In case you are not aware, or simply forgot because your life is filled with vast quantities of similarly important minutia, today is Leap Day. Which only happens once every four years. It is the extra day they tack on at the end of the shortest month of all, which then becomes February 29. Here is how Wikipedia limns it for us:
February 29, known as leap day in the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 ... Although most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, during which an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.
Leap days only occur in years where there is a Presidential election, and the Olympics happen on years with leap days as well. You just get a little bonus time during the special years. Enjoy your extra day.
So much for the interesting news. Let's now talk about last night's City Council meeting.
The unlikely hero of Measure V has become Billy Shields. The developer of the Assisted Living Facility now to be known as The Kensington, Billy rose to his feet during Public Comment last night and implored that somebody agendize his request to put this project on the ballot this coming November in accordance with the Voter's Empowerment Ordinance as quickly as possible. Something that MaryAnn MacGillivray later did.
There could also be some insight revealed here as well in regards to the popularity of the Kensington project. Fountain Square Development West, the developer Billy Shields has partnered with, is widely regarded to be the patron of the Competitive Edge Research Poll that was conducted in Sierra Madre recently (click here). I can only assume that by continuing to insist that the City of Sierra Madre go forward with this vote the news from the survey must have been good for Fountain West.
The big question now is whether the City Council will follow the law and put the Kensington question on the November ballot, or try to convince the City that they are somehow above it all. If that turns out to be the case Sierra Madre will then be in direct conflict with the Constitution of the State of California. No small matter I should think.
The endless debate over incontinent dogs versus Little League baseball fields continued, and apparently will now grind on for at least one more City Council meeting. An issue that, while not in conflict with the California State Constitution, is material that Josh and Nancy are obviously comfortable with. Which is maybe why this one just keeps going on. Perhaps it is scoring great ratings points for SMTV3, or something. God help us.
Fees for using Dog Parks was also discussed. Something that, if passed, will encourage dog owners to walk their beloved pets on the baseball fields.
This was followed by an obviously preplanned strategy to place John Buchanan on the Oversight Board overseeing the dissolution of the Sierra Madre Redevelopment Agency. Also known as the "Successor Agency," this claque of cash allocators will decide what Sierra Madre will get to keep in order to pay for projects either already underway or even finished, and what funds will go to help fund education. The Oversight Board is weighted to favor using this money for education, with several of its members actually in the public school business. Something that was apparently done by design. It does appear that the deck is stacked against us.
Which is the reason why Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh claimed we need to throw Fighting John into the fray. The soon to be former Mayor, in a moment of unconvincing modesty, did attempt to give the impression that he was uncomfortable with nominating himself, and he insisted he would only accept the position if all of his colleagues agreed that he is the man. But when MaryAnn MacGillivray did not voice any such support for what was going down (she had wanted to put forward another candidate), John took the job anyway.
The City of Sierra Madre was revealed last night to have now "uncommitted" several previously committed CRA projects. This was done in the hope that it will provide enough cash to satisfy the Oversight Board, and that they will then decline go after things City Hall would prefer to keep. Or, even more to the point, have already finished and paid for with CRA money. The now uncommitted and therefore dead in the water projects are:
City Hall/Public Safety Roofs ........................... $250,000
Citywide Street Resurfacing ............................. $1,030,282 (various funds)
Re-pave City-Owned parking lots .................... $595,000
Facade Improvement Program ........................ $30,000
Low Mod Housing (Highland) ......................... $450,000
One of the great hopes of those who wished to see the CRA go away was that it would put an end to redevelopment. And in Sierra Madre there was no less popular redevelopment project than the low mod housing that was being pushed for with CRA money on Highland. To the certain relief of the residents of that neighborhood it would now appear that this project is DOA. Score one for the good guys.
There are three projects that will remain on the books. They are the ADA Entry Project ($50,000), Santa Anita Fire costs ($200,000), and the inexplicable and absurd Market Demand Survey ($30,000 - click here) that the G3 pushed so hard for this last year. It might actually be interesting to hear John Buchanan explain to the Oversight Board why a $30K consultant study of the product consumption habits of Sierra Madre area residents should take precedence over the desperate needs of public school kids. I'm sure he'll cook up something.
More alarming is the very real possibility that the Oversight Board will want CRA money that has been spent on projects already completed. These could include:
Senior Center/Park House ....................................... $565,000
Sierra Madre Boulevard Main Replacement .......... $750,000
UUT Public Safety Carryover ................................ $400,000
Housing Element and General Plan ...................... $300,000
There are others as well, and the take for the Oversight Board would be a healthy one should they take that route. Too bad the City Manager did not allow the General Plan Update Committee to forgo the hiring of consultants as was their wish, thus potentially saving us the $300,000 we are now in jeopardy of having to pay for out of General Fund reserves.
Other things happened at this meeting, but RBS (Restless Brain Syndrome, a condition first diagnosed here by regular commenters Ma and Pa), demands that I now move on to other topics.
Today's PSN article on the State of the City/UUT Controversy
As we discussed yesterday, the Mayor's State of the City address turned out to be little more than a pep rally for voting 'yes' on Measures 12-1 and 12-2. Which I suppose means that the "state of the city" is now color coded green for malarkey.
The article being referred to today, "Sierra Madre Mayor Buchanan advocates tax measure in state of city speech" (click here), is a fairly evenhanded piece on the attempts of the City to raise our UUT rate to 12%, which would then be the highest in the State of California. But what makes this article invaluable is that it now shows two more City Council candidates as being officially on the public record with their take on how people should vote on this issue. Those candidates being Chris Koerber and Professor Gene "Goose" Goss. First Koerber:
Chris Koerber, who is running to fill the remaining two years of the vacant council seat, said the measure is actually a tax increase because without it the UUT would decrease to 6 percent by 2016.
"The fact is that they're trying to create an artificial sense of urgency on April 10," Koerber said. "We should learn to live within the budget at 10 percent."
Eugene Goss, who revealed himself at his campaign kickoff event last weekend to be another garden variety tax and spend devotee ala Buchanan or Moran, attempted to challenge the widely held notion in town that Buchanan is employing scare tactics to stampede the voters into voting themselves a tax increase. Thus spake the Goose:
Gene Goss, another council candidate, said he didn't think Buchanan used any scare tactics.
"Mayor Buchanan hit the right tone," Goss said. "He did a very accurate job of describing the state of the city and challenge we're going to face on the future."
Nice of Gene to help push forward the "scare tactics" meme for us.
What this means is that all of the viable candidates for City Council are now down on record regarding where they stand on Measures 12-1 and 12-2, the "soak the taxpayers" UUT questions on April's ballot. That is, with the exception of two. Those being Colin Broadrick and John Harabedian. The two UUT "decline to state" candidates, both of whom are running "all things to all people" metro-style campaigns, have yet to let us in on their thoughts regarding this rather important matter.
The article also shows John Buchanan in the throes of yet another debilitating episode of GKB (Government Knows Best) syndrome.
Buchanan, however, said unless an extension is passed now, the City Council would have to assume it won't have those funds when it prepares the next budget.
"Survival is a very low definition of a city that takes pride in having its own independence," he said.
Of course, most people would regard independence as being able to spend their hard earned money on the things that they want to use it for. Not turn it over to the likes of Mayor Buchanan, someone who will then squander it on such poor choices as a $30,000 "Market Demand" consultant study.
VFW City Council Candidate Forum is March 11
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3208 will be holding its Candidates Forum on Sunday, March 11, 1:30 to 3:30 PM. It will take place at the Memorial Park Hart House.
At last! A candidate debate that the working men and women of Sierra Madre can actually attend. All are invited.