Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cities That Can't Supply Their Audits To Sacramento Are Usually Not Very Good Places To Live

Sierra Madre finally got the City Council majority it needed in 2008, and in a remarkably short period of time our financial house was put in order. But that certainly wasn't the case in previous years as the City of Sierra Madre was forced to pay large fines to Sacramento for its inability to complete the financial audits that needed to be supplied to Sacramento per State law mandates.

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.

40 comments:

  1. Look who has been in charge in the past...Looters and Brigands..We citizens finally woke up and elected fair minded and responsible people.

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  2. Isn't it amazing, Sir Eric?
    Sierra Madre residents voted in Measure V and despite all the dirts dire predictions of Sierra Madre drying up and blowing away, we have actually done quite well indeed. Considering the state of the economy, State and Nation wide.
    We still have one of the best places to live in California!
    I agree with Bubby, posted at 6:11 am.

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  3. The big question is why the audits weren't done when they
    were supposed to be done. Was it incompetence? Indifference?
    Or were there things going on that caused certain people to
    want to keep things hidden? That is why we need a forensic
    accountant to come in and give our books a good looking into.
    That is the only way we'll know of everything is really there.
    Those who did the audits we have did everything they could.
    It is time now to get the rest of the job done.

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  4. The shenanigan years!

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  5. It is important to not overlook the citizens who have been wronged by Sierra Madre over the shenanigan years. Vern, and his 16 years and counting of over billing that cost him $6,700 in additional fees over the period, of which the city still owes him $5,400. Sierra Madre take the Ethical and Moral high ground. Give Vern back his money. You stole it, you have it, give it back.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbwxzOTtdUk

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  6. The city is now on the right track since it has had one year of great leadership. I am sure the next year will be as good. The new leadership needs to reevaluate the paid positions and determine which can be combined or eliminated. It is imperative the city find out exactly how much money the city retirement is costing the city. This amount has not been determined. Great strides have been made but there is still a lot to be done. I am sure the task is in good hands.

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  7. How many YEARS of "great leadership" must Vern wait before he gets his money back? Pasta, I enjoy your comments{even this one}but, try to imagine ..oh.. I don't know a world econonmic crisis, millions of people losing thier jobs, and homes. O.K. now imagine it's your money the city stole, and they know they stole it, and they agree on the amount. It's $5,400, now that may not be alot of money in some circles, but it could keep bills paid, food on the table and the mortgage paid for a bit. Sometimes thats all that's needed. To do the right thing, especially in the public arena can do wonders for the community at large.

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  8. There is no doubt Vern's case is a travesty and needs to be focused on. Thanks for bringing this up. The City has defended itself by saying they can only go back one year and no further. Pretty absurd.

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  9. I believe the City could go back one year or less and still find Vern is owed $5,400, right? He was owed $5,400 one year ago and he's owed $5,400 today. Let's get Vern paid!

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  10. Hi All, check out the front page of the Star News...


    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_12257767

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  11. Is our fine Code Enforcement Officer missing?

    There is a shipping container in a front yard on west Bonita Ave. It has been there for over a Month. It really makes the neighborhood look like there should be cars on blocks in front yards.

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  12. Disappointing event. It's nice that the Chief recognizes the need for a charm offensive, but what would be really nice is if we had police walking the downtown beat on a daily basis. There would be a lot of benefits to that. Unfortunately they are very car bound and prefer to not mingle with the citizens too much. Probably explains a lot of the misunderstandings in this community between the police and those who pay their salaries.

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  13. As small as the downtown is, there should be a foot patrol. Some of the Officers could use the excercise.....

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  14. It would make enforcement of downtown smoking restrictions that much easier to enforce as well. I don't think cops looking out their windows from patrol cruisers is going to mean much. Especially with all those parked cars in the way.

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  15. 10:01....That bin better not start hosing down the driveway or Volpe n' Ford will put it in a choke hold, wrestle it to the ground, and haul it to the Pasadoo hoosegow. Then they'll go to their favorite cop bar and have drinks while recounting the tale in real time to real policemen who will probably pull a muscle trying not to laugh!
    Love, Local Yokel

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  16. You might want to double check the link to IDcide, you may have pulled a boner, no pun intended.

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  17. SMPD has enough of an attiude now, when a dispatcher is promoted to the street and is now carrying a gun, maybe our city council ought to inquire about who is being hired and exactly what is the qualifications of our cops versus other SGV cities, we've got a so-called "detective" writing simple traffic tickets

    11:52, I know a couple LAPD officers, Pasadena officers and County Sheriffs, all haven't had postive things to say about our cops as a unit and have little respect for them

    i wonder how many of our cops are recruited by other cities and moved on to real police work

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  18. You sure it might not be your computer? Checks out OK on mine.

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  19. WHAT?
    Our PD Chief needed a PR firm to tell her to get off her ass and actually walk through the town she works for?

    WHAT?

    How much did the city pay for this consultant? My kid would have told her the same thing for $ 10.

    How lame is our PD when a PR firm is involved?

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  20. Why didn't we get our audits in all those times, Sir Eric?
    I would really like to know.
    Is there any criminality here?

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  21. Sir Eric, the link works fine on my computer too.
    Thanks as always for your great article.

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  22. HPG, I would really like to know. That is why we need an INDEPENDENT FORENSIC AUDIT supervised by an INDEPENDENT OUTSIDE ATTORNEY.

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  23. That is the $25,000 question. My immediate take is that it was just slacker logic that led to City Hall not getting the work done back then. But was it something else? Dunno. That is why we need a forensic acct and an outside lawyer to go through everything. If there was foul play, it was done with our tax money. And we as tax payers have a right to know the truth.

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  24. Let's take some of that surplus from the mystery million and pay for that independent audit!

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  25. I must have had a gremlin in my PC, at first when I clicked the Idcide link it took me to a site that sold viagra!! now it's ok, weird!

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  26. I think the financial reports to Sacto are the clearest way to find out what is happening financially in town. It has worked in the 80s when the city was going down the tubes. The Budget looked like Lewis Carroll wrote it and there was no getting a straight answer out of City Hall. The financial filings were the answer and it was a big deal then when they were filed late--indicated problems!! Well, there were problems. And if there are problems when filing late, what does it portend when there is no filing at all? Financial mayhem. And never the time to make financial decisions. Citizens pay attention!!

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  27. That's why I don't take advertising on this site. Last thing I want is Viamax ads all over the place. Who knows, IDcide might have some odd link to another site and you were taken there that way? Don't know. I usually check these things out fairly carefully in hopes of avoiding that kind of stuff.

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  28. Not that I need it or anything, ya know what I mean.

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  29. Idecide.com is a dating site; Idcide seems to be the intended link; maybe there is some other permutation (not unheard of).

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  30. Check out the weekly. Joe's mug is all over the place
    http://beaconmedianews.com/

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  31. He looks ... unhappy.

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  32. I think the thought balloon over his head says' "Heads! I meant to say heads!"

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  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  34. A toss of a coin....so this is how the rest of the world will perceive us as to how we run our politics in this city....yea us! I am in agreement as to the turnout of the election, and if the shenanigans of the past need to be flushed out, lets flush them out and deal with them. But can we PLEASE, PLEASE MOVE ON. We have to look forward with one eye over our shoulder making sure ghosts of the past do not rear the collective ugly head again. What is to be done at the SNF and again at Howies, I hear of a controversy at Alverno in regard to a soccer field, that looks like now that the girls deserve..IMHO..The truth ALWAYS rises to the top, as it has in Sierra Madre, but we need to look to the future now that we have a fairly good handle on the past, I am growing tired of this discourse, we need some positivity in our collective psyche, especially in these trying times...clear eyes, strong will, onward we go!

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  35. Don't ya think Ruminator could be a troll?

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  36. Sorry Ruminator, but you can't go posting the same thing all over the place. It was pretty dumb the first time, but twice? Ugh.

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  37. Anonymous: I happen to admire Don's quiet strength. For anyone to overlook that Don was giving meaning,as a former Navy patriot of the United States of America,to a lucky token while he was aboard a submarine defending his country....well then, a person would have to have missed the point. My father was in the Navy, went through a typhoon & lived through world war 2. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, o yee of little respect for anyone that follows their belief in something like Don did. When your life is in jeopordy in the middle of the ocean & home is just a memory, anything that gives you hope & strength is a very real. Faith is intangible. Electricity is invisible. It is all very real. Freedom is precious. Freedom in speech is part of the American way. Freedom of choice is a democracy. Don made his choice. For him it was the right thing. God bless Don for doing the right thing & not being bullied into going against his personal truth. We are not living in the Republic of Sierra Madre. Is this a witch hunt? This is not Salem 2009.

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  38. The dirts are frantic, and they're seizing on anything little thing they can. And they're scared. This is the year we start sifting through the ashes of the shenanigan years. The doors of City Hall have been flung open, and the books are being opened. And there is nothing they can do about it, and nowhere they can hide. The narrative we are about to build will wash away the whole rotten bunch. That is what we're all about, and we are on our way.

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  39. Beautifully written 6:24, & Sir Eric. Thank you for bringing the comments back to what matters.

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