So in order to relieve this temporary condition, we have brought in The News Lizard. You might not be familiar with him yet, but chances are pretty good you have met his less reputable brother, The Lounge Lizard. You'll have to take my word on it, these fellows, though closely related, have very little in common outside of the intense focus they bring to their respective concerns. All should rest assured they'll be allowed to read on without being asked if "you come here often."
News Lizard? Take it away!
Good day, Tattlers. Many of you will recall the coverage here regarding the Anthony Adams Recall. Our soon to retire Assemblyman had been the target of a campaign by outraged former supporters asking for his head because he broke a pledge to never vote for a tax hike while serving in the California State Assembly. The recall failed, but a shaken Anthony Adams decided to give up his office voluntarily, with his term ending at the finish of this year.
But there is one more part to this puzzle that needs to be reported on. And like most things touched by the snakebit Assemblyman, it turns out to be something rather farcical. This from Sacramento Bee news writer Dan Walters in a column he calls "Anthony Adams' shift on tax vote backfires."
... It soon became apparent, however, that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders were rewarding Adams for his tax vote in the form of a budget "trailer bill" that amended redevelopment law. The measure allowed Glendora, a city in Adams' Southern California district, to retain about $2.6 million a year in property taxes from redevelopment that otherwise would go to other local governments and schools in Los Angeles County.
The other shoe dropped recently when a state appellate court ruled that Glendora's redevelopment plan is illegal because the city had not proved the existence of urban blight as required by law, upholding a lower court ruling in a lawsuit brought against Glendora by the County of Los Angeles ... Unless overturned by the state Supreme Court, the city's loss means that it may not get the $2.6 million per year that was Adams' reward for his budget vote because its redevelopment plan is invalid.
It's certainly an ironic twist to the Adams saga. He survived the recall threat but gave up his seat this year rather than face a potential loss to a Republican challenger. In the end, his favor to Glendora crumbled into dust.
The only thing we need to find out now is who the personal beneficiaries of this redevelopment scam would have been. Must have been somebody of local importance. It certainly couldn't have been because, as the local high school fight song would have it, Adams' "heart beats true for Glendora."
More Bell Fallout
One of the benefits of the City of Bell situation is we are now getting all kinds of great data on what individual towns and taxpayers are paying for things. As an example, according to the Los Angeles Times it turns of that the residents of Bell, in a city not noted for its wealth, have been paying the second highest property taxes in the county. The point of this article being that poorer cities paradoxically often have the highest area property taxes.
Sierra Madre pays the 25th highest percentage in property taxes in Los Angeles County. Which means that property owners here are paying a greater percentage in property taxes than 62 other cities in the L.A. County area. Some of them, like Beverly Hills, with a far higher average per capita income than ours. Here are the cities where folks pay less than we do, in descending order:
Diamond Bar, Walnut, Lancaster, Pasadena, Paramount, South El Monte, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Claremont, Hawthorne, Pico Rivera, Covina, Irwindale, South Pasadena, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Santa Monica, Avalon, Arcadia, Whittier, La Verne, San Dimas, Rosemead, San Marino, Glendora, Santa Fe Springs, Malibu, Bradbury, Duarte, La Canada Flintridge, Lawndale, Alhambra, La Puente, Downey, Beverly Hills, La Mirada, Norwalk, West Covina, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, Azusa, Temple City, El Segundo, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Glendale, Burbank, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Artesia, Cerritos, Hermosa Beach, La Habra Heights, Bellflower.
We'll need to revisit this list after the Gang of Four gives away the farm in their negotiations with the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association next year. You know they'll be asking for more of something after that one is over. Who knows, maybe we can go from Top 25 to Top 10.
Speaking of which
Someone e-mailed in earlier today and pointed out a rather clueless item on the Los Angeles Times "L.A. Now" blog. The gist of the piece being that after giving some careful consideration to replacing their PD with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, the Pomona City Council decided to keep "its nearly century-old police force." This despite the travails of a more than $14 million dollar budget deficit. The article then went on to drop this little clinker:
The Sheriff recently took over patrols in Maywood and Cudahy, and there were talks of a transition in Sierra Madre.
I'm pretty sure that we never quite got to any transition phase. There were some bids put out to see if maybe we could get police services at a better price. And one offer came in that would have actually saved us over a million dollars a year had it been accepted. But this was all quashed when our new and decidedly more emo City Council came in, effectively removing the one decent bargaining chip we had going into our upcoming SMPOA negotiations.
The end result being we have now beefed up the force to 31 officers. Which means that every 10th car you see here in town today is a police cruiser attempting to look like it has something important to do.
Why developers are big campaign contributors
This from another Tattler reader:
"Here's a new one and this is real cute. As I've said, most of the small "community" bank loans are really made to developers and construction companies. Right now it's either no demand or there's demand because the business is failing. So a new program to push money to small banks is really a way to get money in the hands of the development industry. What a coincidence. These people are big political contributors. Almost all the 100+ bank failures this year are community banks heavily involved in lending for real estate development."
This is the article our correspondent was referring to:
Program risks $30B to save weak banks - In fresh wave of bailouts, Obama plan directs $30 billion to aid community banks.
People are fed up with bank bailouts that risk taxpayer billions. The government's apparent solution: call them something else.
Congress is at work on a new program that would send $30 billion to struggling community banks, in a process similar to the huge federal bailouts of big banks during the financial crisis. This time, money is more likely to disappear as a result of bank failures or fraud.
I guess that Sierra Madre Rule #1 ("Everything in the end is about real estate development and money") applies nationally as well. Which I suppose explains things like SB 375 and "Smart Growth." Condos are going to save the world from Global Warming, you know. And pigs are now getting ready to fly to the moon.
It's now official, the entire country is drunk on Developer Kool Aid.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go catch some insects. Even a News Lizard has got to eat, you know.