Monday, May 24, 2010

State Seizures Of City Redevelopment Cash: Is It Actually A Good Thing?

If you listened to certain City officials you would think it was the most outrageous government act since something called "taxation without representation" was upsetting people back in the colonial days. The taking of City redevelopment funds has created a tremendous hue and cry, at least amongst those who live and breathe within the taxpayer funded hothouse we provide for them. $2.05 billion in redevelopment money was seized from cities just like ours and shipped north to Sacramento. And the reason? So it can be reallocated to cash starved public schools throughout the state.

If you ever want to be able to read every single newspaper article dealing with the affairs of California all in one place, and on a daily basis, you need to go to a site called TotalCapitol. One of the really cool things they do there is rate the amount of hits these articles are getting, and then send the most popular to the top of the vast heap of daily news items they host. The feature is called "Top News & Opinion," and it is about as complete a sensory overload of Golden State political and governmental minutia as you could ever hope for.

Now last Friday an Orange County Register opinion piece by Steven Greenhut lingered at the top of the Total Capitol news article heap for the entire day. The reason being that it was generating hits o' plenty on the internet. Entitled "Grab that redevelopment cash," the column made the rather contrarian claim that when the State Legislature glommed up all that redevo-dough, it didn't just do a good thing, it also accomplished about the only really positive bit of work Sacramento has done in a while. That is, and in true Robin Hood style, robbed the grubby well-to-do and gave the money to the deserving poor.

I'm going to quote a few passages for you. See if you don't agree.

Few things are more ironic, and infuriatingly funny, than listening to California's notoriously ham-fisted redevelopment agencies complain about the state's "theft" of redevelopment funds. Last week, California cities had to comply with a Sacramento Superior Court judge's ruling requiring them to make the first of two payments transferring a total of $2.05 billion to the state over the next two years.

We heard whining, weeping and gnashing of teeth. "They have stolen more than $6 million from the city of Vista," said that city's Councilwoman Judy Ritter, as reported in the North County Times. Ritter and other San Diego County officials followed the California Redevelopment Association playbook to the max: They posed at a press conference with a giant $165 million check to emphasize all the supposedly vital funding that would be diverted from "job creation and economic development."

Actually, the court ruling that allows the state to divert redevelopment funds to public schools is one of the few bright spots in a dismal state budget picture, as state legislators continue to resist the fundamental budget reforms needed to close a gaping $19 billion fiscal hole.

Hard-pressed California taxpayers should not shed any tears for redevelopment agencies, which know a thing or two about theft, given their wanton abuses of eminent domain powers and their misuse of taxpayer dollars for corporate welfare and cadres of government dependent consultants. CRA and the League of California Cities, another taxpayer-funded interest group that has been decrying the loss of redevelopment money, funded a campaign that ultimately stopped serious eminent-domain reform in California, leaving property owners vulnerable to seizures if cities find a "better" use for their land or business. It's good to defund those agencies.

Indeed it is. Having our current City Council flush with redevelopment cash would be like allowing an infant to play with a meat cleaver. Particularly given the bobblehead penchant for unseemly redevelopment and bringing in things like chain retail. Better that the state take the money away so that our fellows cannot be tempted do something stupid like use it to help fund some kind of multi-abuse complex where Taylor's Meats now stands. All in the hopes of fulfilling the addled dream of attracting something like a Sit N' Sleep or BevMo.

Redevelopment turns cities into giant tax-sucking mechanisms that sacrifice the general quality of life for more sales-tax revenue. Redevelopment officials are so intent on maximizing the tax benefit of every parcel that they clamp down on freedom within cities ... Small mom-and-pop stores and suburban-style housing developments are viewed as liabilities, while city officials compete with other cities to lure malls and car dealers and high-rise condos. The cities that have become most dependent on this redevelopment cash - which redirects dollars from schools and public safety to "economic development" - cry the loudest as the state takes back a small percentage of these ill-gotten gains.

As we've seen here recently, the same people who pushed for Measure CC (the parcel tax that would have raised a few million bucks for the Pasadena Unified School District) are now those wailing the loudest over the Sacramento's CRA snatch back. I personally think that the best possible use for Sierra Madre's remaining redevelopment money would be to turn it all over to the public schools. Though somehow I can't imagine those great heroes of the PUSD, John Buchanan and Joe Mosca, getting behind that one any time soon.

The Looney Views News Typo of the Week!

One of our most popular features is back with a truly splendid example of the art of the typo. Actually this particularly bizarre instance came from last week (May 15). Things got so busy around here that I forgot all about it. But it is a fine specimen of Hapless Harriet's flapping synaptical editing process, and certainly does deserve being honored here on The Tattler. The cited article was published on the front page (where all the best LVN typos seem to occur), and is entitled, "A True Sierra Madre Treasure."

On Friday, Sierra Madre resident Xxxx Xxxxxxxxx was honored as the city's 2010 Older American Of The Year. Xxxx is an active member of the Sierra Madre Friends of the Library Board and United Methodist Church, past Scout Leader, strong supporter of the Sierra Madre Environmental Action Council and much, much more.

Each year the President of the United States, the Governor of California and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors designate the month of May as Older American Month. This year's theme is "Age Strong, Lice Strong!" a motto certainly appropriate for the effervescent, ever busy Xxxxxxxxx.

Now I have never noticed any correlation between older Americans and effervescent lice, but I do know that the nitwits at the LVN sure do come up with some astonishing typos. You don't think there might be some disgruntled employee there slipping them in on purpose, do you?


  1. Tossing out the TrashMay 24, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    I again did my good deed for the week, I picked up two copies of Henderson's paper, brought home and tossed in the recycle. It's not as satisfying as tossing the paper immediately in downtown trash can.

    You'd thunk that Mr. 'Green Jeans because it's fashionable face time" Buchanan would push for recycle bins in downtown.

  2. We had a local Redevelopment conference here in Pasadena in March. It's basically a confab for Redevelopment officials and developers to review techniques to push development into communites. Probably the most cynical material from the conference is posted under Column 5B, "One Story at a Time". It's the Oprah approach to greenwashing projects (note the "sustainable" in the URL header) and getting community buy-in for projects that have political muscle.

    This as opposed to what the community actually needs or wants. It's the next wave, get ready for it to be used by the current Council, if there's any money left to do this with; hopefully the cupboard will be bare.

  3. In the last 10-15 years, the reasons for CRA has morphed from being a way to clean up truly blighted areas, to a way to subsidize development.
    Sierra Madre hardly fits into the "blighted" area definition, and the CRA monies used, tends to be misused in rather corrupt ways, and it may be time to call for it's dissolution.

  4. If every state took back the redevelopment funds we could be a debt free nation again,May 24, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    This is a good story you made me smile "take it all and give it to the poor children"

    Emminent domain dollars in of themselves are aquired by threats, coersion, gang stalking, pet killing, forcing old women to have early heart attacks, and unlimited financial drain due to excessive attorney fees, make all redevelopment fund blood money. It peaked in 2005, started to decrease and drain the city coffers up to November 2008. The bailout, (October when Bush had us at the brink of WW3 was scary too) the bailout and rapid drop in home values, and the excessive fraud and abuse of affordable housing funds and grants on houses, condos, the massive foreclosures, anyway..Here we are today...

    It is not the citizens funds, nor the cities funds, it is an unknown government fund. It is your personalized regional taker of prime properties of private property by the private interests that privately get the interest on on that money by private investors who we now know have manifested in traches of synthetically secured mortagage derivatives,and profited by sale of said fraudulent items. On the stock market just like your water, man it is a racket.

    California should sunset all the redevelopment agencies and take that money, for the children, for the public employees, for affordable housing that is truly affordable for the average minimum wage guy. I guess the only way to change blood money into good money is by an act of truly good for all. Cities that have development money should give it up to restore balance to life and the california budget

  5. Poor Ms Henderson with proofreaders like hers who need enemies.

  6. Most of our outspoken PUSD supporting politicos have some very strict limits to their enthusiasm. Those being that when it isn't the taxpayers that are directly footing the bill, rather the money is coming from things such as redevelopment money, they become quite reserved in their support.

  7. It is time to get rid of the CRA. It's long outlived it's lifespan.

    Susan Henderson doesn't pay anyone. She has a few suckers that are "volunteers".
    Show me anyone she ever paid. Not unless it's the printer, she has to pay them.
    Anyone else....good luck.
    Susan never could write....she can't spell and doesn't know how to use proper English.
    Katina Dunn was a writer of quality, Henderson is a con artist of the lowest degree.

  8. I remember when I go to Sierra MadreMay 24, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    I am glad to see Sierra Madre can afford their share, I wonder what happens to cities that cannot or refuse like Monrovia?

    More bonds to finance their bereft redevelopment agency. Life was so much better before redevelopment agencies remember?

  9. The Kiwanis are sponsoring a breakfast meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 25th) with Bruce Inman to talk about the water rate ripoff. Masonic Temple 7:30 for Breakfast. Call Harriet Lyle at 355-6786 to RSVP by noon today. We all need to be there to ask Bruce questions.

  10. Keep a sharp eye on the City Council Tuesday night. Bonds might be on the horizon. Joe and Co. love to spend your money.

  11. Anyone know why the Community Services Department needs new vehicles? So many new vehicles? It's on tomorrow nights City Council Agenda...

  12. The use of the redevelopment funds for public education is the best news I've heard all day.

  13. Now this is clear thinking:
    "Redevelopment turns cities into giant tax-sucking mechanisms that sacrifice the general quality of life for more sales-tax revenue"
    Sacrificing the most basic quality of life conditions - like water - is something that hopefully most Sierra Madreans will not be willing to do.
    On the other hand, there's the last election results, so........

  14. tattler, question.Who will see to it that the 'confiscated', redirected money goes to the schools?

  15. still read the papers, but not that oneMay 24, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Remember a section that will pop up time to time in newspapers, where they make fun of typos like Henderson specializes in? But those sections are made up of quotes from many different papers. Looks like the Looney News Views can provide a whole article of typos all on its own.

  16. Maybe a disgruntled employee is behind the whoopsies at Looneytown. They do seem to happen with regularity.and hilarity.

  17. State Seizures of Redevelopment Cash is not Actually a Good Thing, its a GREAT THING
    Finally!!!! The Dodo birds in our state government have woken up to the economic climate.

  18. Editor, has there been a statement from the Sierra Madre city staff about the smart money move from shoring up the transitioning development industry to shoring up the kids' educations?

  19. You kidding, 5:41? Do you know how bad that would look on their resumes? They had redevelopment money and they let it get spent on kids? And not a Dominos or a KFC? C'mon!!

  20. 8:48, the cupboard is bare. Why city council people and city staff want to keep spending is illogical.So 2:08, why all the new vehicles? First of all, they might be getting the money to pay for them from the feds. But are we convinced that new ones are needed.
    Belt tightening to save some bucks is a lost art.

  21. Chris, the Sac pols are DoDo birds. Those birds could not adapt to the new geography created by the airplanes that were killing them. The birds did not figure out to move off the run ways. So they're extinct.
    Sound like California?

  22. I have never been able to understand the CRA here. Was it just that the government was handing out that money so this little town got in line saying me too?

  23. too much to hope for?May 24, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    You c'mon 558. Give em a chance to issue a policy paper or something. Besides, once the wind blows hard enough in favor of kicking the damn greedy developers (not the sensible ones, but the greeeeeedy ones) out of the state, the people who've been supporting them will turn sunny smiles on the folks left behind. Biting the hand that feeds you and all that.

  24. 5:58 We already have a Domino's and a KFC

  25. Riding around with boys in their carsMay 24, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Big boys love to be seen in their new toys. dontcha geddet?

    Notice the last city council did not ask for cars. jes sayin

  26. Not putting education first is what has gotten our state into trouble in the first place. AAArnold borowed $$$$ from CTA and did not pay it back. Doesn't matter, just a buncha kids.

    Who cares about children? Anyway, we are the 48the lowest in the Nation. It only takes money to improve our schools and no one wants to hear that. The taxpayer has done their share. So has the teacher.

    We have seen what the price of apathy and ignorance have done to California's Schools Our classrooms are crowded. And, too many people have played the blame game.

    Now redevelopment can have a turn with their money. Start building up children, and stop building up over-growth in the greedy politician's pockets.

  27. 6:37, good observation, but these are not exactly status cars, right?
    The point is that a broke city, a strapped city, a city that routinely threatens to close off services and asks for more money, ought to be more conservative with the money. The agenda says this is coming out of Prop C funds.

  28. I think what we have in Sierra Madre are some cynical politicians who know they'll be long gone by the time the bill comes due. 20 year bond for streets? I wonder where Joe will be then.

  29. The hills are alive with the sound of disaster.
    The LLC is a bountiful giver of what will be.
    The rape of our mountain and hillsides are a testament to our lack of vision and care.
    Long live our City Council and Administrators.
    Boo Hoo Mosca, Buchanan, Moran Agularia, and ?
    :(. How could you be happy with what you have wrought?