete
  18. Bill Tice, only you can save our tree!January 30, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    The awesome pepper tree in Kirsting Court is on the City hit list as a danger to those who gather beneath it's lovely branches. This is an outrage. The tree looks just as it did since I moved hear 10 years ago.

    Eagle Bill Tice - Head of the Tree Committee - I am calling on you to fix this. Or, yet again, I will not vote for you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. What!!!! The pepper tree is beautiful! Another act of "terror?" Why not just make that area a sacred spot....look but don't get too close. Pretty soon all museums & libraries will be a danger to all those who visit & gather in them. They might be gratified & inspired. Maybe there are those who don't want anyine enriched by nature...they might not want Sierra Madre overdeveoped & become just another cookie cutter blah zone. Bill, please explain this. J'd rather see a green spot than picknick tables & store fronts from S.M. Blvd. Tree Hugger resident.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Bill Tice, only you can save our treeJanuary 30, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Let me extend, with this open letter to Eagle Bill Tice, my prior comment regarding our beloved pepper tree:

    EAGLE BILL TICE,

    Why, when you have selflessly served the arbors of our community for these many years, have your repeated candidacies been ignored? Above all SM citizens you alone have selflessly acted to preserve our green town. Never once have you urged the leveling of our archaic downtown and its conversioni into a series of strip malls with condos.

    It is high time we treated your candidacy with the honor (and votes) it deserves. Could you be any worse than the gaggle of resume builders and chamber of commerce members who repeatedly run for council (Alcorn, Crawford and Watts excepted)?

    Still, like Luke Skywalker who in a galaxy that long ago preceeded you, you must first pass a test. SAVE THE TREE, AND YOU WILL HAVE MY VOTE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill Tice would forever be known by a new name. Dr. Pepper. Or Sargeant Pepper. Maybe.

      Delete
  21. Bill is too trusting. He actually thought that Mosca was someone who was honest.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Was that tree tagged by a real arborist, or by city staff?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Last time Bill ran he had a great idea for reforming city hall - turn it into a training school for municipal work. Heck that's what it amounts to anyway for most staffers. People could come here and learn the business of running a city, graduate in a few years, and then we'd have a new freshmen class, and start over. Volunteers could be teachers.

    ReplyDelete
  24. A lot of businesses run on intern labor. The benefits are they work for nothing, and unlike many salaried full-time employees, are happy to be there.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes 4:43...a certified arborist!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I remember years ago, back in the 90's, Bill Tice got up at City Council public comment and asked the city council to buy the One Carter property.
    It was for sale at the time for a very low price tag. They laughed at him.
    Said the city couldn't afford it.
    Hindsight, they should have done it. Look at the nightmare it would have saved us all.

    ReplyDelete
  27. As much as we are sad about Ralph the pepper tree in Kersting Court, his life is close to the end. How about coming up with a good idea for a replacement? A contest, perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Replace Ralph with another 48 inch box California Pepper tree. In a few years it will be large and beautiful. It is sad to see the demise of this tree and I have said for years that that tree is the heart of Sierra Madre being that it is in the "town square" of Kersting. None the less, it does have structural damage and is very possible for it to loose a limb on top of some kid hanging out there after school. I think we should take some of the wood and make a picnic table out of it with a varnished plaque noting its history. That way the tree will always be with us. This also gives us the opportunity to "refurbish" that center with a nice monument sign of Sierra Madre City. It has the potential of being quite an asset to the center of our town.

      Steve Lotz
      former Tree Advisory Commissioner

      Delete

The Tattler is a moderated blog. Annoying delays when posting comments can happen. Thank you for your patience and understanding.