Monday, June 30, 2014

Tony Brandenburg: The Po Po Police & Who is Yolande Beckles and What has She Done with Tyron Hampton?

Uh oh, the Po Po!
(Mod: Did I ever tell you how Tony Brandenburg saved Sierra Madre? He did, you know. Remember those Noah Green pictures that turned last April's election on its head? Tony is the guy who found them. In my book that makes him a hero. Think of all he spared this town. Here is T-Money's latest.)

Fasten Your Seatbelts - I was pulled over in Sierra Madre last week. I had the whole gang in the car, and we were on our way to have a hot, nutritious meal. Burgers and fries. The boys were behind me at 5 and 7 o'clock.

However, as I was being pulled to the side of the road on So. Lima, they were screaming at each other, both were at 5 o'clock and threatening to beat the tar out of each another. "Hey, you guys. I'm being pulled over. You might want to cool down." They both sat up, and immediately their scorn was all for me.

"Way to go Dad, what did you do?"

Nothing that I could tell. I was barely out of my driveway. I actually felt kind of bad for the Officer because - try as I did - I know I seemed like a curmudgeon. I hardly allowed him to say "Good evening ..." before I started asking questions.

Apparently he thought I wasn't wearing my seat belt.

Now don't get me started on why I think seat belts should only be a requirement for children, and how I believe that adults have the right to be as stupid as they choose without the help of the government and their armed sentries.

I showed him that indeed, I was wearing my seatbelt. He informed me that it was not attached to my body correctly. I was wearing it across my chest, but below my armpit, not over the shoulder. It rubs my neck, waahh. So I wear it the way it is most comfortable. And, according to the Officer, that is the incorrect way.

Another squad car - well, it was an SUV actually - pulled up and my Officer began consulting with the SUV Officer. This was getting interesting. I took a picture. I was starting to feel kind of famous since now my neighbors were watching. Most of them haven't done that since they spied on us for Gayle Bluemel. Mary just laughed at me.

My Officer returned and told me that he was letting me go with just a warning. I told him I would try to wear my seat belt better in the future. As he returned to his car I realized that I had buckled it my way again. I fixed it. Old habits die hard, I guess.

I went to the DMV website to check on the seatbelt thing (click here), mostly because I don't believe anyone anymore. I just smile and pretend I do.

Last year I lost on a ticket for an infraction that occurred at an intersection that I wasn't even at. That is correct. I am probably the only person in the whole world found guilty of infractions that I was not even present for.

Seat belts, both the lap belt and shoulder harness, must be in good working order. You may not operate your vehicle on public roads and on private property, such as public parking lots, unless you and all of your passengers ... are wearing seat belts ...  Pregnant women should wear the lap belt as low as possible under the abdomen, and the shoulder strap should be placed between the breasts and to the side of the abdomen’s bulge.

I checked. Even if I could have convinced him that I was a pregnant woman, and not a grumpy fat man, I was out of luck on this one. Still unwilling to accept the remote possibility that I might be wrong, I dug a little deeper (click here) and there was my answer.

If the safety belt is too tight or rubs your neck, ask your local car dealer to adjust it. You can also place a soft cloth or piece of sheepskin on the belt where it touches your neck. Large people should contact their automobile dealer or manufacturer to purchase a safety belt extender. It's illegal for a motorist to disable a shoulder strap if it is part of the vehicle's manufactured safety system.

Damn, I must concede defeat. Thanks for the heads up.

PUSD Superintedent Jon Gundry Is Leaving - This should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention, but PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry is moving on to greener pastures. I can't say that I blame him. Listening to Renatta Cooper loudly snoring at Board Of Ed meetings is enough to send anyone into a catatonic state. Hell, I have come pretty close to a Renatta induced snore coma a few times myself.

Dear PUSD Families, It is with mixed feelings that I inform you that I have been selected as the sole finalist to be the next Superintendent of the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  It has been an honor to work with the students, educators, community members and families of Pasadena Unified during the last three years. I will take many fond memories to my new endeavor.I am grateful for the support that the educational institutions, business organizations, and community partners have given our students and employees to help position our schools for success in the 21st century. I would like to thank the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Educational Foundation for not only their support, but for the work they do to help our students succeed.PUSD has made substantial progress over the past few years:  the district’s visionary Strategic Plan has been put into operation; we have formalized a collaborative work plan with the City of Pasadena and the community that links our mutual resources to benefit children and families; our schools and classrooms are transitioning to the Common Core State Standards; and our district now offers excellent competitive academic options for all students at every grade level.  I know you all will build on this momentum after my departure.My expected start date at Santa Clara is August 1.  I will always remember your support and your commitment to doing what’s best for children. I wish you the best.
With regards,
Jon R. Gundry

The burning question, of course, is who will be the interim superintendent until the interview process and all of that other stuff is ironed out? Most likely that would be Brian McDonald. He filled in when Gundry was in the hospital last year.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K - Speaking of things Bored Of Ed, it appears that there is a consultant who has been helping out one of the PUSD Board Members as a self proclaimed assistant. Our very own Tyron Hampton brought an educationalist on board, so to speak.

I sure hope that this educationalist isn't accessing docs. Not all documents are public, and some even need to be kept confidential (click here). If the rules have changed, by all means, open the floodgates and send me these insights, too.

Oh, and some consultation money!

You may recall the redistricting fiasco that took place a couple of years back. The one which backfired right in the faces of the folks who had hoped to gain so much from it. That must indeed have been a terrible let down. Now the chickens have come home to roost, so to speak.

The marginalization that they swore wouldn't happen is, um, happening. The schools and sub-districts who needed the support the most are - surprise surprise surprise - not getting anyway. Instead they are getting what they always got. Not much.

Recently Tyron started eating lots of breakfast. He set up a trio of meetings to get his sub-district to, I dunno, engage. And he wanted to use district resources to cover his efforts (click here). The person introducing herself as his assistant at these events, and has even answered his office phones from time to time, is a rather well-known international education consultant.

I love consultants (click here) and got out my shovel. Then I jumped into the kitty litter box.

Ladies and gentlemen ... could this actually be Pasadena Unified School District's new hope and guiding light?

Meet Yolande Beckles Yolande Beckles is a transplant from the UK. According to her Facebook page (click here) she is  pretty busy in the LAUSD. I assume it is helping her children on some level. Or helping somebody. Now she is helping PUSD. She claims to be one of the co-founders of the California Title 1 Parent Union (click here).

That sure sounds like a consultation group. I love those consultants so, so much.

Like me, Yolande has a super cool Wiki page up about her. And other really cool stuff, too. But, uh-oh. Apparently she has made a lot of people angry, even more than I have.

According to the Wikipedia entry, in 1998 Ms. Beckles founded Global Graduates, a group designed to help minority students. The group collapsed in 1993 with lots of money unaccounted for, and lots of heavily negative press. Also (click here), "debts of around 125,000 British pounds were left unpaid and at least nineteen court judgements were lodged against her."

Since arriving in the United States, she has been inolved not only with California Title 1 Parent Union, but has founded her own group, Think Global Kids. According to a 2010 online article from the The Independent (click here) titled "The Messy life of Miss Beckles," this group was run much like Ms. Beckles's other troubled endeavors:

In 2008, Ms Beckles suddenly disappeared from the UK, leaving behind unpaid bills and county court judgments. Now she has re-emerged in Los Angeles. And to the dismay of former victims – one of whom runs a website called "Beckleswatch", chronicling her "nefarious" activities – she appears to be up to old tricks.

She has recently founded a new firm, Think Global Kids, which operates on exactly the same basis as her previous ones: it seeks grants and financial donations from public authorities and generous philanthropists to help reform the school system and help underprivileged youngsters.

This pattern appears to be a cloud that has followed Our Miss Beckles for some time. She was the subject of a three part BBC Television show that took a tumble:

Ms Beckles, whose BBC show became embroiled in scandal when newspapers discovered tha in 1999 she had been sacked by the Windsor Fellowship, a charity based in Hackney. Ms Beckles was accused of financial mismanagement, using a work credit card to pay for a dress and goods from Sainsbury's, funneling £5,000 to her mother, and giving herself an unauthorised loan of £5,000. She appealed against the sacking, but lost at an employment tribunal.

Reporters also found that in 2003, her educational firm Global Graduates had collapsed, owing £125,000 and leaving students who had paid hundreds of pounds to go on its courses in limbo. She has also been involved in three companies that were struck off the Companies House register, and 19 county court judgments had been made against her businesses, totalling £68,708.

Born in London to Trinidadian parents in 1962, Ms Beckles left school at 18 and enjoyed a career in management before moving into the education sector. Most of her failed companies tapped into myriad grants available to organisations that help to educate underprivileged and ethnic minority children.

That money wasn't always spent in the way it should have been, however. In 2007, she featured on the front page of London's Evening Standard after she took £12,000 from the families of under-privileged children from Hackney to fund an educational trip to the Caribbean, and promptly disappeared to South Korea, where she was attending a convention of the Moonies.

A few months later, Ms Beckles was taken to court by Bickley Park School in Bromley, southeast London, for not paying her daughter's fees. Shortly after that, she vanished completely.

Well whattaya know. Another education con artist.

Welcome to Pasadena Unified, Yolande. You should feel right at home.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Carter: Sierra Madre's Luxury Home Death Trap?

A bad beginning
That One Carter (or whatever it is being marketed as these days) has remained on the wild frontiers of development here in the San Gabriel Valley for so long is a matter of small wonder to anyone who has been living here in Sierra Madre for a while.

Those of us who have been around for a little bit have seen the fires, floods and mudslides, and know what the potential is for earthquake damage when one of those inevitably rolls in as well. And all of these things will happen again, some much sooner than any of us might wish. Though there are those who think a flood right about now would likely be a good thing. So I guess we need to add a "worst in a millennia drought" to that unhappy list as well. Just for good measure.

But today, because of the failed nature of the development projects there (next year will be the tenth anniversary of nothing ever getting built at One Carter), a concerted effort appears to be in the process to move these 29 so-called "luxury lots" over to unsuspecting out of area customers. With partially underground homes known as "McBunkers" being what they would be required to build upon those unhappy sites by our city government.

One reason for this is that the per lot (or "pad" if you are a land use wonk) prices are just so absurdly high. We understand the real value of these things, and there is a long history of lawsuits involved with these properties that have driven the costs so sky high.

We also know there is a clear potential for natural disasters up on that hillside. This seems quite obvious to those of us who have witnessed nature's fury at that troubled location, and understand the dangers.

So in the spirit of making sure that all are aware of the potential hazards there, while also taking into account all of the usual land use legal requirements the developers will be required to fulfill, here is the draft of a letter being prepared for the benefit of the parties now involved with the process of attempting to sell the lots at One Carter Luxury Estates. Or whatever stupid name they've given to the place lately.

The crossroads?
To: (*** involved parties ***)
Fr: Concerned Sierra Madre Residents
Re: 1 Carter Ave. lot sales / California State Disclosure Statements

Mr./Ms. xxxxx,

Regarding the lots that you have listed for sale, you will be required to make the following disclosures:

1 - This property has been designated by FEMA a Special Flooding Hazard Area.

2 - This property has been designated, Pursuant to Sections 51178/51179 Govt. Code: Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.

3 - This property is designated, Pursuant to Section 4125 - Public Resources Code - Section 4291: A Wildland Area That May Contain Substantial Forest Fire Risks and Hazards

4 - This property is designated, Pursuant to Section 2622 of the Public Resources Code as An Earthquake Fault Zone.

5 - This property is designated, Pursuant to Section 2696 of the Public Resources Code as a Seismic Hazard Zone.

6 - Et Cetera
A) There was a murder on this property with the victim having been shot multiple times and left for dead on the site. It is also a suspected area for suicides such as the one that occurred at Bailey Canyon Park recently.

B) The One Carter area is also believed by some to be an ancient burial ground of the Tongva/Gabrielino Indian Tribe. Centuries of indigenous peoples may be buried there, and Representatives of the Tribe attended the One Carter hearings to protest development of this site. There is also the possibility of this being a "spirit vortex" according to some believers.   

C) Also the upper reaches of the west and east ridge of the central canyon west of the barn/cottage were burned over in the April 2008 wildfire (link).

Another thing: Lest we forget, it was the 2004 City Council (see link) that enabled what would eventually become the One Carter debacle we see today. These micro-boffins did not take into account that those buying properties up there could soon find themselves in harm's way.

That has always seemed both inconceivable and highly irresponsible to many living in Sierra Madre. Back then and today.

It is our hope that we have now remedied this unfortunate oversight with today's Tattler post.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pasadena Star News: Sierra Madre Considering Stricter Measures In Face Of Continued California Drought

Not immediate enough, Mr. McDonald?
We can see from the latest edition of the occasionally forthcoming City Manager's Report that there are three building moratorium "Public Hearing" notices that will be published as legal advertising in this weekend's Looney Views News.

In case you are not in on the joke, this unique specimen of a newspaper is our City's adjudicated weekly, and remains so pretty much by default since there is no other paper in town. To be an adjudicated publication in Sierra Madre, or any city in the once Golden State for that matter, you have to prove that your rag is actually a registered business in the town it serves. And only then can you be the paid carrier of the city's legal tidings.

Of course, putting such notices on the city's website could be done for free, but Sacramento's lobby bought adjudication laws state that in order for a legal notice to be truly legal, dead trees must be involved. So we're stuck paying "The Looney."

Since the LVN is the only fishwrapper we have, it therefore receives thousands of dollars in taxpayer money yearly to run our city's legal notices. In exchange for that generosity we got Naked Noah's candidacy for City Council, strange and irrational support for the last two failed UUT increase ballot measures, a disturbing Paul Tanaka endorsement, and a weird assurance from Harriet Susan Poole Carter Henderson herself that McMansions will be built at Mater Dolorosa. No matter what the residents of this town might have to say.

California state law at work, and yet one more instance where your tax money could be used for more rational purposes. You know, rather than things like enabling Susan's delusions of political relevance. That is, if we were actually permitted to do so.

But I digress. Here is what City Manager Elaine Aguilar states will be included as advertising in the Looney Views News this weekend. You can get this information here at no charge to the taxpayer.

Attached are the three public hearing notices that will be appearing in Saturday’s newspaper. The City’s legally adjudicated newspaper is the Mountain Views News. The notices pertain to the three water emergency actions that the City Council requested at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.
- Resolution Implementing Phase III Water Conservation
- Urgency Ordinance Declaring the Existence of a Water Shortage Emergency and Imposing a Moratorium on the Issuance of New or Additional Water Service Connections in any Zoning District in the City
- Urgency Ordinance Establishing an Interim Moratorium Ordinance Pursuant to Government Code Section 65858 on the Issuance of all Building Permits and/or Granting of Discretionary Approvals for Construction of New Development Requiring New Water Service Connections

This will probably leave some with the impression that all three of these items will be carefully weighed at the next City Council meeting, which is scheduled to take place on July 8. However, as those who watched the most recent City Council meeting know, only the Phase III so-called "Water Conservation" measure stands much of a chance of being enacted.

Despite the lack of a public hearing having been conducted on any of these three options, both Mayor John Harabedian and Councilman Gene Goss have already let it be known that they will likely not vote for either of the two true building moratoriums, and instead prefer something that involves hitting the residents with stiff fines should they not decrease their current water usage by 30%.

Can this be a kind of punishment? One being levied by City Hall because of the widespread preservationist opposition to three McMansion developments in town? Development that certainly could prove highly profitable to certain downtown government interests, such as city employee unions? Stranger things have happened here. California leading $36,000 a year City Hall health plans for instance.

When you consider that the residents of Sierra Madre have been forced by City Hall to endure two water rate increases in four or so years, along with infrastructure so badly neglected and decayed that it turns imported SGVWMD water into various unhealthful colors, you'd think levying any further costs would be in bad taste. So to speak. But such self-awareness seems alien to Harabedian and Goss, and neither apparently has any problem hitting you with what would be a de facto third water rate increase, and in a short period of time.

The Pasadena Star News article is called "Sierra Madre considering stricter measures in face of continued California drought," and was written by Zen Vuong. There are a few quite interesting moments, and I thought I should point them out. If you wish to read the entire thing (and you should), you can do so by clicking here.

Richard McDonald, attorney for the developer of Sierra Madre’s Stonehouse lots, said it would be unfounded for the Council to vote in favor of a building moratorium and characterized the move as draconian.

“You have a number of people in the audience who are anti-development, who want to use a building moratorium to stop development,” he said. “As the city attorney told you in the beginning, you can only impose a moratorium if there is a current and immediate threat. And when your district manager is telling you you’ve got two years of water and a contract with MWD to provide you with any more that you need, and there’s no evidence of anything from MWD not providing you with what you need, then you don’t have a current and immediate threat.”

It seems extraordinary that Richard McDonald, attorney for the unidentified forces wanting to build McMansions at One Carter, believes that what is going on in Sierra Madre today is not an "immediate threat." If it isn't, then what would be? Bubonic plague? A small device nuclear war?

It is also rather myopic of Mr. McDonald to believe that this is all due to our having run out of the water we once used for all of our needs. The terrible condition of our badly neglected water infrastructure alone should be reason enough to shut down development for years. According to our newly hired water quality consultant, you might not even want to drink the stuff in a month or two due to nitrification or "blue baby syndrome."

That seems pretty current and immediate to me.

But whatever his reasons, a two year water availability window would seem to be enough time to build McMansions, sell them at a handsome profit, and then get out before the whole mess goes down in flames. And for him that apparently is business as usual.

What is comical here is McDonald then attempts to disparage concerned residents as being "anti-development." In his mind that being a very bad thing.

What these Sierra Madreans are actually trying to do is prevent the heartless exploitation of their hometown by outside big money interests, people who see a precarious two year water supply as reason enough to justify building a destructive hillside swathe of 5.5 bathroom jumbo McMansions.

I am not certain the attorney is aware, but sustainability really is a big issue in California these days. You are actually supposed to have what you use. And besides, wouldn't disclosure laws require the developer to discuss the absence of water with the potential purchasers of these elephantine "modern family" barns?

Then again, as a hire possibly representing expatriates of an at times hostile foreign economic power, chances are good that he doesn't give a damn what happens to Sierra Madre. McDonald is likely providing cover for folks who just want to exploit an asset, build their multi-million dollar McMansons, make a profit and then clear out. What happens afterwards being of absolutely no concern to any of them.

City Councilman Gene Goss said the public shouldn’t put water discoloration, water conservation and anti-development sentiment into the same box.

“We have to be very careful about trying to mix these issues just from a good, solid, clear public policy perspective,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that we the citizens have let the ball drop. We have not conserved enough water.”

Again we are witness to the myopia of an individual who doesn't seem to grasp the sustainability issue. And isn't that what this Phase III so-called water conservation thing does? Link development with water conservation?

Questioning the wisdom of widespread McMansion development during the worst drought since records began should not be treated as if it is an irrational or thoughtless act. In most communities this would be regarded as civic sanity. You don't pack in additional housing when the water supply is barely adequate for those living here already.

But what's even worse is blaming the residents for something that is not even their fault. After having endured two water rate hikes, and then water the color of old teeth, to then say they haven't been doing their part is, well, highly out of touch.

To demand that residents then cut their water use by an additional 30%, or face stiff fines for not being able to do so, seems almost unconscionable. But apparently that is the disconnect going on here.

Goss and Harabedian said Phase III would prevent new water hookups, which is also what a more highly regulated no building moratorium would do. Capoccia said he’s OK with just enacting Phase III as long as the Council self-imposes discipline that a building moratorium would have done.

It would be nice to think we have a city government that recognizes a lack of water as being a good reason to not go on a 6,000 square foot McMansion building boom. And that any effort to curb such a thing during an extreme environmental emergency need not be accompanied by sock it to the resident financial punishments.

But then again, we have a very strange city government.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Do We Pay City Hall Back For Pushing Development?

Mod: Beneath all the phony baloney shape shifting on the development issue, the fact remains that City Hall wants McMansion development at One Carter, Stone House and Mater Dolorosa. As always, it is all about the money. The only real concern for them being the few millions of dollars they'd realize in development impact fees. Our city employee unions are funding their pensions and benefits, and they need the cash. As do their behind the scenes enablers on the City Council. What you might want for Sierra Madre isn't anything they're in the least bit concerned about. It's not their problem. If Mater Dolorosa will get them some of the really big money? Well, then to hell with you, pal.

So how do we get their attention? How do we stick it to them like they're sticking it to us? Take away some of their money, of course. One way would be to support the complete abolition of the UUT, which will be on the ballot this November. Another good idea would be to rescind the recent water rate increases by putting them on the ballot as well. Something the citizens of Fresno are now in the process of accomplishing and, as you will clearly see in this article, they have certainly gotten the attention of their very own local version of faithless city government.

The following article comes to us this fine day straight out of the always excellent Cal site. Link to it here.

Stalling and blocking tactics. Sound familiar? How much has the City of Sierra Madre spent in legal fees so far to impose McMansion development upon Sierra Madre? Anyone know? No, nobody does. It is a secret, and you weren't invited. So then, let's take some of that money we have been giving them back. Shall we? Far better that it stay in our pockets than having to watch it being used against our own interests.

Important Star News article up now on Sierra Madre's water moratorium
I'm going to write about it for tomorrow, but here is the link. It is called "Sierra Madre considering stricter measures in face of continued California drought," and it is written by the always thoughtful Zen Vuong. That Gene Goss has taken a "blame the residents" stance here is just about as unconscionable a claim as I have ever heard from a sitting City Council member here. After having endured two successive water rate hikes and water the color of old teeth, the residents of this town have suffered enough. You have to wonder if there is anything inside the man's head at all.

Nancy Walsh Legacy Search
We have been scouring the 'Dre in search of signs of an enduring legacy from the Nancy Walsh era. Outside of a few empty storefronts we had turned up very little. But we recently received the following photo from a Nancy Walsh Legacy Project researcher that does offer some insight into that now past and glorious moment in our history. I am certain it seemed like a wonderful idea at the time.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

MaryAnn MacGillivray's Tuesday Evening Address to the City Council on Moratoriums

(Mod: As this community struggles to come to grips with the strategies available to us on the question of building and water moratoriums, it is helpful to turn to someone whose experience rings true on these matters. Here is how we can start finding our way again.)

It is within your purview and authority to implement a building moratorium and a water service connection moratorium.

There is a precedent right here in our own city for a building moratorium. Such a moratorium was put into place regarding building and remodeling in the Canyon until the Canyon Zone Committee, then in process, was completed. Folks with projects in the world may not have liked it much, but they understood the need as a common good.

You do not have the necessary tool yet to make decisions regarding building developments whether it be lot splits, housing developments, building configurations or zoning because the General Plan update has not been approved and implemented. This is by no fault of the General Plan Steering Committee. They along with many volunteers did what they were asked to do, but an intended 18 month process somehow turned into 5 years, and it is still on the Strategic Plan as everyone can see.

Resources, particularly water, but not to the exclusion of police and fire, traffic, access and circulation, noise, open space, recreational facilities and wildlife considerations, also cannot support additional development.

The City will never meet the RHNA requirements imposed by SCAG unless those requirements are mandated to be met within the proposed development.

The time frame of a 2 year moratorium is more than ample to approve the plan as the people have articulated their vision of the community looking out 20 years. It is sufficient time to develop a Growth Management Ordinance encompassing the use and availability of resources including water. This ordinance would become a part of the General Plan just as the Hillside Ordinance and Canyon Zone Ordinance are.

SCAG will continue to assign RHNA numbers despite the fact that they have no data to support the fact that this housing is necessary as assigned. If you ask how many housing units have been built to satisfy RHNA numbers in the region - they can't tell you. I know because I have asked that question many times at the HCD meetings. The answer is they are not as concerned with outcomes as they are "process."

The General Plan is the ultimate trump card. It provides substantiation for our "built out" definition, our stewardship of the watershed above us and our use and availability of resources. It is the most important tool in the arsenal to keep Sierra Madre the way it is. Which is what each of you promised to do when you campaigned for office.

A building moratorium will facilitate the process of completing the General Plan as the people wrote it.

You need no better reason.

What - No Real Estate Tax Increases?

(Mod: During the Measure UUT imbroglio last April the point was made on this blog that rapidly rising home prices would greatly enhance the amount of money being pumped into City Hall through increased property taxes. UUT lovers snorted loudly with derision. Here is an example of why they were so wrong.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm Sorry, But Last Night Was Hardly A Victory

After the water worry portion of last night's City Council meeting finally came to a halt, a break period was called. Myself, along with the many people who showed up to talk about their horror at the impending destruction of our community at the hands of greedy developers, saw their chance and started to head for the exits. The prospect of having to stay and listen to City Staff complain about the defeat of Measure UUT yet again being too much for even the strongest of us to take.

Much to my enduring amazement an obviously agitated Mayor Harabedian came rushing into my presence. This being a surprise since usually the guy just ignores me, preferring instead to spend his precious Council Chambers recesses talking to people who share his opinions about the special qualities of This Year's Mayor (TYM). Which is just fine with me. I personally enjoy the quiet. There is so little most people have to say that improves upon it.

However, Mayor Harabedian appeared to have a special concern last night. He apparently needed to know what I was going to write on this blog this morning about his solution to the demand of the many residents present for a building (or is that a water) moratorium. That being favoring Phase III Water Restrictions over a water moratorium. This was surprising since in the past he had expressed the opinion that nobody reads The Tattler. Himself included.

What I told him is that I believe he is merely playing politics with this issue. Phase III Water Use Restrictions are going to be extraordinarily unpopular in this town. They call for additional 30% per property water use reductions on top of those already made, and back that up with stiff fines.

Which, in my humble opinion, is tantamount to yet another water rate increase. Phase III fines, added to the nearly 100% in increases from the last two water rate imbroglios, being a bit excessive. Even for Sierra Madre.

Also, why is it that the first reaction of City Hall is to call upon the residents to make even more sacrifices than they already have? Is the City angry at us because our opposition to three big McMansion developments could possibly cost them millions of dollars in Development Impact Fees? Is this getting in the way of the $36,000 Cadillac health plan benefits they seem to favor?

There is a lot of energy in Sierra Madre right now over McMansion development. Nobody wants to see Sierra Madre sold out like that. Especially when the sole consideration downtown is how much money City Hall will make off of the applicable development impact fees when these 6,000 square foot multi-million dollar nightmares are built.

My take here is that Harabedian, along with The Great Tax Fighter and the hopeless Gene Goss, are all puppy perky over Phase III Water Use Restrictions for the very worst of reasons. Their politically driven hope here being that the people of Sierra Madre will quickly grow tired of both the fines and demanded sacrifices, throw up their hands and decide that even McMansion development would be preferable to having to endure much more of getting phased.

A nice way to kill a movement. At least in their eyes.

Just so you know, a Water Moratorium, which would halt the installation of new water hook ups, doesn't include hitting the townies up for significant fines and punishments when they don't comply with draconian 30% use reductions. In other words, you will not be the one called upon to make all the sacrifices. The whack on the snout with a rolled up newspaper will instead land someplace else.

If you think about it, it is as if you are being punished for opening your mouth about over-development. Or using too much water so development can't happen. Or perhaps even for failing to pass Measure UUT. Something that is so very City Hall these days. Blaming the residents being preferable there to being blamed themselves.

And does a water moratorium really have anything to do with fining residents for not reducing their water consumption by 30%? How do you logically make a connection like that?

My unsolicited advice for Mayor Harabedian? Two points.

1) Serve the people.

2) Always tell the complete truth.

Claiming that Phase III Water Use Restrictions are the solution to Sierra Madre's problems helps accomplish neither of those goals.

It is nice that there would be no more water hook-ups. Make no mistake. But why undo the good in that by then beating up the residents and ratepayers of this town? Haven't they suffered enough with two successive rate increases in just the last few years, while now also having to endure water the color of old false teeth? Now you want to fine them as well?

Et Cetera

- The black suited lawyer for the One Carter developer strutted up to the podium last night and tried his very best to be scary. An effect that was probably lost when the room burst out into laughter more than once. However, the last laugh was probably his. Phase III Water Use Restrictions would be music to his ears. One Carter already has water hook-ups. Suddenly the property there is worth a lot more. Rumor has it he and Adele danced the night away.

- Mayor Harabedian, perhaps fearful that he might not be thought well of, discussed how the previous City Council had carefully considered water hook up moratoriums. Yet none of the knowledgeable City Council watchers that I spoke with after the meeting could remember such a conversation ever happening. Do you?

- Is it just me, or did Terri Highsmith make a 180 degree turnaround last night? Go back and reread her staff report on building moratoriums, and then compare it with what she said at this City Council confab about a Water Moratorium. We've either gotten to her or she caught Phase III mania just as (umm…) spontaneously as those three Councilmen.

- The residents of Sierra Madre made a great showing last night, and deserved much better from their City Council. They will now need to come back and do it all over again. Hopefully that will help our elected officials get this right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

City Attorney Teresa "Terri" Highsmith's Wacky Alameda Misadventures Are Available All Over The Internet

Mod: Since the staff report on a possible building (or is that water) moratorium here in Sierra Madre reads more like a sales pitch for City Council "no" votes than the balanced and unbiased document you'd expect from our quite highly compensated City Attorney, I got pretty annoyed. Not an unusual a state for me, I guess.

As you are probably aware, we pay a ton of dough to the law firm that Teresa Highsmith is currently associated with. How much of a ton of dough you should ask? A real lot of dough. This screen shot from the City of Sierra Madre "Consent Calendar" is just for the last few weeks alone. It is a whole lot of taxpayer generated wealth for a comparatively compact stretch of work. Check it out if that is what you would like to do.

$27,657.40 for a relatively short period of work is damn good money where I come from. Rest assured dear reader, similarly robust financial statements for legal product (as they say) hit the city's virtual cash register all year long. As is fitting for any law firm that specializes in keeping the townies from ever getting what it is they want.

You know, like a community safe from the predatory megabucks development firms that seem to have carte blanche at City Hall? I mean, when was the last time you were invited to break Twinkies in private with the City Manager?

Not that long ago the City Council conducted a talent search to see if we could get a better City Attorney. One that would take a more egalitarian approach to this city's pressing legal needs while perhaps not costing quite so much.

And you'd think that during this so-called process City Staff might have done a bit of due diligence and looked into these potential City Attorney candidates a little bit more. You know, checked out the names on Google first. Including that of our current City Attorney, Teresa Highsmith. Because if that finger had been lifted they would have found things like the following (link):

A former City Attorney suing the city she used to work for (or, in this case, threatening to sue the city she used to work for) is not usually what people are hoping to see hanging around their downtown. I mean, what would a city have to do, hire a new City Attorney with special legal expertise in protecting them from former City Attorneys? That could become complicated.

And that little bit about Highsmith's current partner, Michael Colantuono, who she hired back then when apparently working for both him and Alameda (and at the same time?), having a screaming fit in public sure made me want to dig deeper into my pockets and pay even more for these kinds of idiosyncratic legal representation.

You can check out the erstwhile lawsuit Teresa Highsmith laid on her ex-employers at the City of Alameda by clicking here. For the record, she eventually dropped this mess. Probably because it stank on ice.

You can also read another SFGate article from John Knox White on these fascinating Highsmith controversies by clicking here. The video mentioned above can be found there as well. Another article is linked here.

Teresa Highsmith and, at least by proxy, her boss Michael Colantuono, are the people who will be sharing their legal pronouncements with us tonight on the issue of a building (or is that water) moratorium.

Doesn't that make you feel better about all of this?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moratorium On Development: More Stupid City Hall Tricks

Why Sierra Madre remains great
There is one thing that is for certain in all of this. You are freaking City Hall out big time. The thought that their big three McMansion developments might be stopped dead in their tracks has got the folks downtown very concerned. After the stunning defeat they took on Measure UUT, they are scared that the same thing might now happen to the development impact fees they are banking on to fund their union pensions and benefits. It's really all they care about, and everything they are doing now is with that one thing in mind.

Let's look at this another way. The last remaining unbuilt areas in Sierra Madre are One Carter, Mater Dolorosa and Stonehouse. That is pretty much all we have left. The threatened McMansion developments being planned for these three places are now being pushed through by City Hall as fast as their little minds can take them. To the city your birthright as a Sierra Madrean is little more than an easy way to fund things like $36,000 a year health care plans.

To you as a resident of this town these places are likely a part of a sacred trust. To them it is just something else to sell out on so that they can retire at 50 and get as far away from this place as possible.

City Hall might be living off of your taxpayer dime, but that hardly means they care a whole lot about what you believe is important. And you are not being dealt with fairly because the city isn't concerned about anything that doesn't favor their interests. Somehow the employee became the boss, and the obligation to produce is now on you.

There are four stupid City Hall tricks that have been put into place downtown for tomorrow's City Council meeting. I thought we should take a minute to talk about them. The city does not intend to play fair on the issue of a moratorium on development here, and they are doing everything they can to put a stop to it.

Here is how:

1) The Mayor does not care to hear from you: You would think that a city claiming to be as dedicated to transparency and citizen involvement as this one would welcome residents hoping to speak out on an issue of importance with wide open arms. Yet you can see by the City Council Meeting Agenda I have posted below, the Mayor has scheduled the discussion on a development moratorium to almost dead last. Counting the Consent Calendar there are 13 items ahead of the moratorium discussion. This was done intentionally. The idea being that after listening to these far less consequential matters for a couple of hours people will grow discouraged and leave.

2) A Councilmember will be absent: One of our newly elected City Councilmembers, Rachelle Arizmendi, who is as dedicated to the right of Sierra Madre's residents to be heard on the matter of development and the water crisis as anyone, has a family obligation. This is a longstanding commitment, and something the Mayor and City Manager have known about ever since Rachelle was first elected to the City Council last April. Rachelle is a likely vote for a development moratorium due to both the water crisis and the fact that the General Plan is not complete. Not complete largely due to unhelpful roadblocks being put into place by City Staff. Yet this is the night the Mayor has now picked to discuss the development moratorium. Try and guess why.

3) Building Moratorium vs. Water Moratorium: A reader who knew something posted this observation yesterday: "You are being told what you CAN'T DO by the City, but of course they are lying to you by omission because you aren't being told what you CAN DO." What the commenter was talking about is the staff report on a development moratorium put together by City Attorney Teresa Highsmith (link). In that report Ms. Highsmith informed us that any building moratorium would by law have a limit of two years. Which is true. Yet the City of Cambria had a moratorium in place for more than a decade, starting in 2001. So how can that be? Easy. Cambria's moratorium is a water moratorium, not a building moratorium. Somehow the City Attorney neglected to highlight that possibility quite as thoroughly in her staff report. A lie by omission? You tell me.

4) The EENER dodge: While the city is doing what it can to discourage you from speaking your mind at tomorrow night's City Council meeting, there is a place where they would prefer that you go. And that is the EENER Commission meeting taking place at City Hall on July 16. They really do want people to show up there instead to talk about the City's water woes. Now there are people on the EENER squad that I respect. Caroline Brown for one. But by and large you could go to Arnold's Hardware and talk to the fine collection of shiny new doorknobs on sale there and get more out of it. You also need to ask yourself this. This EENER meeting on July 16 has been lavishly publicized in articles printed in the Pasadena Star News, Sierra Madre Weekly and the Looney Views News. Yet not a single one of those publications wrote anything about the development moratorium being discussed at tomorrow night's City Council meeting. So why heavily hype a relatively minor meeting not taking place until the middle of next month while at the same time ignoring one of the biggest issues to come down in Sierra Madre since last April's election? I suspect you know.

Here is the agenda for tomorrow night's City Council meeting.

I'll see you at City Hall tomorrow night. 6:30pm is the time. Remember, there is also an open public comment opportunity at the beginning of this meeting as well. As good a time as any to discuss the unfortunate order of this meeting agenda. Don't let stupid City Hall tricks discourage you from being heard. You are smarter and tougher than that.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Could The City Attorney Be Wrong About A Two Year Legal Limitation On Building Moratoriums?

Teresa of Barstow
It has long been the suspicion of some in this community that the developers and Realtors in the area have an attorney working at City Hall that we pay for. Which would be quite a convenience for them, and something that could give them a bit of a leg up when it comes to things like controversial land use issues.

Now I am not going to say here that what follows is any proof of this contention. However, it also does not contradict this notion either. And that this rumored faithless attorney working at City Hall is actually our City Attorney, well, that would certainly be a bad thing if true. It is unfortunate enough that certain elected individuals are also suspected of being faithless as well. We just don't seem to be having much luck with the government officials we date. In the metaphorical sense, of course.

On the matter of any time limitations to a possible building moratorium here in Sierra Madre, one predicated on the rather undeniable fact that we have run out of water and what we are importing to replace it is not regarded by many as being pure or healthful (at least after it hits our decrepit and rather ancient city plumbing), Sierra Madre City Attorney Teresa Highsmith pronounces the following legal opinion. This is taken from the current staff report on this matter, written for Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. It is currently parked on the City of Sierra Madre website and can be easily linked to by clicking here.

If true, and that is how this Govt Code does appear to be written, it would certainly be convenient for those in the McMansion development community opposed to any building moratorium based on our locally non-existent water supplies. That Ms. Highsmith supplies no other opinion on this matter in her report to the City Council except to say that there is a maximum two year limitation on such moratoriums in California, certainly seems to indicate an unshakable belief that this interpretation of the moratorium question is not open to challenge.

So how do you explain this (link)?

Apparently the City of Cambria, which like Sierra Madre is in California and therefore subject to the same state laws, had in 2012 a water supply based building moratorium in place since 2001. Which math shows is far longer than two years.

So what's up with that, Teresa?

Et Cetera: Does anybody know anything about this?

That certainly must have been an interesting time for Ms. Highsmith.

Link here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

City Hall Shows Its Hand On The Building Moratorium

Obviously certain members of the City Council will not want to be seen in public Tuesday making any bold or decisive decisions on a building moratorium. A cautious bunch, this is not something they would enjoy having happen. They'd prefer to punt.

Instead, while they would like to appear to be everybody's friend, and will therefore claim to be extremely concerned about such things as the enduring character of our foothill village and its essentially chronic water crisis, nothing much will get done. Since we're basically out of the local wet stuff anyway, and what has replaced it is turning bad, that is unfortunate. But no matter, it's imperative for them that they not be put into the unhappy position of having to make any commitments to either side on this question.

Because should that happen, these members would be forced to vote against a building moratorium. Thereby facing the highly unpleasant prospect of being seen as favoring one of the most predatory and destructive building booms in Sierra Madre history. That being the McMansion invasions at One Carter, Stonehouse and Mater Dolorosa. Something that would render them politically toxic, and therefore consigned to an ignominy approaching that of the now disgraced Civility Party.

The priority for these members of our City Council is to enable the development impact fees that such a building boom would lavish upon City Hall. We are talking about the couple million dollars that would be fed to our always cash craving city government should these three McMansion developments go forward. Having already been handed a crushing defeat on Measure UUT, it is something they are now quietly determined to make happen.

And why is that? These members of the City Council are fully committed to an agenda that funds the pensions and benefits demanded by the municipal employee unions representing Sierra Madre's city staff. Something that includes such extreme cases as the state leading $36,000 a year health care plan given to a salaried member of the Water Department. With other similarly outrageously expensive benefit packages not very far behind.

This is, if you think about it, a pretty raw deal for the residents and taxpayers. You will be forced to give up your Sierra Madre birthright, and the current members of City Staff will get for retire in comfort. With the Mayor, having delivered to these unions the pound of flesh required by the corrupt one party political machine that runs Los Angeles County, getting his big chance to move up the political ladder.

Ever get the feeling there's nothing in this deal for you but losing?

Like I said, there is very little that certain members of the City Council would enjoy less than having to publicly reveal their actual position on the building moratorium question Tuesday evening. Or any evening I suspect. And there is now an avenue that has been put into place that will allow them to avoid so awful a prospect. It is one that involved ginning up a "process" that includes pushing the entire water matter off on the EENER Commission instead.

This from an article in this morning's Pasadena Star News (link):

California Drought: Sierra Madre commission to review water conservation ordinance - The Sierra Madre Energy Environment and Natural Resources Commission will review the city’s water conservation ordinance at a July 16 meeting.

City officials recommend that residents participate in the meeting so the Commission could collect as many constructive ideas as possible.

While reviewing the ordinance, the Commission will look at similar ordinances from other cities, community input and analysis of the effectiveness of the current ordinance. It will also study building code amendments and include water conservation measures such as gray water use and water conserving fixtures.

The Commission expects to present its recommendations to the City Council in October.

Since much of the case for a building moratorium is built upon the need to come to grips with the nasty water crisis our city is currently facing, what better way to avoid having to come to a decision on this matter Tuesday evening than proposing instead that some other entity within City Hall's organizational apparatus deal with the problem?

Not coincidentally, the following also shows up in the latest installment of the sometimes inadvertently revealing City Manager's Report:

The Energy Environment and Natural Resources Commission has begun its review of the water conservation ordinance. The regular Commission meeting of July 16th has been set aside by the Commission for the sole purpose of discussing the current ordinance. Public participation in the meeting is desired by the Commission in an effort to capture as many constructive ideas as possible. In order to generate participation in the meeting, the Commission and staff will publicize the meeting to the greatest extent possible.

Commission study of the ordinance will include review of ordinances from other cities, community input, analysis of the effectiveness of the current ordinance, study of building code amendments to include water conservation measures such as gray water use and water conserving fixtures, and analysis of the effectiveness of public education efforts. The Commission expects to present its recommendations to the City Council in October.

Note the plea for public participation. "In order to generate participation in the meeting, the Commission and staff will publicize the meeting to the greatest extent possible." Right. Anything would be preferable to having that participation and discussion on this matter occur Tuesday evening.

Let's just use those poor EENERs and push it off until October instead.

Isn't public participation what we are supposed to be having Tuesday evening? Despite the Mayor's attempt to bury the matter at the very end of the meeting, by all accounts the room will be filled with people waiting to speak out on behalf of a building moratorium that addresses just these kinds of water crisis generated concerns.

To be perfectly blunt, what does the EENER Commission really have to do with any of this anyway? While there are some nice and well-informed people on that commission, there are also some knuckleheads that I would not trust to clean my trash cans. Which really could use some work.

And what real difference will their opinions on this City's disastrous water situation make? Both from a supply standpoint and the very real concern that the stuff is turning toxic? And will do so way before October?

Didn't we just spend $50,000 on a consultant who is supposed to come up with just these kinds of answers? So why is the City of Sierra Madre about to expend so much effort and precious billable hours to find out what the likes of Kim Clymer Kelly thinks? And then actually pretend that it matters?

This is a sad and obvious dodge. City Hall, and those City Council members who put development impact fees ahead of this city's safety and traditions, do not want to deal with the growing building moratorium movement in this town. They don't even want to be seen talking about it. And they certainly don't want to have to make any decisions in public.

They now have their escape route in place. Late Tuesday evening you are going to be told to go and talk with the EENERs instead.

You need to tell the City Council that this is not a realistic option, and they should just do their jobs instead.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Robert Fellner: Fire District Board Passes Tax Increase to Sustain $263,000 Median Annual Compensation

Mod: The question that needs to be asked today is whether or not local government now exists mainly to take care of itself and those who work for it. Here in Sierra Madre the answer to that question would seem to be yes, it does. Robert Fellner, writing here for the California Policy Center, is one of the main researchers behind the Transparent California site. A resource that received over 3 million hits in the first 4 months of its existence. It was Fellner who discovered that Sierra Madre, at an incredible $36,000 per year, has perhaps the most expensive individual public employee health care plan in all of California. With more significantly outrageous health plan costs right behind it. This became an issue that contributed greatly to the defeat of Measure UUT when we revealed it here last April (link). But Sierra Madre is hardly alone in the excessive city employee compensation game. Here Robert writes about an equally outrageous situation in another part of our state, and a courageous individual named Bill Prather who fought against it.

Fire District Board Passes Tax Increase to Sustain $263,000 Median Annual Compensation (link): The Rodeo-Hercules Fire District board just announced that a new tax increase, known as a benefit assessment, has passed, amidst criticism deriding the measure as unlawful. The District has a long history of budgetary woes, coupled with lavish $263k median compensation packages, amidst a union-backed board known for its aggressive tactics to fight any efforts that would rein in spending.

The traditional mechanism special districts use to raise taxes are known as a special parcel tax, which require a two-thirds majority to pass. Benefits assessments, by contrast, merely require a simple majority. However, they are only permitted to be levied for a “special benefit” that is defined as a “particular benefit to land and buildings, not a general benefit to the public…“

The use of a benefit assessment for fire protection, which is the definition of a general benefit, has received harsh criticism. Board member Bill Prather, the sole opposing vote against the tax, declared the action a “scam” and the Contra Costa Taxpayers Alliance decried the tax increase as “unconstitutional.”

The District has a history of employing legally and ethically questionable tactics to combat efforts that would force a reduction in spending. In early 2009, District Chief Gary Boyles found himself under attack from a union-backed board that had no tolerance for his cost-cutting ideas. As the Contra Costa Times reported, “Boyles had angered the union by advocating a fitness test as a prerequisite to sending firefighters on out-of-area wildland fire strike teams, a cherished source of overtime.”

After the union successfully forced Boyles out in June 2009 they turned their sights to Prather, another board director willing to stand up to the unions. Prather, a former Fire Captain himself, drew the board’s ire for endorsing similar cost-saving measures as Boyles supported, which were viscerally opposed by the unions who saw them as a potential threat to their revenue streams.

The Contra Costa Times summarized their efforts as, “An almost two year, union-backed attempt by four board members and the district’s lawyer to force Prather out of office.” Prather would not go down quietly, however. He refused to vacate his seat on the board and filed a lawsuit against the District for their attempts to wrongfully compel him to exit. He would receive vindication in 2011, when his lawsuit was victorious and the Board had to offer an apology for their actions.

Today, Prather finds himself surrounded by Local 1230 union-backed board members Manly Moulton Jr. and Raemona Williams, both of whom are active duty firefighters themselves, each earning annual compensation packages in excess of $260,000 each. Union Local 1230 President Vincent Wells, also an active duty firefighter, praised the board’s actions in pursuing the tax increase, in which he announced that “We’re looking forward to the new revenue.” The proliferation of union-beholden firefighters amongst a Board ostensibly designed to provide objective oversight for a fire district is a clear conflict of interest – how strongly will they fight for the interests of the taxpayers, especially if doing so would harm the interests of their fellow union-members?

In an article by the Contra Costa Times documenting the District’s budgetary woes, Fire Chief Hanley also failed to mention employee compensation as a cause of the District’s continued financial hardships, citing state-mandated education initiatives and other negligible factors, instead. Despite having received $347,500 in compensation for overseeing a 15 person department that only received fire-related calls less than 7% of the time, neither Hanley, nor anyone else on the union-backed board, mentioned compensation as the source of the District’s continued budgetary problems. In 2013, Chief Hanley would see his compensation rise to $395,000, which was more than even the chief of the 1500 person Orange County Fire Authority made the previous year.

Speaking to the recent tax increase, board member Beth Bartke thanked the union for handing out information leaflets that advocated for the tax increase, while ignoring the District’s most significant budgetary expense – employee compensation, which is a massive 78.2% of the entire budget. In 2012, the median compensation package for a full time employee of the District was over $278,000. The addition of a few more employees saw that number drop to $263k in 2013, still nearly 300% of the combined household income for the Hercules area. These values do not factor in the volunteer firefighters, who receive less than $1,000 annually, despite performing similar duties as salaried employees.

Consistent with this theme, the District’s otherwise comprehensive website becomes woefully inadequate when producing employee compensation data. Clearly, Local 1230 and the district board members they support have a very strong interest in making sure the taxpayers of the Rodeo-Hercules area remain in the dark about how their tax dollars are being spent.

Unfortunately, the case of the Rodeo-Hercules is not an isolated occurrence. Public unions have long recognized that they can “rig the game” in their favor by controlling the key positions in government that control access to the spigot of tax dollars. There is simply too much money to be won to allow those advocating fiscal responsibility to stand in the way. Mr. Prather, and Fire Chief Boyles before him, are all too common stories of isolated individuals standing up to union interests only to find their efforts met by a relentless, organized, well-funded machine that is willing  to harass, intimidate, and in the case of Mr. Prather, act unlawfully to destroy any opposition to their primary goal – keep the money flowing.

Mod: Just so you know, we're hardly alone in the getting ripped off category.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joe Mosca's House Is Sold: All We Have Left Now Are Precious Memories Of Civility Party Greatness

Mod: The Castle of Hope has been sold, an era has ended, and Joe Mosca is heading south to a new life in San Diego. In the process taking the dreams of dozens with him. The last vestiges of the Civility Party now lay in tatters, and those who once followed his bright banner of decorum are in despair.

So what can we do to commemorate the final passing of so profound a time? How do we let go of someone whose significance to this community was so remarkable that he had to leave us twice? And without so much as a toodle-oo, a ta-tah or a ciao?

After having given this matter some thought we decided to present you with a bushel basket overflowing with happy memories. Joe Mosca's Top Ten Greatest Moments on the Sierra Madre City Council. Vital video vignettes counted down from Number 10 all the way to Numero Uno. Where sadly it all ends, but only in a way.

Joe may have left and taken the dream with him, but we can still take comfort that yes, we were there to bear witness to it all.

And just in case faulty memories fade, or his many accomplishments are somehow even forgotten, here are videos that can help make it all real again. For us, our children, and those who will follow them on down through the ages.

Always remember. Joe often said that he wanted to make a difference. And here we can say that yes, he did.

Video #10: "Joe Mosca Claims Sierra Madre Is Blighted" Link here.

Video #9: "Heather Allen Defends Sierra Madre With Eloquence" Link here.

Video #8: "Joe Mosca Meltdown" Link here.

Video #7: "Joe Mosca 101" Link here.

Video #6: Joe Mosca "That's Why They Voted For Me" Link here.

Video #5: Joe Mosca "We're All On The Same Page" Link here.

Video #4: "Shirley Moore Addresses Joe Mosca" Link here.

Video #3: "Joe Mosca Needs A Break" Link here.

Video #2: "Joe Mosca's 4 Minute Flip Flop Process" Link here.

Video #1: "Joe Mosca Is Reassigned" Link here.

Special thanks to Neuroblast Films for maintaining a library of precious dreams that are so near and dear to our hearts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Tattler Posts Unfortunate News

Mod: While it is true that The Tattler posts unfortunate news, that doesn't mean it is necessarily a bad thing to do. If the truth be told, we rather enjoy it. I mean, if it was good news you wanted, then what in the blue blazes are you doing here? And to be completely open with you, if someone presents me with good news, my first instinct is to try and find out what is wrong with it. Trust me, it never takes long. Here are four examples of unfortunate news. Enjoy, but only if that is what you're looking for, OK? I'm not here to try and help make your decisions for you. I have plenty of my own to deal with, thank you very much. Including whether I should have written this post or not.

Are they renaming Sierra Madre's 4th of July Parade?
Mod: I am a little confused. I am also not quite certain I understand the following from the 4th of July Committee's Facebook page. Who, by the way, are a great committee and don't deserve any of my guff. But life being unfair, here it is anyway. Does the Kensington's "official sponsorship" of Sierra Madre's 4th of July Parade mean its name will have to change? Is it now going to be called something like the Kensington 4th of July Parade at Sierra Madre?

Are McMansions designed for growing marijuana?
Mod: There are many conspiracy theories about why McMansions are being built in such great numbers all over this part of the world. I happen to be on board with all of them. Even when they don't agree. But now there could be a new reason why some people are creating these immense barns. They need the extra room to grow pot. Probably so they can afford to make their immense mortgage payments. This from the Pasadena Star News (link):

438 marijuana plants seized from Arcadia home; suspect arrested - Police seized more than 400 marijuana plants from an Arcadia home late Saturday and arrested a 60-year-old man in connection with the indoor pot garden, officials said.

Yong Fa Jiang of Arcadia was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.

The bust came about 10 p.m. after police officers patrolling the area spotted a “suspicious vehicle” parked along the street in the 2000 block of South Sixth Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said in a written statement.

“Officers contacted a person near the vehicle, and their preliminary investigation revealed that a marijuana cultivation operation was being conducted inside a nearby house,” Cullen said.

Dogs overthrow the Mayor of San Marino
Mod: The other day I posited the controversial theory that dogs are now bypassing human beings in the evolutionary chain. Take a walk around town on any given day and see if I am not right. And now dogs at this end of the valley have scored a stunning political victory. This also from the Pasadena Star News (link):

San Marino mayor resigns after being censured over dog poop incident - Mayor Dennis Kneier, who set off a political firestorm when he tossed a bag of dog poop onto a neighbor’s yard, resigned his post Wednesday, just 10 days after a surveillance video of the incident went viral.

He will stay on as city councilman. Effective immediately, City Councilman Eugene Sun will assume mayoral responsibilities through June 27. The council will meet next week to select a new mayor.

In his resignation letter, Kneier admits his actions were inconsiderate, disrespectful and wrong.

“I have apologized to my neighbor for my action, and I will pay a fine for littering,” Kneier wrote. “These events continue to be embarrassing to me and to the city. Because of this, I have decided to step down as mayor.”

Can we seize the Sierra Madre Water Company by using eminent domain?
Mod: Yes, I do know. Eminent domain is what faithless government uses to seize private property. Such as when a city administration confiscates somebody's single family home so their political cronies can build a so-called sustainable condo development and help save the world from global warming. Or some such thing. But is it eminent domain when the citizens take over a government holding because the nitwits running it are doing a miserable job? That I do not know. Here is a marginally related news item from the Los Angeles Register (link):

Claremont considers eminent domain takeover of private water utility's infrastructure - The City Council will vote Tuesday evening on whether to put a $55 million bond measure onto the November ballot – and position Claremont to force the water company that serves the community to sell off pumps, pipes and wells to the city.

Skyrocketing water prices have prompted city leaders to consider using eminent domain – usually used by governments to grab land for civic projects or for private ones deemed crucial because of the tax revenue new development would bring.

But Claremont, after residents’ years long frustration, is poised to try this creative approach of snatching Golden State Water Co.’s equipment and forming its own water company.

“The city wants to gain local control of its water destiny,” said City Manager Tony Ramos. “If the city had control of the assets, the City Council would have to approve rate increases.”

Residents have absorbed a 100 percent increase in prices over the last decade, according to city documents. Claremont customers pay on average $156.08 per month – 54 percent higher than Pomona, 65 percent higher than La Verne and 182 percent higher than Upland.

Mod: One more question. Haven't the residents of Sierra Madre been hit with 100% in collective water rate increases over the last several years?