You might suppose that so esteemed a gentleman as Mr. Edney, the fellow who presumed this week to inform our City Council about how they should conduct the affairs of Sierra Madre, would be running quite a snug little operation in his own bailiwick. After all, if you are going to be a leading voice in California planning circles, and wish to share advanced opinions regarding how other cities should function, then you must be running quite a paragon of the art form yourself. So here at The Tattler we decided to take a good close look and do a little comparison shopping.
The first place we went was the City of El Centro website itself. And there the following praise of Mr. Edney's unmistakably excellent efforts were clearly spelled out:
Councilman Edney was first elected to the El Centro City Council in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007. Working together, Council and Staff, the city has been able to move forward with an aggressive agenda that has revitalized the community, added jobs, balanced the budget, and strategically planned the cities (sic) future.
So far so good! Now let's go deeper into the internet and see if we can't find some corroboration of the bold claims made for Mr. Edney on his City of El Centro bio page.
The next place we went to was Automopedia.org. Cars are an important part of any real city's culture, and you can often tell what a place is all about by the way they regard their automobiles. Those looking for good news about El Centro, however, will be disappointed because the information we discovered is not very positive. Here's how Automopedia.org breaks that unfortunate news down:
Walletpop.com released a report on the Top 25 Car Theft Cities in America this week, and some of the results may surprise readers. It's like an easter Egg hunt out there, and if you own a Honda Civic or GMC pickup best to install LoJack on that puppy. Basically, if you live in any of the cities listed below, and own a nice ride, it will probably be stolen before you're finished checking out this blog post. Better get your rear to the closest used car dealer.
El Centro's rank in the Top 25 Car Theft Cities in America hit parade? Number 16. Fortunately, Sierra Madre does not show up on that list.
When I want to discover the goings on in a small city, the first place I go to is e-podunk.com. They dig out the important facts and lay them out in a way that is both accessible and clear. And right away this site establishes for us that El Centro holds a first place in something. They are "The Most Air-Conditioned City in the United States." That is quite a distinction if you think about it. And with temperatures occasionally hitting the 120 degree mark during the summer months, the acclaim is understandable.
But some of the other facts we found aren't quite so chipper. Such as on the matter of El Centro's crime rate. According to e-podunk.com, "The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 325. The violent crime rate was 8.5 per 1,000 people." And the contrast with Sierra Madre's crime stats is not El Centrocentric, either. "The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 13. The violent crime rate was 1.2 per 1,ooo people." Quite a stark difference, and I'm not sure that is the way we would want to go.
And e-podunk.com shows quite an income disparity as well. El Centro's Median Household Income for the year 2000 was $33,161, or nearly $9,000 below the national average. Sierra Madre's Median Household Income in 2000, by way contrast, was $65,900, or over $23,000 above the national average. And nearly $32,000 more than what the average wage earner made in El Centro. So I am not quite sure what Mr. Edney has to offer us in that regard, either.
Unfortunately, the news gets even worse. According to City-Data.com the City of El Centro is a rather radically impoverished place. In the year 2007 residents with income below the poverty level comprised 21.7% of El Centro's population. The average for cities in the State of California was 12.4% That figure for Sierra Madre? A rather paltry 2.9%. And residents with income below 50% of the poverty level in El Centro was 8.4%. In Sierra Madre that figure was a very low 1.7%.
City-Data.com's family statistics are not very attractive for El Centro, either. For families with children, married couples comprise 24.4% of that population. However, in households where the adult member is female (no husband present), that percentage balloons to an astronomical 70.9%! In Sierra Madre the percentage of "married-couple families" is 85.7%. Oddly enough, in Sierra Madre single adult households are more likely to be headed by a male.
In El Centro the percentage of children living below the poverty level is 29.9%. The California state average is 16.9%. In Sierra Madre that figure is 1.9%.
And when it comes to the average value of homes, El Centro is a banker's nightmare these days. Sorry, but there is just no other way to put it. According to Zillow.com home values in El Centro collapsed from an average high of $239,000 in 2006, to less than $109,000 in July of 2009! Sierra Madre, by contrast, saw property values decrease from an average of $800,000 in 2006, to $690,000 now. A far milder collapse.
Now after reading all of the above you might not think of El Centro as being the sort of place you'd want to go for a vacation, but according to MyTravelGuide.com, there is something for the tourist trade in town. Here are some of the reviews of the Sunbeam Lake RV Resort in El Centro.
Ellen from Ocean Shores: "Wide street and nice sized lots. Management/staff not that friendly. There is a feed lot or something that stinks quite badly. Regulars joke about it. Don't know how long you have to stay to get over it. Between the stink, constant field burning close by, wood and garbage fires, not a nice place for the nose and lungs."
Dick from North Dakota: "We were parked by the back by the dog run. It was in front of a huge area of dirt that just blew and blew. There is no grass anywhere in the park. Just dead grass and places where grass use to be and died. The rates were really high for what you get. Storage area looks like a junk pile. We will not be staying there anymore."
Fredrika from San Francisco: "The lake is a mud puddle. There is a bad smell at the campground. The sidewalks are duck poop everywhere. The management is very unfriendly."
Kevin from Temecula: "This so-called resort is nothing more than a 'canal' they call a lake. Don't be fooled by the website, this place is nothing more than a dump surrounded by trailer park trash and dead fish floating in the 'canal.' Really I can't believe this place is called a 'resort.' It's garbage!"
I'm sorry, but having Mr. Edney, City Councilman from El Centro and President of SCAG, show up in Sierra Madre to instruct us on how we should conduct our affairs is like a fry cook from Arby's suddenly appearing at a 5 Star Restaurant to gripe about the egg creams. Rather than traveling here to offer his opinions on regional governance and strategic sustainability, perhaps Mr. Edney should consider reporting to the United Nations in New York to beg for a UNICEF grant to feed all those impoverished kids from single parent homes living right there in his town?
That this guy thinks he has something to tell us is just unbelievable.