If you go to the California State Controller's site you can see an indication of exactly what we're talking about here. To find a good example click on the above, then scroll down to Roman Numeral xxxiii, and look for the words "Cities That Failed to File." When you get there you will be able to find the following paragraph:
For the 2004-05 fiscal year, eight cities (Dorris, Imperial, McFarland, Pacifica, Richmond, Sierra Madre, Tulelake and Williams) failed to file financial transactions reports. Six cities (Dorris, Imperial, Loyalton, Richmond, Sierra Madre, and Tulelake) failed to file financial transactions reports for the 2003-04 fiscal year. The cities of Dorris and Sierra Madre failed to file their financial transactions report for the third consecutive year.
You can read a similar paragraph in the section dealing with 2005-06 as well. And each time Sierra Madre failed to file its audit numbers, big chunks of our tax dollars had to be sent off to Sacramento to cover the fine. Not exactly the best kind of investment for our money. Think of all the trees that could have been trimmed, or streets repaired, had City Hall done the work hundreds of other California cities seem to have little trouble completing. So exactly what kinds of cities can't get this most basic of local government functions done? We went to a site called IDcide to take a look.
According to this very useful site, Sierra Madre had a median income of $65,900 in the years 2001 to 2006, making it a far more prosperous City than most. The violent crime rate was almost nonexistent, with only 1 murder in 6 years.
So what about our fellow recidivists, repeat financial filing scofflaws like Richmond, Tulelake, Dorris, Imperial, and Loyalton? What kinds of cities are these? Comfortably middle class and prosperous like us, or perhaps something a little bit different? Here is a quick survey:
Richmond: A Contra Costa County City of over 100,000 located 10 miles from Oakland, the median income here was $44,210 annually in the time surveyed, quite a bit lower than what we saw in Sierra Madre. Where Richmond falls right off the chart, however, is with its murder and manslaughter rate. 202 people lost their lives to violent crime in the 6 year period covered here by IDcide.com.
Dorris: A remote outpost in Siskiyou County with a population of under 900, and a median income of a mere $21,801 a year, which obviously puts it among the very poorest in California. But it is also a peaceful place with no deaths attributable to violent crime for the period 2001 to 2006.
Tulelake: Another tiny Siskiyou County enclave (population, 1,020), Tulelake is only slightly less impoverished than Dorris with a yearly annual median income figure of $23,750. But again, no deaths due to violent crime in the period covered.
Imperial: Located in the County it shares its name with, Imperial has seen a stunning population increase of over 100% since the early 1990s. The average age of a resident living in Imperial is under 30 years. The median income is $49,451, or $16,000 a year less than Sierra Madre. There were no murders during the 6 years surveyed.
Loyalton: This town is located 5,000 feet above sea level in Sierra County, about 25 miles from Reno, Nevada. 862 people live there. Median income is again way below the California average at $34,063 per annum. Many employed there are in the logging industry. Violent crime figures were not available.
So you can see by this very quick survey that 3 of the cities that did not file their financial data to Sacramento for 2 or more years in a row are among the poorest in California. And one of them, Richmond, ranks per capita among the most violent in the state. So how did Sierra Madre, as prosperous and peaceful as it is, fall into a category populated by some of the most destitute and desperate locales in the entire Golden State?
Lousy government, of course. People were elected to office who somehow couldn't (or wouldn't for reasons currently known only to them) get the job done. What other explanations can there be? Whatever the reason, thankfully those years are now behind us as Sierra Madre has completed all of its delinquent in-house audits and posted its first budgetary surplus in years. And if we're careful and keep electing the right people, the shenanigan years won't come back.