Monday, March 12, 2007

Move over, Glendora! Sierra Madre Gots You Beat

If you think Glendora's political scene is all nasssty, you should look into recent goings on in tiny Sierra Madre. Check out this online public forum for a taste; one of the conversations is headlined thusly:

Is there a way to stop the mean-spiritedness that has overtaken our Town? From council meetings to media, over-the-fence to over-the-counter at the grocery store, the debate is angry and the tone is ugly. Can it change? Show us the way.

The online forum is sponsored by the opinionated and indignant Downtown Dirt website, which can be juxtaposed against the background set by the Mt Wilson Observer, a local newspaper. (See some discussion about both here).

The most recent flare-up is over a city council meeting spurred on by an incident of sexual harassment involving day laborers in a city park (see the Erica Blodgett Arcadia Weekly article). On YouTube, amidst biased comments by the user who posts Sierra Madre city council meeting footage, there is a video of a woman who thinks something must be done about the day laborers; a video of a man holding a dog who thinks racism is at play and lets forth some loose language; a video of a woman from MALDEF reading a prepared statement threatening lawsuits if the city tries to enforce its laws; and a video of a rough response by councilman Don Watts.

As another example of Sierra Madre wackiness, a satirical blog mentioned by Foothill Cities multiple times in the past must also figure into the mix. As those old posts suggest, the Cumquat started out rough around the edges (but amusing at times) until it degenerated, reaching its lowest point with a vile personal attack against one of the women who appeared at the city council to decry it. This caused even defenders of the satirical blog to change their tune, as these two recent letters to the editor reflect. (More angry local blogging here).

These strange website debates are just small signs of a larger problem. I'll leave you to sort out yet another debate in the city: an attempted recall of councilman Joe Mosca. Many people gathered recently at a city council meeting to defend Mosca, and as one particularly ornery resident got up to register some complaints against the council—well, watch the video and observe how a cop is called to escort the speaker out and Mayor Buchanan asks for the camera to be turned off:

There are many stories waiting to be told about the rifts in Sierra Madre politics. If you think you've got it all sorted out, shoot me an email.

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