Thursday, July 8, 2010

More On The Water Rate Hike

"Trust, but verify." - Ronald Reagan

We are in the final stages of amassing the signatures needed to get the water rate payers of the City of Sierra Madre the review they deserve. The proposed water rate hike is nearly 40% stretched out over 5 years, with the first year increase being over 13%. It is the opinion of many that at the bare legal minimum of 45 days this process has been rushed, and as the people who foot the bill we deserve a little more input from those who would like to take a lot more of our money.

There can be no doubt that improvements to our water infrastructure are necessary. Water is one of the big challenges California faces these days, and we are hardly exempt. And if this were a matter of raising several million dollars to drill a new well and fix some rusty pipes, I wouldn't be writing this post. But it is not. We are talking about something in the range of $18 million dollars, a lot of money even by City Hall standards. Yet to date we have not received an itemized accounting of just exactly how this money would be spent. You wouldn't buy a car without looking at the engine or kicking the tires, so why would you accept a 40% infrastructure based water rate hike without seeing any actual plans? That is, if they even exist. All we have seen so far are vaguely worded wish lists.

Out of this $18 million figure, $10 million would come in the form of a matching grant from the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC. My fear here is that our City put the cart before the horse when they initiated this rate increase. The City needs to raise matching funds in order to qualify for this EPA grant. It could very well be that the actual impetus behind the large 40% water rate hike has a lot more to do with raising the money necessary to get this $10 million federal grant than it does any carefully considered plans, or actual needs for obtaining so much.

Some have suggested that this $10 million in EPA funding is somehow found or free money, and that we'd be winning a big game show prize if we get it. As someone who pays Federal Income Taxes, I think I know where this found money actually comes from. And believe me, it is hardly free.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone living in Sierra Madre is wealthy. We have a very large senior population, mostly retired with many living on fixed incomes. A 40% water rate hike might seem like an affordable sacrifice to some, but for many this will mean a further stretching of already thin budgets. A true community would consider the needs of everyone, and I am not certain that has been done here. The last things Sierra Madre should be doing in the midst of a severe recession is further increasing the financial insecurity of some of our most vulnerable residents.

Ethical gentrification is a myth, and doing it on the backs of our seniors a crime.

Under Proposition 218 we are entitled to a review period on rate increases such as this one, and if enough signatures are gathered we will get to call the shots. And given the thin amount of justification for so large a hike, I don't see how we cannot send this one back for further review. The due date for your signed form is July 13, so please do not delay. We are very close to our goal, and every ratepayer signed form is vital.

The most responsible control is citizen control. Stand up, be counted, let your voice be heard. And please, take more than 3 minutes doing it.

41 comments:

  1. Chief Black KettleJuly 8, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    Yes, Sir Eric, you are quite right. The water rate hike is a classic example of gentrification in action. However, there are those in our sleepy little berg who have been given the pseudonym "DIRTS" who look forward with avaricious glee toward the expelling of the poor and disenfranchised. I would say a more apt term to use in regards to these "people" would be Social Darwinism, for they really are a compassionate-less lot.

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  2. I don't think that our DIC friends see a retired couple when they look at their house. They see a McMansion that cannot be built because of those who continue to occupy the property.

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  3. Thank you for championing the rights of the citizenry in this debacle. The current city council (sans the one member who really cares about the residents of this town - Mary Ann) should be deeply ashamed of trying to pull this one over on us, but they truly have no shame when it comes to their development schemes...

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  4. Friends don't forget to ask friends to sign the Protest Letter. If you have more than one water bill you need to sign a protest letter for each bill you receive.

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  5. There must be some agenda written somewhere on how to gentrify old line towns like ours. And under the heading "Calming the Herd" there must be something about denying all the obvious facts.

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  6. Chief Black KettleJuly 8, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    9:32,I think you mean to say "culling theherd" means to weed out to remove. To gentrify old towns try looking into lit. put out by the "building industry association"

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  7. You can feel the awareness in this town growing. Sierra Madre is waking up to Joe's
    real agenda.

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  8. In disbelief at the City's tacticsJuly 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Street repair trucks rolled up Woodland Drive again this morning. As was reported by Susan Henderson's fish wrapper in Sunday's edition the water infrastructure crisis has been highlighted by a main break on upper Woodland Drive. Sparkling clean, charcoal purified water gushed down the street from side to side for hours, almost at the Water Department's bidding. Call me a sceptic but it was like adding exclamation points to the City's sky is falling infrastructure message.

    What Susan didn't mention is at the break point the main is about a foot under the street bed and susceptible to heavy trucks rolling up and down Woodland. In recent memory there have been several main breaks in the Canyon attributable to suface traffic, not having anything to do with old infrastructure.

    If they can try to whip up fear to separate residents from their tax dollars, it follows they can engage in vandalism to make their point, does it not?

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  9. Well spoken! 12 :55 . And i mite add some water and swear and gas lines are less then a foot under the street,well put indeed.

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  10. Neighbors of mine, while having a foundation dug for a stone wall built to protect oak trees on the hillside, found a phantom water line from the main to their property. City crews did a professional job of removing this phamtom line (it did not currently service any property) but in turning off the water to do the repair it put the diverted pressure somewhere else and broke the line leading to the main. This happens in old and new lines (this is why LA is changing its alternating watering days policy to avoid breaks overloaded pressure break). The city muffed the opportunity to raise the water rates in a measured and reasonable way 6 years ago by only following their schedule once out of five years. The city simply cannot expect to push this burden on the rate payers bam all at once. It is too much to bear.

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  11. Does anybody know how things got as bad as the city says they are? We pay a lot already. Other cities where customers pay less than we do don't have these problems!

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  12. No dementia hereJuly 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    It seems to me that the City could have opted for a reasonable 3% increase and other than some grumbling it would probably have been acceptable. It's in trying to raise $4 mil in matching funds to capture the EPA $10 mil grant that is behind the monumental increase. It's the City's assumption that the citizenry is made up of inept, bumbling old fools (the 45% seniors that make up the 11,500 citizens are anything but!) who wouldn't notice the ginormous bump that stirred the populace to revolt.

    Get thee to Kersting Court! Sign a letter! Sign a petition! Demand accountability from your City government. Insist the City Council direct the City Manager and the Public Works Director to reset the clock and provide us with the details!

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  13. Remember the old joke? What do assumptions do? They make asses of you and me!!! HAHAHAHAHAH.

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  14. This is the continuation of the development strategy that started a long time ago, and that Joe Mosca was the new face of, the night he voted for the MWD hook up.
    Water, then streets.

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  15. I pay a big water bill. I figured that some of that money went to repairing infrastructure. It didn't? Where did it go?

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  16. Interested in the water rate increase? Please visit www.jo-el.info.

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  17. Looks like we need an investigation of the water department, what was taken in, and where it was spent.

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  18. Can we say "forensic audit?"

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  19. Call to make sure your protest letter has been received and tell others to do t he same. City Hall must be kept honest. Who know what happens to the letters before they reach the city clerk. I have spoken to residents who mailed theirs in and guess what???? NO RECORD of the NO protest.

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  20. What is wrong with this picture - long term residents of a small town are the biggest opponents of 4 out of 5 people who sit on the town's city council.

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  21. 2:45, why would city hall be keeping a record?
    That's the city clerk's job, not city hall.
    If you want a record, you have to contact the city clerk.
    The protests go to the city clerk.

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  22. Dare I be so politically incorrect, but the driving force behind this water rate gouge is development. They need to lay down the water infrastructure necessary to attract developers. In the end it is always about the money. Everything else is BS.

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  23. Ok I watched the meeting the other night...how many times can Joe say "Limit your responses to 3 minutes or less" ...I feel like he is a control freak. Heather Allen being silenced was like a teacher in grade school. Is this really what it has come too? Joe needing to silence residents regarding their disagreements? We can't disagree with Joe in this town? His inability to handle discord is one of many reasons I didn't vote for him. He's a fake as they come to me. Can't wait for his year to be over. *sigh*

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  24. I think we are a good reflection of what is happening all over this country. Developers will not find other lines of work, and are just trying to stuff development in everywhere, whether people will or can live in those places or not.
    Developers and the related industries used to be positive forces, but they have become the worst thing for America's towns.

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  25. I agree Kate. But then it will be a return to Mayor Smut. bigger sigh.

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  26. A lot of this is being driven by government and government money. They're trying to jumpstart the economy.

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  27. Why water infrastructure mattersJuly 8, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    You may ask what is there left to develop? Every one of those huge lots on Orange Grove that can be split; every dinky little wooden house that can be torn down and a new MacMansion built; a bankrupt Alverno; a Monastery no longer needed by the Church. If Stonegate can get a cool 3/4 to a million for a hillside lot, what is there to keep three or four older homes from being acquired and a multi million demi castle from being build?

    You may think Sierra Madre's built out, but do the "entrepreneurs" agree with you?

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  28. City Hall needs to be put on a money
    diet. The less we feed it, the better
    off we'll be.

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  29. 3:31, the overdevelopment frenzy started long ago.

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  30. And what about those "estates" on Alegria between east Canon and west Mountain Trail that are bounded on the north by Sturtevant? Several acres are tied up in fewer than a half dozen very large homes!!! Already a large R-3 apartment complex and several granny structures.

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  31. 3:47 Several years ago the city had a map/plan up on the wall showing the plan to turn those Alegria lots into cul de sacs. The neighbors found out and stopped that plan.

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  32. The letters are delivered to City Hall and then the City Clerk gets them only after the mail has been sorted.

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  33. Rattlesnake catcherJuly 8, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I don't see any problem with sending letters to city hall. If a employee who sorts the mail is willing to commit a felony and tamper with the mail, that can easily be discovered.
    Won't the freedom of information act help transparency, and city hall will have to release a list of the protest signers?
    That way everyone can check for themselves if it comes to that.

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  34. What's wrong with this picture:
    The mail is delivered to City Hall.
    The mail is sorted.
    The mail for Nancy, The City Clerk is sitting on her desk, in her slotwhereever...but not under lock and key....or IS IT???
    Unitl she arrives, or whom ever is appointed no one can touch it without comminting a felony.......
    Who would not risk a chance of just putting their little pinkies into the pile and accidently grabing a couple of envelopes and putting them in their pockets.
    Uh, now tell me, when no one is lookin, who would do a thing like that.

    No one power hungry money grubbin in our town!

    This goes on in offices throughout the country.
    Mail and other stuff is constantly missing from
    worker's desks and co-worker's all the time.

    THE OFFICE is a brilliant sit com. It is fun to watch. But, unfortunately, a creative genius did not make up the entire thing. Art reflects life.

    We all know that people take risks and get away with crimes all the time. Who, in City Hall, really does not want the NO vote? Will they sign the petition?

    Let's be real folks. We live in a very dishonest town. No one in City Hall suggested that the City extend Prop 218 to 60 days, now did they?

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  35. 5:06, if you are so sure, file the freedom of information act papers.
    Take action.

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  36. Anybody going on the Water Walk and Talk? If so, please post about it.

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  37. denial runs deepJuly 8, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Joe's most ardent supporters, outside of the people who know who he really is and what he really wants, are nice people who have been suckered in to believing that they are standing up for American values, that they are helping to right the wrong of persecution. Big hook for true believers.
    Quite similar to Susan Henderson's game. Be fair, be open-minded, support individual rights (and please just ignore the lying and criminality)

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  38. Most of Joe's followers carry the Stepford gene.

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  39. Filing the freedom of information act is not that simple. It requires a lot of paper work. And a lot of other "stuff." People who work in an office are aware and often say

    "NO ONE CAN PROVE IT"

    Nice people believe the wrong people and like 6:50 said
    "ignore the lying and criminality"

    How many people KNOW that Susan Henderson was charged guilty with stealing from Katina Dunn and refuse to believe it.

    susan henderson is NOT a nice person yet her paper is still backed by n?i?c?e? people?

    It is easy to be weak.

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  40. What if EPA cancels the ten million dollar grant? Will the city cancel the rate increase as well, or increase it once again? It won't be the first time the federal or state government has cancelled grant funding.

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  41. it's not that hardJuly 9, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    Public Request for Records, 1 page short application, 1 page rules, PDF city web site, home page, last item on the far right column.

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