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POA Sends Out Robo-Call

This afternoon, 4/7, SM POA president John Ellins called Sierra Madreans asking them to vote for Measures U and UA  Listen to the message.

LA County Democrats Target MacGillivray

Saturday afternoon, some Sierra Madreans received a call from the LA County Democratic Party, asking them not to vote for Council Candidate Maryann MacGillivray.  The caller, who couldn't correctly pronounce the candidate's name, told people that she is trying to deceive them, wanting them to believe she is a moderate when she is actually "a George Bush Republican, committed to the policies that have hurt small cities and towns across our nation."  Listen to the call here.  When contacted about whether they had any involvement with the call, candidates Enid Joffe and John Buchanan not only denied being associated with the call, but were upset that it had happened.  "That's not our campaign," said Joffe. "I did not authorize and do not condone that type of call.  I want to earn people's votes with my experience and my record, not by attacking other candidates," she continued. "Had I been contacted, I'd have argued against making the call." said Buchanan.

Endorsement Editorials:

City Council

City Treasurer

City Clerk

Ballot Measures

No on Measure P – This flawed measure would tie our Police Department’s salaries to those of other cities throughout the area.  This would take away the decision making power from our City Council and put it in the hands of other cities.  We would literally have no control of our own City Budget.  Due to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between our Police Officers’ Association (POA) and the City, even the author’s of this measure, the POA, have now withdrawn their support of the measure, and are urging a No vote on it.

Yes on Measure U – This measure, which has been endorsed by the POA, the Sierra Madre Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, and the SM Chamber of Commerce, has also received the unanimous support of all five City Council Members, who wrote the Argument for the Measure that appears on the Sample Ballot.   All funds raised by this measure will remain in Sierra Madre to help bring revenues for our General Fund closer to the City’s expenditures.  It’s a modification of the existing User Utility Tax (UUT), which increases the existing UUT rates by 2% per year for three years, and adds other utilities to the taxable items, including updating the existing law to include new communications technology.  That’s right, a tax increase.  The City’s costs are going up, and its revenue is not.  Somehow, more money has to be found to continue to fund City services, particularly the public safety services.  The POA has signed a memorandum of understanding that will increase their salary.  The City has started paramedic services, the last City in L.A. County to provide this essential service for its residents, and its first two calls justified its existence, saving the lives of the residents involved.  But there’s no money to pay for that service after 2009, since it was funded for only two years when started (funds were obtained by the sale of an unused fire station).  And there’s no money to pay the POA salary increase.  So the Ad Hoc Finance Committee, which reviewed the City’s budget and found that there was no way to fund these items without essentially eliminating all other City services such as the Library and the Community and Personnel Services Dept., recommended this UUT increase, with safeguards to protect the residents.  There’s a sunset clause; by 2016, the tax is back to today’s rate unless the City’s voters elect to extend the increase.  There will be a Citizen’s oversight committee formed, with each Council member appointing one member, to make sure the funds are properly disbursed.  There is an exemption process for low and fixed income residents.  And as stated before, unlike some taxes, where only 18 cents on the dollar is returned to Sierra Madre, every penny raised by this tax will be spent in Sierra Madre; the state can’t touch these funds.  It should be noted, this isn’t a cure-all for the City’s financial woes, we still need to find funds to pay for other services, but this measure will go a long way towards helping to keep the City financially solvent. 

Yes on Measure UA – This is an advisory measure, a companion to Measure U.  If approved, it advises the City Council that all funds raised by Measure U are to be spent on Public Safety, i.e., increasing the Police Dept. budget (not just POA salaries) and funding paramedics.  It is non-binding, advisory only, but it will ensure that money raised by the UUT isn’t diverted to other General Fund expenses (to act against the will of the voters is not a smart move).  So even if you vote no on Measure U, you should vote yes on Measure UA, to ensure that if Measure U passes, the funds all go to Public Safety.

City Council

Yes to John Buchanan – John Buchanan has demonstrated in his first four years that he has a keen understanding of the issues that face the City.  Ask him about an issue that has appeared before the Council, and he will tell you what it was about.  I’m regularly amazed at his ability to talk at length about items that are not always easy to grasp.  He is ALWAYS prepared to discuss an issue.  You may not always agree with how he votes, but you know his vote was made with an awareness of the issue he was voting on, and a desire to do what’s best for the City.  That can’t be said of all our Council members, one of whom openly admits a lack of preparedness and knowledge of some of the issues before the Council.  Since he’s not up for election, the best we can do is make sure the other Council members we elect ARE prepared and knowledgeable.  John’s record is admirable.  During his time on Council, he led the effort to establish a paramedic program, the City completed its first Senior Housing Project, and brought in federal money to pay for the water project.  He also rejected the POA offer of Jan. 07, and approved the Dec. 07 agreement, which saved the City $200,000+ per year.  That’s just a partial list, and he’s earned the right to four more years.

Yes to Enid Joffe – Enid took over as Mayor right after the divisive Measure V election, and has helped bring the City closer together, though obviously there’s still division.  But you can’t argue with her record.  During her four years in office, probably the most important thing she’s done has been to sign a three-year agreement with the POA, the first time the City and POA agreed on compensation in more than a decade.  Under her leadership, The Ad Hoc Finance Committee was formed to review the City’s budget and make recommendations on preserving the City’s financial stability.  The hillside ordinance was strengthened.  She also rejected the POA offer of Jan. 07, and approved the Dec. 07 agreement, which saved the City $200,000+ per year.   Enid has shown a willingness to listen, and to work with others to do what’s best for the City, and she, too, has earned the chance to serve the City for four more years.

No to Maryann MacGillivray – At both Candidate Forums, when asked how to solve our budget crisis, Maryann told us there are four places we can look to cut our budget, but only one that’s viable, Personnel.  Ms. MacGillivray is living in a dream world if she thinks we can find the $1.6 - $2 million dollars the City needs annually if Measure U fails, by cutting staff.  The Ad Hoc Finance Committee already looked at our budget and says the cuts can’t be made without shutting down entire departments and their essential services. Sierra Madre already has the fewest employees per capita of any full service city, and those employees are paid lower than comparable cities, and are not scheduled for pay increases any time soon.  We need Council members that are living in the real world, not dreaming.  And then there’s the Dorn/Platz issue.  MacGillivray lives within 300 feet of the Dorn/Platz project at 1 Carter, which is one of the issues involved in the lawsuits the builder has against the City.  MacGillivray says she sees no need to recuse herself from the Council’s discussion and action regarding the lawsuits.  But it only takes one person to file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Committee to start an investigation, and if you or I think Dorn/Platz won’t be all over that, we’re fooling ourselves.  So either we end up for an extended period of time (while the FPPC conducts its investigation) with a Council that has only three members that can vote on settling the lawsuit (Council Member Don Watts already recuses himself), or MacGillivray votes, which sets up the City for a lawsuit by Dorn/Platz.  But hey, we’re already fighting seven lawsuits with this developer, what’s an eighth?  An eighth would be additional money (the City doesn’t have) being spent by the City to defend itself on an issue that should never have arisen in the first place. She’s got (or has endorsed) some good ideas (take the library out of General Fund, recruit modern, high sales tax, low work area businesses), but not enough to take our endorsement away from John and Enid.  Those ideas can be implemented by others, and I’m not sure they are originally attributed to her, anyway.

No to Kevin Paschall – Kevin Paschall’s campaign has been based on implications, and scaring people, not facts or solutions.  He implies in his campaign literature that his opponents are in the back pocket of developers or have ownership in properties that they aren’t acknowledging.  But he has no basis for these allegations.  He implied that he is the only candidate that will protect our downtown by upholding Measure V, when all four of his opponents have stated that they will uphold the Measure because, after all, it’s the law.  He has shown a lack of respect for the Voters of this town by failing to show up at the Kiwanis forum to help them learn where he stands, and at that forum, his campaign manager read a statement that admitted that he won’t be there for us as a Council member, noting that his auto broker business “doesn’t afford me the luxury of a day off.”   So, when the City needs him to conduct its business during the day, or to attend a meeting of a regional organization to defend/promote the City’s interests, we’re just out of luck.  He’s shown a complete lack of respect for federal copyright laws, by using the All-America City logo without authorization and refusing to take it down despite multiple requests by the National Civic League that he do so.  After all those years in the printing business, you’d think he’d respect the rights of the copyright owners, but his actions say otherwise.   I’d be willing to bet Kevin Paschall couldn’t (without coaching) tell you the difference between Prop A and Prop C funds, or what they can be used for.  I don’t think he’s qualified for the position.  And don’t get me started on the way he’s chosen to exploit the memory of  “Grampa Jack”, a man he never knew (Grampa Jack died in the 1940s, Kevin was born in the fifties), but who probably was far more qualified than his grandson to serve on the Council.  If you look at his campaign material closely, Kevin’s running his campaign on his family’s and in particular, Grampa’s reputation, as much or more than his own.

No to “Eagle” Bill Tice – I like Bill, and he regularly surprises me.  I appreciate his involvement in City Council and the issues facing our town.  I look forward to his presentation of Eagle awards.  But as much as I like Bill, I’m not sure apple pie and ice cream and old fashioned revivals are the solutions to the City’s problems, and I don’t think he’s as qualified as three of the other candidates to sit on the Council.

City Treasurer

Yes to George Enyedi – Former Citizen of the Year George Enyedi is well respected in Sierra Madre.  He is a CPA who volunteered untold hours of his time helping the City Treasurer back in the 1990s.  He has put the Pioneer Cemetery and the Sierra Madre Playhouse on solid financial footing.  He is eminently qualified for the position, and this town is extremely lucky that he has agreed to run to be our City Treasurer.

No to Salvatore Tesoro III  – Tesoro has turned his back on this town since entering the race, not responding to a single phone call or e-mail from either of the sponsors of the Candidate forums, ignoring the editor’s of local papers that wanted to help bring his message to the voters so they can make an informed decision, and failing to launch any type of campaign whatsoever.  For that alone, the City should turn its back on him.  And thank its lucky stars that George decided to run.  One can only imagine the chaos Sal would create if he was to be elected because he was running unopposed.

City Clerk

Yes to Karma Bell

  1. Karma Bell wants to have the City Clerk’s office in City Hall, and even store official City records at City Hall.  What a novel concept. 

  2. She wants to have regular hours (not hour) at City Hall, where people can actually connect with the City Clerk.  Another novel concept. 

  3. At a time when the City is facing a major budget crisis, she wants to reduce the compensation to the City Clerk, to the tune of $14,000 during election years. 

  4. She trusts the City administration, and wants the City Clerk’s office to work with other members of staff as a team, for the good of the City. 

  5. She thinks the Election Officer of the City needs to be an impartial, unbiased steward of the Election. 

Her opponent takes the opposite stance on all these issues.  The main knock I’ve heard from anybody on Karma Bell is that she lacks experience, and has never managed a City election.  Nancy Shollenberger lacked experience when she took office 24 years ago, and as Nancy herself admitted at the Kiwanis candidate forum, when she took office, she had never managed an election either.  But there is one thing Karma can say today about herself that Nancy can’t.  She’s never mismanaged an election, either.

No to Nancy Shollenberger – There are myriad reasons why it’s time for Nancy Shollenberger to call it a career. 

  1. Nancy Shollenberger wants to have the City Clerk’s office in her home, and keep City records there (on the hillside that is far more susceptible to fire than is City Hall).  For that matter, once they’ve left City Hall, they could be stored in Bakersfield for all anybody knows.  If something happened to Nancy, all City records stored away from City Hall could be lost. 

  2. Nancy, until Feb. 1st, did not have regular hours at City Hall, and since then, she has only one hour per week scheduled at City Hall, making it difficult for people to actually connect with the City Clerk. 

  3. At a time when the City was facing a major budget crisis (2003), she asked for more money from the City, including asking for four times more than the Mayor makes. 

  4. She doesn’t trust the City administration, and kept it out of the loop on the Sample Ballot error, forcing the City Manager to ask a local reporter to provide her and the City Attorney with a copy of the City Clerk’s press release announcing the error. 

  5. She thinks it’s perfectly acceptable for the Election Officer of the City to be biased, and to publicly trumpet her bias, despite being the steward of the Election.  Can a candidate for office really feel that their best interests will be served in an election when the City Clerk’s office has signs endorsing that candidate’s opponent? 

  6. She messed up big time on this year’s sample ballot, not only costing the City $6,000, but putting the entire election at risk.  If someone wants to challenge the results of the election regarding Measures P, U or UA, they have a reasonable chance of winning, and forcing another costly election. 

  7. She refused to answer questions about the error for several days (actually, some questions never got answered, but I stopped asking when she acknowledged responsibility for the error), and…

  8. She sent the wrong document to me when I made a public records request about the issue. 

  9. She has tried to re-write history, noting in her campaign statement that “A select few City Council Members decided to change the Minute Taking process.”  What she failed to inform the voters is that the Minute Taking process was only changed when she refused to continue taking minutes unless the Council gave her a raise. 

  10. There’s the issue of seven or eight years of ordinances not being published.  Nancy’s defense has been that it wasn’t her job to have them published, and I suspect that’s probably right.  But what Nancy hasn’t addressed is the fact that Government Code 40806 states that ”it is the City Clerk’s responsibility to: Keep a book marked "ordinances" and record in it all city ordinances with his certificate annexed to each, stating: (a) It is a true and correct copy of a city ordinance; (b) The ordinance number; (c) It has been published or posted pursuant to law. “  So either she failed to properly keep the record of the ordinances’ publication as required by law for all those years, or she kept a record stating they had been published when they hadn’t.  Either way, she wasn’t doing her job correctly. 

  11. She provided incorrect information to me when I asked for information for an article to inform the voting public about the absentee ballots, and had I not questioned the “facts” as provided, I would have given voters throughout the San Gabriel Valley the wrong info, based on the erroneous data provided by the Sierra Madre City Clerk. 

  12. She gave candidates the wrong candidate handbook for 3 straight elections. 

  13. Her minutes are rambling and incoherent.  To give you an idea, read this sentence in today’s letter to the editor where she talks about deserving to be chastised: ”Since I strongly feel that I am deserving of being chastised and strongly criticized for my errors, albeit it was the only one in my 24 years of service to our City, by many of our residents and the news media especially, I owe it to my conscience to have a closing to this unpleasant experience.”  Admittedly not from the minutes, but it gives you an idea of her writing skills.  Her sentence structure makes it very difficult to understand what she’s trying to say.  Do we want City records kept this way? 

  14. I’ve just received word that absentee ballots for two Sierra Madre students who requested them were sent to their parents’ homes, instead of being sent to the students’ schools, as requested.  How many other absentee ballots were misdirected?  And how many voters will not get to vote due to this type of misdirection?

And what about her claim that the sample ballot error was the only mistake she’s made in 24 years?  Can she really believe that?  The evidence says otherwise.

POLITICAL SABOTAGE IN SIERRA MADRE as Newspapers Are Stolen, False Endorsement of City Clerk Left In Its Place

The Mt. Views Observer newspapers on all of the racks in Sierra Madre except the ones on North Baldwin were stolen this evening (Sunday, 4/6)  within a few hours of their being distributed.  In their place was a flyer that says "ENDORSEMENT of our CITY CLERK NANCY SHOLLENBERGER Mount Wilson Observer Jan 5-10, 2007.  Then it lists quotes from a Mt. Wilson Observer story on Nancy after her ex-husband Herb died.
 THEN IT IS SIGNED SUSAN HENDERSON, former managing editor of the Mount Wilson Observer."
This vandalism and forgery have been reported to the police.

Shortly after midnight, it appeared that some locations had been restocked.  The issue, which included several articles and letters to the editor regarding the election, was heavy with criticism of City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger and Council Candidate Maryann MacGillivray.  If you are unable to find a printed copy, it can be found online at

The Fastest Online Sierra Madre Election Coverage is at SierraMadreNews.Net Tuesday, April 8th, we will be at City Hall, updating election results as they come in.  At last year's election, we posted election updates an average of about 20 minutes sooner than the City website.

Rational Responses to Misleading Statements

Response to Sierra Madre Citizens for Change Postcard Mailer

By Bill Coburn

After receiving in the mail a postcard that appeared to me to have some pretty disturbing accusations, I decided to do some research about it.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t research who sent the mailer or who was financially backing the mailer, because the only information in that respect was the name of a committee, the Sierra Madre Citizens for Change, and on the day it was received, there was no such committee on file with the City Clerk.

However, the next day, I found out the paperwork for Sierra Madre Citizens for Change was filed with the City Clerk on Thursday, April 3rd, one day after its mailer arrived at the homes of Sierra Madre residents.  John Crawford is listed as the treasurer of the organization.  That is the only name on the form, the parts of the form for listing other principal officers’ names were left blank.  So, either we have a one-man committee, claiming to be a group of citizens, or, more likely, we have a “mystery” committee that is operating under a cloak of secrecy.  Ironic, since the Committee is demanding transparency in City government.  Incidentally, the postcard as mailed does not conform to the City’s requirement that political mass mailers include an address for the Candidate/Committee that sent it.

According to City Manager Elaine Aguilar, there seems to be some confusion as to the documents referenced on the postcard.  Ms. Aguilar advised me that a common mistake made by people is to compare budgets with State Controller’s reports or audited reports.  Doing so is comparing the proverbial apples and oranges.  Budgets are estimates, and estimates only, of what the City expects its revenue and expenses will be.  Actual income and expenses do not always match up with what is anticipated.  Outside influences beyond the City’s control cause the numbers to change from the time that they are projected (as much as 18 months before the budget start date) to the time they become actual income and expenses.  Also, the state controller’s report does not include everything that is in the budget, so the numbers are going to be different.  It is a snapshot of the un-audited actual income and expenses, but it is only a portion of the total budget.  The state controller’s report must be filed within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year.  Audited reports are generally completed 9 months to a year after the end of the fiscal year, and again, contain different information than is found in either the budget or the State Controller’s report.

 Click here to view audit and budget figures from 2001 – 2009.

Let’s look point by point at the postcard’s statements/misstatements.

 Point 1 - Why has the City’s budget gone from $7.9 million in 2001 to $18.2 million in 2008?

Despite what the postcard states as a budget figure ($7.9mil), the City’s audited actual figures show $10.5 mil in 2001, though the $18.2 million budget figure is accurate for 07-08.  Comparing the City’s 2001 audited actual figures with the projected budget figures for 07-08, the City General Fund expenses have gone down half a million dollars, from about $6.4 million dollars to about $5.9 million dollars.  The General Fund is made up of funds that have no restrictions on them, that can be used however the City sees fit.  The audited figures for 2001, which includes both General Fund dollars and Restricted Fund dollars, has increased, from $10.4 million in 2001 ($6.4mil GF and $4mil RF) to the 2008 projected budget figure of $18.2 million ($5.9million GF and $12.175million RF).  But if you read the postcard, they make it sound like this is a bad thing.  It’s not.  And here’s why…

Necessary improvements to the City’s infrastructure should not be ignored in order to reduce the City’s total budget.  It’s not a bad thing when a City is able to maintain, or in this case, reduce the funds that it spends from its General Fund, as Sierra Madre has, and is able to maintain essential services or increase the capital improvement it makes for its residents by using other people’s money, i.e., restricted funds received through grants and state and federal funds that limit how the money can be spent.  Especially when other agencies’ money is being used for improvements like reconstructing the City’s reservoirs, constructing the Youth Activity Center, improvements to the Senior Center, and the construction of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), along with capital purchases for items such as the transit buses for the City’s Dial-A- Ride program.  Isn’t it a good thing that the budget increased, because it means we addressed major needs within the City’s infrastructure and other areas, using federal money and other agency money (not City money), in the only manner that that income was allowed to be spent?  The answer is obvious, but you’d never know it from the postcard.  They raise a very legitimate question, but when one knows the answer, it becomes less an accusation, and more something to be praised and appreciated.

Point 2 – “Three new taxable categories have been added to the UUT, and at a rate as high as 12%.  When added to the four existing categories being raised as much as 6%, the UUT “Measure U” tax increase becomes significantly larger than we’ve been told.”  The implication is that the City is hiding some information about the UUT and the tax increase.  That’s patently untrue.  One need look no further than the City’s website, one click of a mouse away from the home page.  The postcard gives a web address that doesn’t provide any breakdown of the information it discusses, though the City’s website has a link right on its home page to a UUT fact sheet that does. 

 When one visits the matrix, as the postcard suggests, one finds a spread sheet that states that based on anticipated utility revenue for 2008-2009, there will be an increase of $332,000 in General Fund revenue at 8% vs. 6%.  Using the same 2008 numbers, a 10% tax would mean an increase of $668,000.  And a 12% gain means an increase of $998,000 over 6%.  But our postcard doesn’t tell us how these numbers “become significantly larger than we’ve been told.”  Since the matrix is on the City’s website, available to anyone looking for it, it would seem to be the information we ARE being told.  So where are the numbers the mystery finger-pointers say we are not being told?  They forgot to pass that little piece of information on to the voters.

 When one visits the fact sheet, one finds the question:  “How will a "yes" vote on Measure U affect Sierra Madre's Utility User Tax?” and the second bullet point in response to that question states: “The measure will expand the UUT to include sewer, trash (sanitation/solid waste), and cable television utility services.”  And a little further down the page is a spread sheet that spells out what the cost to the average household will be, based on the average utility user’s bill.  There is nothing secret about this information, as I said, it’s right on the City’s website.  Do the senders of the postcard have some information that’s not listed?  The only reference they cite is the City’s website.  That is obviously the information we are being told.  So where is the information we aren’t being told?  The chart below clearly shows what the City anticipates the cost of the 3 new items are, showing a $16.55 monthly jump the first year, and about $9.75/mo. the next two years, meaning there is obviously a front loaded jump the first year, as the three added utilities go from no tax to 8% tax.  There’s nothing hidden, except the information the sender says is different than what we are being told.  Why are the Sierra Madre Citizens for Change being so secretive, if their intent is to get this information out to the people? 

Click here to view the Chart from the City website’s UUT facts page.

Point 3 – Sierra Madre has not filed audited financial numbers with the State Controller’s office in Sacramento since FY 2001 – 2002, one of only three cities failing to do so for this period.  Because of this illegal lapse, we have paid $15,000 in state levied fines.  Why the costly secrecy?

Again, there’s no secrecy here, and the first statement is just flat out wrong.  We’ve NEVER filed audited financial numbers with the State Controller’s office.  The State Controller’s report is not an audited report.  The audited report is different than the State Controller’s report, which is due ninety days after the end of the fiscal year.  The audited report is generally completed 9 months to a year after the end of the fiscal year.  Secondly, we HAVE filed State Controller’s reports for 2006 and 2007, but the website the mysterious finger-pointers reference has not been updated.  Last word our City Manager has is that the 2006 report will be posted in May of 2008, and the 2007 report will be posted over the summer.  Yes, the City failed to file in 2003 – 2005.  Yes, the City was fined for not filing.  According to our City Manager, there were staffing issues, that have been addressed.  “The details cannot be discussed because of privacy issues.”  But the website will continue to say that we didn’t file for those years, because once you’ve missed the filing deadline, unlike audits, you can’t file State Controller’s reports late.  What we have here is a problem which, once noticed, was corrected.  The City can’t do much more than that.  There’s no secrecy.  This is public knowledge.  I know the issue has been discussed at City Council meetings.  And one other minor point, the fact of the matter is that staff missed a deadline and was penalized for it.  The mystery committee’s decision to use the word “illegal” was a calculated move to make it look like the staff is trying to break the law, when all they did was miss a deadline. 

Point 4 – Our police offered to settle for a 4% raise in February ’07…The City Council shot it down.  Ten months later, the Council voted to approve a 24% increase.  With negotiators like these, no wonder we’re broke.

By accepting the Dec. 07 offer, the City saved $200,000 plus per year over the Jan. 07 offer, which I assume is the offer that the postcard refers to when it says Feb. 07 offer.  Perhaps the mysterious committee should look a little deeper, and take back their statement maligning the City’s negotiators, which included not only Mayor Enid Joffe, but City Council Member Kurt Zimmerman.  The Jan. 07 offer at 4% was retroactive to FY 03-04, and compounded, i.e., 4% one year, plus 4% of the increased amount the next year, and then an additional 4% on that higher figure, etc., and included increases in benefits, meaning the cost to the City over three years could have been $1.2 million dollars.  The December agreement, included 4% for only one year retroactive, but the 24% the postcard references is spread out over three years, didn’t include the increases in benefits, and had an expected cost to the City of $540,000 over three years.  That’s an average of $400,000/yr, vs. $180,000/yr.  A critical reason to accept the Dec. 07 agreement vs. the Jan. 07 agreement, is that it offers an identified funding source (Measure U), which the Jan. 07 agreement did not.  Another benefit of accepting the Dec. 07 agreement vs. the Jan. 07 agreement is that if Measure U passes, the POA will drop its binding arbitration suit against the City, reducing the City’s legal expenses.  It seems that the negotiators may have actually gotten it right, though Mr. Crawford’s committee obviously disagrees.  And regarding that vote, on the Jan. 07 POA offer, which was rejected 3- 2.  The three Council members who made the right decision, and saved the City all this money, were Joffe, Buchanan and Mosca.  Zimmerman and Watts voted to approve the earlier agreement, which would have cost the City $200,000/year more than the agreement that was ultimately negotiated.

 The mystery committee did get one thing right, though.  At the bottom of their mailer, they ask people to “Please cast an informed vote this Tuesday, April 8th.”  Now that you have accurate information, instead of the misleading insinuations, implications and innuendo found in their mailer, I hope you will.

Coffee with Joffe

By Enid Joffe, Sierra Madre Mayor

 I realize that it is an inalienable right in the United States to say pretty much anything you want about someone in elected office. In fact, I will vigorously defend anyone’s First Amendment right to express an opinion about a public official or a public matter, whether or not I agree with it.  But that doesn’t mean public officials shouldn’t respond to misstatements or misrepresentations.  The following article is primarily taken from a Letter to the Editor I wrote in 2006 in response to an article that appeared in a local paper.  Since these and other rumors still seem to be circulating, I thought it might be worthwhile reprinting the letter and addressing some new rumors that have surfaced.

The original article claimed that I had “hidden” my ownership of a “construction” business from the public.  I have since been told by perfect strangers that I am a building contractor or, worse yet, a developer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Here is the response I wrote two years ago: 

“Let’s get the facts right…. My business was described in my campaign literature and in an article in the September 1-7, 2005 issue of the Sierra Madre Weekly. I am half owner of an environmental consulting and contracting business, Clean Fuel Connection, Inc. dba SolSource Energy, CA License # 770564.  I am proud to be a small business owner in a field that has not traditionally employed many women. 

As pointed out in the Weekly profile, our company sells and installs infrastructure for electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles and small wind energy.  In the past two years we have expanded into photovoltaics (solar energy).  As an environmentalist, I drive an electric car that uses no gasoline.  I am not sure how that leads to the conclusion that I have a “bias toward development…” 

 As for the implication that my business interests affected my vote on 1 Carter, let’s recall that I voted against the Maranatha high school project while on the Planning Commission.  I voted for the 1 Carter housing project for the same reasons as three other council members -- because I believe it is my responsibility as Council member to tightly control the development of housing that Maranatha is legally entitled to build rather than bankrupt the city in a futile court fight that we would ultimately lose. And as for advancing my business interests, I don’t recall any requirements in the 1 Carter project conditions for EV chargers, natural gas refueling units or solar panels. 

 Do I want to see houses at 1 Carter? Of course not.  But when elected to the Council, I took an oath of office that included a commitment to uphold the law to the best of my ability. And that is what I believe I am doing.”

These words ring as true today as they did 2 years ago.  Since then the owner of the 1 Carter and Stonehouse properties has filed seven lawsuits against the city.  In order to try to find some resolution to the seemingly endless litigation, the City Council and the property owner sought to craft a settlement agreement that would halt the lawsuits while the developer submitted a proposal through the normal Planning Commission review and recommendation.  Unlike settlement negotiations in most cities, the entire process was done at public meetings with full community participation. But in February 2008, after months of discussions with the developer and residents on what might be acceptable to all parties, the Council unanimously turned down the Settlement Agreement as inadequate in addressing the concerns of neighboring residents.  All parties are now back in court while we review our options.

Another issue that keeps resurfacing is the city’s financial situation.  Like many small cities around the state and the country, Sierra Madre is struggling to keep pace with rising costs for everything from salaries to employee retirement funds to the cost of construction.  Interim City Manager Don Hopper (formerly long-time City Manager of Monrovia) put it best in his eloquent farewell to the City in June, 2008. 

“I made that comment when I first got here, that this is a remarkable City, that you do more with less than probably any city that I am aware of, but make no mistake, you are living off of your savings, and that is a very dangerous precedent to get comfortable with.  You have no reliable ongoing revenue stream that can address your future expenditure levels and so you are going to have to do something.”

That “something” was forming a citizens’ Ad Hoc Finance Committee to review the city’s finances and recommend ways of generating additional funds for public safety.  The 2007-2009 budget process was a wakeup call for the City.  Our budget is heavily dependent on property tax revenue but the city receives only 16 cents of every property tax dollar paid by residents.  The 1 percent of local sales tax revenue we receive from the State Board of Equalization amounts to only $200,000 per year. Even without any increase in staffing levels or any cost of living salary increases, expenditures will continue to grow faster than revenue.  By the end of this two-year budget cycle, it will be difficult to maintain a balanced budget let alone fund police salary increases or paramedic service.

The Ad Hoc Committee carefully scrutinized the city budget and agreed with Don Hopper’s assessment.  After several community input meetings and countless hours of discussion, the committee recommended that the Council put a Utility User’s Tax increase on the ballot to secure a new source of funding for police salaries, paramedics and other essential services. The result is Measure U and UA on the April 8th ballot.   Measure U would increase the utility users’ tax from the current level of 6 percent to 8 percent in 2008-9, 10 percent in 2009-10 and 12 percent in 2010-11.  If the increase is not re-approved by the voters at that time, it will step back down over a 3-year period. The Measure also modernizes the tax to include additional utilities and ensure continued collection of the tax on telephone service.  Measure UA is an advisory measure to gauge the public’s agreement with the proposed use of the funds.

Rumors have surfaced of a budget that ballooned from $6 million to $18 million under the current City Council.  The two numbers are correct, but that is about all that is accurate in this statement.  Next year’s General Fund budget will top $6 million for the first time in the city’s history. General Fund money is unrestricted money typically used for the day to day operation of the city such as police and other staff salaries, utility costs, supplies, mileage etc.  When you add in restricted funds such as the water infrastructure funds, the total grows to $18 million.  In part this is due to the city’s success in obtaining federal and state grant funds for specified capital improvement projects such as the new restroom at Bailey Canyon or the reconstruction of the Mira Monte reservoir. These funds can only be used for the purpose for which they were granted, not to pay day to day operating costs. The amount of funds fluctuates depending on our success in getting these competitive grants.  The General Fund stays pretty steady from year to year, increasing only a few percentage points each year.

The status of the City’s Audits has also been the subject of much discussion. In 2006, the City Council was informed that a number of reports including State reports and City audits had not been completed despite previous assertions that everything was being done properly and on time.  The delinquent reports had resulted in thousands of dollars in fines which the Council was unaware of.  Once uncovered, the problem was swiftly addressed.  The City Manager and City Council took action to make personnel changes and bring in experts in municipal finance experience to bring all audits up to date and prevent similar occurrences in the future.  The original problems dated back to well before the 2004 Council election and had only compounded over time.  At no time were any funds missing. The errors ultimately turned out to be about how funds should be accounted for not the amount of money.  None of the corrections made affected the city’s financial position, but the absence of proper procedures and the length of time before the problem was discovered were inexcusable nonetheless.  Read the rest...

Polling Locations Map

Letters to the Editor

Nancy Sue's Mailer: I Was Responsible for Unpublished Ordinances from 1998 to 2001!  (click to view article)

City Clerk Playing Politics With Information She is Legally Required to Disburse When Requested - Why Election and City Records Need to be Stored at City Hall, Not Nancy's Garage

CITY CLERK SCREWED UP THE ELECTION CANVASS FOR 2002, TOO!!  While the City Clerk has been busy putting off sending me the document I requested, I managed to get a copy from City Hall.  Seems Resolutions can be found at City Hall, because not all documents are  stored only at Nancy's house.  So here it is, Resolution No. 02-039.  Look at the total for Tonja Torres.  Then look at the Excel spreadsheet that calculates the tally.  SEEMS NANCY ERRED BY 300 VOTES!!  I'll say it again - to state as Nancy did in her letter to the POA that she has only made one error in 24 years is the height of hubris.  Or perhaps not, perhaps withholding documents that show you messed up on an election in order to try to prevent voters from finding out about the error is the height of hubris.  Either way, she's got it cornered!

City Clerk's Supporters Acting in Desperation at Last Minute

City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger's campaign manager, as well as numerous day workers presumably hired from Memorial Park, have been seen passing out flyers in town that falsely state that MVO Publisher Susan Henderson has endorsed Shollenberger for office.  In the current edition of MVO, Henderson endorses Karma Bell, but the flyer being passed around by Shollenberger's campaign manager uses 15 month old quotes from an article that, while speaking kindly about Shollenberger, did not endorse Shollenberger's candidacy.  While the quotes may be accurate, Henderson states that they are being taken out of context.  We expect her statement regarding the matter shortly.  According to one local politico, "There may be some truth to them, but they are being used in a manipulative manner to deceive the voters."

Statement from MVO Publisher Susan Henderson re: Deception by City Clerk's Campaign

In an apparent last ditch effort to garner support for the campaign of Nancy Shollenberger, copies of the MountainViews-Observer were stolen from the racks on Sierra Madre Boulevard and replaced with unauthorized flyers that implied an endorsement of Ms. Shollenberger by me.
The document is entitled:  "Endorsement of our City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger Mount Wilson Observer, January 5-10,2007" and the name affixed in testament is SUSAN HENDERSON, former managing editor of the Mount Wilson Observer.
 It goes on to quote excerpts of an article I wrote on Ms. Shollenberger in 2007.  These remarks are taken out of the context of the story.  They were not in any way a political endorsement of Ms. Shollenberger's re-election.  They were edited comments given in the context of the story about Ms. Shollenberger and her life after the illness and death of her husband.
In the March 31-April 6th edition of the MountainViews-Observer, I am very clear about my endorsement in the City Clerk's race.  On page 8 it reads, "Positions Not Personalities.  Nancy Shollenberger has served the city for a very long time but there comes a time when everyone needs to recognize it is time to move on.  Judging by the last few weeks alone, the job seems to be overwhelming her.
Karma Bell should be elected city clerk.  Let's de-politicize the office of City Clerk and bring it back to City Hall."
I did not authorize the use of my name on the flyers that are currently being passed around.  I do not endorse Nancy Shollenberger for City Clerk and this latest incident of political malpractice is a prime example why.

April 2008 Election Information

Sample Ballot Statements, Campaign Material, Q and A, Initiative Text, Impartial Analysis of Measure U

Chamber of Commerce Measure U Forum Video

City Council Candidate Paschall Breaking Federal Trademark Law, Ignoring Rights of Intellectual Property Owner (click to view article)

Self-Proclaimed 24/7 City Clerk Takes Four Days to Answer a Simple Question About Sierra Madre Citizens for Change

Another City Clerk Error Found?  I've been told by three reliable sources that the Certified Election Results for the 2002 City Council Election has precinct totals that don't add up to the overall total shown for Council Member Tonja Torres.  Two of the sources reported having seen the document.  On Wednesday, April 2nd at 3:05pm, I requested a copy of "the final election certification of the 2002 City Council election," in order to confirm the information provided to me by the three sources.  Since the Public Records Act allows the City Clerk up to ten days to respond, it will be interesting to see if I get the document requested before the election or not.  On Sunday, the City Clerk e-mailed me that if I sent her my fax number (for the third time), she would send it to me.  Not bad.  It only took four days to get a partial response by our self-proclaimed 24/7 City Clerk.

Another Error Found on Sample Ballot?  It has been brought to our attention, and more in depth coverage of this issue can be found in this week's issue of the Mountain View Observer coming out on Sunday, that the Sample Ballot issued by the City Clerk, failed to include Eagle Bill Tice in the Candidate Statement of the Ballot.  While Tice did not submit a statement, we are told that the Observer will report that it is standard practice for candidates who do not submit statements to still be represented in that area with a listing of their name, age and occupation.  My sample ballot does not include Tice in the candidate section.  Stay tuned for more in Sunday's Observer.

Letters to the Editor

Send Your Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor:

 My son, Erik, faxed an application for an absentee ballot to City Hall, as instructed in the Sample Ballot.  The application provides a line, with a big red arrow next to it, where the absentee ballot should be mailed.  Erik properly filled in his school address in New Hampshire.

 Erik's absentee ballot arrived at MY HOUSE this morning!

 And this same mistake happened to Jay Sullivan, Bill and Patty's son, who's attending school in Texas.

 I wonder how many other ballots have been misdirected.


Karma Bell

Sierra Madre

Dear Editor,

 I have never written in to a newspaper before, but I find myself wanting to express to the people of this town how important it is that they get out to vote on April 8.  This is our right as citizens of this great country and you need to make a difference.

 Not all of us can make a difference though, the way John Buchanan has.  He has done so much for this town and has earned not only my respect, but also my vote.  Here are a few reasons why:


- He led the effort that established the life-saving paramedic program, increased firefighter training and created an auxiliary firefighter program that now provides greater daytime firefighter coverage.  As the wife of a volunteer fire fighter, I know first hand how much John did for this program.


Other City accomplishments John was instrumental in are:

- Completing the Senior Housing Project
- Strengthening the Hillside Management Zone while protecting homeowners’ rights.
- Instituting a strategic planning process that has improved city operations and efficiency.
- Establishing development impact fees to protect our town
- Completing the agreement to keep the Community Nursery School in Sierra Vista Park.
- Winning the All America City award

He has worked hard for all Sierra Madre, not a favored few. He was there in person (not by phone) for every council meeting. He was also Sierra Madre's representative to the League of California Cities, the Foothill Workforce Investment Board, and the County Sanitation District. He was liaison to the Fire Department, the Library Board of Trustees and the Community Services Commission.

 My family and I attend a lot of the events in Sierra Madre and I see John at almost all of them.  I very much appreciate a public official that is truly a part of this town and not someone who provides lip service and then retreats from public events.

I also believe that he has a wonderful vision for the future putting things like financial soundness through strategic planning and local solutions, enhanced public safety, and new "green" policies at the forefront of his platform. We need someone who believes that we should remain a full service small town protecting our library and community services.
John served this town through a difficult period with style, grace and dignity.  He was a role model for us all.  And as I said earlier, he not only has won my respect and loyalty, he has won my vote.


Rosemary Burnett

Dear Editor,

 For too long our town has been a training ground for cops who gain experience here and then take their expertise to a higher paying police force. Let's pass Measure U, recruit high quality cops, pay them a good wage, upgrade their equipment, and make it possible for them to stay here with us for an entire career. To whoever is reading this: Measure U is what we need to keep our community safe and public safety workers happy. Vote Yes.



Miguel Perez

Dear Editor:


I am Supporting Sierra Madre’s Measures U and UA

 On Tuesday, April 8th, I will be casting my vote in favor of Sierra Madre’s Measures U and UA.

 My reasons for supporting Measure U are simple: 1) it raises funds that are necessary for critical public safety services (it will allow us to carry forward, fully funded, the newly implemented paramedic services and will help us retain and recruit excellent public safety officers), 2) the funds are raised locally and stay local (will not be subject to ever increasing “local funds” that are taken away by the State to balance its budget), and 3) it is a fair tax, since it applies to renters and homeowners alike, except for those in our community that are of low income.

 I am particularly proud of the low income exemption in Measure U.  This exemption means that residents who can’t afford this tax will have relief.  This exemption is essential to protect our seniors that are on fixed incomes and least able to afford this increase. 

 You should know that Measure U mandates that a Citizen Oversight Committee be set up to ensure accountability, and that Measure U contains a sunset clause, which means that we will have an opportunity in a few years to either keep it in place or vote it down.

Your support for Measure UA means that our money will be spent on the public safety needs of our community.  These needs have been clearly identified and presented by our Sierra Madre Fire Department and our Sierra Madre Police Department and in independent studies of the departments.

I hope you will read more about Measures U and UA (see or e-mail me at for more information), and I hope you will join me in supporting these Measures that will keep Sierra Madre safe and strong.


Joe Mosca

Sierra Madre

We received two letters, classified in the cover sheet to two other local papers as well as ours, noting that they were letters to the editor.  However, they were clearly marked as being sent to the SMVFA and the SMPOA.  Since both letters were the same except the addressee, we are only publishing the one.

Dear Members of the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association:

As you know by now, l made an error in mislabeling (sic) the ballot propositions describing the Arguments in Favor of Measure P".

Recognizing the headaches and the financial cost, (sic) which my error caused, I offered to reimburse the City for all costs incurred in correcting this error. To my disappointment, the City Council felt it would set a precedent, and would not accept such a reimbursement.

Since I strongly feel that I am deserving of being chastised and strongly criticized for my errors, albeit it was the only one in my 24 years of service to our City, by many of our residents and the news media especially, (sic) I owe it to my conscience to have a closing to this unpleasant experience.

What better way to accomplish this than offering a donation of $3,000 to your organization and a similar donation to the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Fighters Association.

While I don't expect to be exculpated from my mistake because of this act, I sincerely hope that you will accept my donation

Very Sincerely, Nancy Shollenberger

City Clerk’s Self-Serving Gesture Shouldn’t Fool Voters  An E-ditorial by Bill Coburn

When the City Council (rightfully) rejected Nancy Shollenberger's offer to reimburse the City for expenses incurred because of her error in preparation of the sample ballot, it would seem the next obvious thing for her to do would be to announce that she would not accept the City's payment of $6,500 for managing (mismanaging?) the election.  The amounts were close enough ($6,000 vs. $6,500) that it seemed an obvious way to reconcile the City's loss without setting the precedent the Council was concerned about when they rejected her offer of payment. 

Instead, Shollenberger chose to continue the political theater that is the City Clerk race, by instead writing checks to the SMVFA and the SMPOA, neither of whom lost a cent over the City Clerk's error.  They may have lost votes, but no money.  And the City Clerk can't reimburse lost votes (don't go there). 

However, here's the thing.  The City lost money, not these associations.  And with her new solution, the City is the loser.  Had she chosen to refuse to cash her check for the election services, the City would have gained $6,000.  Instead, Nancy gains a $6,000 write-off, (and with all the investment property she owns in town, that may come in handy). 

I was at the SM4U committee meeting March 27th when Nancy had her representative read her letter to the Committee.  No, she didn't write a check and have the representative quietly hand it over to the Association's representative, she had him read her letter for the whole committee (most of whom aren't even members of the association receiving the check).  Then, on the 28th, I received a fax from Nancy Sue that was also sent to the editors of the Mt. Views Observer and the Core Media papers, stating that we might want to publish these two letters, which she described as Letters to the Editor.  So she isn't doing this because she thinks it's right, she's doing this to try and win back votes of people who might be having second thoughts.  In fairness, at the meeting, I had told the representative that I felt this was political grandstanding, and that while I thought her gift should be publicized, I thought maybe the publicity should wait till after the election.  After some discussion, I agreed to contact Nancy and let her know that since I thought it inappropriate to report on a private letter she had written to the SMVFA, if she wanted to send it to me as a letter to the editor, I'd run it.  But I never had to contact Nancy, and tell her I'd run it as a Letter to the Editor.  She sent it to me, and the other two editors, before I ever had a chance to contact her. 

And let's talk about that letter for a minute, published elsewhere in this issue.  First, by the Keeper of the City Records, there's a punctuation error in the opening line.  Minor, I'll give you.  But the opening line?  Then she states that she made an error mislabeling the argument.  No, she made an error labeling the argument.  She did quite well at mis-labeling the argument. I know, this is semantics.  But hey, I'm not the one saying that I can take exemplary minutes. With apologies to Lloyd Bentsen, I've seen Nancy's minutes, and they aren't exemplary.

Then she says it's her only error in 24 years.  While I could go on and on about this, I already have, so I'll just refer you to my 3/19/08 editorial.  Then she asks "What better way..."  Well a better way would be one that gets the $6000 back in the city's coffers.  A better way would be a way that doesn't make her out to be a hero, when all she's actually doing is trying to make up for her colossal screw-up. 

By choosing to bypass a quiet contribution to these organizations, and having the letter read out loud at the committee meeting, and then sending it to all three papers, Nancy has exposed the act for what it is.  Self-serving, grandstanding, political theater.  Don't be fooled.  Vote for Karma.  Or if you can't do that, vote for no one.  But it's time this City stopped validating our City Clerk’s screw-ups by voting for her even when she's messed up.

Joffe, Buchanan, Bell and Enyedi Pick up Important Endorsement

The Pasadena Star News has endorsed the candidacies of Mayor Enid Joffe, Council Member John Buchanan, City Clerk candidate Karma Bell, and City Treasurer candidate George Enyedi.  Click on the headline to view their article.

SGV Weekly Endorses Measures U and UA, Buchanan, Joffe, Enyedi and Bell  In the San Gabriel Valley Weekly's Friday April 4th edition, the paper endorses a Yes vote Measures U and UA, and candidates John Buchanan, Enid Joffe, George Enyedi and Karma Bell.

Sierra Madre Chamber Votes To Endorse Measures U and UA   After hosting a public forum on Measures U and UA featuring speakers both for and against the Measure, the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce polled its membership and the respondents overwhelmingly voted their support of the Measures.

 Hail Hamilton, columnist for local newspaper the Mountain Views Observer, represented the against argument at the Forum.  Mike Comer, a Sierra Madre businessman and a member of the Ad Hoc Finance Committee that recommended to the Sierra Madre City Council that they put an increase of the Utility Tax in front of the voters to raise funds, spoke for the Measure.  The video of the forum is available on SMTV 3, and is currently available online at

 The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce endorses a YES vote on Measures U and UA.

City Clerk Says She Will NOT Be Counting Absentee Ballots in Her Own Election

I recently received an e-mail from a reader expressing concerns about the City Clerk opening and counting ballots in an election in which she was a candidate.  Here's the content of that e-mail: "Can either one of you briefly explain the absentee voter process to me?  I filled out my ballot, and got ready to mail it. I noticed that it is sent directly to Nancy Shollenberger. What does she do with them? Does she open the envelopes and then submit them for counting? Does she just check off my name as having voted and turn them over to the people tabulating the ballots? My concern is if she opens the envelopes. I did not vote for her, so I would like to make sure that my vote is counted. What is her motivation to make sure that all the votes are counted, even the votes that are against her? Not to mention, she now knows the names and addresses of the people who did not support her.  Doesn't this seem odd that our voting system requires that we submit our ballots to one of the people running for election. Her name is on the envelope, so if I understand Postal Service rules, she is fully within her right to open it. I mean, I did mail it to her!"  Since these seemed like reasonable questions, I forwarded the message to the City Clerk, asking her if she would be appointing a deputy to count the absentee ballots.  The City Clerk has now responded to my e-mail.  Here is her response: 

Bill,    I do not open the ballots.  I have an Inspector and three Clerks who will be opening them on Election Day at City Hall in the Council Chamber.  The public will witness the opening and counting.  I process the ballot request - all is on the computer.  The residents should not be worrying about the process.   The Registrar of Voters in Norwalk in the election department will certify each signature before it is counted.  I just process the request and record the request and when the ballot is returned.  I hope this helps.   

Nancy Shollenberger

City Clerk

How Involved Should City Council Members be in the Community?  A question for Kevin Paschall and Maryann MacGillivray

Here's a spreadsheet of some of the events (29, actually) that have taken place in the city between January 2007 and February 2008, events that not only define the essence of the character of our village community, but also offer City Council members a chance to hear what everyone who attends feels about the issues facing our community.  This can be very important, as it is human nature to prefer to run with the crowd that agrees with you.  However, as a council member, there is a responsibility to hear what all your constituents think, the ones who voted against you as well as the ones who voted for you.  All the City resident voters are a Council Member's constituents, not just the ones who tell them what they want to hear.  It's important that Council Members not hide among their supporters, but hear what every resident feels, and these events provide that opportunity.  Here's a spreadsheet that reflects what events current Council Members have attended, of the ones we covered. It's not all inclusive, but it's a good cross-section of events. My question for the two non-incumbent council members.  Will you be like the two candidates you are trying to replace, and show respect for your constituents by showing up at community events?  Or will you be like the two council members you've aligned yourself with, one of whom attended one of the 29, and the other of whom couldn't make a single one of the 29 events?  Events such as Memorial Day services honoring our veterans, the beginning of paramedic service for SM residents, fundraisers for our schools…

Coffee with Joffe, Continued

My favorite rumor is that the current incumbent-candidates will not enforce Measure V.  Regardless of who voted for Measure V and who did not, it is now part of the Municipal Code.  As Council members, it is our duty and obligation to fully enforce Measure V.   Measure V specifies height, number of stories and dwelling units for downtown, but does not address the design of buildings in downtown. The challenge facing the City Council will be to determine how to best achieve the “look and feel” the community wants to see in downtown.  Most of us know intuitively what we want downtown to look like—quaint, charming, small-scale—but writing code that achieves those goals is far more difficult.

So as this campaign season draws to a close, let’s continue the public debate over the important issues of public safety, the downtown and the city’s financial condition. But let’s continue it in a way that shows respect for the facts and for each other as volunteers committed to the preservation of Sierra Madre as a wonderful place to live.


Enid Joffe




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Mount Wilson Trail Race Information

The Mount Wilson Trail Race is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year!  The Trail Race will occur on Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 7:30am sharp.  The 8.6 mile race starts in Kersting Court on pavement, then uphill on a dirt trail that features an elevation climb of over 2,100 feet, and then back down to Kersting Court.

On Friday, May 23, 2008 there is a pre-race Pasta Load Party.  A pasta dinner will be served, provided by Café 322, in Kersting Court from 6:00pm-8:00pm for $6.75.  Pre-registration will also take place at the pasta feed where participants can pick up their race number and t-shirt.

New for this year is a Family Award category.  Participants can team with other family members and compete for the Family Award.  The combined time of the each family team will be calculated and the lowest average time will take home the prize!

Registration forms are now available at the Community and Personnel Services Department at 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024 and are also available online at  The Trail Race sells out every year, so be sure to register early!

Paschall Breaking Federal Law, Ignoring Rights of Intellectual Property Owner

Kevin Paschall's website,, is in violation of federal trademark law, illegally displaying a trademarked logo, and he has chosen not to respect the rights of the owner of the trademark, which has asked on multiple occasions that he remove the logo from his website.

When checking out Paschall's site in early March, I noticed that his site had the All-America City logo at the top of the page.  That logo is owned by the National Civic League (NCL), which allows the winners of its annual All-America City contest to use the logo to promote the city and the fact that it won the award.  Having been one of the delegates of the City's participation in the 2007 program, and a participant in the winning program, I knew that Paschall had not participated in the program.  I also knew that the City had thanked all the donors and delegates in a full-page ad shortly after the announcement of its win.  Paschall was not listed as either a donor or a delegate in the City's ad.  Knowing that two other candidates, Enid Joffe and John Buchanan had been delegates (a position which required a donation of $100 or more), and that during their terms as mayor each had played a major role in the City's participation in the contest, I thought it was strange that neither of them had the logo on their site, yet this non-participant candidate was using the logo.  A quick conversation with Joffe revealed that she had checked with the NCL to determine whether or not it was appropriate for her to use the logo in her campaign, and had been told no.  Out of respect for the organization's right to limit the logo's use (and federal trademark/copyright laws), Joffe has not used the logo in her campaign.  On Friday, March 7th, I sent an e-mail to our City Manager and the head of the Community and Personnel Services Dept., who are in charge of the City's sub-licensing of the use of the NCL logo, which the City has modified to include wistaria as part of the logo.  Paschall is using the unmodified logo.  I copied the e-mail to the National Civic League. 

In the e-mail, I noted that I thought there might be unauthorized use of the All-America City logo. "I know that Mayor Joffe is not using the All-America City logo on her website, and it would seem that for a candidate who had no part in the process to be able to display it when the candidates who were involved are abstaining out of respect for the institution that awards it, is just a complete injustice to both Mayor Joffe and Council member Buchanan."  Shortly thereafter, the NCL contacted me and said they would look into it and get back to me the next week. I didn't think any more about it until March 31st, when I was on Mr. Paschall's website again, and noticed the logo was still there.  Realizing I'd not heard back from the NCL, I decided to see what their findings were when they had a chance to "look into it."  I sent an e-mail to the NCL, which responded the next day that they had, in fact, already asked him to remove the logo.  Later that same day, I received a copy of an e-mail that the NCL sent that day to Paschall, in which they again asked him to remove the logo: "Mr. Paschall,

It has been brought to our attention your use of the All-America City Award logo on your website. In keeping consistent with our message to all political candidates in All-America City communities around the country, the logo may be used to promote the broader community and city, but cannot be used with any promotion of individuals. This includes any use within political campaigns. Therefore, we ask that you remove the logo from your website and discontinue its use with any other materials related to your campaign.

Thank you,

All-America City Awards Program Coordinator

National Civic League

As of this writing, at 6:33am, April 5th, Paschall has ignored the request of the trademarked logo's legal owner, the NCL, that he remove their logo from his website, and continues to display the logo in violation of federal trademark laws.

Nancy Sue's Mailer: Shollenberger Admits She Was Responsible to Publish Ordinances from 1998 - 2001, When None Were Published!  Editorial by Bill Coburn I was given a copy of City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger's mailer postcard today.  Apparently Nancy is using the City's water bill database, rather than paying for the voting list database like most candidates, because my out of town landlord gets her mailers, I don't.  Is it legal for her to access the City's database for her own political gain?  Let's not get sidetracked. The mailer, while slick material, was certainly not prepared professionally.  On one side, I counted nine punctuation errors (I was being generous, I could have been a stickler and counted more), and she mis-spelled additional.  This by the keeper of the City records.  That's true attention to detail, Nancy, way to go.  Then we look at the front side, with the mailing address.  Again, the attention to detail is breathtaking.  While Maryann MacGillivray is listed as endorsing Shollenberger, I have to wonder if she would have done that had she known that Shollenberger wouldn't even be able to spell MacGillivray's name right on the mailer.  And of course, isn't it nice to know that Monrovia (yes, Monrovia) resident Steve Pock endorses Nancy Sue, even though he can't vote for her.  But these are minor issues compared to the "confession" on the back side of the postcard.  I have been giving our City Clerk the benefit of the doubt regarding the publishing of the ordinances.  If you look at my editorial in the left column, I acknowledge that "Nancy’s defense has been that it wasn’t her job to have them published, and I suspect that’s probably right."  My issue has been with her failure to properly record the ordinance publication in the "ordinance book" required by California Gov't. Code 40806.  However, Nancy states in her mailer that in 1998, the responsibility for publishing ordinances was given back to her.  Since the lack of publication of ordinances surfaced in 2001, that means that for the remainder of 1998, all of 1999, all of 2000, and the part of 2001 prior to the uncovering of the error, which I believe was mid-year, Nancy admits she was responsible to publish the ordinances.  Yet none were published. 

Self-Proclaimed 24/7 City Clerk Takes Four Days to Answer a Simple Question About Sierra Madre Citizens for Change

On Wednesday, April 2nd, at 6:41pm, I sent the following e-mail to City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger: "Are the “Sierra Madre Citizens for Change” registered with the City under any campaign/political committee designation?"  Shollenberger, who's campaign mailer of April 5th states that "My customary service to residents is round-the-clock, 24/7(not (sic) on a part-time basis at City Hall, as Ms. Bell said she will do)" finally responded at 1:07:pm Sunday, with the terse comment that "At the moment, yes."  She did not mention that at the time I requested the information, after the group's mailer had been delivered Citywide, they were not registered.  A source within the Shollenberger camp told me on the same day I requested the information that Shollenberger had spoken by phone with a member of the committee and that their paperwork had been mailed that day.  I was speaking with the City Manager when Shollenberger gave her a copy of the Committee's Form 410 on Thursday, 4/3.  Yet our City Clerk was unable to respond to my inquiry till 4/6.

City Clerk Playing Politics With Information She is Legally Required to Disburse When Requested - Why Election and City Records Need to be Stored at City Hall, Not Nancy's Garage

A week ago Wednesday, a local resident requested copies of the nomination papers and financial records for the candidates in the April 8th election.  The City Manager did not get the request filed with the City Clerk, until the following Tuesday, at which time the City Clerk reportedly stated that she was going to use all ten days allowed by the Request for Public Documents rules. What reason could the City Clerk have for withholding this information?  She had provided the info to others that had requested it.  Of course, this request came the same day that the flier from Sierra Madre Citizens for Change came out.  And as stated elsewhere, on this page, the City Clerk took five days to respond to my request for information about that group, and when it was provided, the answer  was different than it would have been had she responded in a timely manner.  And there's another thing: the Public Records Act was not the governing law. 

The Political Reform Act, Government Code #81008 (, trumps the Public Records Act as the issue at hand is time sensitive due to an upcoming election date. 

I have requested a document from the 2002 Election that I'm told will provide evidence of an error on the part of the City Clerk in tabulating the results of that election.  It's been five days since I requested it, and I have not received it yet. I did get an e-mail telling me that our City Clerk needed my fax number (odd that she had my fax number when she wanted a Letter to the Editor published, but couldn't find it yesterday).  If these records were at City Hall, and the City Clerk had regular hours when the public could stop by and get items such as these, or if there was a Deputy Clerk working out of City Hall, the City could provide time sensitive documents immediately instead of five (and counting) days later.  Our City Clerk says she is available for residents 24/7, yet the evidence says otherwise. 

Now let's discuss why records should be kept at City Hall.  You've just read one reason.  Now let's go a little further.  If someone breaks into Nancy's home/garage, where records are now kept, and steals a City document that contains Social Security information and that info is used for identity theft, the City is going to be sued by the individual whose identity didn't receive proper protection.  Of course the City will have to defend itself by COUNTER-SUING ITS OWN CITY CLERK!!  Nancy lives on the hillside, an area much more susceptible to fire than City Hall.  For the City's protection, it should move the records back to City Hall.  Once the records have left City Hall, Nancy could choose to store them in a  storage unit in Bakersfield, and no one would be the wiser.   What if something happens to Nancy, and there's no record of the storage unit?  All the City's records would be lost.  Or suppose, God forbid, Nancy were to pass away, and the executor(s) of her estate chose not to cooperate with the City.  The City could find itself in a position where it has to sue the City Clerk's estate in order to get back its own City records.  All of these scenarios are apparently perfectly fine with Nancy, despite the fact that they are obviously not in the best interests of the City, nor of the voters who put her in office.  It's time to bring the Office of the City Clerk back to City Hall for the City's own protection.

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