(3/2/07) Editorial – Recalling Joe Mosca Not in City’s Best Interest

City Council member Joe Mosca has been served with recall papers.  In my opinion, anybody that would choose to recall Joe Mosca has an agenda that is something other than who can best represent this City as a Council member.  For me, it’s that simple.  I can not recall anyone who has worked harder and been more involved as a City Council member than Joe Mosca.  Why would somebody want to get rid of someone who works so hard for the benefit of the City, even if there are several issues you disagree on, much less the one that seems to have set these people off?  This community is being torn apart over 10 feet (height).  One story.  Seems kind of silly.

When you look at the reasons given by the proponents of the recall for recalling him, it becomes obvious that there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the whole idea.  It’s more like the “It’s my ball, and you play my way or I go home and take the ball with me” mentality that’s at work in this thing.  “Thumbed his nose at his constituents?” “ Recklessly shattered the calm of this delightful and friendly village?”  I think they’ve got the wrong Councilman.  I think there are a few (very vocal) sore losers that thought they were electing a puppet that were disappointed when he didn’t vote the way they wanted him to – on one issue – and all the other work that Joe does (and has done) should apparently be ignored.  Forget that as liaison to the MTA, he represented the City’s public transportation users and worked to minimize the effects of the MTA’s desire to alter the bus routes through town.  Forget that he served as the deciding vote on an update of our hillside zoning law which better protects our hillside from over-development.  Forget that he voted to bring paramedics to town, increasing the safety of every member of this community.  Forget that in one of his first actions on Council, he voted to bring an emergency water supply to town (again, increasing the safety of every member of this community), finishing up work that had begun more than a decade earlier, and which his fellow newbie council members either questioned as a (non-existent) pro-development conspiracy or didn’t know enough about to make a vote on. 

That last sentence actually brings up a very good reason to keep Joe.  Joe knows enough about issues to make a vote on them, or he finds out.  He stays on top of issues that are before the Council.  He doesn’t come to a meeting unprepared, he doesn’t forget his Council information packet, or bring the packet without having reviewed it, he doesn’t come to the most important meeting of the City Council’s annual work, the budget meeting, and tell us he doesn’t understand the budget or didn’t have time to review it.  Actually, this paragraph should be re-written, because these are things we’ve seen other Council Members do.  So let’s get back to talking about Joe: He comes to meetings prepared, with his Council information packet, which he’s reviewed, and he came to the budget meeting prepared to discuss, suggest, modify and act on the budget with his fellow Council Members. 

Joe serves the City not only within our City government as a Council member, but outside the community, as well.  He represents Sierra Madre on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), San Gabriel Valley Service Sector Governance Council.  He represents Sierra Madre as Vice Chair of the Pasadena Unified School District, (PUSD) Management Audit Advisory Committee (MAAC).  He represents Sierra Madre as an Alternate Member of the Governing Board for the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG).  And he represents Sierra Madre as a Member of the Community, Economy, Housing and Development Committee (CEHD) of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).  By providing Sierra Madre with representation when these organizations are planning the regional future, we have a say in what those plans will be, and how they will affect Sierra Madre.  I am constantly amazed at all the events and meetings he attends, and I’m sure I don’t know the half of his efforts.

The crux of the matter seems to be that some people aren’t happy that Mosca didn’t team up with Watts and Zimmerman in their attempt to put an unfinished document before the people for a vote.  The recall petition says that Joe voted against submitting the DSP to a public vote.  What it doesn’t say is that at that time, the DSP was incomplete and unready to be voted on.  When asked to bring the DRAFT DSP, yes, I said DRAFT, as in unfinished, still needs work, rough copy, outline, as in INCOMPLETE and therefore not ready for voting on, DSP before the voters, Joe decided it might be better to complete the document, before putting it to a vote.  Yes, putting it to a public vote.  You know, of the people.  Then Joe took it upon himself to prepare a time line for COMPLETING the Draft, i.e., finishing, i.e., no longer rough, as in made ready to be voted on document, and that timeline included as one of its action items a VOTE OF THE PEOPLE.

As Joe states, “As to the claim that I do not support a public vote on the downtown plan, it is not true.  I supported and still support a public vote.  I authored and the Council unanimously passed a resolution that called for more public input and a public vote on the completed document.”

So what is the agenda I spoke about in the first paragraph?  It’s my opinion that the people who are calling for the recall, many of whom are backers of Measure V, have decided to try and distract the folks who support Joe, many of whom are against Measure V, from their effort to defeat Measure V.  Think about it.  There have been calls for Joe’s recall since June of last year.  But nothing got done about it until just a few weeks before the election on Measure V.  Now Joe hasn’t taken a stance that I’m aware of on Measure V.  But many of his supporters have.  And what better way to help Measure V than to distract the people fighting it with something they feel is just as worthwhile, keeping Joe on the council?  It’s an age old strategy that has been used for both good and bad, called “divide and conquer.”  I don’t know with certainty that that’s what’s intended here, but I suspect it is, and the idea that it might be being used by our friends and neighbors against our friends and neighbors disturbs me.

The terms of the recall require that the proponents get a whole bunch of signatures (1800+) on a petition to recall Joe, and they have to do it fairly quickly.  When they ask you to sign, I hope you won’t sign it.  I sure as heck won’t be signing it.  And I’ll tell you one of the biggest reasons I have for withholding my signature.  Trust.  I trust Joe. I trust Joe to be prepared.  I trust Joe to have an understanding of the issues brought before him.  I trust that he will seek informed counsel if for some reason he doesn’t understand an aspect of what he’s voting on.  I trust him to represent my interests as a citizen of this City, both at the local level and as my representative on regional organizations.  I trust him to tell me the truth, whether I want to hear it or not.  I trust that even if I disagree with the decisions he makes, he is making the decision that he considers to be best for Sierra Madre, from a position of knowledge, having considered all the options he can see before him.  I trust him to treat me and my opinion with respect.  I trust him to show his respect for the members of this community by putting the time and the effort into being prepared to do his best on every issue that comes before the Council, and to also show his respect by attending events that are important to the people of this town, such as Chamber mixers, Little League openings, All-America City rallies, Wistaria Day, Dickens Village, Mt. Wilson Trail Race and so many more.  Each one of these events is an opportunity for him (and the other Council members, those who show their respect for their constituents by making the time) to talk with the people of the City and find out what’s important to them, ask their advice about the issues.  I trust that with Joe, if I want to discuss our differences (or similarities) of opinion, I’m going to be treated with respect, and our conversation will be informed, intelligent, civil and non-confrontational. I can’t say that about everyone on the Council.  Please don’t sign the petition.