Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Water Scams Are Just About Everywhere These Days

Politics in California isn't really about Republican or Democrat. It is much more about money and power. Quaint notions such as political parties being part of an overall pitch designed to make people feel good about their government. There are some variations, of course. That's how you tell the difference. If you belong to the team, you are expected to be happy when your side wins, unhappy when it loses. Sad to say, rooting for Jackass or Jumbo seems to be enough for more people than you might expect.

Well, OK. So that's my jaundiced opinion these days. Maybe you disagree. It wasn't so long ago that I'd have been right in there with you.

But in that distant world where the real games are played, what passes for politics on the street is little more than toys for tots. True power in America these days is concentrated in the working partnership between large corporate interests and government. If the parties compete for anything, it is to be the beneficiary of the kinds of largess we see doled out in Sacramento to pay-to-play legislators willing to get into the game. Our fine elected officials finding the attentions of lobbyists and those who employ them to be far more rewarding than anything we might have to offer.

In the grand scheme of things voters have become little more than a cyclical marketing challenge. And if you've some political products to sell you're going to have to come up with the proper marketing to move it. The $100s of millions of corporate dollars spent by the major parties every election has precious little to do with any desire to communicate real issues or down home truths. Rather it is to create images that resonate with consumers. People who will then pay with their votes to feel a part of the products that best reflect their closely held illusions of how the world works.

A very interesting editorial entitled "Tell The Truth About The Drought" graced the pages of the SGV Tribune this Sunday. The usual gatekeepers must have been off at an art show with Larry or something. Nibbling cheese and sipping a favored vintage.

The piece begins quietly enough. Apparently the three year drought that has beset California is over. Or at least that is what the science and numbers show. Rainfall during the now concluding wet season was actually above average. Things are better than they have been for a while. Pretty good news that you might not have been aware of. I don't recall having heard about it myself.

Yet Sacramento hasn't said anything about this return to water normalcy. Instead the steady drumbeat of drought, devastation, and water conservation continues to be heard. Not that there is anything wrong with water conservation, mind you. We shouldn't be wasting our precious natural resources. But could it be there is an ulterior motive here as well? One that has more to do with the political marketing we've been talking about than the truth? Here's is how The Tribune put it:

Could all these (state) agencies be keeping quiet about the abundance of rain, the healthy snowpack and the rising levels of water in the state's reservoirs because they're trying to sell the public the $11.1 billion water bond that's before the voters in November? Having a drought makes it more saleable.

Of course, that would be playing politics with the facts, though it would hardly be shocking, coming from state politicians who also use the poor and indigent as pawns during budget time.

Perhaps it's too harsh to say they're lying. It's more as if they're treating the public like children, believing, as Jack Nicholson's stout movie Marine colonel would say, they "can't handle the truth." With all due respect to Jack, that's the wrong approach.

One of the things I've noticed lately is just how closely the policies of our new City Council are aligned not only to state political marketing themes, but those of Washington as well. What begins as a national initiative for "Transit Oriented Development," revealed as SB 375 here in California, filters down to our local level as various regional so-called sustainable green initiatives. Most of which are paradoxically linked to high-density infill redevelopment as favored by our beloved Downtown Investors Club.

And, of course, President Obama has employed the word "civility" for as long as Joe Mosca has.

So would it be too much to say that much of the water panic coming out of City Hall in support of their unpopular water rate hike is just an echo of the similar message being put out by Sacramento to prop up their $11.1 billion water initiative?

Something else

There are a lot of inspired people who write in on an almost daily basis with ideas for this blog. Here is an e-mail that I received yesterday:

This is the clue you need to show that the City is not serious about its compliance with the RHNA figures. How can you set up low-income housing when your water bill is sky high? What low-income family is going to voluntarily move into a place with a water bill that is nearly half the value of their rent?

Food for thought.

50 comments:

  1. Disgruntled Chintatown FanJune 29, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    You newbys out there may not be aware of it, but this town used to sell water that we possessed in excess to Arcadia. I find it difficult to believe that with the water coming out of this mountain we need an emergency MWD line. We simply don't have all the facts.

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  2. Decline to StateJune 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    You would think by now the people of California would have finally figured out it's about a free for all of thousands of political scams.

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  3. Resistance is not only futile, its uncivil. You wouldn't want to upset anyone now, would you? Get out your checkbook and write.

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  4. Damn, I wish I didn't agree with this so much:
    "In the grand scheme of things voters have become little more than a cyclical marketing challenge"

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  5. Hey no problem about getting low income people here - remember there's the exemption for them!!! Oh the mom and dad both work and make $100 over the exemption limit?
    Don't worry you old, poor people, or you young poor people, there's a low income exemption!
    See how thoughtful we are?

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  6. The low income claim is, of course, just public relations. The chances are good that those low income units will become something quite different once they're put on the market.

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  7. Hey Tattler, Bruce Inman was perfectly clear. There are 10 projects lined up to be done. There is a reserve fund of 2.5 million dollars - peanuts to our city staff, and obviously TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS of our money isn't enough to deal with an emergency that might happen. Of course no one remembers what we spent on the consultant who put together the list of 10 projects. Such a trifling matter. Why do you ask?

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  8. fair memory skillsJune 29, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Right you are 9:17. Without some kind of legal definition, a project can start out low income and then after a year (?) it can go for what the market will bear.
    Learned that from the first Karen Warner show. If it has t stay low income, developers won't make enough money, or something like that.
    Anybody remember what the specifics are?

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  9. Did Bruce say anything about what he'd do with the $16 million over the next 5 years our little wawa and feddy grant dance will raise? I personally think marble statuary in Memorial Park with water spouting from the mouths of mermaids and nymphs would suit us especially well.

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  10. Bruce was indignant when someone asked him if all the projects were absolutely necessary. He said that they were necessary or they wouldn't be on the list.

    College was a long time ago, but isn't that a tautological argument?

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  11. 9:39 - here's the corollary:

    "If it wasn't necessary we wouldn't have to raise your water rates."

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  12. Tainted Wells, Polluted Aquifers, Costly Purchases, Rusty Pipes, A Created Shortage Perception leading to "Mandatory Restrictions" to be reported by neighbor against neighbor. "Chapter 22, City Mgr's Handbook" Wow what fertile ground is this?

    Enter Prop 218 being sheparded by our own City Attorney who is considered an "expert" in bypasing required voter majorities and delivering hugh tax increases through the devious Prop 218.

    Have you ever heard of, "a non voting resident may be counted as a yes vote" in subjecting our City of Sierra Madre residents to such a hugh tax increase (whops! Water Rate Increase)?

    There is a fowl smell in Sierra Madre. The stink seems to eminate from City Hall. The water charade seems to be working well for the Developers using tax payer money for career enhancing employee schemes.

    Shut em down residents. Send in your protest! You will never get a fair hearing from "3 min Joe".

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  13. Bruce has never helped a customer. Still boggles many people's minds. Who does he really work for. It is not the bill paying customer. That defensive stance speaks volumnes.

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  14. Right, 9:45, they know more than we do. We are just the "little people".
    They always have our best interests in mind. They will take care of us. They never are self serving. LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

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  15. Anybody have any opinions on why it is the city just doesn't level with people? It has gotten to the point that whenever they want something whatever they say is met with general disbelief. Have they ever tried going the full disclosure route?

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  16. Tut tut..It's called the CHICAGO WAY!Wake up,we exist in a pint sized Thralldom..You voted for it..Enjoy!!

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  17. That's the problem with voting. If your side wins it makes you responsible for everything they do.

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  18. Look there was a clear cut choice in Sierra Madre's last election.

    You had a highly competent sitting Mayor Pro-tem in Don Watts....he, along with Mayor MacGillivray got our RHNA numbers reduced.
    He along with Kurt Zimmerman and SMRRD won the people's Measure V for us,saving Sierra Madre from 3 story buildings and underground parking.
    Along with Kurt and MaryAnn they demanded and got the budget balanced. Sierra Madre has a surplus.
    What did the voters do....they didn't even re-elect him! Unbelievable.

    The voters could have elected Pat Alcorn, a highly qualified woman who has spend the last few decades serving Sierra Madre in various volunteer positions. Pat is honest and attends every council meeting. You people of Sierra Madre could have had Don and you could have had Pat. You could have had our dedicated journalist, John Crawford, who only wants a safe nice town to raise his family. John was very well qualified to be on the council.

    Instead you got the inept Joe Mosca and the two most UNQUALIFIED man and woman in Sierra Madre for the job, Moran and Walsh.
    I'm sorry all your mosca, moron and dancin' nancy voters....you deserve what you got and wait until you see what you'll get!
    Shame on all of you non-voters out there.

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  19. Please sign our petitions or send in your letters to protest the water rate hike as soon as possible.
    There will be tables with petition gatherers, in Kersting Court and look for them in other locations.

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  20. Word is getting out. Pass out the letters. Collect signatures. People need the opportunity to sign the letters. Give it to them. Most of the merchants and property owners are on board. Give letters to renters to give to their landlords.

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  21. Very few people say no when asked. But they have to be given the chance,

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  22. BOYCOTT THE 4TH OF JULY PARADEJune 29, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    did I hear correctly?

    water pistols, etc etc are banned along the parade route except for Sierra Vista park? is our police force going to be out if force arresting kids?

    who came up with this lame idea? must be a new resident or a ploy amongst City Hall and the four Council idiots to push the water tax, "we can't afford to waste water with water pistols...."

    or Moscan, Moron, Walsh and Blockhead Buchanan don't want to get sprayed with water

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  23. There are no end of killjoys in this world.

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  24. I was circulating a protest sheet with room for four signatures, and one water bill paying customer who signed told me that he had wanted to protest, but found the city information confusing and didn't know where to start in writing a letter. And the city staff thinks this is a fair way to go about a tax hike.

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  25. I'm hoping that citizens ignore the stupid water ban and do it as traditionally done and see if our goofy police force will arrest hundreds of citizens and kids

    jeez, our PD will be all giddy about enforcing this

    yep, our PD is really tough and deserve a raise for such dangerous situations as kids with water pistols

    what a stupid city we are becoming

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  26. City Hall is now happy to invite everyone on a water tour.
    Surely it's not to promote the hike, but rather an educational outreach to the community.
    The timing must be just coincidental.

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  27. Is the ban on waterpistols a conservation thing? What if the kids use gray water?

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  28. In the best of all possible worlds, John Buchanan and Joe Mosca would begin their council reports at the next meeting with a list of their failed ideas, and ask the community to help them be better leaders.

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  29. How out of touch with this community can you get?
    If the hall of the city had suggested a 3% flat water rate hike, people would have groaned but paid.
    Instead, they shoot for this ridiculous tiered system and way too big an increase.
    Duh. Who came up with that?

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

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  31. They need the money to build water infrastructure that can accommodate large scale development. There is no other reason for this. We are being lied to.

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  32. Here's what I don't get about the tiers.
    If somebody uses more water, they pay for more water, as our system is now.
    Why does it need to change?

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  33. It's just a gimmick.

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  34. I spoke to some of the people getting petition signatures and they are not against a water hike raise, if we really need it, they are very much against an unfair 40% raise. This is outrageous.
    I agree with them. They will be in Kersting Court every evening. I talked to them around 6:00 pm last night.

    Please sign the petitions, contact this website if you need to find how to submit your protest.
    I'm sure Crawford will let you know how to do this.

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  35. Sacramento has now decided to delay the Water Bond vote until next year for obvious reasons.

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  36. Looks like Der Governator just blinked. New polls out today are showing that the Senate and Governor races are very tight. Boxer and Brown's biggest advantages being name recognition. I think the old regime is about to get shown the door.

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  37. I heard that the water meter charge continues AFTER the 5 years of rate increases have been completed. Does anyone know if this is accurate information? Are we going to pay forever on this water meter. It is beginning to sound like cable tv. Every month one pays for the box and the remote and one never owns it!

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  38. KPCC had a discussion today about the propositions - including the first one, the legalization of marijuana. the opinion presented was that it would be good for Boxer and Brown because it will bring out the young voters.

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  39. The Govenor got it! He just canceled the billions in water bonds for the state until at least 2012. And it was on the November ballot. Will the Sierra Madre City Council drowning in a 40% plus water tax get it? Let the Developers (with Chamber of Commerace, DT Investors, Rotary anc City Administration support) find their own money to access the existing Sierra Madre Water System.
    10% to 40% water tax on residents. No Way.

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  40. Heh heh. Ahnold knows that BS wasn't working.

    I guess our local pols will have to learn the hard way.

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  41. Proposition 218 requires for the water protest the signature of who's name is on the bill or the representative of of the townhome association /management who pays the water bill. It does not state all residents or renters in the units sign just who's on the bill. Make sure the city does not find a loophole with the protest because the city attorney will. The water hike protest response is explained if you look up Prop. 218. It is vital the protests are signed correctly!!!! Bruce Inman has quite a history with Sean Joyce and John Davidson our previous and devious ex-City managers ...the shenanigans started many years ago and the council members that were on during those times have raised their ugly heads again.

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  42. Could this water tax hike be a charade by city hall, a kind of shock tactic?
    Everyone will scream NO and then staff will say,
    "We hear you, we care, it'll just be 10% flat, ok?"
    Like Buchanan's famous "Never 4 stories in Sierra Madre!!!!!maybe 3...."

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  43. If it comes to a close call with the city attorney trying to discredit good signatures, maybe it will be time to get that legal fund up and running.

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  44. If this water protest wins, how long before they can do it again? Anyone know? Keep your list of signers because you will need it for Joe's bond next year.

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  45. Trying to get our money to support the development schemes of his patrons is just about all Joe knows how to do. Outside of giving those he doesn't like the stinkeye.

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  46. channel 3 watcherJune 29, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    Bruce Inman made a revealing remark about that tier system. He said that the purpose of the tiers is to encourage greater conservation. Then he went on to say that it worked at first, but after people got used to the new prices, they went back to the same old usage levels.
    So we need the tiers for.......?

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  47. Sierra Madre doesn't need the tiered system.
    The consultant needs that system.
    Part of the razzle dazzle that you pay them for.
    Ineffective system that looks complicated.
    Bet it cost a pretty penny.

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  48. If the water protest doesn't win, there will be thousands of really angry residents.

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  49. Sierra Madre is a member of the San Gabriel Metropolitan Wter District along with Monterey Park, Azusa, and Alhambra. The chart shows that the average customer in
    SM pays $104. The proposed rate for next year will be $128 to $150 depending on your meter size.
    Azusa pays 80.49
    Alhambra pays $86.39
    Monterey Park pays $81.82

    Sierra Madre will be paying about 80% for water more than its member cities.

    Had enough? Sign the petitions or send in your protest letter to the City Clerk, Shollenberger.
    Do it now.

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  50. most people will just look at the water hike as a few bucks, so that's what Buchanan and Mosca are counting on and not the real issue that is driving the hike, building an infrastructure that will sustain large scale development

    this isn't about conservation of water, it's about preparing the city for new development

    it's a shame that Inman, city staff, Buchanan, Mosca are seeking out a way to sneak a tax rate by the people and use devious methods to push the tax increase forward

    it's no wonder none are in the real business world where if you lie to your customers, you are run out of business

    Buchanan gets sleazier every day and one day soon he'll be as slimy as Mosca

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