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Sierra Madre News Net Letters to the E-ditor

Please submit your letters to the E-ditor here.  They will be posted upon receipt.  I do not have the space limitations of print media, so say what you want, and use as many words as you need.  But remember, web-surfers usually move around quickly, and the more you have to say, the more chance there is that it will only be partially read by the viewers.

If requested, I will post your letters with initials and city of residence only, however, to be posted, I will need you to submit the letter with a name and phone number for verification purposes.  If you do not want your name posted, you must say so, and then we will use initials and city of residence only..

Sierra Madre News Net accepts no responsibility for the content of the letters from its readers.  Sierra Madre News Net reserves the right to withhold and/or edit letters, though it will make every attempt to express your views with as little change as possible.

Please try to refrain from personal attacks.  Let's try to keep it constructive, and allow others the right to disagree.

(4/17/10)  An Open Letter to John Crawford

Dear Mr. Crawford,

When you announced your candidacy on your blog and promoted Alcorn, Crawford and Watts, I began reading it to learn what you were about. Though I thought you made some good points, I couldn’t believe how angry and off topic many of the comments were and that you encouraged them! Honestly, during the last few months, I told people to read it as a way to promote the candidates I was voting for - Moran, Mosca and Walsh. That’s how absurd it became! I think your blog is one of the reasons you and your slate lost. The personal attacks went so far that everyone HAD to defend themselves. A couple of stones can be tossed one way or another, but when someone is under a constant barrage, they will defend themselves. You cornered some good dogs, John, and now you seem confused as to why you were bitten.

The election is over. The new council will be together for two years. I hope everyone, including the media, starts to focus on the positive things that can be done to make Sierra Madre an even better place. But this has to be a two-way street. I’m not saying there won't be controversy, but let’s keep the personal attacks to a minimum.

John, if you really love this town, then please find a way to work with others with civility. Maybe you should take a couple days off, spend time with your family, watch some baseball, whatever it takes, and remember why you got involved in the first place. There is so much anger on your blog that no one with a differing opinion will join the discussions because they will just be called “a dirt” and accused of wanting to turn Sierra Madre into the new Glendale. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT! I LOVE SIERRA MADRE! I love that there are no giant condos downtown. I love eating at our local restaurants and shopping at Taylor’s. I ABSOLUTELY love the fact that many of the people I call friends today I met as a kid at Sierra Madre School or on Heasley Field!

John, if you love Sierra Madre like I do, please put down the hatchet. Don't give up on what you believe in, just stop the personal attacks. Civility is what was preached this campaign, and I’m extending my hand to start it. Let's meet sometime and talk about the issues over coffee, a beer, or even a Dodger game. I think you would be amazed how much people from both sides of the campaigns have in common. I bet we would agree on many topics, and agree to disagree on others. Either way, don’t continue down the path that will further divide the town that I have and probably always will call home.


Patrick Simcock

Sierra Madre

(Editor's Note: I'm told that John has responded to Patrick on his blog)


Thank you for this most recent editorial. As you point out, "We are still left to wonder whether Mr. Crawford supports our Department or wishes to see it end, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) in budget expenses so that we will have a “professional” fire department, rather than volunteers."  In the comments to this editorial someone by the initials C.S. wishes you well with your irrelevance.  I'm not sure that C.S. actually read the editorial.  It is far from irrelevant.

The Fire Dept. is a real issue in this election, at least for the worthwhile candidates.  As the city continues to evaluate its finances and sustainability of services, the Fire Dept. is always a part of the equation, as is the SMPD, the Library and the Community Services program among others.  My research, albeit limited, shows that it would be a far more costly budget expenditure were the city to do away with our Volunteer Fire Dept.  That's the nuts and bolts part of this question, and is why it is troubling that as a candidate for City Council, John Crawford has not addressed the issue.  In fact his stance and approach to financing any other services that require large budget expenditures is virtually unknown.

In his campaign literature that we've received there is only one line that barely touches on this subject.  "Adequate resources must continue to be allocated for our Police, Paramedics, and Firefighters." is nothing more than a ridiculous statement of  the obvious.  Of course we all want to have adequate resources for Police, Paramedics and Fire.  Who doesn't?  What we don't know about John Crawford is whether or not he supports our Volunteer Fire Department as they are, with all of their good work and endless volunteer hours given to this community.  And if he doesn't, then what does he propose in order to achieve and maintain these "adequate resources"?  In order to maintain the high level of service we now enjoy would be an enormous additional expense to the city.  Where is the money going to come from?

If John Crawford was in favor of replacing our Volunteer Fire Department with something else then his claims of how we keep the small town atmosphere of Sierra Madre fall very short.  "Small Town", goes much further than scary photographs of high rises that are non-existent in Sierra Madre.  Small Town is not about aesthetics or perpetuating community discourse.  "Small Town" is created by the heart and soul of its citizens.  It is about taking care of each other, checking in on a sick neighbor, helping a senior citizen, mentoring our youth, and volunteering our time and talents for the benefit of the community.  This is what I want my city to stand for and it is what I see in our Volunteer Fire Department.  I'll be voting for Joe Mosca, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh because it is clear to me through their volunteer efforts that they get it.

Sue Levoe
Sierra Madre


Dear Citizens of Sierra Madre,

Upon reading the misinformation contained in John Crawford's Sierra Madre Tattler, I would like to provide some clarity regarding the Sierra Madre Fire Department.

1.      Chief Heydorff does not receive a salary as Fire Chief; he is the Director of Fire Services for the City.  His job description is defined by the City and I am unaware of any City staff concerns regarding his performances.  In addition to his city employment, he also covers the required nights and weekends as a volunteer.

2.      The Fire Department, in fact, does NOT have a fire truck.  The previous truck was a 1975 LaFrance and as purchased from the Fire Department of New York for $1000.  Because of the age of this ladder truck, it could no longer be certified for use and was decommissioned.  The truck was not replaced due to financing.

3.       The Department does not have water tenders, only one 1975 GMC tender, which will be replaced by a new tender approved for purchase by the current City Council.  The department is requested on many large out-of-town incidents, because of the quality of their competence.  Our tender is often used in these large fires.  The income to the City from the tender and our strike teams normally exceeds the sale tax revenue from the commercial district.

4.       The comment was made that our Fire Department "is the laughing stock of the state."  Considering our department's size, it's amazing that we are known throughout all of California.  Having been involved with over 600 runs during my tenure with the Department, I can remember no homeowner, merchant, or patient that laughed at our efforts for their safety.  None of the transports to the hospital during the early morning hours suggested that our assistance was laughable.  At no time did I see Mr. Crawford or his anonymous bloggers there to help.  In fact, who will they call when they have an emergency?

5.       I trained as a probationary with our Department for a year.  During that year, I found that the hours involved in training, EMT classes and certification, on-duty weekends, weekday nights, and fund-raisers for the community's youth, were extensive.  Each team member volunteered over 2000 hours.  Since most members of the Department work full time elsewhere, this commitment is equal to a second full time job. 

Rodney B. Spears

Sierra Madre


At the last city council meeting, three women spoke to Joe Mosca, pointing out his deceit upon being elected four years ago, as did one man. After all, he is an elected official and might want to know why his former supporters felt that he deserted them. Two women (I was one) spoke in general terms of the importance of participating in the election process and made no mention of any candidate. As none of these people are running for city council they were not electioneering as was Josh Moran at the previous city council meeting when he did step to the podium and campaign for his own election. Ms. Spears was inaccurate in her letter. I hope you will publish this correction.

Caroline Brown

Sierra Madre


Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter after viewing the last Tuesday Night City Council Meeting. It is evident from this meeting that our current Mayor harbors an absolute disregard for procedure and is not interested in putting forward the best interests of the City of Sierra Madre, but rather her own political grandstanding. Her undeniable disdain for those who disagree or take exception with her positions, both civically and personally was apparent. Her actions at the Council Meeting of March 23, 2010, demonstrated exactly who she is. When at least four members of the public insulted and confronted Councilman Joe Mosca during public comment, MacGillivray made no attempt to stop these personal attacks even after they had exceeded the recommended time frame. To make a statement against a fellow Council Member of “You have to sit there and take it” is reprehensible. Then to threaten Joe at one point to have him “taken away” because he asked for a ruling from our City Attorney, illustrates one of the many things she has done to contribute to the division and discord that is felt throughout the city and the council. I am ashamed and embarrassed to say she is the mayor of my town, let alone a council member.

School yard bully best describes what occurred and her endorsement of the three candidates she favors would only be more of the same.

Bob and Rosemary Burnett

Sierra Madre


It was said that the women who spoke out vehemently against Mosca at the 23rd meeting did so for 15 minutes. the truth is she only spoke for 3 minutes and 42 seconds.  Mosca supporters kept saying that the mayor let her speak on and on, well that wasn't true was it?


Sierra Madre

(3/27/10) Hats off to Terry Miller for so accurately describing our town’s Bully Pulpit!  Two generations ago, “bully” was an adjective meaning superb/wonderful.  Now it describes some of our elected officials, they’re arrogant bullies on the pulpit that is our City Council!!  

Remember when elected officials served as "humble servants" of their constituents?  Well, there's nothing humble about the outrageous behavior exhibited in Council chambers by certain, seated members.  Watch some of the meetings!!  It's not difficult to identify the culprits, their demeanor is as embarrassing as it is inappropriate. 

Now we have a clear choice in Sierra Madre, and a chance to clear the air the foul behavior that has tainted the civility of our City Council.  Voters can reject others of this ilk and elect three candidates who, I know, will put responsibility before rhetoric and character before character assassination.

I’m voting for Moran, Mosca and Walsh.  Thank you all for running, and for giving us a chance to save Sierra Madre.

Bob Matheson

Sierra Madre

(3/24/10) Dear Bill,

At the recent Sierra Madre City Council meeting it appeared the Mayor seemed to have an "oops" senior Moment.

Two weeks ago she admonished a speaker (who is a current candidate for the council) for "politicking."

Then she sent out a public mailing endorsing the candidates she believes she can best work with. 

At this week's council meeting she allowed 4 women to verbally abuse one of the candidates who was not on her personal endorsement list.

It was a shameful display of vindictiveness, immaturity and down-right hatred on the part of the speakers.

It's far past time that the preacher needs to practice what she preaches.

Joan Spears

(2/16/10) Dear Mr. Coburn,

The current Canyon Residential Zone Committee appears to be one-sided and noticeably absent of differing views which gives the appearance that equal representation is not important. It is purported this current committee group was selected with the express view not to allow ‘builders’ and ‘architects’ to serve. One would think that divergent views and expert advice would be a good thing from people who deal with zoning as a matter of profession on a daily basis, thus providing pertinent perspective to the Committee’s agenda. Otherwise it would seem unfair and unwise to the total Canyon population.

Citizens have a strong sense of fairness and this Canyon Zone Committee appears lopsided in its make-up which could be interpreted as not representing a true sampling of the views and opinions of fellow Canyon residents. Why else would builders or architects be purposefully shunned? If the current committee is attempting make the canyon zone solely with their own ideas, and lock out other views, it is fundamentally unfair in its representation of all citizens of the Canyon. Obviously, it is assumed any group endeavoring to create a new canyon zoning would be interested in achieving well-rounded representation of the entire community. Group think should be avoided in developing a new zoning ordinance.

The establishment of this Committee to preserve the Canyon’s “unique residential setting and (its) rustic and historic character” seems honorable, but how did the Canyon become this unique setting, this rustic sylvan paradise we have all enjoyed all these years WITHOUT such a committee? Why is what we have had for countless years no longer sufficient? Micro-managing the properties of Canyon citizens could become more of a problem than a solution. We do not need more local intrusive government intervention. We can be trusted to manage our own properties under current ordinances without a select group telling us we need more regulation. Where is the outcry for such changes, other than from a micro group of unsolicited advocates?

Why not first put to vote whether the Canyon residents want a zoning revision and more local government supervision? Why do we need this Canyon Residential Zone Committee? Why is this advocacy group necessary for maintaining the Canyon in its present state? If it can be proven we are losing our uniqueness, that the Canyon is disappearing as we know it, then maybe we could organize a representative group of concerned citizens to tackle the issues; otherwise it appears to be an oligarchy dictating more regulation just because they think they know better than the rest of us.

It is understood there will be public meetings (Feb. 22 and March 22) where we can challenge and question the proposals of this Committee, but who will write the final draft? If the current group writes the draft, will other opinions and input be represented? The appearance of a biased canyon zoning panel does not bode well for fair representation of all. Whoever gave their blessing to this group could have been more sensitive in creating a more balanced cross segment of our community which is a basic right. It is hoped that we could do a better job at administering a local government for ALL Canyon residents.

Greg and Mary Prout

(12/12/09) Red Shirt Friday
If  the red shirt thing is new to you, read below how it went for one man...

Last  week, while traveling to Chicago on business, I  noticed a Marine sergeant traveling with a  folded flag, but did not put two and two together.

After we boarded our flight, I  turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to  sit in First Class (across from me), and  inquired if he was heading home.
"No," he  responded.

"Heading out?" I asked.

"No.  I'm escorting a soldier home."

"Going to  pick him up?"

"No. He is with me right now.  He was killed in Iraq , I'm taking him home to  his family."

The realization of what he  had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the  gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that,  although he didn't know the soldier, he had  delivered the news of his passing to the  soldier's family and felt as if he knew them  after many conversations in so few days.

I turned back to him, extended my hand,  and said, Thank you Thank you for doing what  you do so my family and I can do what we do.  

Upon landing in Chicago the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom.

"Ladies  and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have  had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the  United States Marine Corps join us on this  flight He is escorting a fallen comrade back  home to his family. I ask that you please remain  in your seats when we open the forward door to  allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive  his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the  seat belt sign."

Without a sound, all  went as requested. I noticed the sergeant  saluting the casket as it was brought off the  plane, and his action made me realize that I am  proud to be an American.

So here's a  public Thank You to our military Men and Women  for what you do so we can live the way we  do.

Red Friday

Very soon, you  will see a great many people wearing Red every  Friday. The reason? Americans who support our  troops used to be called the "silent majority."  We are no longer silent, and are voicing our  love for God, country and home in record  breaking numbers.. We are not organized,  boisterous or overbearing.

Many  Americans, like you, me and all our friends,  simply want to recognize that the vast majority  of America supports our troops. Our idea of  showing solidarity and support for our troops  with dignity and respect starts this Friday --  and continues each and every Friday until the  troops all come home, sending a deafening  message that  every red-blooded American who  supports our men and women afar, will wear  something red.

By word of mouth, press,  TV -- let's make the United States on every  Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming  football game in the bleachers. If every one of  us who loves this country will share this with  acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family,  it will not be long before the USA is covered in  RED and it will let our troops know the once  "silent" majority is on their side more than  ever, certainly more than the media lets  on.

The first thing a soldier says when  asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is. "We need your support and your prayers." Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.

(9/18/09)  Use(d) to live in Sierra Madre in the 50s on Canyon Crest Dr. and use to ride my bike down to the swimming pool on Sierra Madre Blvd. in the summers for swimming, and remember the Pioneer Cemetery next to it, I would some times walk through, I remember a(n) experience I will never forget - one evening while in the pool I saw three young girls run across the cemetery holding hands and laughing and disappeared right in front of my eyes in plain view as I was looking through the fence from the pool.  I knew I had just seen ghost or spirits of the young women and have never forgotten it to this day. I left Sierra  Madre in 1960 and have fond memories of living up in the canyon and hiking the trails as a boy back then and Sierra Madre has always had a fond place in my heart and my memories. I was born in Pasadena.

Robert C.

(9/18/09)  Hi Bill,

The Mercury News is reporting today, based on a memo from state attorneys, that California taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars in legal damages if the governor goes ahead with his plan to close 100 state parks.

The governor is still planning to close the parks, and we're still fighting to keep them open.

Help us stand up to the governor's plan by signing our letter to the governor today.

There are a number of people who would have the right to sue the state if parks close, including companies who have contracts with the state to provide services in our parks -- closing parks would be a breach of these contracts.

That's not all. According to the Mercury News article: "The state may also be in violation of the California Coastal Act if it blocks public access to beaches. It even might be required by a court to write a time-consuming, costly environmental impact statement to close parks, the memo adds."

Why doesn't the governor realize it makes no sense to close the parks?


Thanks for standing up for California,

Dan Jacobson
Environment California Legislative Director


Sierra Madre Fire Safe Council is requesting your help with staffing the gate closure at Chantry Flat gate, at the top of Santa Anita Ave. just at the entrance to Angeles National Forest.

If you attended last night's informational meeting with the Incident Commander at the Nazarene Church you will now know that this is the largest wild fire in the history of the Angeles National Forest. Recreational activities will be closed in many areas for years to come as forest health takes years to come back. There are areas in the Cleveland National Forest that are still closed after the 2003 fires due to sensitive and rare plant communities that will take years to rehabilitate. More importantly, this is an arson caused fire resulting in the death of two firemen who lost their lives in the line of duty fighting this fire. They are being mourned by their families and the entire fire fighting community and the public as a whole.

Please call Caroline Brown, cell: 808-3343 if you have any time available this week-end to help, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday (Labor Day). The forest is closed to all recreational activity and we will be interacting with the public as they arrive for the long week-end. Many will have not paid attention to the fact that there is a fire in the mountains above us.

Caroline Brown, Public Relations>Sierra Madre Fire Safe Council

(8/31/09) Southern California Lyric Theater (SCLT) would like to express their sincere apologies and regret for any inconvenience and disappointment experienced by those who took the time to come and out and enjoy Sunday's (canceled) Sierra Madre Concert in the Park: “Fairytales and Fantasy V.”  Prior to Sunday, in twenty years of productions and performances, SCLT has never had to take the extreme action of canceling a scheduled performance.

The health and well-being of the cast and audience being our primary concern, we felt we had no other recourse than to cancel this event, based on warnings from the South Coast AQMD of unhealthful to hazardous air quality, and oft-repeated media and agency advisories that people should remain indoors whenever possible. We did our best to get the word out, but with such short notice, obviously we were unable to notify everyone, and we are sorry for any inconvenience..

We do have a wonderful family program and have re-scheduled it for September 20th at 7:00pm in Memorial Park, Sierra Madre. We appreciate your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you on the 20th.

Alison Kalmus

Producing Artistic Director

Southern California Lyric Theater

July 11, 2009
A large brown bear was dumping out our trash cans earlier tonight (on Alegria just west  of Mountain Trail). On all fours he was taller than our tallest cans. The SMPD came by (Officer Abbott) and said there are at least 2 untagged bears--one large adult (ours) and one juvenile that was treed recently. The bear in our yard has been here before. Tonight, when lights from the squad car bothered him, he simply went deeper into the back yard and laid down to sleep until the ruckus was over. The officer chased him out of the yard (with his truck) and back toward the mountains. The officer and the humane society rep (who was here by then) said they have been receiving calls of sightings for several months now.


Sierra Madre

(5/15/09) Bill,

I'm very happy and relieved that the person shot in the January "officer involved shooting" recovered. I pray Officer Amos can be reinstated and I'm sure Chief Diaz will do the right thing. I've had many interactions with Officer Amos and as everyone knows he is a fine representative of our Police Department. He was in service to Sierra Madre at the time of the incident and surely wouldn't want to use unnecessary force. Police work takes a toll, walking what is sometimes a very fine line to protect us. I pray all is well with Officer Amos, his family and his new baby and look forward to seeing him in my mirror soon. 

Blessings to all, 

Tim Hayden

(4/21/09) Dear Editor:

Allow me to put on my "Citizen-Childs" hat for a moment.
Next week at the Sierra Madre City Council Meeting a new mayor will be determined by decision of the collective council.

I am a firm believer in the tradition of the rotation method of assignment to the position of mayor.  It has worked for years - however, if you will recall, the last time this event took place, our newly elected officials took it upon themselves to change the rotation and appoint a mayor out of order. 

Well, it is time for me to follow the ~ if you don't like it ... do something about it or shut up ~ philosophy.  I'm asking for your help.
Please join me Tuesday Night at the City Council Meeting to support fairness and tradition.  Joe Mosca has earned the right to be mayor.  He works very hard as a Councilman, attends City events, reports on the happenings around town, he cares about each and every citizen, and is not afraid to voice his opinion.  Let's put politics aside and remember our town is so sweet and so good, we don't need the City Council playing politics and being so divisive  by making decisions that go against the wonderful tradition of our town and the fairness to our elected officials. 
This is important.  Please join me in supporting our elected Councilman Joe Mosca by letting the Council know that tradition is important to a lot of us and we want Joe to be our mayor!

Kathy Childs

Sierra Madre

(3/24/09) Letter to the Editor:

Re: Proposed Sierra Madre Outdoor Patio Smoking Ban

The proposed outdoor patio smoking ban is not a grassroots effort by Sierra Madre stroller moms: it is part of a statewide step by step progressive ban program funded by taxpayer money disbursed by the California Tobacco Control Program and organized by the California Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing (, a political branch of the American Lung Association. Go to that website, click on "Community Organizing" and you will see how they manipulate your stroller moms, your community, and your city council.

Go to, click on "Secondhand Smoke", click on "Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Ordinance" and you will find your city's smoking ordinance already written and ready to stick under your councilmen's noses for their automatic signature. TALC is funded by taxpayer money disbursed by the California Tobacco Control Program.

If people are taught to hate a minority, any lie about that minority will be believed and any law can be enacted against that minority. In "California Tobacco Control Update 2006", the California Tobacco Control Program states that their goal is "A Tobacco Free California". It states that "California's strategy is to create a social milieu and legal climate in which tobacco use is regarded as unacceptable -- to denormalize smoking and other tobacco use." In plain speech this means that the California Tobacco Program proposes to teach the people of California to regard the smoker a threat to society and to make him a despised pariah. This was the strategy used by the German National Socialist Party against the Jews in the 1930's: it is the strategy the California Tobacco Control Program uses today against California citizens.

Their lies are too numerous for me to list and quote refuting experts here. Take only one "There is no safe level of second hand tobacco smoke".

Smoke is smoke. Tobacco isn't magic. It is just another organic material. All organic combustion, like that from cigarettes, campfires, charcoal braziers and fireplaces, generates over 4,000 chemicals, including toxic compounds and carcinogens. The smoke from your picnic area fireplaces contains carbon monoxide, methane, acrolein, benzene, tolulene, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, lead ... the whole scare mongering list you have been given for tobacco smoke. In addition, the EPA estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke (I assume because wood is a dense solid) is twelve times greater than that from an equal volume of second hand tobacco smoke (

If there is no safe level of second hand tobacco smoke, then there is likewise no safe level of smoke from your fireplaces, your campfires, your candles, your incense burners, because it is all organic smoke and contains the same array of toxic compounds and carcinogens. Do your little girls keel over dead from toasting marshmallows?

Why do you love the scent of smoke from a neighbor's fireplace in winter, yet complain that aromatic tobacco smoke stinks? Because you have been carefully taught. With tax funded propaganda, Californians could be taught to hate butterflies.

J. Sidney Sullivan

La Mesa, CA

Comment re: this letter

(3/7/09) To the Editor:

In Mr. Lambdin's most recent article, he has taken Mayor Zimmerman's words out of context. The joke was about saving someone from himself

if what he wanted to do was mow the lawn on Christmas morning.

Hardly the stuff of a messiah complex.

The way the quote has been used to create a false impression would be much like my using these words of Mr. Lambdin's: "...roll up on a job at 7:00 AM, start up compressors, jack hammers, skilsaws, backhoes, forklifts, (all at the same time if I want) and operate them all day long without interruption..." This demonstrates the worst behavior of a building contractor. During the council discussion a few years back, of raising the construction start times to 8 a.m., many townspeople in the construction business spoke against it, persuasively arguing that they would be considerate to the neighbors around a work site. Mr. Lambdin's words could be used, unfairly, to show that he was more like the people who have done the majority of the work at One Carter. Courtesy and consideration for the neighbors were not a part of the deal the then city council made with Dorn Platz.

The council of 2004 approved a project with conditions that they were not prepared to monitor and could not enforce. Conditions have been constantly violated from the beginning, and as one who has seen it first hand, I can tell you that the only improvements that have been made to this dismal record have happened since Mr. Zimmerman became mayor. These improvements were undoubtedly helped along with the departure of Dorn Platz and the receivership of Douglas Wilson, a professional company. In addition, credit must be given to the AQMD, because they actually responded to complaints from people living around the site.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Lambdin tries to work the facts to shift the blame for the approval of an ill-conceived plan with conditions impossible to monitor or enforce from those responsible, the council of 2004, to the mayor. Mr Zimmerman was not even on the council until 2006. These bad decisions were made in 2004.

Teryl Willis


What a great opportunity the Sierra Madre 4th of July parade provides to teach our children about the serious health effects of tobacco use, by redesigning the cigar float to depict persons with, for example, a tracheotomy and difficulty breathing/walking, black lungs, heart disease, etc. rather than what appears to be cigar smoking as an acceptable behavior.  Perhaps the city float planners are unaware that a single cigar can contain as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes and the second-hand smoking effect is as strong, if not stronger, than that of cigarettes; that cigar smoking is associated with the same cancers as cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing, including lung; oral (lip, tongue, mouth, throat), esophageal, and laryngeal (voice box) cancers; and that tobacco use in any form is addictive, and the cause of serious heart and gum disease, loss of teeth, and impotence in men. Further, regular cigar smokers are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus than non-smokers. For those who inhale, cigar smoking may also result in death from cancer of the pancreas and bladder.  We can assure you that a 37-year old diagnosed with incurable lung cancer is not a pretty sight and that his/her family is left with the anguish of losing a child/sibling/spouse/parent to a disease that could have easily been prevented.   Given the morbidity, mortality, and tremendous individual, family, and societal costs of tobacco use, the city of Sierra Madre would most certainly agree that portraying cigar smoking as an acceptable practice to our youngsters is irresponsible and incomprehensible.  We look forward to a float that depicts the true impact of tobacco use on human lives.

Deborah J. MacDonald, PhD, APNG

Assistant Professor

Clinical Cancer Genetics

City of Hope


Frederic W. Grannis Jr. M.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery

Division of Thoracic Surgery

City of Hope


Paula Healani Palmer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School of Community and Global Health
Claremont Graduate University

Editor's Note: The float in question is not actually a City float.  Entities that wish to participate in the parade create their own entry, and pay a fee to participate.  But your message is appreciated and well taken.

(1/26/09) For your consideration:

In the Star News front page article about T of R President Gary DiSano announcement of his parade theme, A Cut Above the Rest, Mr. DiSarno “recognizes that some sponsors and cities – including self-builts from Sierra Madre, La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena and others – may opt out of the 2010 Rose Parade” for economic reasons.

Speaking for the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association, President Bob Young has written the attached letter to Mr. DiSano indicating the association’s plan to create another prize winning float for the 2010 parade. Financially the association is in excellent shape due to the support of the Sierra Madre community and our construction and deco crews will be returning to make the 2010 float a reality. We look forward to the challenge of producing another winning float that everyone in the community will enjoy. 

Don (Mills, VP of SMRFA)

January 24, 2009

Mr. Gary J. DiSano, President

Tournament of Roses

391 Orange Grove Blvd.

Pasadena, California 91184

Dear Mr. DiSano:

On behalf of the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association, I would like to congratulate you  on being selected as President of the 2010 Tournament of Roses.

The Sierra Madre Rose Float Association is alive and well and most definitely has plans to create a float for the 2010 TofR Parade.  Our goal is to continue our remarkable record of success. We have built four award-winning floats in the last four years.  That is a feat we have accomplished in spite of having the smallest budget in the parade!

Our association is comprised of a disciplined and hard-working group of volunteers

who come together for a common cause.  We have a big heart and an even bigger ambition:  to create the most beautiful float in the parade.  We hope that our 2010 float entry will exceed the quality of all of our previous floats.  This may be a difficult task, but we will try.  We care.

We will be attending Theme Draft on Wednesday February 11th.  I am looking forward to meeting you personally.

Sincerely Yours,  

Robert M. Young, President

Sierra Madre Rose Float Association

(1/15/09) Letter To The Editor:

  Count Canon Bamberger, Battalion Chief Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department, as another casualty of the mean attitudes that are today too much a part of our City Hall. Our town has lost one of the finest examples of all that is so warm and good about us, at least as is his service to our Volunteer Fire Department.

  This problem will only get worse. Good fine people are put off by mean people and avoid  them. Our world has so much we already have to deal with, we have no energy left for these negative interactions. Our town will suffer more and more if something isn't done.

  Our Country has a new positive direction.  Please fellow Sierra Madreans, do what you can, talk to your neighbors and warmly redirect our loving City for the betterment of all.

Many blessings, 

Tim Hayden

Editors Note: I have heard, but not yet confirmed, that Chief Bamberger and the City have settled their differences, and this town has NOT lost "one of the finest examples...." since this letter was written and posted.

(11/2/08)  Bill:

Absolutely fabulous photos of Halloween 2008 E. Alegria ... It makes a great photo gallery.  This is a great review of the "day after Halloween" which allows you to see a lot of things that you possibly missed on Halloween night.  And, you can get a closer look at the detail on all the Halloween goodies.

Thanks a lot.

Bud & Donna Mae Switzer

(10/28/08)  I read in your 'historical facts' that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed in 1965.  Twice I've had the opportunity to be there; the first time the tour provided a really detailed video of the arch in the making.  Frightening how all of those workers who evidently had no fear of height, moved along on each scaffold, with no casualties.  Then we were herded to the first holding place and finally into an enclosed cage holding five people (there were many cages) that clang-clanged on up to that 630 foot high observation deck.  I have the very worst fear of heights and didn't realize just what was happening as we moved from one holding place to the next, until the cage stopped and out we went onto that wide platform at the very top of the Arch.  I stayed right in the middle, trying to see a little without getting near the window.  I did notice that our hotel looked like something from a board game and people really looked like ants.  As fast as I could I eased myself into the next cage down to the lobby.   I did buy the film; it was so fascinating. Once I was beck on the ground outside, it was hard to realize I had actually been up in that 'historic Arch'!
The second trip I stayed on the ground floor while everyone else took the cage up.  They had a great gift shop but no longer showed the video before the tourists were taken up to the observation deck.  

P. Ostrye, Sierra Madre

(10/26/08) Op-Ed re: Prop 8

Recently, I asked someone I know and respect about his position on Prop. 8.  The reason I did is that I know he is very active in the Catholic church, and I was curious as to whether he was toeing the Church line, or if he was taking a position in opposition to the Church.  The man is married and has three kids.  Here is his response.  He did ask that I credit him by initials only, as the issue is quite volatile with some people, plus the fact that this was originally written as a private communication between two individuals, and was not intended to be published.  However, after I read it, I thought it was so well thought out and reasoned that I asked him to allow me to share it with my readers.

Hey there, Bill.
Thanks for asking my opinion - you are definitely in the vast minority who knock on the door of the "fool on the hill!"
I happen to oppose Prop. 8. In all honesty, I don't know who is "authorized" to determine the definition of marriage. What we see today is a tradition handed down from probably the earliest societies to populate the earth. These folks, our forebears, certainly had nothing to fall back on to determine the rudimentary bases of society. The "usual" sex drive in human beings has lead to heterosexuality, and that to procreation, and that to the establishment of societies. And if one follows the Judeo-Christian bible (and perhaps the tenets of other faith systems), the heterosexuality concept continues. But then, not all human beings subscribe to the bible.
I don't see homosexuality as merely a choice. I think it is way more complex than that, and that everything we know about it at this moment in the history of mankind isn't even the snowflake that has fallen onto the tip of the iceberg.  I know there are some species in nature that begin their lives as one gender, and end their lives as another gender. I don't see "choice" being a part in that transformation. I've also heard it said by people (whose thought processes I trust) that there are some bi-sexual species in existence as well. Those species can continue to ensure the continued existence of their species without the need of a partner of the opposite gender. So if God created those species, and armed with the knowledge that God doesn't make junk, then it must be a good thing.

So, continuing along that line, it seems logical to me that the human race could possibly have similarities with those other "unorthodox" species, with "different" types of genetic composition within one species. All this leads me back to my first statement: who is the authority to dictate how it is to be?
The single fact that I do know is that
I personally, am not that authority, that I and the vast majority of the electorate are woefully and absurdly un-qualified to speak to the subject, and I also have no reason to believe any leader of any religious or philosophical group or movement has been given such authority or specific subject knowledge either. I'm left to believe the "Yes on 8 folks" are speaking solely from their guts.
So, if homosexual couples wish to marry, not only is it fine by me, but I further believe they have the right (as in bill of rights) to do so. I really don't believe society, as we know it, will vanish from the face of the earth without the likes of Prop 8. Ergo, I oppose Prop 8, and will be voting accordingly, even as an active member of a religious or philosophical group or movement which in fact strongly supports Prop. 8.   

J.N., Upland

J.N. has promised me a second installment, in which he promised to explain "how I can take a position in direct opposition to the church in which I profess my faith and still continue to be a full fledged member and fully intend to remain a full fledged member...without my being a hypocrite."  I'm really looking forward to that, and plan to post it upon receipt.

(10/26/08) I’m reading a lot of articles on the internet in which people across the State are whining because their YES ON PROP 8 yard signs are getting stolen or mangled.

I do agree that’s not so cool to yank a yard sign. I’ll give you that. From what I read the YES people believe that they are suffering a massive injustice, and their outrage is epic.

I’m tired of being Mr. Nice Guy about this whole issue. Let’s talk about injustice. Let’s weight this out. On the one hand, the sign stealers are guilty of:

  • Stealing a cheap yellow plastic campaign sign. Not stealing a vote, mind you (something the Republican party has refined to an art form), just a cheap yellow sign. Something that they probably got for free, and which most likely can be replaced with ease.  

But on the other hand, the people who put the yellow YES ON PROP 8 signs in their yards to begin with are guilty of:

  • Attempting to permanently deprive other Americans of their basic civil rights.

  • Working to rob a large and wonderful group of people of their basic human right to happiness.

  • Trying to corrupt the State Constitution for their own narrow minded usually “religious” purposes, and in so doing being extremely un-American by attempting to destroy the fundamental concept of Separation of Church and State.

  • Attempting to negate the correct and appropriate Constitutionally-based decision of the Supreme Court. (They ignore the fact that one of the reasons that we have a judiciary is to protect minority groups from oppression by tyrannical majorities).

  • Trying to accomplish this huge rights rip-off by using shameful ads that are full lies, fear tactics and hate-mongering. Even children have been exploited in the making of these ads!

  • Demonstrating shocking, open bigotry and hatred (and in so doing ignoring the very foundations of the religions which they claim to embrace).

  • Poisoning the minds of their children by promoting prejudice and ignorance, all under the guise of a twisted misunderstanding of “morality”

  • Attempting to spread the heinous lie that gay people and same-sex love, relationships and marriages are somehow “bad” or “dirty”, when if fact the complete opposite is true.

  • Committing psychic and spiritual (and sometimes even physical) abuse against their neighbors, relatives and co-workers.

Yeah, some understandably angry person might take or mangle a sign, but what is that compared to the fact that YES voters are trying to wrongfully take people's joy away and mangle people’s lives! Frankly, I’m sick to death of the hypocrisy on behalf of the YES crowd. Uhhh…they’re all indignant because someone took their damned sign?

What goes around comes around, and if YES voters don’t like their yellow expressions of bigotry getting stolen, they might want to think about the fact that people tend to get just a little bit PISSED OFF by the blatant hatefulness they seem so eager to put on display. The YES crowd is perfectly willing to see over 11,000 beautiful marriages destroyed, and do it with smug self-righteous pleasure. That is cruel, shocking and shameful beyond words. How can they think that they can proceed with that sort of damaging behavior without any negative reaction?

The fact is that every YES sign is an open declaration of breathtaking ignorance and fear, pure and simple.

Sure, campaign sign rip-offs are never good. But if you believe that established, fundamental Constitutional rights for American citizens are something that really matters when it comes to rip offs, Vote NO ON PROP 8.

BC, Sierra Madre (Editor's note: It's been suggested by a reader that some might be confused because the writer's initials are the same as mine.  For clarification purposes, this is from a reader, it's not written by me.  When I write a Letter to the Editor, I call it an Editorial)

(10/21/08)  Understanding Proposition 8     Opponents of Proposition 8 express mistaken views that this is a gay rights issue and supporters of traditional marriage are intolerant.

Separate law allows homosexuals legally recognized partnerships and benefits. This is NOT the debate. The debate is simply this – is homosexual marriage the exact same thing as heterosexual marriage? All humans are entitled to rights that do not infringe on others. Claiming they’re the same infringes on others’ rights: children, religions, parents, professionals, even organizations. This is reality.

Ironically opponents claim supporters are intolerant. This doesn’t condemn or support lifestyle choices. It’s about separating two inherently morally different things. Legally-recognized homosexual relationships should be called something different than heterosexual ones. Partnerships, unions, whatever word you choose – just not “marriage”.

The only intolerance demonstrated is from some of the  No supporters who  steal signs from those who differ from them. Hundreds of signs locally have disappeared from homes, windows, public roads, etc. Bumper stickers have been removed from cars.  Enthusiastically they expect others to tolerate their lifestyle  and to respect their views.  Can’t they practice what they preach? Opponents of Proposition 8 should be more tolerant, by supporting freedom to choose, and freedom of speech rather than stealing signs and trying to take away our right to publish our message. 

African tribes say when people throw rocks at a mango tree, it means the fruit is delicious. This applies. We are preserving something of beauty and it will be attacked. We must STAND TALL for what’s right.

There is nothing to gain from this attempt at redefining a word. There is so much to lose. Please open your eyes to the moral and social implications at stake and recognize that this is not about rights or equality, it’s about defining something as it really is. VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 8.

Jayne McCook

Los Angeles, California

(10/20/08)  SMNN:

I guess every small town has its ration of characters, and we certainly do have our share. But Glenn Lambdin, a person who some claim to take seriously as a political figure, strikes me as having truly gone around the bend on the question of religion. He really needs to consider that the whole "village atheist" routine is not only an amusing cliche' for some, but also a lifestyle most would not regard as the mark of a serious man. And reading his most recent screed on religion here has convinced me that Glenn could be but one sad step from standing atop a soap box in front of St. Rita's and bellowing about lightning bolts and plagues of locusts.

Now I too am opposed to Prop 8. In my opinion what people do with their private lives is their own business, and that others should just butt out. If two people want to get married, then God bless them. It is as simple as that. No portion of our population should be legally prevented from marrying, or shielded from it, either. But to read Glenn's most recent ranting on the topic was quite a bizarre experience. I mean, claiming that  St. Paul, the Biblical figure many feel is the true father of many Christian churches, is also somehow responsible for Prop 8? Goodness gracious.

You can only wonder what troubles the man.

Mark Edward Smith

Sierra Madre


Bravo to the Council members for listening. They have decided to spare the community early and late hour noise from the gardeners and maybe even a Sunday ban. This is a good thing and thank you Council for this. Eliminating blowers is also what many of us want though for some reason it appears like that is too much for the City now. As one Councilman more or less said, “I just can’t get my head around it yet, though I would like to ban them.” 100’s of cities have done so but all must be right for it to happen here I guess. For all of you that emailed and talked to the Council members don’t stop now. Let them know how you feel about their decision, make sure they go ahead with their promise and if you want more now or in the future let them know. The blowers are still blowing, air pollution and noise continues! And even in this time of economic desperation local issues shouldn’t stop. Some peace here at home would be a good thing, so keep communicating!!!Call City Hall and leave a message at 355-7135 OR go to City Hall website at  and then click on contact us and leave an email for  the Council members.

J. Allen

Sierra Madre

(10/7/08)    Dear Editor:

Proposition 8 in no way infringes upon homosexual’s rights to practice their lifestyle, have a legal partnership, or receive benefits.

The infringement that will occur if Proposition 8 doesn’t pass is on MY RIGHTS to protect children from premature exposure to a lifestyle not congruent with our beliefs. I have the unalienable right and duty to protect my children from immoral behaviors.

We must recognize social implications of teaching an apple is an orange. It never will be. Homosexual relationships ARE DIFFERENT than heterosexual ones and should not be defined as the exact same thing. Anatomy proves there is a difference in the ability to engage in procreation.

Society cannot grow and succeed without reproduction and strong moral foundations. Freedom to make choices belongs to all people. But defining two different things as same infringes upon our rights and is nonsense. For 6,000 years the world has defined marriage traditionally. It should remain.

Governments have gotten involved in marriage contracts historically for one reason – to protect the child’s interests. This is our duty and obligation. We must protect children and society from being mislead that there is no difference.

Homosexuals gain nothing from this, society can only lose. Vote YES on Proposition 8.


J. Orten

Chino Hills

(Editor's Note - Sierra Madre News Net endorses a NO vote on Proposition 8)


The Sierra Madre City Council will be discussing the banning of gas leaf blowers in Sierra Madre on Tuesday Sept 23rd. If a ban is something you would like to see happen then be sure and contact them to let your feelings and thoughts be known about this issue. They will need everyone’s input in order to help them make a decision and to understand the communities feelings about this. Numerous cities in California and across the country have banned them including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Laguna Beach, Claremont, Santa Barbara, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Berkeley, Del Mar, West Hollywood, Malibu, Palo Alto, Beverly Hills, Carmel plus many more. Should the city continue allowing these noise and air polluting blowers or should we ban them and go back to a more civil and neighborly way to clean our yards. Let the counsel members know what you think. You can use contacts below and also go to the City Council meeting. Now’s your chance!

Call City Hall and leave a message at 355-7135 City Hall website at and then click on contact us and leave an email for the Council members.


J.Allen/Sierra Madre resident

(9/12/08) Dear Sir,

   You do not know me but I am a firefighter for South Metro Fire Rescue. South Metro is a career department in the south suburbs of Denver, CO. Yesterday, 343 firefighters from across Colorado and Wyoming gathered in downtown Denver at a highrise office building consisting of 55 floors. I was one of those firefighters. Our purpose in being there was to climb up the stairs to the top of this highrise twice to represent the 110 floors of the World Trade Center. I was honored to do this to remember my fellow firefighters who lost their lives that day; I was also very tired afterward. It was extremely humbling to see 343 firefighters gather together in the loading dock area of this building before we started. To see what 343 firefighters look like was overwhelming. Before we started up the stairs each of us were given a photograph of a firefighter who died on 9/11. One photograph for each of the 343 firefighters. I was given the photograph of John P Napolitano. I hung his picture around my neck as I climbed the stairs and I thought of what he must have been thinking that day. People always ask me how can you run into danger when everyone is running out. It seems as firefighters we tend to tune out the danger and chaos and focus on what can be done to help or correct the problem. We are trained to make things better. I’m sure John wanted to do just that, regardless of what was happening around him. After the climb I picked up my kids from school and I hung John’s picture around my rear view mirror. My kids asked me who that was when they got into the car and I told them about John. I told them John was a New York fireman who made the supreme sacrifice on 9/11. I told them he was one of 343 firefighters that day. I told them he is a hero and should never be forgotten. And most importantly I told them he was a father and son and his family misses him everyday. John’s picture is now hanging in my office as I write this e-mail and I will keep it there so I and my family can remember John each time we see it. I am writing this e-mail with hopes you are still in touch with John’s dad or family and you can forward this note to them. I hope all of us who climbed the stairs yesterday can get in touch with those that lost their loved ones that day and let them know they are not forgotten. Thanks for your time.

Dan Lenderink

Dear Editor

Thank you so much for, before the election and since thereafter, exposing the inadequacy of our newly re-elected city clerk, Ms. Schollenberger.  Needless to say, my vote was not cast for her, and irregardless of her slim margin of victory (for which she really has nothing to boast about) I was expecting and happy to hear that a recount was requested.  However, at last night’s city council meeting, I was appalled by the actions taken by our newly installed city council regarding this matter (amongst others – but that is the subject of another letter). 


In that the office being contested is that of the elections official, one would only assume that the re-count process follow the exact letter of the law, and be as impartial and above-board as is humanly possible.  This would then leave no room for contest, and make the eventual outcome a true victory for the winner.  It was pertinent of city staff to obtain 2 proposals from firms other than the actual firm that conducted the election.  However, our newest council member, Mrs. MacGillivray, motioned for Martin & Chapman, the firm who counted the ballots originally to head the re-count.  Even though Martin & Chapman are a well established and reputable company in their field, it seems somewhat contradictory for them to officiate over a recount of their own original count – it’s like a treasurer auditing his own books.  Obviously Martin & Chapman must see a conflict of some sort, as it was stated by the city attorney that they (Martin & Chapman) preferred NOT to handle the recount, and therefore had not submitted a proposal.  Then, to make matters seem even more underhanded, Mrs. MacGillivray did not see the purpose of having the city attorney present, citing that it was an unnecessary expense.  Now I ask you, if money is an issue, why did not the lowest bid  (which was $1,000 from one of the firms submitting a proposal), taken into consideration, and even if you added time for the city attorney, it still would have come out less  than the “estimated” amount figured out “on the fly” by the city manager and city attorney for Martin & Chapman.  Although her motion was amended to include a “back-up plan” were Martin & Chapman to refuse handling the re-count (they would go with the $1,000 bid) to my complete amazement, her motion passed!  I can only hope for the good of all involved that Martin & Chapman maintain their resolve of NOT doing the re-count, that somehow our city attorney make her presence at the event, and that all works out well in the end.  Is this just a sign of things to come?


In closing I will pose one additional question – Mrs. McGillivray (I’m sorry I will not now or ever refer to her as “council-member”, as the word “member” implies one is a being of a cohesive group) ran the show last night – where is the backbone of our newly appointed mayor?  Mr. Zimmerman, are YOU actually going to take charge, or be Mrs. MacGillivray’s “gopher”?  Are you going to unite a city council or simply vote against the only two remaining members who make sense just because “your” side has an extra vote?  God help our city………


Teresa Chaure

To Bill Coburn,
  Thank you for encouraging me to write.
  Come on Bill, you know you're constantly acting negatively toward Nancy Shollenberger, day after day you publish more, it's like lying.  24 years is a long, long time, with that type of tenure of course Nancy has many supporters/admirers, count me as one. You leave a person no choice but to see what could even seem as hatred for Nancy. Constant, unrelenting, lacking proportion or fairness. Do the right thing, back off a little. Show some respect for all that service to Sierra Madre. After all Nancy got the job in 1984, 1984, wow that's so long ago and that's a lot of service.

  Votes don't lie, like many others I love and respect Nancy, not just for her service but because she is a very nice person and an icon in this town. Way too many nice people are taking hits these days.

  Keep up the good work, but please ease up on Nancy.

Thanks again, 

Tim Hayden  

Sierra Madre


Today was the first time I've had a chance to really look at the election results.  I was floored to discover that Enid didn't make it and that Nancy just barely squeezed in ahead of Karma.  When there are so many running who know they haven't a chance, this happens.  The unknowns have just enough friends to alter the final vote.  I voted for both of those who lost.

  As I said in an article a few weeks ago, the sleaze factor is always alive in every election no matter where.  And the treatment you received on election night is typical of that mentality.  Miraculously, I never lost a municipal election but always ran very scared.  A gal I knew for umpteen years, always worked underground against me and then ran for office when I retired.  Her husband was a mutual friend of a close friend and had to be very careful, even being civil to me.  It's unfathomable how low people will stoop. 

Pat O.  

Dear Editor:

Congratulations!  Someone needs to stand up for the good old American right of agreeing to disagree while enjoying a root beer.

Bill, you are right on!  Why can't we be friends if we have different political beliefs?

During the presidential elections, my yard signs would disappear while the neighbors' opponent signs never did.

What happened to good old American respect of free speech expression for those with whom we disagree? 

 I plan to use your "Ugly" section to spark discussion with my high school students who -- thanks to political correctness -- tend to be monolithic thinkers.  

Lois Brand Billings

Sierra Madre Resident   

Dear Editor:

I wonder how such an unpolitical office such as the city clerk's became so political? It's not supposed to be political, just an elected position which is to be accurate and accountable.

What's the prize in winning when your supporters steal newspapers and go door-to-door with misleading quotes?

There is no dignity in winning in that fashion.

It's like wanting a Christmas tree, but being short on funds, you take the family up into the Angeles National Forest and illegally cut a tree down. I wouldn't enjoy that tree and it most certainly would be setting a miserable example for the family. I guess some of these people who got Nancy elected would enjoy that tree and not lose any sleep over it.

For most people, winning only has its merits when that "win" is done with dignity, honesty and integrity. Anything less isn't earning a "win", it's stealing a "win"

So, Nancy, congratulations on your win. I'm hoping that you realize that half the city didn't think much of the job that you have been doing . Please do a better job in the future.

The elected officials get paid a stipend of $250 per month. Either do the job for that fee or quit. Do not, as you have in the past, refuse to do the job until you are paid more. Quit using the City coffers as a piggy bank, quit holding your elected duties as a hostage to get more money from us, and lastly, quit playing politics with the position of City Clerk.

Doug Hayes

Sierra Madre (modified 4/16/08)

(2/23/08) Giant "Thank You" to Sierra Madre


How can I thank you all properly? I can't. But I can express my forever appreciation to all of you who helped me after my little accident.


* To the man I didn't know who came running to my rescue immediately after the fall,

* To his girlfriend, Lisa, who followed me home to make sure I was all right,

* To Dr. Gary Moscarello and Dr. Tom Miles, plus their colleagues, who checked on me in the hospital, to Methodist Hospital CEO Dennis Lee and his great hospital staff,

* To Steve Heydorff and two other firefighters who transported me up the stairs to our home when I returned from the hospital stay,

* To the many, many friends who have sent the great, beautiful, uplifting cards and e-mails,

* To the wonderful friends who sent those heartwarming bouquets,

* To the dear women at Civic Club who have kept us well-nourished with delicioius dinners,

* To my wonderful family who, as usual, continue to help me forever in all sorts of ways...

How can I possibly thank you all enough except to say "Only in Sierra Madre."

You all warm my heart forever.


--Jan Reed

(2/26/08) Dear Editor:

The residents of Sierra Madre will be asked to cast their votes on April 8, 2008, for Measure U and Measure UA, also known as Safety Measure U. As a 27 year member of the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department, my wife Rosemary and I believe it is essential that both of these measures pass by casting your YES vote. This Utility User Tax will increase the current Utility Tax by 2% the first year; 2% more the second year; and 2% more the third year. These funds will be used to permanently fund the City's Paramedic Program, keep the Fire Department an all volunteer organization, and bring the Police Officer's salaries up to a respectable level by retaining and hiring the best candidates. The Sierra Madre Volunteer Firefighters Association has unanimously endorsed both Measures, as well as all five members of the current City Council and the Sierra Madre Police Officer's Association. WE urge you to VOTE YES for Measure U and to commit to keeping Sierra Madre's Public Safety at the highest level possible with continued Paramedic Services and Law Enforcement.

VOTE YES on Measure U and Measure UA on April the 8th.

Battalion Chief Bob Burnett

Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department


Rosemary Burnett

(6/23/07) Dear Editor:


I see that Sierra Madre has refused to correct the city’s erroneous water billings to Richard Meaglia, and has already run up a legal bill more than three times the amount in dispute to defend the indefensible in court.  And that Vern Hensel is also considering suing.


Is this what it means to be an All-America City?  To screw its honest, bill-paying citizens whose only crime was to trust the city and not realize that they were being overcharged for years?  To acknowledge the error at long last but to hide behind a questionable ordinance limiting the city’s liability to just one year?


Didn’t our city officials’ parents teach them fairness?  Did they miss that many Sunday school lessons?  Forget the Golden Rule?  Leave their ethics at the door?


With these two instances, it is likely that there are many more citizens being cheated on their water bills.  I think it behooves every Sierra Madre resident to visit city hall and demand to have their water bill analyzed.  There may be gold in them thar bills.


Interim City Manager Don Hopper appears to be the responsible adult in city administration.  When he reviews the issue, let’s hope he will keep in mind the Rotary Four-Way Test:


1.     Is it the TRUTH?

2.     Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3.     Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4.     Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?


Can’t go wrong with guidance like that.


Ward Calaway

Sierra Madre

(5/18/07)  Dear Editor, 


On behalf of the Senior Community Commission of Sierra Madre, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many individuals and organizations responsible for putting together a wonderful reception for Sierra Madre’s 2007, Older American of the Year, Russ Anderson.


The reception planning was done beautifully by Commissioners Joan Spears and Nancy Walsh. They transformed the normally bland Senior Center into a truly lovely place. From the rust colored linen tablecloths to the hand potted marigolds in the center of each table. As councilmember John Buchanan said, “It was cozy.” That it was…Thanks to the other commissioners as well, and to Rosemary Garcia of the Community Services Department and to our Staff Liaison, Bruce Inman.


We would like to recognize with appreciation the following Sierra Madre organizations and merchants for their very generous donations: The Kiwanis Club of Sierra Madre, Danny Osti Tree Service, G-E-M Plumbing, Buccaneer Lounge, Mama Pete’s Nursery School, Senior Club of Sierra Madre, Leonora Moss for a lovely flower arrangement and corsage, Barney’s Only Place in Town, Domino’s Pizza, Casa Del Rey, Village Pizzeria, Nano Café, Ken Anhalt, Pat Krok, and Wildflour Baking Company for another exceptional cake and, last but not least, Harlequin Art Gallery for a very unique and I’m sure memorable gift for the Anderson family. They will frame a photo of Russ leading some children through a rapidly moving mountain current, incorporating the matte that was signed by every guest in attendance. 


Kudos to La Salle student Vincent Johnson for lending just the right touch of musical background to the evening. It was a special night for a special man!


Pat Birdsall, Chair

Senior Community Commission

Sierra Madre

(4/23/07)  Dear Editor


The measure to save downtown Sierra Madre from overdevelopment by strengthening the height and density limits of the 1996 General Plan won.   A costly effort pushed hard by an experienced public affairs firm hired to manage the No vote in this election lost.  The majority win may seem close, but proponents of Measure V consider the win a big one.   Apparently this firm had previously lost only three other elections of the 34 that it was hired to either win or defeat in Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan and California, as per their website  These were not all local elections—many of them were statewide measures.


Who in Sierra Madre chose to use such tactics against their friends and neighbors who placed a ballot measure in front of the voters for what they thought was right for their city?   I think the discussions and disagreements would have been far different if both sides were talking neighbor to neighbor within the context of a city issue.   Instead, the tactics of outside professional elections managers bombarded us week in and week out.  Of course, we know that this is not just a local issue when we see where the No on Measure V money came from.


Each No vote came at the expense of at least $170,922 or $100.36 per vote, of special interest money—from the building industry and state and national real estate associations.  On the other hand, the cost of the Yes campaign was achieved through local citizen donations of $29,000 or $16 per vote.  These figures will likely change when final election finance reports are filed.  I expect the disparity to increase.


For those who voted to oppose the measure, I imagine these truths would be unsettling. Such undue influence from outside money and hired experts is not something Sierra Madre should every have to endure again.



Caroline Brown 

(4/23/07)  The lesson of April 17 is that big corporate money and the specious arguments generated by the highly paid political consultants and advertising agencies in their employ were not enough to crack the independent spirit of Sierra Madre. What we saw last Tuesday was something we as a community can take much pride in.

Generic development and manufactured generic groupthink were both run out of town that day. And we're a far better city because of it.

Ed Farley

Sierra Madre

(4/19/07) Hi Bill. 


While I realize that you were reporting what Lambdin said, it would have been appropriate for you to contact me.  I have no reason to lie.  He agreed, as he stated and you printed, to appear on the debate.  So why call me a liar?  Lambdin and I spoke again the very same day after my initial contact, in fact within an hour, after I talked to Michelle Keith regarding live video coverage, his first condition.  Michelle informed me that the debate conflicted with the Planning Commission but that if we taped it in the proper format and applied to SMTV3, we could possibly show it when a time slot was available.  I immediately  called Lambdin back and he understood  that we wouldn't be able to broadcast live but was okay with a delayed replay.  We even talked about what slots on SMTV might be available.


Further, his second condition was that he not be attacked and I assured him that there would be no hostility.  You were there and clearly there were some supporters of No on V present.  There was no hostility.  We also had at least two other conversations about participants to appear with him.


You were also present at the Chamber event, and may have noticed Lambdin and I, and then Colleen and I, discussing the debate.  Unfortunately, you were not close enough to hear Lambdin decline after Colleen said she would not appear. 


Whether or not you agree with the Mt. Wilson Observer's position on Measure V, I am surprised that you would facilitate further assassination of the character of myself.  And I would certainly expect that you as a professional would not facilitate the spreading of rumors regarding the start and financing of the Mt. Wilson Observer.    Who finances your activities Bill?  Someone in West LA?


When Katina and I started this paper, it was out of our desire to let the citizens know what was going on in our city.  No one else was doing it.  The Internet has not yet replaced newspapers as source of news.  Should we have started the paper and avoided controversial issues of the day?


Both Katina and I worked at the closest thing to a newspaper that the city had at that time, The Weekly.  We were told however, that "Sierra Madre only represented 7% of his advertising revenue and he had no interest in writing about the city".  That was from Von Raes the owner. (And by the way, when I wrote about this in a column, I deliberately did not disclose his name out of professional courtesy).   I am certain that you may find such a statement from Von hard to believe given the amount of B I A S E D coverage that he has given Sierra Madre since we left. 


Accusations that the paper is slanted is simply because efforts to have input from No On V have been non existent until John Hutt called and wrote a letter to the editor. I have been told repeatedly by No on V supporters that they would not submit anything to the paper.  Only Jackie Knowles (which was actually about Joe Mosca) and John Hutt submitted anything ever.  Both were published without editing in their entirety.  Don't call our publication biased due to lack of participation from people with opposing views.


Our voluntary departure to start our own newspaper was a natural professional progression for both of us.  And, if those who are so anxious to defame us would admit, the records of our incorporation predate any talk of Measure V by several months.  So you see, despite the rumors, this paper was not inspired by Measure V.


And last but not least, what makes anyone in Sierra Madre think they know enough about Katina and I to say that it is not possible for us to personally commit our financial resources into this paper.   Even before the MWO, that is what we have done independently.  Give back to our respective communities both in time and money.  And we have done so without any expectation of praise or political appointments. 


Susan Henderson


Editor’s Response:  Regarding contacting you: I had the video in which you stated your side, and I had Lambdin’s response.  I also had my own correspondence with Glenn, in which he had stated that he would not participate, dated five days before your statement said he had declined.  So I felt I had both sides of the story. You have now responded to Glenn’s statement, and if he chooses to respond, then the “he said, she said” ping pong game of responses can go back and forth in the Letters to the Editor, not in the story.   As to your statement that I was there and clearly there were “No on Measure V” supporters there, I didn’t stick around long enough to find that out.  When I saw that it was a one-sided debate, I left immediately after your explanation of why there was no-one there from No on V.


I have not questioned whether or not you and Katina have committed your own financial resources to your paper. I have not called your paper biased. I have made no accusations that your paper is slanted, nor have I suggested that MWO was inspired by Measure V.  What I have done is offered a place where my readers, both for and against Measure V, can send their Letters to the Editor and have them published in their entirety.  I am not responsible for the thoughts and opinions of my readers.  However, I will point out that regarding the accusations of one-sidedness made by some readers, you have stated in your letter that your paper has been one-sided due to lack of participation by one side.  If these readers have seen what you have admitted was a one-sided paper, are they not entitled to comment on what they have observed, i.e., walks like a duck, talks like a duck?  You have vigorously defended yourself and your paper against those observations in this letter, and I am happy to offer you the forum to do so.  Regarding  readers’ questioning of finances, the readers that have questioned them, did just that.  Ask questions.  You have responded.  Again, I am happy to provide a forum in which you may respond to those who question you.

(4/13/07) Op-Ed Article

Why I’m Voting No on V

by John Hutt


While the goals of Measure V are laudable, it falls short of its mission.  In the end it would make things worse, not better.  Measure V is full of loopholes, problematic provisions and ambiguities that would lead to regrettable downtown development and increased litigation costs for the City.


Ignore the wild claims and mudslinging of some on both sides of Measure V and focus on the measure itself.  Measure V does two things: first, it amends the General Plan and zoning code to regulate height and residential density in the downtown area, and second, it requires a citywide vote to change such regulations.  That’s all it does, and it does so poorly.  It doesn’t require any setbacks, preserve view corridors, limit building mass, encourage good design, preserve historic buildings, limit commercial development, or allow for project-specific voting.




Measure V limits height in downtown to 30 feet or two stories.  Sounds simple, but it’s not – because how height is measured is as important as numerical limits.  Measure V incorporates our outdated system of measuring height, loopholes and all.  For example, Section 511 of Measure V allows “basements” in addition to two stories, so long as at least half of the basement is less than six feet above grade.  To the normal eye, this looks like three stories – because it is.  To me, this is the biggest loophole in our entire zoning code – and Measure V would permanently enshrine it in our General Plan and zoning code absent a vote of the entire City to change it.


The flipside is that Measure V does not allow any deviations from its height limits, no matter how standard.  This is contrary to Section 17.36.100 of our zoning code which limits structures to 30’, but allows an additional 12’ for appurtenances.  This provision has been in the code since at least 1988 and probably since the town adopted zoning in the 50s.  It is also the norm for commercial zoning codes.  So if you want to rebuild your historic facade or church steeple, add architectural features to provide interest to the roofline, have an elevator for handicap access, or simply put air conditioners on the roof, too bad.  None of these are allowed under Measure V, not even with a variance.




Measure V limits residential density in the downtown to 13 residential units per acre.  This is the base density under the General Plan for multi-family developments.  Seems reasonable enough, but the devil hides in the details.  Both the General Plan and zoning code provide for increased density for good design.  Measure V does not. 


Additionally, both the Land Use Element and the Housing Element of the General Plan encourage residential development in downtown, with the Housing Element contemplating residential densities of 20 to 30 units per acre on East Montecito Avenue.  What would this level of density look like?  Drive Sierra Madre Boulevard and you will see.  Most of these apartment buildings and condos predate the 1996 General Plan, and are in excess of 20 units per acre. 


The inequity of Measure V is illustrated by a project that the Planning Commission recently reviewed.  It proposed three residential units on a standard lot on East Montecito.  13 units per acre equates to 2.9 units for this lot, which Measure V would round down to two units.  A nearby resident complained that the project was too dense because it exceeded Measure V’s limits, but failed to mention that her condo complex has a density of 21.8 units per acre.


Inadequacy of Height and Density as Regulating Tools


So Measure V has some problems, inequities and loopholes in the way it regulates height and density.  I could live with this if it resulted in superior downtown development, but it doesn’t.  Quite the contrary, Measure V would result in squatty, boring buildings.  Although Measure V limits building height, it doesn’t limit building mass or scale, nor does it require buildings be set back from property lines or preserve views.  It limits the number of residential units, but it does not limit their size, nor does it place any limits on commercial development.  Nor does Measure V have any provisions to encourage or require good design or historic preservation.


Here’s an example: compare the recently developed project on East Montecito to the Old North Church.  Sitting on the eastern property line of the Montecito project is a windowless, thirty-foot high wall that extends the entire length of the property.  This is allowed under Measure V.  Alternately the Old North Church is set back from its property lines, its overall mass compared to its site is less than the Montecito project, and it affords views of the mountains.  Nonetheless, it would not be allowed under Measure V because its steeple exceeds 30 feet.


Proposed Projects & Potential Litigation


Some claim that Measure V would stop the proposed Howie’s Market and Skilled Nursing Facility projects.  It tries to, but fails.  Measure V purports to regulate all new construction; however, state law generally requires developments be evaluated based on the rules in place at the time of application.  Applications for both projects have already been submitted, so if the City tries to apply Measure V, expensive litigation will likely follow.  Additionally, by reducing the density allowed under our state-approved General Plan Housing Element, Measure V would put the City in violation of state law.  Moving density to neighborhoods outside downtown may be necessary to avoid conflict with the state.




I urge voters to ignore the hoopla surrounding Measure V and analyze its text.  If you do, I believe you will join me in concluding that, though well intentioned, Measure V is a flawed proposal that will do more harm than good.  There are many other aspects of Measure V that the space graciously afforded me here does not allow me to address.  If you would like to discuss these issues, please call (355-7600) or email (

(4/12/07) Greetings, Family, Friends and Neighbors;


Tuesday's City Council meeting was very informative. What a pleasant surprise it was when during the Public Comment Period the attorney who wrote Measure V got up and spoke. Attorney Chris Sutton dispelled my concerns when he said how well things had gone in another city that had passed the same Measure we are trying to pass here in Sierra Madre. He said they were having none of the problems that big money was saying would happen and now they have a plan in effect that will protect the entire city. Out of town money is spending a lot to confuse the voters here in Sierra Madre. One thing is clear to this veteran, a lot of US Citizens have died for our right to freedom of speech and our right to vote. Now, why would I want to vote away my right to vote? I’m voting Yes on V so we can have that right to vote on what happens in our town, it’s the American way, vote Yes on Measure V this coming Tuesday March 17th. Thank you.




Gary Hood

Veteran, resident and tax payer

(4/11/07) Editor:

No matter how the vote on Measure V goes on April 17, I would like to say I have contributed something to the discussion. I would also like to be able to look friends, acquaintances and neighbors in the eye and know that I have contributed in a positive way and without rancor.

That is why I want to share with you what Measure V means to me. An initiative amendment to the general plan, Measure V removes decision-making from our duly elected and appointed representatives – the City Council and the Planning Commission – on major downtown developments and requires a popular vote project by project.

Personally, I like having City Hall to kick around.  I am voting NO on Measure V. I support representative democracy as the best way to achieve our goals in Sierra Madre. I understand that our city councilors cannot please everyone when they vote on issues confronting us. I understand that my neighbors with strong feelings on an issue may feel angry and may even feel a sense of betrayal when their concerns appear to be disregarded. Yet our elected officials are obligated to consider views of everyone with a vested interest in Sierra Madre in deciding what policies best serve the overall public interest.

Measure V is an example of direct democracy, and it has appeal. It can give us a sense of empowerment. It gives us something, yet takes something away. And, the thing that I believe it will take away is our own voice. If we remove our City Council and Planning Commission from the equation, we will have no one to represent us in planning downtown development. There will be no city planning.

We will watch helplessly, no matter how awful a particular development might be, as long as the narrow parameters of two stories, 30 feet in height and 13 units per acre are in compliance. We will not be able to petition our elected representatives in City Hall for redress because we will have stripped them of governance. This is unarguable.

Measure V came into being for the sole purpose of removing these powers of governance. It addresses the fears of some residents of Sierra Madre that our City Council cannot be trusted to guide and control planning. Others, myself included, think unintended consequences of Measure V pose far graver concerns.

I don't know if anything else is unarguable, but as Councilman Don Watts, a supporter of Measure V, said. "There are a few warts." Are they serious warts? Well, two historic structures are not protected by Measure V. Will we vote to amend the general plan to protect them? I hope that we would, but the process will include another initiative, signature gathering to put the measure on the ballot, a campaign, etc. It will cost money, time and effort. We simply cannot afford to spend our limited financial reserves for this purpose, and I can almost guarantee that few people in this town will vote to tax themselves to pay for an initiative.

Measure V locks Sierra Madre into a rigid, narrowly defined formula for downtown construction, not downtown development. We risk becoming bystanders, voiceless and powerless as construction occurs in downtown Sierra Madre.

I urge you to join me, and say No on V.


Margaret Quigley

Sierra Madre

(4/10/07) Dear Editor:


Had the proponents of Measure V been as diligent in writing their initiative as they are in “following the money”, the measure might have had some merits to debate. But Measure V is so ill-conceived and badly written, they are reduced to the “poor me” syndrome by complaining about how little money their “Yes on V” group, SMRRD, has raised.


The true question is: Who really supports the “yes” campaign?


Who pays for the Mount Wilson Observer, a direct-mail, political propaganda publication for SMRRD that is costing them thousands, each week?  Over the months, hardworking residents, city staff, council members, commissioners, newspapers, volunteer groups and civic organizations, who don’t agree with SMRRD, have been targets for this tabloid. And we’re to believe this is a good old “hometown” newspaper? Give us a break.


Who pays for SMRRD’s “outsider” attorney who drafted their flawed initiative and advises on their hardball tactics---tactics which have resulted in the division of this nice, calm community?


Who pays for the Santa Monica Law firm that has recently advised them?  Is it wealthy outsiders and west-side folks that attended their fundraiser in Pasadena?  


It’s clear the expenses incurred by SMRRD amount to far more than the declared sum of $10, 327.Why is this all a secret?  What don't they want us to know? Shouldn’t we know about the “outsiders” supporting the “yes” campaign?


On the other hand, The Committee to Preserve Sierra Madre, a coalition of residents, property owners, taxpayers, realtors, small businesses, and associations, has been upfront and honest about its contributors. We are proud of our fund raising efforts dedicated to defeating this flawed initiative and preserving Sierra Madre.


And we all know who is saying No to V. Pillars of the community such as past Citizens of the Year, former Mayors, resident business owners known for their philanthropy, volunteer firefighters, and other countless long –time volunteers who have served Sierra Madre selflessly for years. Not to mention The Pasadena Star-News, The League of Women Voters, and The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce.


Why such intense, personal, public, and financial opposition to Measure V? It is a poorly written, short-sighted initiative that amends our General Plan (check the sample ballot on page 19), upzones the downtown area (the exact opposite of its supposed intent), does not provide for lot line setbacks, creates a serious conflict with California state law (non-partisan legal analysis pages 1, 5, and 8), changes 100 years of Sierra Madre planning commission, city council, and public input, and does not protect our historic buildings currently over 30 feet.


Smart, informed residents don’t want to change Sierra Madre. We’ve read Measure V, we’ve read the legal analysis, we’ve done our homework, and we say no to this corruption of our General Plan. And on April 17th, we’re voting with our hearts and our intellect by voting NO on V.


Lisa Spigai-Perez

Sierra Madre


Dear Neighbors,

The best kept secret in town is being kept by the proponents of Measure V:  who has been paying for the Mt. Wilson Observer, which provides the vast majority of their promotion?

From the beginning of this publication, their  particular slant on everything that happens in town has been reported as if it was factual.  The facts have really been distorted
 in regard to Measure V since their campaign began.  Thousands of dollars have been spent each and every week for months and months to get their political message delivered into the hands of all residents.  Why has this campaign contribution not been reported?  No wonder they are frustrated that the opponents of such a poorly written measure, with such long term negative consequences to our little town, finally have the money to get the truth out there.

Don't be misled by the spin.  Read the documents for yourself.  They can be found on the City website or in the library.  If Measure V passes, instead of hearing public comment, studying Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) and all the legal documents and maps by the Planning Commission and City Council so they can make wise decisions, all of the above will be skipped and we residents will have the responsibility to read and become experts on the proposed downtown developments that would exceed rigid 2-30-13 standards. 

Each of us would need to read and understand 100's to 1000's of pages of legal documents and maps without the benefit of having an EIR to evaluate the impacts of the development.  Are we going to get well-reasoned decisions in that manner?  It doesn't seem very likely.  Finally, remember that our vote would not be for or against any specific projects; our vote, each time, would be a vote to change our General Plan. 

This whole thing just doesn't seem workable to me.  These are a few of the reasons to vote NO on Measure V.  There are so many more.  Measure V is just not in our town's best interest.  Please join me in voting NO on V.

Margie Simpson
Sierra Madre


(4/5/07) Dear Editor:


When I first saw the signs that said “take back Sierra Madre…stop over development downtown” I thought it was joke! I mean, seriously, what development have we had in the past number of decades.


Then, I started hearing about this 2-30-13 petition to get a measure on the ballot. I thought it was silly…here we are in the middle of a Downtown Specific Plan…still in draft form.


At first glance, 2-30-13 didn’t sound all that bad…2 stories, OK…30 feet high, OK…13 dwelling units per acre meant nothing to me, but OK. Empowering the voter…OK…doesn’t sound too bad does it?


I was visited in my office by a “helpful senior citizen” telling me that she hoped I would sign her petition. In telling her that I thought the process we had in place has worked just fine…we have not had “over-development”…our system works, I told her. She went on fanatically about issues that had nothing to do with 2-30-13, making no sense at all! It made me realize that something beyond 2-30-13 was going on!


I started asking questions…read a lot…tried to get information from the SMRRD web-site. I printed out their brochure, had many more questions, and tried a number of times to get my questions answered via email. Each time I received an automatic reply, saying some would be getting back to me. I thought they just didn’t like Colleen McKernan, so I emailed from my cousins’ email…still no answer. You would think if they are so passionate about the issue, and really believed it was the right thing for Sierra Madre, they would have been doing back flips to get the information out and questions answered. No one would get back to me.


I printed out a copy of the measure from the city’s web-site…trying to muddle my way through it. Again, lots of questions. The first one is…who wrote this? And why? The reason that no one has laid claim to it publicly is probably because they realize it was poorly written, rushed to completion without proper analysis, and is truly NOT what Sierra Madre needs. 


In their brochure, SMRRD states that Measure V will “stop assaults by special interests groups and developers”. It will “insure development that supports our town’s unique culture and heritage”. Well, the town has gotten to this point of unique culture and heritage by the systems we now have in place. To change this system, you will be guaranteed to change the culture.


Now the SMRRD’s were walking the neighborhoods collecting signatures. I am sad to say that I know for a fact that people were lied to. Two friends who signed the petition were told that “they” …whoever “they” were, are going to build a four story building downtown…the only way to stop it is to sign this petition to get a ballot measure. And these are smart women…I especially think they are smart because they are now canvassing their neighborhoods for the No on V committee. Brilliant women!


It wasn’t until the Analysis prepared by PMC that issues once again became clear as mud. Reading through this brought to light over and over that we must not change the current way we run our government. It has been stated in the media that we have a “development friendly city council”. Yet I ask the question, how so, and no one has been able to provide one single piece of fact as evidence. Actually, quite to the contrary, they approved a Hillside Management Zone ordinance that changes sub-divided lots from 15M sq.ft to 2 acres (90M sq.ft). That doesn’t sound too developer friendly to me. One of the first votes of this council was to approve the emergency source of water…then it was being written in the media that it’s only for future development…well there are built in controls and checks for that…and this was something that was in the works for longer than some council members have even lived in town.


One aspect of the measure that really troubles me is in the case of a natural disaster, or God forbid another fire like the ones at Bottle Shop or Spinning Wheel should happen now, there are buildings that could not be replaced or rebuilt without a vote of the people. So, Renaissance Plaza burns down…it’s over 13 dwelling units per acre…the church steeple falls again…the building north of E. Montecito up on Baldwin which is 3 stories crumbles…now we have to vote, independently on each project, if they may rebuild. Personally, I think this is outrageous.


As any small business owner in the heart of downtown, we could only hope for more business…increased sales…the ability to employ more people…and as I asked last week, if Measure V passes, how will it help my business? The only answer I received was parking will be a problem if measure V does not pass. In the analysis, page IV-50, it states that “the adoption of Measure V could result in the potential for an additional 563 daily trips over existing development potential”.


If Measure V is SO GOOD for this town, why aren’t business owners jumping up and down rallying for it to pass? Why aren’t merchants applauding the authors of the Measure and thanking them. Why aren’t people like me spending time to make sure it passes…because it is poor legislation…and it will not help any one of us…only hurt the culture and heritage of the community we love.


If this is such a good way to govern, why isn’t a single past mayor for this? They helped bring this town to what it is today because they governed properly, listened to the people, and always kept Sierra Madre’s interests in mind!


Vote on April 17th…Don’t change Sierra Madre…Vote No on V


Colleen McKernan

(3/30/07) Letter to the Editor


Preserve Sierra Madre


Since September 2006, the proponents of Measure V have told us how perfect the Sierra Madre General Plan is and “Let’s stick to the General Plan”, and they continually assured us, “Our initiative is in compliance with the General Plan”, and so forth. Well, now we have our sample ballot, and right there on page 19, (initiative page 8) it says, “SECTION 600: ZONING CODE AND GENERAL PLAN AMENDED…SECTION 700: ZONING MAP AND LAND USE MAP AMENDED.” So, after all is said and done, they really are changing the General Plan.


This bold and blatant misrepresentation is only the beginning of a long list of flaws and consequences of this badly written, short-sighted initiative:


#1. Current zoning regulations in the General Plan for the downtown allow for a maximum build out of 219 units. Under Measure V the build out would increase to 315 units. So, instead of down zoning, Measure V will actually upzone the area. This measure is so ill-conceived, so poorly written that it will have the exact opposite effect of what it purports to do.


#2. Measure V does not provide for lot line setbacks---which means development, any development, can occur to the very edges of a piece of property.


#3. According to the nonpartisan legal analysis, pages 1, 5, and 8, a serious conflict between Measure V and California state law exists. By not allowing 20 dwelling units per acre, any mandated low income housing sites will have to be found outside the commercial area in residential neighborhoods.


#4. Measure V changes 100 years of Sierra Madre process. It changes the planning process, the city council process, and the public input process, all of which have preserved and maintained Sierra Madre as the charming town it is today.


#5. ---And, the unkindest cut of all---Measure V does not protect our historic buildings currently over 30 feet. If these structures were to be damaged in an earthquake, under Measure V they can’t be rebuilt back to what we see today. Oh sure, we’ll hear Proponents of Measure V telling us that we can rebuild these structures. Well, if the intent really was to preserve and protect Sierra Madre, why didn’t the framers of this faulty initiative remember to add a codicil to automatically rebuild these structures? Why do we have to spend $60,000 on a special election for this? And if we wait for the next supposedly “cheaper” regularly scheduled election does that mean we leave our town in rubble until then? In their rush to judgment, in their zeal to put pen to paper, the writers of this measure have made a mockery of us and our historic town. This is the ultimate example of haste makes waste.


Simply put, residents don’t want to change Sierra Madre. We’ve read Measure V, we’ve read the legal analysis, we’ve done our homework, and we say no to this aberration of our General Plan. And on April 17th, we’re voting with our hearts and our intellect by voting No on V.


Lisa Spigai-Perez

Sierra Madre

(3/16/07) Dear Bill:


Thanks for the excellent editorial concerning the Mosca recall.  You were very clear and concise in articulating the absolute nonsense of the recall in light of all Joe has accomplished.


The city of Sierra Madre has plunged into controversy ever since a vocal minority has determined they won the election and everyone else, not on their team lost.  Unfortunately two councilmen believe the same thing and do nothing but the bidding of these malcontents.


The climate won't change until they suffer a major loss such as the defeat of Measure "V" and Joe Mosca being retained on the Council.  Oh yes, they will still be around to bleed at the microphone at City Council meetings.


Thanks for you interest in the betterment of Sierra Madre.  We need more journalists such as yourself who are willing to speak the truth and face the issues head-on.


Clem Bartolai

(3/2/07) Dear Editor:


In response to those who would recall Joe Mosca:


A recall of Sierra Madre Councilman Joe Mosca after 10 months in office is absurd. Rational, clear-thinking residents of Sierra Madre will not sign the petitions because they know he is one of Sierra Madre’s hardest working council members and that claims of the recall petitioners are misleading at best, if not totally false.


He does his homework for the council meetings and works through the issues until he fully  understands the impact of his decision when he votes. He is open and willing to discuss the issues. He listens to all sides and responds to the needs of the community. He is a man of integrity who is not a “yes” man to anyone or any group.


In addition Joe learns about issues beyond Sierra Madre borders that could affect the village by attending meetings of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the California League of Cities.  Furthermore, he volunteers and is present at most community events and as liaison to the Arts Commission helped in creation of an Arts Master Plan.. 


I am proud to have Joe Mosca represent me. He won the most votes in the last election, and I am confident a majority of those will do everything possible to stop the recall.  I do not stand alone.

Linda Knowles

(3/2/07) Dear Editor,


This is an open letter to the signers of the Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition of Councilman Joe Mosca:


I am truly sorry you have chosen this path of once again not having or disseminating the correct information. Councilman Mosca has not “thumbed his nose” nor “betrayed the voters he swore to serve” nor “recklessly shattered the calm of this delightful and friendly village”. If anyone has shattered the calm, it is the people who do not get the facts correct and spread lies. If any of you had done your homework, you would know that Joe Mosca is the ONLY councilperson with the foresight to plan the vote of the completed Downtown Specific Plan BY THE VOTERS!! Did Councilman Zimmerman have the intelligence to wait until the plan was complete…did Councilman Watts actually think that a vote on an UNFINISHED plan was a terrific way to handle this? NO…but you state that Joe Mosca “voted against adopting the Ordinance”…an unfinished ordinance…how ridiculous this is!


You also state that by “delaying adoption of the Ordinance, Mosca has provided development interests a window of opportunity to secure approval for their projects”. In case you are so blinded by the Voter’s Empowerment movement, we do have the right to vote…we’ve actually had it for a long time…and it’s actually worked in this town for a long time. We have a voice…that’s what the open forums are for, that’s what the public input is for, it’s why we have a council and a planning commission…to be heard!


You are probably the same group of people that can’t figure out why we can’t pay our Police officers more money…unlike what was stated in the POA discussion at the last council meeting by…oh, what’s his name…the one who thinks that general funds are CRA funds and are being used incorrectly. No…it’s the same funds that pay for special elections and recall elections that could be used to pay for services. Brilliant, isn’t it? It doesn’t take three degrees to figure out this is a horrible way for our town to operate…trying to recall a councilperson without doing the research…or finding the facts.


How dare you say Take Back Sierra Madre! You have changed and continue to change this town in a way that it will never be the same.


Colleen McKernan

(2/26/07) Dear Editor:
Please, please do not sign a petition to recall Joe Mosca.  This is bad for City Business, it divides the town and we have too many important issues to resolve without dealing with this type of activity.  We need to find money to pay for the services we so enjoy in Sierra Madre, including compensation for our employees, swimming pool availability, meals on wheels and the list goes on.  Councilman Joe is working on these issues so hard ... we just can't have him recalled. 
Again, PLEASE DO NOT SIGN A PETITION TO RECALL JOE MOSCA.  ... I am very, very concerned about the future of our city!!!

As a personal favor, I am asking you to PLEASE contact 10 of your Sierra Madre friends and neighbors and ask them to contact 10 of their friends and so on to get the word out that a petition IS coming and we ask you to tell the person approaching you NO ... you will not sign the paper.  This is real and clearly an effort to detract from issues of greater importance.  Let's put this behind us by NOT signing the petition then go to work on real business for Sierra Madre.
Thank you for your time.

Kathy Childs

(2/23/07)My Fellow Residents,


I am very troubled by what as happened to our beloved little town in the past 1 plus years and I know I'm not alone.


We have gone from a town of deeply involved, caring and giving people who could debate passionately yet with truth and civility in order to work through resolving the problems at hand; to unruly meetings where little is accomplished.  Assumptions of conspiracy and jumping to conclusions are now often followed by accusations based on incomplete or inaccurate research. An avalanche of misinformation is floating around and it is having an incredibly negative and damaging affect on our community.  I'm beginning to not even recognize this town anymore.


Some have presumed that our limited City funds are not being well spent.  Is spending well over $100,000 (including the impact study) to try to pass an initiative that is not well thought out, and which will result in a long list of other negative consequences to be dealt with in the future the best use of our limited money?  We can't even afford to pay our police decent salaries.


Additionally, it is just plain WRONG to try to recall a Councilman who has done nothing more than work incredibly hard for all of our benefit and who has had the wisdom and courage to vote for that which is in everyone's best interest even when it's a hard choice.  Councilman Mosca should be thanked not attacked.


Let's not forget that the PEOPLE of this community really ARE it's most precious asset.  If we can't go back to treating each other with civility in the future, then we have already lost the most precious aspect of living in this village no matter what our downtown looks like.


I'm not suggesting that we stop debating our concerns.  That is how we come up with the best solutions.  What I am suggesting is that we be diligent about doing our research, reporting it with accuracy and vigilant about accepting no less from those reporting the City news.  Then draw conclusions and speak about our concerns in an orderly, and respectful manner.


That's the Sierra Madre my husband and I have lived in and loved for over 30 years.


What kind of town do you want to live in?


 Margie Simpson

(7/18/06) Dear Editor,


At the Sierra Madre City Council meeting of July 11th, Lisa Spigai-Perez stood at the podium in a proud- as- a- peacock stance, and told all within earshot and those at home about a “wonderful” new website called They were going to “Sweep away misinformation, innuendo and biased media reporting.” Then, educator that she is, she gave us a perfect example of “misinformation.” She said, “ is working in conjunction with the Residents for the Preservation of Sierra Madre. TOTAL MISINFORMATION.  I am on the RPSM steering committee and I know I was never asked if this organization was something that we should endorse. I’m sure that some of the approximately 1100 members of RPSM might resent as much as I do, not having been asked about this. They are the ones who worked tirelessly for almost six years supporting the quest to save hillside open space, not the Downtown Specific Plan. The few RPSM members listed on the website (what an apt name) might be construed as having self-serving interests in the DSP. Do you think?

Mrs. Spigai-Perez, you need to make a public retraction or correction and apologize for spreading misinformation yourself!  I do thank you for something however; you have given me the impetus to do something I have wanted to do since the housing decision was made by the City Council for One Carter. After doing such a masterful job for over five years, it is my opinion that RPSM dropped the ball in the ninth inning. This caused me extreme consternation and embarrassment. I feel a great relief in now tendering my resignation. The albatross that was RPSM is gone.

Downtown Sierra Madre will always be here in one form or another; however, once our beautiful hillsides are gone they are gone forever. Forever….

Greed be damned.


Pat Birdsall

(5/18/06) A Letter from the Chief Officers of the Sierra Madre Fire Department

To the editor:

                There is a real irony about life in Sierra Madre.  At the same time that a dedicated group of people volunteer thousands of hours a year in training and service to their community, leaving their homes and families at all hours to protect the lives and property of their neighbors even occasionally at the risk of their own lives, The Sierra Madre News, a so-called newspaper, can enjoy the right to incite community discord through lies, half-truths and distortion.  Recently, this publication invited the submission of photographs of Sierra Madre Fire Department vehicles in use out of the City limits in an attempt to insinuate misuse.  The invitation also tried to allege that the members of the Fire Department are not volunteers.

Here are some facts:

  • ·         The paper recently claimed that we have a brand new, shiny, red hook and ladder truck stashed away somewhere.  The Sierra Madre Fire Department does not have a brand new, shiny, red anything, and we haven’t for years.

  • ·         Hundreds of times a year, our ambulances transport sick and injured people from Sierra Madre to local hospitals, our firefighters participate in area training events, and our officers attend regional planning meetings – that are outside the city limits!

  • ·         Our vehicles, and volunteer firefighters, are a part of a regional mutual aid system which occasionally calls us to protect other communities – but only by participating in this system, can we request assistance in the event we might have a time of need.

  • ·         In asking an individual volunteer firefighter to sacrifice hundreds of hours a year, time that others enjoy in leisure and with loved ones, our Fire Department has to remind its members that family comes first, employment is second and the department is third – and that it’s a very difficult juggling act – but Sierra Madre citizens can expect to see Fire Department vehicles out and about, and parked in front of homes, businesses, schools, churches, restaurants and grocery stores because every hour of every day our volunteers are ready to leave whatever they are doing to serve to their neighbors, and all the while saving the residents millions of dollars per year.

  • ·         The Sierra Madre Fire Department is made up of volunteers.  While there are two employees of the City’s Fire Prevention Bureau who also participate, all the members of the department serve because they want to help their neighbors.

  • ·         Salvatore Tesoro, who prints the so-called newspaper in question, has never visited the Fire Department to find out how we operate, never interviewed the Fire Chief, and never been bothered to seek and print the truth about our Fire Department.

 We, the chief officers of the Sierra Madre Fire Department, believe it is a time for truth and honesty and for responsible journalism.  We invite anyone who has questions to visit the fire station, and, as always, we stand ready to respond.

Fire Chief Roger Lowe

Battalion Chiefs Steve Heydorff, Michael Bamberger and Bob Burnett


Dear Editor,


When is a village no longer a village?  When all the quirks, beloved byways and familiar haunts are obliterated in the name of “progress” and runaway development?  Or when it suddenly morphs ignominiously into yet another blob of ‘burban sprawl against its will?  Think about it….why are so many smitten with the idea of a small town such as “Bedford Falls” (“It’s A Wonderful Life”), “Mitford,” or even “Brigadoon?”  When did it become de regueur that everything be shiny, manicured, and Disneyfied?  Disneyland is behind the Orange Curtain and should stay there.

Who will benefit from the DSP (Downtown Specific Plan)?  Certainly not the residents of Sierra Madre, who want to retain the human scale of our commercial area and our view of the San Gabriel mountains.  This is an egregious and irresponsible development project that will benefit only a few ─ the limited-partnership developers ─ and the results will strip-mine any vestiges of a charming village.  Don’t be deluded when the city management and council attempt to convey that it was designed by the residents; it clearly was designed by RBF Consulting, an out-of-town firm in ─ yes! ─ Orange County.  Irvine, to be specific.

The city management and council are working at the behest of the residents, not vice versa.  It is not in our best interest for them to tell us what our lifestyle should be.  And so, dear Sierra Madre residents, please stand together on this make-or-break issue.  Sign the petition requesting that the city council bring this issue to a vote, accompanied by educational outreach.  Next week on April 11, I urge you to support candidates Joe Mosca, Don Watts, and Kurt Zimmerman, the voices of ethics, reason, and restraint.

 Catherine Flammer, Sierra Madre



Hello Everybody,

The purpose of this e-mail is two fold.  First of all, there has been a lot of misinformation floating around regarding the development of a Specific Plan for the downtown area. It is only in the development stages.  Nothing has been decided.  Attached is some factual information about the process that needs to be out there.  I know that some of you have already received this from other sources so I apologize for any duplication. 

Also, Mark and I are supporting Joe Mosca as one of our votes.  We find him to be an intelligent and reasonable  guy with a good handle on the needs of the city. He believes the development of a Specific Plan for downtown is critical. Right now the current zoning allows for 3 story buildings at the street.  This is exactly what no one wants to see.  With a Specific Plan we could control the look of downtown.  At present there isn't much hope of that.  Joe also feels that if a Specific Plan is developed, that the community is not happy with, then putting the plan to a vote of the community should be considered.  

The trick to ending up with a plan that is representative of the community as a whole will be to get as many people as possible involved in the process.  So regardless of who is elected to city council please get involved and encourage everyone you know to get involved. 

For the record, we are not voting for Zimmerman or Watts.  We feel they have been misleading and inflammatory.  Something this community certainly doesn't need at this point or ever.  Also, even though Joe Mosca has been approached to run as "Slate" with Zimmerman/Watts he has declined.  His preference is to run for council on his own merits. The grouping of yard signs with the three signs is not by design on Joe's part.

If you want to ask Joe any questions please e-mail him at

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Don't forget to vote on April 11th.


Sue Levoe



To the Editor,

The Sierra Madre mountains look good this evening. I know they changed the name a long time ago, but I'm an old fashioned guy. I look out from my special place on top of the world famous "Diamond Diner" and take in the view. The hills rise up from the village and so many trees hide the lovely houses. Tall hedges hide the City's settling ponds, home to our "Huck Finn Fishing Derby".  The pure white chalk lines are drawn out on the brown earth marking the boundaries and the righteous batters box. The mound and home plate seem to wait in silent anticipation of the upcoming contest. 

The volunteers preparing the field remind me of my mom and her friends preparing the altar at church, in the old days when I was a kid. In the quiet moments before the game, when the managers are discussing the ground rules with the umpire and the players are learning their signs; this feels like a sacred place. The wind catches the Stars and Stripes rising high behind center field and I remember what my neighbor Barbara Heasley told me. Barbara's husband Jimmy Jr. was Big Jim's son.  This field was built on a trash dump. There is a Model "T" Ford buried under the pitcher's mound. The field was built in memory of a man who was dedicated to youth baseball. He was the City's first police chief. He was the guy who always got the kids together to play ball. When Big Jim Heasley Sr. passed away he did not want any fancy memorial. Well the Kiwanis and the town volunteers waited awhile. Then the came together with their money, time, and volunteer spirit, and created a beautiful ballpark for the kids. The named their masterpiece in honor of Big Jim Sr.  A new field has been built at Sierra Madre School because of community effort. All it needs is a restroom building. A restroom / field maintenance equipment room / and snack bar kitchen clean up area. The snack bar will be portable. This field has never had a restroom facility. We want the ability to raise funds at our games and maintain the beauty of our field. The restroom itself is a no-brainer. The little people play at this field, for the glory amateur competition.   The fix the Field Committee in co-operation with A.Y.S.O / S.M.G.S.A. / S.M.L.L. / P.U.S.D. / The City of Sierra Madre / Sierra Madre Community Fund, has reached out to the community in the past and you have responded with great generosity! Phase one and two of the project have been completed. Girl's Softball and Little League are having a great spring season with their youngest athletes using the field. Soccer sign-ups are coming soon!  Help us help the kids. Our parents helped us. Now it's our turn. Fix the Field is unable to us its vast rank of volunteer builders due to current binding construction codes.

Send financial aid to:

Fix the Field

c/o City Hall

232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

July 27, 2004

The devastating early morning fire of July 18 at a Covina apartment complex that displaced nearly 400 residents and left 100 of those homeless is a sobering reminder about being prepared for a disaster.

Almost 60 percent of Americans are unprepared for a disaster of any description. They don't have a family emergency plan and are not familiar with emergency plans at work, or at their children's school. They have not stocked emergency supplies and have not been trained in first aid or CPR. In short, they are not prepared to take care of themselves, their families, their community.

What a lot of Americans don't understand is that the American Red Cross is really the first and leading care giver in the event of a disaster.

It is the American Red Cross and your chapter that "steps to the plate" to provide shelter, food, clothing, first aid, blood and mental health counseling for those in need. It is the American Red Cross that trains members of our community in disaster education, CPR, first aid, disaster planning and other life saving skills. There is no fall back option if the Red Cross can't deliver. There is no safety net. We're it. American's have depended on us for 122 years.

The true beauty of the American Red Cross is that we are able to provide this service because of the donations we receive from our community, donations of money and donations of time.

In the San Gabriel Valley, volunteers willingly put their names on a disaster response list, to be called day or night. They are people who unite under a tent pitched long ago by an amazing lady named Clara Barton. They are neighbors who help neighbors. They are Red Cross volunteers who are prepared. I hope you will take the initiative to work with the San Gabriel Valley Chapter and be prepared. The way to safety starts here and now.

Angie Turner

Chief Executive Officer

San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Pasadena


7/26/04 - Remarks to City Council July 26, 2004 - Subject: Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department Policy Review; Second Draft Report

I have reviewed the consultant's Policy Review for the Volunteer Fire Department. I am disappointed that the report is so superficial and that the City Council would spend a substantial sum of money on a report such as this. The report is superficial because it accomplishes a purpose that does not require the expertise of a consultant. The stated purpose of the report is to address the relationship between the Fire Department and the City and by that you really mean City government. The report concludes that the Fire Department should be made to adopt the City's disciplinary policies, but does not find fault with the Fire Department's current policies. In fact, the report contains information that supports the adequacy of the Fire Department's disciplinary policies. The only reason given is that the two policies ought to be the same. Frankly, I can't think why anyone would want to extend the City's personnel and disciplinary policies beyond their current application. Certainly, not when another adequate policy exists and is working. The report concludes that there ought to be a hired full or part-time Fire Chief, but never explains why this is preferable (other than for purposes of control), nor does it say what problem this is going to cure. The report concedes that the members of the Fire Department are not likely to accept this recommendation. This recommendation should not be accepted. In fact many of the reports recommendations are political solutions, presented for the sake of exerting City government control over the Fire Department. (E.g., #1,4,5, part of 6, 9). Other recommendations are self-justifying: make an annual report to the City Manager, establish a training program, get trade journals (## 2, 12, 13, and 14).  I understand that this report cost $29,000. I strongly question the use of City funds to obtain such facile recommendations. It certainly does not require a consultant to say that there are professional fire-fighting journals available, nor does it explain how this is going to help our current problem. Not surprisingly, the current problem is never articulated--other than to say that the Fire Department is a bit too independent from the City Manager.  This report is a political hatchet-job on the Fire Department. This report has been generated to justify a political solution for a non-problem. For a similar sum of money, I can hire a consultant who can prove that all matter in the universe can fit in the comer of this room. This report is only slightly less astonishing in its complete lack of usefulness.  The report's recommendations fall into two categories: 1) political changes and 2) record-keeping. Most of the subtext of this report indicates that funding is deficient: It is incumbent on the City government to properly fund the city's safety functions. Without adequate funding, no amount of reorganization, let alone hiring a "professional" fire chief will effect change. Other than the political changes recommended by this report, there are few specific problems identified and no meaningful solutions suggested. The one issue that could resolve a good many of the perceived training and equipment issues -money- is carefully avoided.  The report acknowledges a dispute between City government and the Fire Department over purchase of a type of equipment. The City wanted to purchase a Service Company and the Fire department wanted to purchase a Truck Company, which can do aerial work that a Service company cannot do. The report, quite surprisingly, steps in to impose its judgment over that of the Fire department in two sentences. [Ill 11. ] This is nothing more than a power struggle between the City Manager and the Fire Department.  If implemented, these recommendations will effectively kill off the Volunteer Fire Department in Sierra Madre. This is not an accident. For the past 8 years, volunteer participation in Sierra Madre has been killed off by conscious City decisions. We no longer use volunteer committees such as those who wrote the Hillside Ordinance and obtained the consensus necessary to make its implementation successful. The reason for this is that volunteers are harder to control. Especially, when it is difficult to perceive that their government is working on their behalf.  Whether as a matter of intention or result, cities that have gone from volunteer departments to a paid Fire Chief have been quick to become paid departments. Sierra Madre cannot afford this; previous investigations have determined that we cannot afford even the cost to contract with the County Fire Department. As far as the EMT service goes, we have not had ALS service for many years. It was an intentional decision made several years ago that we did not need the ALS service and that we would do well with our EMT service. Accordingly, I find it laughable that you would pay a consultant to tell us the obvious.  I would prefer to hear something positive about how to generate money to meet our Fire and Police needs. I would support a safety tax if it were made to augment (rather than replace) our current budget expenditures-either by matching or percentage amount. I would also support a safety tax if there were citizen involvement in the oversight of the departments. Bring back volunteerism and allow us to work with our safety personnel, not have them reporting to the City Manager. In any event, the recommendations before you lack the components of citizen involvement. The report was quite obviously done to justify a power shift to City Hall, removing the spirit of volunteerism from yet another sphere of City life. I urge you to reject the recommendations, file and forget this report.

Salvatore F. Tesoro, III, Sierra Madre


So once again the three mile stretch of road to Chantry Flats is going to be closed to vehicle traffic.  Access to Big Santa Anita Canyon during the most beautiful time of year denied to all but the heartiest.  Why you ask?  Road repairs, parking lot repairs and because local city, county and Forest Service bureaucrats can't or won't come up with a plan that will allow the road to stay open.  Keeping the road closed for three months may be cost effective, or convenient but every effort needs to be made to keep this road open as much as possible during construction.  

I shouldn't fail to mention that a historic business, the last remaining pack station in the Angeles National Forest, will probably receive it's final blow from big government.  This small business owner has suffered greatly at the hands of the bureaucracy in the past and is preparing to take a fatal hit.  This would be tragic and unjust.  Unfortunately it would surprise no one for we have become accustomed to an unresponsive government.
Perhaps if our government officials spent more time hiking the front country and enjoying its splendor they would be more interested in keeping the road to Chantry open. I, for one, will continue to hike Big Santa Anita Canyon during construction.  I would, however, like a refund for my Forest Adventure Pass.
John Knowles

Dear Editor:


I am writing in regards to the impending closure of Chantry Flat Road. According to the sign that was posted on Wednesday, March 3, 2004, the road is scheduled to be closed from April 1, 2004 until July 9, 2004 in order to make repairs to the road which was damaged by the fire in December 1999 and by heavy rain in February 2003. This will be the second lengthy closure of the road in the last 2 years. It was also closed for 8 months from mid August 2002 thru mid April 2003.


As a resident and business owner at Chantry Flat, I am probably more aware of the affects that these generally unnecessary closures have on the local residents and on the entire LA basin. Chantry Flat is the second most used access to the Angeles National Forest in the entire “front country”. It serves as a major recreation area for the entire Los Angeles Basin. I cannot count the number of cars I have turned away at the frequently locked gate (one or more every time I have to stop to unlock it) and how many times I have had to answer angry questions regarding the closures. When the road is open, there is never a time when the parking lots here do not have cars in them or when the turnouts are not occupied by those who stop to enjoy the view or when there are no cyclist or hikers on the road and trails. It is a very busy, extremely well used and much loved retreat from the stress of city living. There are many people in the L.A. area who are extremely upset by Sierra Madre’s frequent and often arbitrary closure of the access road to this area.


On a more local and personal level, there are other very serious consequences that the continuous road closures are bringing about. As many local residents and frequent visitors to the Big Santa Anita Canyon know, Chantry Flat and the canyon are home to a very historically significant and unique community. Over 80 nearly century-old cabins and the last of the once numerous trailside resorts, Sturtevant Camp, still occupy the “Middle Earth” like environs of the canyon. These residences and the camp are supplied and protected by the We Um Attaxxum Pack Station, the last year-round supply-line pack station in the entire country. The Pack Station has its roots firmly planted in the history of the town of Sierra Madre. The business moved here from the town after the completion of Chantry Flat Road in 1935 and has been in operation ever since. It serves the public well. It provides aide and information to hundreds if not thousands of visitors every year. The general store provides refreshments and a quaint and relaxing environment for tired, hungry and thirsty hikers and bikers. Many, many visitors, older than even I am, stop by constantly to reminisce about their childhood experiences in the canyon and their visits to the Pack Station store. It is a well-known and well-loved landmark.


As owner and operator of the Pack Station, I cannot tell you how much I cherish the historical value of this business and how deeply I treasure my ties to the community of Sierra Madre. I so appreciate all of the support and kindness that members of the community have shown me since I took over the business nearly 4 years ago. I am forever grateful for all of this. It is so refreshing to be a part of a community who so dearly values its heritage and who makes it a priority to keep its history very much alive…a passion I share with much of the town’s population. I have far more at stake in this business than just my personal financial interests. I have a tradition to maintain…I have history to keep alive…I have many friends, two-leggeds and four-leggeds, who depend on me to be here for them and to fill their needs…I have two communities, the one here in the Big Santa Anita Canyon and the one in Sierra Madre who I do not want to let down by being the one at the helm when the Pack Station is forced to close its doors. I have to say that I have been deeply hurt both financially and personally by the lack of consideration that the leadership of the town of Sierra Madre has shown toward those who rely on the Chantry Flat area being accessible to the public. Last year’s eight month road closure nearly completely drained my resources…I do not know how I will make it through another closure. The store’s revenue makes up half of the business’s total income. This coming closure will rob us of our biggest weekend by far, Memorial Day weekend as well as our busiest season, the spring. Eliminating the visits by school groups on the weekdays and depriving us of our busiest weekends of the year will make the losses incurred during this closure unbearable.


As a resident of Chantry Flat, I can say that a large percentage of the time that the road has spent with its gates locked has been totally unnecessary and the closures have been  done with total disregard to those who rely on it being open (namely the Pack Station, Sturtevant Camp and the outdoor enthusiasts of  L.A. and Orange counties). Last year’s road closure (with the exception of the month that the Angeles National Forest was closed) was totally unwarranted. The road was in no worse shape for most of the closure than it is any other winter. When it rains, there is always mud, rocks and debris on the road…that is just part of mountain roads everywhere…roads like these are just closed, cleared, and reopened during bad weather. On February 13, 2003 there was a torrential downpour that undermined a small stretch of Arcadia’s section of the road. Since that date that piece of road has been reduced to one lane as is another area further up the road because of some fire damage to a retaining wall incurred in 1999. During the planned road closure these areas must remain functioning in their single lane capacity in order for the residents of Chantry Flat to come and go. The road will almost always be passable. In order to minimize the financial losses to the Pack Station and to allow the people access to their public lands, the agencies involved in the repairs should make sure that their equipment is out of the way for the weekend and during any days that limited or no work is being done, and that the road remains open whenever possible. I am sure that if their were a Wal-Mart at the end of the road, that denying its customers access to it would be out of the question…they would have the legal, political and financial clout needed to prevent such an occurrence. Unfortunately the only recourse that I have is to bring the situation into public light and to hope for the best and to ask that all of the agencies involved in the decision making in this case please rethink their plans and try to keep the road open as much as possible at all times, but especially during the repairs this spring. I thank in advance all of those who are involved in this project for their time and consideration, and all of my friends in the local communities for their continued kindness and support.


Kim Clymer Kelley Owner/Operator    We Um Attaxxum Pack Station (Pack Station for the People)

E-ditor's Note: Kim, we sympathize and will be happy to help in any way we can.  However, this does not appear to be an arbitrary closure by the City of Sierra Madre.  We spoke with Bruce Inman, Director of Public Works for the City who tells us that the closure is a multiple agency closure, with the involvement of the City of Arcadia, LA County Dept. of Public Works, and the Forestry Service.  He stated that the work scheduled during this closure is that of the other agencies, and that he hopes that CalTrans authorization will be given to Sierra Madre and money will be released in time to allow the City of Sierra Madre to do its work concurrently.  However, it is possible that Sierra Madre's work won't get done (or even started) during this April to July closure window.

Sierra Madreans please note: We are in danger of losing the pack station that has operated up there for decades, due to another extended closure.  Maybe between now and April 1, we can make extra trips up there to try and help increase revenue prior to closure?  Or maybe someone would like to start a fund to help the business stay open in spite of the extended closures?

(10/18/03) Sierra Madre “Horn” Could Be Used In War On Terror...Or Could It? - Opinion by Brad Sales The infamous and seemingly archaic Sierra Madre “horn” that reminds us that it is noon each day could be used to instantly alert the community that there has been a terrorist attack somewhere in the county that could affect us or others we care about. It could, perhaps, even save lives as it did in years past when it was the only means for calling our local volunteer firefighters to their posts. But will it?  To some, the concept of using the horn  for this purpose appears to be too simple and perhaps too inexpensive given all the federal anti-terrorism money currently floating around to buy high tech gadgets and vehicles.  Nonetheless,  here’s how this low tech, inexpensive idea could work to improve our collective  safety and peace of mind.  Through a variety of readily available communications vehicles, including the Wisteria Vine Newsletter, community meetings, local newspapers and classroom lectures, the community would learn that two or three blasts of the horn constantly over a 5 minute period should be a wake-up call. The horn’s honks would warn us that something important has happened and that we should turn on our radio or TVs to local stations to get the latest report from the sheriff and the county’s emergency alert system about what is going on and what, if anything, we should do about it.  Without this kind of alert, unless we are glued to our radio or TV 24/7, how else are we to learn about something that has occurred  which could threaten ourselves, family, friends and neighbors?  How else will we know when, in a timely fashion,  to use duct tape and  the plastic window coverings being promoted by the Office of Homeland Security in case of a bio-terror attack.  What do some of our local officials have to say? According to our newly elected Mayor, Bart Doyle, the use of the horn is “basically not under consideration at this time.” However, longtime supporter of the horn Councilman George Maurer said he is enthusiastic about the idea.  When asked, Tammy Gates, our City Manager and supervisor of emergency services, said that using the horn could be addressed after the city’s state plan has been approved, perhaps late this year or early next. In the meantime, let’s all hope we won’t need the horn and its warning before then.


Dear Editor:

     As noted in last week’s edition (E-ditor's Note: George is apparently referring to one of the local papers) I stood alone in requesting a raise for our City Clerk, Nancy Shollenberg at the last council meeting. Our City Clerk in Sierra Madre, unlike many other cities; is an elected official and therefore comes under many different rules than clerks that are hired by city managers. Her duties are set forth by government code and local ordinances.

     True, those of us that sit on the council, city treasurer and city clerk, all make a concerted effort to be elected and re-elected and hopefully do so with our eyes wide open and ready to dedicate the hours and effort necessary to serve the people of our community. But, in the past councils have voted to increase their salaries, possibly when they feel time and expense becomes a bit more of a burden. And I think the city clerk feels she has reached that point. However she can’t increase her own and depends on the council’s judgment.

     We have recently voted increases to every employee, from top to bottom, so we are not overlooking anyone and I feel the city clerk should not be overlooked.

      Her job entails taken minutes twice a month, transcribing them, making sure ordinances are published and recorded, and making sure of any changes that are mandated concerning elections and etc. are forwarded to the council. She has done so, faithfully, for the past 20 years. The city clerk and city treasurer have provided us with continuity unmatched in our city hall.

     If you have ever run for office you know that on the day you file you are handed a packet about an inch thick, covering disclosing basically everything you own, or owe. that might even slightly create a conflict of interest.

    Then there is several financial reporting forms for your committee, if you have one, also the IRS number you need, the starting statement, mid-campaign statement, closing statement, etc. Keeping track of these is the job of the city clerk, who is gracious enough to call you near deadline time to remind you. Recently a month was added to the campaign calendar to extend the time frame. When you consider an ever-increasing number of absentee ballots that she must tally and certify, especially this time around with probably more than 150 candidates, the job is certainly no pushover.

    What’s wrong with rewarding performance and loyalty with a modest raise?


George Maurer


I really enjoy receiving your Sierra Madre News.Net. I grew up in Sierra Madre, moving there in 1947 at the age of 4 and living there until 1964 when I married and moved away.  Our home in Sierra Madre was at 522 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. right across from what is now called Pioneer Cemetery. I have many fond memories of  the Memorial Day Parade and Services held there.  The parade would come east on Sierra Madre Blvd. to the first entrance, there would be a color guard of veterans, followed by marching veterans, then Boy and Girl Scouts and decorated wagons, bicycles, old cars and new cars all fitted out in Red White and Blue. Uncle Sam on stilts and a small band with the fire truck bringing up the end. I remember searching the ground for spent cartridge cases after the 21 gun salute and the ever haunting sound of Taps.  It's a heritage that has lived long in Sierra Madre and I hope that someday I can again attend one of the most poignant memories of my childhood. Thanks for bringing these memories  alive for me.  The cemetery was a central focal point in my youth and I spent many hours there walking and looking at the old gravesites and wondering about the people buried there and what kind of life they must have led in the early days of Sierra Madre.  It only seemed natural that when a opportunity arose later in life that I accepted a job as manager of a small Pioneer type cemetery up in Paso Robles, Ca.  I stayed there for 17 years. And just to show you what a small world this is, the sister of the Chairperson  of the Trustees, resided at Sunnyside and Grandview!!

Thanks for the Memories
Mike Woodard
Surprise AZ 

(yes there really is a Surprise Az.)




Your response to S. Tomlin (E-ditor's note: see S. Tomlin's 4/10/03 post below) should mention that the two employees you are referring to are department managers, and are not members of the Police Association.



Wayne Bailey

E-ditor's Note: Thanks Chief, that is pertinent info, which if I recall correctly, was not clearly spelled out on the website.  I'm happy to add the update.  And glad to hear you're checking in with the website occasionally, as well.


Dear E-ditor,

Sgt. Ruben Enriquez, vice president of the Sierra Madre Police Association, was quoted in last Thursday’s Weekly (Vol. 8, No. 6) as saying that their domain name of “” was merely a “tool” to draw attention to the fact that they are not making enough money. He defends their actions by stating that “by using those words we meant no disrespect or insult to the residents or the city itself.”

If I call an African American the n-word, will he feel no disrespect and no insult when I tell him that I did it to get his attention? It appears that the respect and loyalty these police officers feel toward Sierra Madre and its citizens only goes as far as their paychecks.

Officer Lance Long, whose wife set up the offensive domain name and site for the Association, claims in the same article that the Association is very supportive and loyal to Sierra Madre and its citizens. However, their actions regarding this web site speak differently.

Every terrorist believes he’s doing a good thing, but his “good intentions” do not erase the damage he does. How ironic that the members of our own police department would stoop to using terrorist tactics, albeit on a smaller scale, to draw our attention to their pocketbooks. Shame on you. How childish. How unprofessional.

The Sierra Madre Police Association and its members have lost our respect, and proved that they are not worthy of the pay raise they seek.

Chris Thatcher
Sierra Madre


The Honorable Doug Hayes

Sierra Madre City Council

Sierra Madre City Hall

PO Box 457

Sierra Madre, California 91025


Dear Mr. Hayes,


    As the owners of the property that shares a common border of 610 feet with the property known as No.1 Carter Avenue, we have both a vested and concerned interest in the continuance of the West ridge of that property as open space, As we now understand the situation, litigation is now in process that will have a great bearing on the future of that west ridge which is now a pristine example of a natural part of our mountain side areas reaching down and touching the urbanized sections of the city.

    As the situation presently stands, the outcome of the litigation now pending will have the following results:


    The city wins the suit and the 1 Carter property becomes a housing development. This at heavy financial cost to the city.


    The open space will be lost.


    The city loses the present suit and appeals the case, again at considerable additional financial cost, thus delaying a decision, but in no way slowing the development of a housing project.


    Again, the open space will be lost.


    The city loses the case, does not appeal. The school will be built and the remaining open space will become a housing development. The open space will be lost and the city will have suffered substantial financial costs with no gain.


    It is clear from the publicity and hearing concerning the No.1 Carter property that the idea of keeping that land as open space is a very popular desire on the part of the residents of Sierra Madre. The real estate interests, of course, prefer a housing development because of the potential of recurring sales and profits.


    It is here suggested that the city government reevaluate the situation, consider the devastating financial cost of further litigation and settle the Case with Maranatha High School on the following basis:


That the City grant the conditional use permit for the development of a school campus limited to seven acres of previously developed property.


That the previous offer of dedicating in perpetuity the 54 acres of undeveloped property as "open space" subject to certain permitted public use.


That the 54 acres of "open space" be made available to the city for purchase at fair market price if and when funds become available.


The landscaping of the campus will be consistent with the natural environment and wildlife habitat.


Such a compromise will, of course, save the city a great deal of money for litigation costs, assure the residents that the wilderness section and the #1 Carter property will remain pristine and beautiful.


We urge the members of the City Council to reconsider and reevaluate this situation sincerely. This letter is in no way instigated or suggested by Maranatha High School, but is inspired by our own observations.



Spencer P. Edwards                                                     Betty Lee Edwards


Sierra Madre Police Association

C/O 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

Sierra Madre, CA 91024


Dear Police Association,


I was just appalled by your signs and most of all your web site! Sierra Madre is one of the most unique towns in Southern California and Los Angeles County. It also has the lowest crime rate. If you feel you need more money or more excitement, go elsewhere! There is no reason to bring our town down if you're so unhappy! However it is amazing somehow you have new little electric cars to run around in with flashing light and all. It's just not the police department feeling the pinch of funds; it's the Recreation Dept., Library and many other city functions too. I'm embarrassed to call some of you friends now! There are many other entities that perform their duties free of charge in this safe little town - day & night.


You should be ashamed of yourselves.


S. Tomlin

cc:     Sierra Madre Weekly

          Mountain Views


E-ditor's Note: S., I don't know if you noticed or not, but the website has removed its guest book, which had been filling with numerous entries from people (including you), generally expressing respect for the Department, but disappointment and/or anger over the Association's method of expressing itself regarding the pay negotiations.  I'm going to estimate it was 10 to 1 (or more) negative when they decided to remove it from the site.  So your opinion and that of other's has definitely had an effect, though I'm not sure censorship was what you and the others were after.  Of course, it's their website to design as they will, and they have full right to remove whatever they want, so perhaps censorship is too strong a word.  I also found it interesting to note that in the table of hourly rates of City employees, for some reason the Association chose not to emphasize the two PD positions that fall into the top six in the City (#6 and #2 are PD positions), as they have done by bolding the employee pay scales that fall below the top 10.  Again, it's their site, they have a right to do as they want.  I just thought that was an interesting choice on their part.

E-ditor's Note 2, 4/21/03  It has been pointed out to me by Sierra Madre Police Chief Wayne Bailey that: "Your response to S. Tomlin should mention that the two employees you are referring to are department managers, and are not members of the Police Association."


I understand that in the recent school board election, only 15% of registered voters showed up. Voting by mail is perfect for those who work really long days and find it a difficulty to get to the polls.


On 4/15, there will be a run-off vote between Cristine Soto and Bill Bibbiani. We need your votes. Read the literature that comes to you and ask questions. Soto is a young lady who works in the legal profession. Her campaign contributions come from out-of-town interests, politicians and political action committees. Bill's campaign contributions come from Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre residents. Bill Bibbiani is a seasoned teacher and administrator, who expects only the best out of public school students. He is passionate about improving the Pasadena Public School System. Students can tell you that Mr. Bibbiani instructs and emphasizes the critical importance of education in their lives. Bill and his wife, Janet, have dedicated their working lives to our schools. (Their two sons are products of Pasadena schools). Every summer for the past 20 years, Bill and Janet have donated their time working with local seniors who didn't pass; after an intense summer of tutoring, Bill and his wife challenged these seniors to concentrate on most important subjects and to complete make-up work. By the end of summer, these seniors were able to pass and earn their high school diploma. This is truly a labor of love and a passion for helping kids -again, this summer school program is voluntary for Bill and Janet Bibbiani. This is the kind of passion and love of educating our students that we definitely need more of. Be sure to get out and vote on April 15th and vote for whom you feel is in the best interest of PUSD!!!


Kathy Gregg

Pasadena Resident

3/18/03 Re: When Bush Comes to Shove E-ditorial


E.N., Upland

A.G. response to E-ditor's response to him, see 2/27/03 below, posted upon receipt, 3/14/03

this is what happens when people pretend to be things they're not...I'm sure

you went into this with the best of intentions but just because you can put

up a website doesn't mean you're able to be a "journalist." there's enough

misinformation on the web...

E-ditor's response:  I'm not pretending to be anything.  Read the statement at the top of the page, it says that the site is a "Sierra Madre Community Information Website".  I don't see anything that says we're a prize-winning news publication. You're entitled to feel however you like, whether I agree with you is another thing entirely.  I made the offer to present both sides of the issue and let the readers decide for themselves (you know, like a real "journalist" would), but for whatever reason, Ms. Soto declined to have her side presented.  That doesn't make me biased toward one side or the other, it means I only have one side to present, through the choice of the candidate involved.  Since I don't have access to Ms. Soto's side of the story, I can only report on the information that I do have access to.  Don't have much choice.  It is interesting to me, though, that her comments to me don't seem to in any way reflect what was published in 1993 in the LA Times and the Daily Bruin.  But perhaps Ms. Soto is right, and the Times and the Bruin were wrong.  That is possible.  After all, the Times and The Bruin do both have websites. 

Posted 2/27/03


after (sic) having read the contents of your site the last couple of days I am now
convinced you are working for Bill Bibbiani. The way you handled the
"exclusive" interview with Cristine Soto and your constant hammering at her
on an issue that doesn't have anything to do with this election reveals you
for the shill you are. Is your PR company conracted (sic) by Bibbiani? You are not
a legitimate news organization and for you to masquerade as such is a
disservice. Please reveal your connections with Bibbiani or at least stop
pretending to be some kind of "newsletter."
A G.

E-ditor's response:  I don't appreciate your comments.  I have no connection to any of the candidates in this race.  Bibbiani sent me a statement regarding candidates' financial disclosures, which I felt was written in a somewhat inflammatory manner.  For this reason, prior to publishing anything, I offered Soto an opportunity to respond.  Then Bibbiani sent me another statement regarding the UCLA incident, which made it pretty clear that Ms. Soto had not been entirely forthcoming in her interview with me.  I offered her another opportunity to respond to the new charges.  She has not done so, other than to tell me that she had said that her participation in the event was peaceful. This does not correspond with my memory of the conversation, or my notes of the conversation.  The sentence "I took  part in a peaceful protest to keep the Chicano Studies Library from closing down." is, to my recollection, an exact quote from our conversation.  I would not put Bibbiani's inflammatory statements up without giving her a chance to respond.  I have not hammered at her in any way.  I asked her if she wanted to defend herself against the implications in his first statement, and the charges in his second statement.  If anything, I've bent over backwards to make sure she has the opportunity to let her side be heard, requesting by phone and by e-mail that she contact me so that her side could be heard, even providing her with copies of Bibbiani's statements so she could read his exact wording, prior to her response, and prior to my publishing anything.  She has not responded regarding his second statement.  When and if she does, I'll be happy to publish her side of it. 

I hope it's not indicative of the rest of Ms. Soto's supporters that you have tried to make your point by name calling and disparaging someone whom you (erroneously) feel disagrees with you and/or Ms. Soto.  The fact is that I have not disagreed with Ms. Soto, nor have I hammered her on any issue.  I only offered her a chance to defend herself against charges leveled by her opposition.  I have not yet taken a position in this campaign, but at this point, I'm inclined to steer away from either of these two candidates. 

I repeat, I have no connection to Bill Bibbiani.




Posted Jan. 25, 2003

January 13,2003


DEAR E-ditor,






Posted Dec. 11, 2002

My wife and I moved from Sierra Madre last year after spending 14 years

raising our family in the "Foothill Village". We now live in San

Antonio, Texas and often think of the fond community spirit that permeates

the town. Recently, while supporting a Women's Retreat through our local

Parish, my wife Sarah wrote a letter to the Retreatants on the topic of

"God's Light". The basis for her letter was the Sierra Madre Candlelight

Walk we enjoyed each year just before Christmas. I'd like to share her

letter with all our friends there in Sierra Madre, and to the community at

large. I hope you can find a place in an upcoming edition to have this



Please don't hesitate to let me know if you should have any questions.

Jeff Weaver

Here is his wife's letter:


It is a Christmas tradition in the town I recently moved from.  The Sunday prior to Christmas, thousands of people from a variety of churches in the community gather at the Catholic Church at the top of the hill for hot cider, cookies, and conversation in preparation for the annual candlelight walk.  At seven o’clock sharp, the activities that would be banned in most towns across America begins.  Each of us with our candles in hand, wait in turn to get our candles lit, and then turn to light the neighbor’s candle next to us.  Down the hill we begin to walk the half mile to the town’s center while singing various Christmas songs.  Though we are in Southern California, God seems to provide a chilly and blustery evening year after year, but we hardly notice for we are warmed by the presence of so many.  In awe I reflect what an image our processed candle light must make to the folks who join us at the manger for the annual readings of the Christmas Story, beginning with Isaiah from the Hebrew Scriptures, to a reading from the Koran, onto the readings from representatives of the Methodist, Episcopal, Evangelical, Congregational, and  Catholic Churches.  It is tonight that “Baby Jesus” is laid in our town’s manger.


One holiday evening several years ago, my husband and I were reflecting as to what a “genius” Jesus was to refer to himself as “The Light” as we were mesmerized watching a “candle in a tin” burn atop our coffee table.  He showed us how He is light in the tradition of our candlewalk!  As light He brings us warmth in the cold.  As light He visibly shines in the darkness viewed by folks all around the community and seen from the freeway miles away.  As light, He shows us it takes so little energy to pass Him on as we see how quickly we each light each others candles at the top of the hill!


My husband reached over to cover the candle with the tin lid.  We continued to reflect upon our nature to be drawn to lights of all kinds.  The Christmas lights decorating the neighborhood homes, the flame in the fire place, even the forest fires that lit up the mountainside of our homes only two months earlier drew us away from our daily activities to reflect.  Now we were reflecting as to how we needed to adopt an attitude that sharing what Christ has so richly gifted us with would, could, and should be easy.  My husband then reached for the top of the candle lid as if to remind himself of God’s goodness and our new understanding of the light as it relates to Jesus.  Quickly, he pulled his hand back, for the lid was still hot from the warmth of the light.  It was in that moment we were reminded of the power of God. 


May we never underestimate the power of God in our lives.  May we always be warmed by His love, drawn by his light from our daily activities to be mesmerized and reflect upon Him, and may we always have an eager desire to share what he has gifted to us with others.  - Sara Weaver, San Antonio, TX

Posted Nov. 4, 2002

TO: City Council Members

RE: Downtown Improvement Construction

Many people showed concern Monday at the City Council Meeting of the choice of trees that look like bushes being planted on Baldwin and Sierra Madre Blvd.


If nothing else, people can not see traffic and traffic can not see people wanting to cross the street. THIS IS A GREAT DANGER. (Can't see the names of stores either).


At best this has not been a popular project, if only the cost of a million dollars plus additional $300,000 plus requested and granted.


On the website in August, found under PRESS RELEASE from the city, is an article from John Gavegan, the General Contractor of EC Construction giving information of the Downtown Improvement project. This showed times of construction and two pictures to show what the end result would look like. The pictures show trees with one trunk and no "bushy" from the sidewalk up.


The trees already planted do not come close to those pictures.


It would be a wise immediate decision to hold the contractor to replant trees as shown in the picture. This would be at their expense. A delayed decision might also make an added cost to the planned other plantings that would have to be disturbed to make tree replacements.


Trust the City Council is listening to citizens concerns. Ruth Teigler


E-ditor's Response:  Ruth, I'm glad to see you're one of our readers.  Just some quick notes: The release you are discussing is on the Downtown Improvement Press Release page, not the City Press Release page.  This page contains a series of work notices sent to us by EC Construction, and we're very grateful that they chose to use our site to help keep people up to date with the project.  However, as noted on the page, the pictures received and displayed were from Bruce Inman, Director of Public Works, not the contractor.  I'm very grateful to Bruce for providing them to me, though now it appears they may have come back to haunt him.  After reading your letter, I agree that if the renderings were intended to show what was promised by the City to its residents and merchants, and approved by the City Council, there is definitely a difference in what was delivered.  If the Contractor failed to deliver what was expected in his contract, he should be held accountable.  But if the City contracted for something other than what was shown in the rendering, then they should be held accountable, not the contractor.  If those pictures were not intended to show what was going to be contracted for, they should not have been displayed as the future look.  So I'd say either the art was wrong (Architect's fault?); the use of the art was wrong (Public Work's fault for allowing the use of inaccurate art?  Architect's fault for providing inaccurate art?); whoever approved a contract that called for trees other than what was "promised" in the artwork was wrong (City Council?  Public Works?); or the Contractor was wrong (providing wrong trees)  Unfortunately, I don't know how it went from a promise of single stems to a delivery of multi-stems, or who is responsible.  But there's no doubt that what is promised in those pictures is not what was delivered.  It was previously pointed out to me that those renderings also showed a different parking plan than what was delivered.  Perhaps the pictures should have come with some words of warning, i.e., that the rendering as depicted was subject to change, etc...

Received 10/20/02

Dear Fellow Councilmembers:

      John Angus and I met several weeks ago at his home to discuss the overall water situation in Sierra Madre. He has spent many years in the business and was well respected for his knowledge of our foothills and their inherent problems especially in the field of flood control.

     He had started to put together some information for us as to the possibility of using water from the Carter Canyon debris basin. Would it be feasible to use the water that flows from those basins, after the debris is removed, and drained into the county flood control system? Could we instead put this water into settling basins that could be dug at number one Carter, to recharge our aquifers, which provide us with nearly all of our potable water.

     Unfortunately John ‘s untimely death has resulted in the loss of the information even though Fay is willing to turn over a lot of his paperwork. I am not sure I could digest the information even if we could pinpoint it. John could recite from memory percolation rates In that particular soil at feet per minute, etc.

     The EIR for number one Carter did give the flow rates that are carried off through the system and it was quite impressive, according to John.

     We are all aware of the importance of water to our community and the need, especially now, to recoup as much water as possible. What we would be doing would be to recreate the situation we now have at the city yards where we make use of the water from Little Santa Anita.

     We would not only be preserving our open space, but we, at the same time, would be producing a valuable asset for our city, and we know there is a ready market for any surplus water we would surely be able to produce.

     At the present time we are under pressure to produce additional housing and with an already dwindling water supply we will be hard pressed to provide adequate water for these families Every family of five uses an acre foot of water each year and, we are already in voluntary rationing and if we are to preserve the fine lawns and growth the residents have come to enjoy, we need to react.

     This area is the only chance we have to improve our water production where we could have total control. There’s been many, many estimates as to the value that our present settling basins have been to our city, but no doubt they are priceless. Unfortunately they have a limit and as our needs increase so must our production. How much deeper can we drill our wells? Every foot we deepen the wells ups the production cost each and every day.

     If you did hold onto any of the EIRs, take a look at the flow rate of the storm drain on Baldwin and you can see a lot of water must leave our city through those pipes, to be lost to us forever.

    Let’s recoup and replenish one of our most valuable and necessary assets. Our future generations will appreciate our actions just as we admire the foresight of those board of trustee members that voted to dig the city yard settling basins in the thirties.

     Let’s get it on the council agenda before the opportunity is lost to us forever.




Received 10/8/02

Dear E-ditor:

How is it that the President of our Chamber of Commerce is herself a failed business owner?  Is this who should be at the helm of a group whose sole function is to ensure the success of our local businesses?  Did anyone check credentials at the door??

Is it me? 

Buzz, Sierra Madre

E-ditor's Response:

Wow, what did Sue ever do to you?  Buzz, I'm a little non-plussed by your letter, because I never thought I'd find myself defending Sue Levoe as President of the Chamber.  But I think I need to, in response to your letter.  Whatever differences I may have had and/or still have with the Chamber president, and her stewardship of the Chamber (and there are many), I have to take exception to the one you've chosen to express in your letter.  It's an easy target, and one that I must confess I've occasionally used myself, though never in a public forum such as a letter to the E-ditor.  But when I take an honest look at it, I must point out that most businesses that start up, do end up failing.  The Wall Street Journal and the SBA estimated in 1999 that 65% to 70% of new business will fail within the first five to eight years of operations.  To take the step of starting your own business, and to run it, even if it fails, is a scary, challenging task, and anyone who attempts to do so should be applauded for taking the risk.  If it fails, it fails, but at least they've stepped up to the challenge.  In the words of Theodore Roosevelt "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.  In this life, we get nothing save by effort."  If I did not have a very supportive father-in-law, my business would have failed long ago, and you'd be checking out somebody else's website.  In addition, as Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  It's quite possible that there may be businesses who could benefit from Sue's first-hand knowledge of things "that won't work".  So I have to disagree on questioning her ability to serve as president because of a failed business

I also have to disagree with the statement (within your question) that the Chamber's sole function is to ensure the success of our local businesses.  No organization can do that, and if one sets that as its mission, it is doomed to failure itself.  It's up to the businesses themselves to make or break.  The Chamber's role as I see it is to help create a healthy commercial environment in which a well-run business stands a good chance to succeed.  But that's just one of a Chamber's roles.  Another role is to disseminate information about the community to those who inquire.  Another role is to assist small businesses by providing pooled advertising.  Another role is to be a liaison between its members and governmental organizations.  There are many things that I think a Chamber should do, so I have to disagree with your statement that it has a sole function, and I have to disagree that that function is to achieve a goal over which it has no control, i.e., the success of individual businesses. 

As to anyone checking credentials at the door, I was at the Board meeting where Sue was elected president by her fellow Board members. I was a Board member at the time, though I chose not to vote in the election for that particular office.  No other presidential nominations were made, in part because at that time, there was no one else who wanted to step into the role.  It's a time consuming position, that many of the Board members could not commit to while they try to run their own businesses, and of those who might have had the time, no one stepped up.  If there's only one nominee, that nominee will pretty much win by default.  That's why I think it's imperative that the downtown business owners get more involved in the Chamber, and that more of them make themselves available to sit on the Board, so that hopefully there will be a choice next time nominations are made for the Chamber officers.

Buzz, while I disagree with the statements/implications in your letter, I appreciate you submitting it, as I think it is important that there be more community dialogue regarding the Chamber, and other issues, too.  As you may have noticed from recent home pages, I'm not exactly a fan of the way the Chamber has been conducting it's business, but I can't get up on the soapbox about this issue as it was presented.  Please feel free to continue to submit your opinions, though, because this type of discussion/disagreement can often lead to very positive results.  And who's to say, maybe your next letter WILL cause me to get up on the soapbox....Bill

Received 10/1/02 in response to 10/1/02 E-ditorial, see E-ditorial Page


Healthy change can take place in the Chamber if we have positive attitudes and  energetic, committed team players. Rehashing old conflicts that are mostly your personal issues is NOT going to build an important beginning to next year's Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Remember - we are volunteers in this position.  No one taught us how to be the perfect Board member.  It is a learning process for most of us.

Karen Keegan

Received 9/10/02

Re: Tripping Around Town

That phrase had a somewhat different meaning back in 1966 when I first moved into the canyon after my discharge from the military. Last night, while en route to my almost daily dining spot, The Pepper Tree, I found myself literally tripping around town!

As I attempted to navigate one of the many obstacles in the short distance between my apartment and the restaurant (the construction taking place around Kersting Court) I stumbled upon the steel framework of a detour sign which had been placed directly in front of the ready teller at the Washington Mutual Bank. The steel runner at the base of this sign was extended well beyond the width of the sign, jutting out onto the sidewalk, and was lurking in wait of any innocent passerby. After almost going to the ground, I limped into Starbucks hoping to find some sympathy for my plight. Instead I was greeted by one of the smiling faces that work there, holding bandaged hands from her recent encounter with the mean streets, which are Sierra Madre, followed in short order by another man who had just discovered the same sign which had proved to be my nemesis. He was whining louder than me!

As I sit here this morning, I guess there's another expression that takes on a somewhat different meaning for me? It has been painful to watch the destruction of the town that I have called home for so many years. Up until last night I had meant that in the figurative sense. This morning, as I nurse a throbbing bunion, I mean it in the literal sense! It is painful to watch the destruction of the town I love.

Painfully yours,

Ron Cooper

E-ditor's Note:  I contacted City Manager Tammy Gates and Project Contractor Liaison John Gavigan, and both assured me that steps would be taken with the sign to prevent a re-occurrence.

Received August 19, 2002


To the E-ditor,

The Downtown Beautification Plan has placed a large bow-out in front of the Playhouse.  The bow-out was intended as a pleasant gathering area for Playhouse patrons, and we appreciate the city’s sincere consideration.  However, the law of unintended consequences has intruded, and the bow-out would create a barrier to the very people it was meant to serve.  The intended bow-out would eliminate three parking spaces and a corner area that is also used as a loading zone by those who have a struggle walking distances.  Without a drop-off/pick-up point many disabled and elderly patrons will have difficulty accessing the Playhouse.  Lack of a loading zone also creates a dilemma for parents of the students in the Children’s Acting Workshops, some of whom are only five years old.  Children attend classes six days a week forty-eight weeks a year.  The present transportation zone is in front of the protective confines of the theater entryway and under the supervision of the director of the Workshops.  The thought of sending the children across the street or around the corner to be picked up or dropped off boggles the mind and raises very serious safety issues.  The problem is only compounded on rainy days.  The lack of a loading zone directly in front of the theater will also logistically confound the directors of the plays who load and unload all the props, set construction materials (specifically numerous large pieces of lumber), tools, lights, sound equipment in front of the Playhouse, because there is no adequate access from the back alley. 


The Playhouse Board has requested more than once that the city slightly diminish the size of this the largest by almost twice of all the bow-outs in Sierra Madre to allow for one easily accessible space in front of the Playhouse.  This small mitigation would resolve all the difficulties listed above and allow the theater to function successfully for all those who use it and benefit from its programs.  Unfortunately, the demolition in front of the Playhouse is scheduled for next week, and the City Council has been less than responsive to these projected problems.  It is certainly not the kind of action we would expect from our elected officials.


If you agree that our request to diminish the size of the bow-out by one space is legitimate we urge you to contact the council members and the city immediately and stop this well intended debacle.



Ward Calaway

President, Sierra Madre Playhouse

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