In a letter dated September 17 (and postmarked September 22nd), the City replied. Here is what was said by City Manager Elaine Aguilar:
Dear Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Herrmann and Ms. Delmer:
Thank you for your September 13, 2010 letter requesting the Council conduct another public hearing and Proposition 218 process for the proposed water rate increases.
As stated in your correspondence, the Council did not take action to increase water rates at their July 27th meeting. The Council also has not given direction or discussed any proposals to increase water rates since their July 27th meeting. Accordingly, at this time it would be premature to schedule any public hearings, or to perform a subsequent Proposition 218 ballot process, since we do not know what increase the Council would like to adopt or even if they intend to adopt an increase. Once staff receives formal direction from the City Council regarding whether and how to increase water rates, a determination will be made regarding the procedural steps necessary to implement the Council's directive. In the meantime, I will keep your correspondence and will take it under consideration, if an when the Council provides direction regarding water rates.
Thank you again for your correspondence and please let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future. As you're aware, I am always available to meet to discuss any City, or water department related questions, and I appreciate receiving your input and recommendations.
Sincerely, Elaine Aguilar City Manager
Now what is said in Elaine's letter in no way deviates from what was publically stated previously by Mayor Joe Mosca. In a Pasadena Star News article published on September 15 (two days earlier than Elaine's letter), a similar notion was aired out. Something that leads me to conclude that the line reinforced in the City's reply was not initiated by Ms. Aguilar.
Mayor Joe Mosca said the arguments expressed in the letter were premature since the city's staff is in the midst of an outreach campaign and the council has yet to have a policy discussion on the matter. Although the city did not receive enough protests to defeat the proposal, the city council - based on the number of protests received - has opted to postpone voting on a rate hike at this time and receive additional input from the public, he said.
"Depending on the policy direction of the council, this may be moot or not," Mosca said. "It's going to be a discussion that will be had at the end of our outreach" campaign.
Apparently in the Mayor's mind past injustices are undone by possible decisions not yet made. Which is rather like saying a thief is really an OK guy because he fully plans on stopping his unfortunate practices in the not too distant future.
As Kurt Zimmerman pointed out in that same Pasadena Star News article, "The letter that City Hall sent to the parcel owners regarding the proposed water rate hike was neither transparent nor complied with the detailed notice requirements of Proposition 218."
Leaving out of the City's May 17 water rate increase notification letter such things as $23.2 million dollars in accumulated water bond debt from the reasons why we would need to pay more being one particularly grotesque example.
I guess they just assumed nobody was paying attention and they'd never get caught.
What must be understood here is that the City's position is we no longer have the right to any Proposition 218 remedy. If you fail to get the necessary signatures the first time, they claim, then a rate protest of the kind we conducted here in town is no longer an option. This is the reason why City Hall fought as furiously as they did to disqualify enough of the nearly 2,200 signed water protest forms to defeat us. They needed to thwart the wishes of the majority of water rate paying residents in order to get more of their money. So whatever the future "policy direction" of the City Council, as things now stand we as water rate payers supposedly no longer have any Prop 218 protest rights.
Something that makes utter rubbish of Joe Mosca's disingenuous claim that nothing has really been done yet.
Which to my mind is the City's real agenda here. Once the mindless dog and pony shows finally grind to a halt Joe Mosca will go forward with the water rate hike. And he would prefer to be able to do so without any inteference from the likes of you all. In his mind your only real remaining role is to dig deeper and pay more. Which is pretty much what will happen should things stay as they are.
But trust me, friends. That is not the way things are going to go. Like so many things done by this City Council, the water rate hike process was badly botched. This is yet another one they just aren't going to win.