Saturday, September 25, 2010

The City Writes Back

On September 15th we posted something on The Tattler called The Letter City Hall Would Have Preferred You'd Not Heard. (Click here.) The letter in question being something sent to City Hall by myself and others detailing the reasons why the City of Sierra Madre's water rate hike notification process begun last spring was legally inadequate under the provisions of Proposition 218, a voter approved amendment to the California State Constitution that deals with the raising of such things as taxes and government rates. And as such the process initiated by the City was invalid and should therefore start over again from scratch.

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.

66 comments:

  1. I wake up, read The Tattler, and find there is a champion of justice in my little world. Thank you.

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  2. The sad thing about Joe Mosca is that he thinks he is
    slick. That people can't see past his tap dancing. What
    a shallow man he is.

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  3. There is a cartoon in yesterday's PSN with the arrested Bell city officials pictured as rats reaching out through the bars of their cell. That's the only kind of "outreach" I want to see from Moschanan.

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  4. Aguilar's response is a totally predictable and artless attempt to sidestep the issue. It is basically just a stalling technique. Mosca's future "directions" are irrelevant. The legality of the notice is still in question. If I can see that, then a judge can see that. Ms. Aguilar, why don't you just answer the question.

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  5. Thank you again to former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman, John Crawford, John Herrmann and Anita Delmer.
    Because of your vigilance, we exposed the real truth.
    It's citizens like you who will save this city. It's also the fine citizens who read this blog to find out the truth. Thank you to all of you who CARE.

    I was speaking to a couple of neighbors I ran into in Arcadia yesterday, they are new readers (last 2 months) of the Tattler, and expressed their thanks that this blog is available to residents who want the truth and the real news. They asked if there was any way to get even more residents of Sierra Madre reading this. They felt it was very important for people to be informed here in Sierra Madre where we had very biased "news" in our local throw away papers that was actually propaganda for over development and over taxation.

    We can all help with this. Print out some of these blockbuster articles and pass them out to your friends and neighbors.
    Support our only councilmember who speaks for us....MaryAnn MacGillivray.

    Keep reading the Tattler! SPREAD THE WORD to NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS!
    You will make a difference!

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  6. Elaine didn't answer the question because Joe wouldn't let her. His persistence in pushing this same dumb response over and over speaks to his stubborn refusal to consider any viewpoints that don't serve his big development agenda. Something this water rate hike is very much a part of.

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  7. There are 3 people in this town in the past 2 decades who have really been troublesome if not a disaster to Sierra Madre.

    1. Bart Doyle
    2. Joe Mosca
    3 Susan Henderson

    How these individuals aren't run out of town on a rail is beyond me!

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  8. If the City Council insists on pushing this rate hike over the objections of those who signed opposition to the water rate hike, all those CC members who vote for it, should be RECALLED. I feel used and abused by the so-called "fairness" of the 218 process. Its a law written to be one sided, the City's side. It may be coming close to the time we dump the "servants of the people" for those who will listen to the citizens of Sierra Madre

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  9. Joe and John do not work for Sierra Madre. They answer to regional governments, large developers, realty interests, and the energy corporations that employ them. Their job is to prepare the plans and systems necessary to bring large scale construction here. We basically have an occupation government.

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  10. Like everything they do it is underhanded and dishonest and very scarry. They are out for themselves and have to be stopped. They care about themselves and some of their "friends."

    They all will slip and fall soon. They must unravel soon, as they have woven their sticky web too long.

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  11. I bet you dollars to donuts that Joe Mosca truly knows the meaning of being premature. Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!

    You did not lose your right. You were ambushed, lied to, manipulated, and we know it is a matter of public record.
    Ms. Aguliars comments? translate to me as "Okay we did it, you caught us, we had to lie like dogs on a rug to stage the recount, over and over, you have called us on it BUT, as long as we don't force the increase, you can't pursue any legal remedy you have." Mosca and his world tour of a 100 ft well& lots of rusty pipes and using small children to promote his agenda is despicable. And someone said he rented a dog?

    There is still the fraud angle available if there was misuse of those bond dollars.

    Congratulations to young pitcher Crawford, a pitcher is major. Must get it from his dad and mom!

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  12. Old Kentucky at 8:40

    You posted a comment that hit me square in the eyes.

    With over development comes over TAXATION. ALWAYS

    They can't do one without the other.



    NO MORE OVER DEVELOPMENT and NO MORE OVER TAXATION.

    The increase in water rates are just the tip of the iceberg.

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  13. they serve at the will of the councilSeptember 25, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Elaine follows orders.

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  14. Yes, she always has. And always the orders of the same people.

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  15. Neither Aguilar nor Mosca were here when the bond money was spent. Has anyone seen Buchanan out and about lately? He was. What about the "6 Mayors"? They know much more than has been brought out...

    Both Aguilar and Mosca are responding to counsel.

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  16. walking the neighborhoodSeptember 25, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    One of the reasons the city could claim that we didn't have enough protest letters was because of confusion about the lists of valid signatures/owners/meters. Yeah, well that's straightened out now, right? A better more accurate list has been the result, yeah?
    You would think that on that one condition alone we'd be allowed to have another go at it.

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  17. Isn't it an amazing coincidence?

    The Gang of 4 waiting until they had won the last election to hit us all with the illegal tax increase in the form of the water rate hike.
    Got elected on lies and then pulled this scam off.

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  18. Lobbyists are prohibited from making, arranging or acting as an intermediary in the making of gifts totalling more than $10 per month to or for the benefit of a state candidate, an elected state officer, legislative official or agency official.

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  19. No, 10:59 am... only REGISTERED lobbyists. I'm guessing John and Joe aren't registered with the state or federal government.

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  20. Nobody believes Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray would have let this water rate hike get onto the agenda and into the 218 process without some in depth perusal. The shadow council had to wait until their operatives had a majority to try and sneak this one through. The point isn't that we don't need an increase or that the infrastructure isn't crumbling, but what happened to the previous bond money? You see that is what Bart's brigade is attempting to keep secret... Suggestions include co-mingled funds, paying for the DSP, fighting Measure V - all of which are an illegal use of the bond funds. There's a good chance somebody will go to jail. Watch for a highly focused assault on the people responsible for outing the water bond irregularities.

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  21. Wonder what they paid the former employee who burned the records and wiped the hard drives clean? How else could they have covered up their misdeeds? And why else would Buchanan have fought so hard against a forensic audit?

    Much is hidden under a thin layer of Doyle, Stockly, Buchanan, Joffee Colantuno, Gates, Gillis poo. Certainly it's the reason such dim bulbs as the bobbleheads were chosen at the very last minute to run for council.

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  22. Perp walk! Perp walk!

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  23. "Trust the elected officials implicitly", right.

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  24. Good theory, 11:18. It sure goes a ways towards
    explaining everything. The get rich fast money boys
    get caught in the end. Nothing new in that!

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  25. GO TO THE COUNCIL MEETING TUESDAY NIGHT!

    DEMAND ANOTHER WATER RATE PETITION!

    DEMAND IT!!!!!!!

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  26. Anonymous at 11:12

    Interesting theory!
    I sure hope you're right.

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  27. Well, 11:12, it sure explains the hate campaign directed toward Mrs. MacGillivray. Even though she wasn't running for re-election, anyone associated with her was smeared with a nasty brush dipped in venom and lies. If you're right, it makes one wonder what the SMVFD got out of the water bond windfall, and were they blackmailed into cooperating with the DIRTs and DICs.

    I can see a new round of "can't we just all get along" and charges of "incivility" being lobbed over the wall toward the Tattlers and the Water Rate Protestors in the very near future.

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  28. I wonder how Nancy Walsh feels being associated with an illegal coverup of misused funds. Her otherwise unblemished record of civic volunteerism could be tarnished forever.

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  29. "can't we just get along" "civility" is not possible in Sierra Madre, because we are dealing with a criminal element.

    Only the naive think this is possible.

    This is what the poor chumps in Bell (the residents) did wrong, they too long trusted the criminals that were robbing them blind.

    Guess what, Sierra Madre, you're being had, as I type.

    The criminal element in our city is wanting you all to just roll over and play dead.

    They can't get directly into your wallet and rob you so they do it with illegal and excessive taxation.
    They use your money to support over development, they live off the kick backs they get from developers and realtors and lobbyists.
    Mosca can't wait to get up to Sacramento so he can become a big time crook, not just a sleazy little lying politician in a small town.

    It's going to happen, it is happening, unless you just wake up and say "wait a minuet, get your hand out of my pocket".

    Sociopath Mosca is not worth it, people. He just isn't. You don't have to be nice to him. You just don't.

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  30. 12:15

    You're kidding aren't you?

    Nancy Walsh does not have an unblemished record of civic volunteerism. Too many of us who have worked with her, she is anything but a nice person.
    Look at the way she treats MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    When Nancy was in Mubai with those senior groups at the hotel taken over by Islamic terrorists....MacGillivray contacted our congressman, David Dreier, and David sent a government jet to India to take Nancy Walsh back to L.A.
    I'm not sure Walsh ever even thanked MaryAnn. She treats her with rude contempt now, from what I have noticed at council meetings.

    No, sorry, Nancy Walsh aka "bobblehead" is NOT a nice person, at all.

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  31. let's see....

    Joe Mosca moves into town and he immediately begins a political campaign...and he works for an energy company....

    John Buchanan moves into town and he immediately begins joining key civic organizations and works towards a political campaign for Council....and he works for an energy company.....

    hmmmmmm........smells sort of rank

    a couple of shysters and it's not wonder that devious underhanded sneaky lies are given to us about the water tax hike

    both are on the Council to benefit their own egos and most importantly, their employers

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  32. Joe Mosca moved into town and was working in West Covina as a bankruptcy attorney. He immediately begins a political campaign... some time went by. Joe wasn't working anywhere. He then accepted a job with a firm in the same building in Glendale as a One Carter development organization - may only be a coincidence that out of all the high rise office buildings in Glendale Joe worked there. Next thing anyone knows Joe was working for Sempra. Now Joe is Mayor of Sierra Madre fighting to keep the truth about the water bond misappropriated funds quiet. Who's got enough juice to get Joe a plum job with a utility? Perhaps a certain BIA attorney? Nobody helped Rob Stockly out with a cushy job... although somebody gave him a foundation to run...

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  33. When we finally get all the proof to convict here (or perhaps or attorneys already do), who do you think will go down?

    Who will take the hit?

    Hopefully, it will be all of them, from the top to the bottom.

    Most of the guilty, if not all of them, knew exactly what they were doing. Perhaps, Bobblehead Nancy, she is too simple to have known, but evil little Josh, he's guilty, if not for corruption, for other "things".

    I hope they all go down. Every last one of them, even Walsh.

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  34. Hey Joe--how about a teach and preach for the fifth graders where you give them a civics lesson from your council experience. Show them how to subvert the will of the people with simple tricks. You've already borrowed a dog, now borrow a pony, and offer rides for the first kids to see the beauty of your "process." "See, boys and girls, if someone asks the city manager a hard question, she says it's up to me, and should anyone ask me the same question, I say it's up to her. It's just so gosh-darned simple. Study hard."

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  35. This is about delay. Delaying action until the time for litigation has passed and then drop the big one on us. Maybe it won't even be the biggest increase they advertised (did they ever really say how much?) but it will be something helpful. But by delaying action, they can claim -- as they are claiming -- that there's no action, no harm, from their process. Disgusting. And I don't buy their recount methodology and I wonder if a court would either.

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  36. Time to audit the Sierra Madre Foundation that Stockley chairs? If he is no longer the chair, audit it anyway, espcially the period during which he was the chair!

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  37. Apparently the game they play at city hall is hide the water bonds from the rate payers.

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  38. I'm not a lawyer, but Zimmerman ( I assume he wrote the letter demanding a "do over") makes a very convincing case that the City got it wrong.

    Why would a judge ignore the plain language in Prop. 218 as cited in Zimmerman's letter and embrace the City Attorney's goofy argument that the notice need only raise questions in the ratepayers minds?

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  39. Are you guys kidding! Joe was a bankruptcy attorney who landed a PR job with a utility?

    If I get elected to the City Council can I get a PR job with a utility too?

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  40. 1. How many property owners?
    2. How many pieces of property?
    3. How many protest letter needed?

    The city started out with water rate payers, then morphed into meters, then something about property owners but claimed they did't have a list of property owners because that list belonged to the County Clerk.

    So was the threshold ever established for which 51% of the whomever/whatever was being counted? How do we know we didn't get enough protests? Because the city attorney made the call? Without sharing that number with the residents?

    And it was all to raise the consciousness of the rate payers so they would ask questions? Something's very fishy here in the 2007 All American City...

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  41. Those are my exact questions Poster 3:28. It was an ever changing criteria and absolutely bogus! Some one has to be accountable for this? As Dr. Staccato suggests--a judge needs to have a good look at this. How about small claims court. I am sure someone spent less than $5000.00 of their own money running around trying to collect signatures and would like to be reimbursed. I have the letter that said "water rate payers" that came in the mail. In the end it was propety owners.

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

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  43. The firefighters didn't have to be blackmailed to do anything -- Bomberger for some reason has wiggled his way into the department and has influenced them to be on the developers side. I'd like to know who/what is behind his raise to fame, then we'll know alot more about what's going on in this city.

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  44. Anybody else recall how firmly, and quietly, City Attorney Levin explained that the rate increase could be enacted anytime the council saw fit, as long as nothing changed, say the tiers on the new bills, because the number of protest letters fell short of the target number the city had clumsily determined? This info was given so quietly, without all the flurry of "Oh we could but we won't til you understand", that sometimes I think people missed it.
    So are you going to believe Moscana when he/they say it may be Moot?
    Any time they see fit is the sure thing.

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  45. Looks like Mr. Mericon wondered on to the wrong blog....

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  46. The answer to the Letter is the answer any potitican gives when asked a question. They NEVER answer the question or admit fault.

    Elaine did not address the objections in the Letter.

    So what is the next step?

    Remember the Water Rete increase can and will be inacted at anytime without any public input.

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  47. A view to the water bond moneySeptember 26, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    Let's get some comment here. We know we need some sort of an increase to address the failing water infrastructure. What are we talking about? 5%? We also know we're going to be on block for repayment of $23 million in water debt regardless of how the bond money of 1998 and 2003 was spent. What do we think would help? A water oversight committee?

    October 1st is next Friday. We've been told that the increase could come for half of the water rate payers on October 1st.

    We know Kurt Zimmermann et al are working hard to re-notice the rate increase - a do-over if you will. The City Council could agendize that action on Tuesday.

    We know that Councilmember MaryAnn MacGillivray has attempted to agendize a motion to audit the water bonds of 1998 and 2003. Did you see that item on Tuesday night's City Council Agenda?

    If you're reading this blog you have computer access. Write or call members of the City Council and demand the water rate increase not take place on October 1st. Demand the water rate increase be re-noticed and the mechanism for protest be clearly articulated. Demand an audit of the water bonds of 1998 and 2003 including how the bond money was spent.

    We're talking $23 million of our money. Don't be misled by competing hearings and actions of the CC-1. Follow the money.

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  48. $2,000 for every resident of Sierra Madre (woman, man, and child), that's how much $23,000,000 equals. A family of four? $8,000 to retire bond debt. Over and above water infrastructure and your monthly water bill. I don't know about you but I'm very interested in who authorized the spending of the water department's money and what it was spent on.

    There is no denying what the residents owe. $23,000,000. Who put us in this position?

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  49. Geez. If that kind money wasn't spent on the actual Sierra Madre water infrastructure improvement and repair then you've got massive fraud going on.

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  50. Remember that John Buchanan leads the council and directs the city manager. Joe Mosca is the PR guy. John doesn't answer our questions -- he answers questions he thinks will lead us far away from what we want to know and keep himself and the other "6 Mayors" out of jail. Don't fall for Buchanan's answers to our water bond questions and for God's sakes don't fall for his vision of Sierra Madre. Montecito will be an entire block of pricey metrosocial artists lofts and wine bars while we're struggling to pay off the debt.

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  51. These people are in trouble and they know it. Watching them sweat for the next few months will be high entertainment. As anyone who was here during the Measure V election will tell you, these people were not above turning a blind eye to the acts of petty terrorism against Measure V supporters, and it can be suspected that these things were done to enforce their will. Keep that in mind when they now appeal to the community for mercy. The DSP could very well be exposed as having been a criminal enterprise soon.

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  52. Just say no! No more bond debt! No more redevelopment! No more.

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  53. 10:09 I wish it could be so ! Unfortunately "THEY" have the upper hand at this time.What was done to the Residents was fraud and deception,however,the question remains,do we have the resolve to take the necessary action to undo these costly and criminal acts committed against us!!Otherwise it is nothing more than noise and chatter.

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  54. 8:59 am.

    Thanks for you post, we will sure send off email you suggest.

    I urge everyone to please do this.

    It's our money! $$$$$$$$$

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  55. Bombard them with email.

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  56. Now that we know the facts, at least on the surface, we're in a much better position to unite our voices in opposition to a water rate increase based on the blah blah we were given in May. What we need are 2,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls to City Hall this week demanding a re-do of the water rate increase notice. It won't change the dollars owed on the bonds, it won't change the fact that the infrastructure is old, but it'll sure give notice to the City Council that we aren't going to roll over for yet another assault on our pocket books and our intelligence.

    Get that e-mail off today to Elaine, John, Joe, Moran, and Walsh. Don't forget to copy MaryAnn, too! So we know how many e-mails were sent not how many they City says they've received.

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  57. 9:43. It did get pretty ugly didn't it? Dead animals on the Dunns' porch; slashing KZ's tires; blowing up mailboxes; obscene articles in the Cumquat.

    We need to recall that some of the anti-Measure V types including some of the "proponents of civility" were not that civil.

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  58. There's a bunch of great ideas here, and many thanks to those of you who are wringing the truth out of the city council and their hired help.
    But, and a big but, if you are not prepared to carry the ideas into action, to take responsibility for calling, gathering, contacting, xeroxing, paying, walking, keeping track, the ideas stay pretty much on the page.
    Past experience in Sierra Madre has shown that too many of us are idea people, and too few of us take action. And the ones who do take action are tired.

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  59. 2 big differences this time, 1:31. One is Bell. People are now very aware of the consequences of allowing bad government take advantage of their sleeping the city. The other one is it appears that our city lied and covered up in order to get even more of our money. That gets people's attention.

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  60. What I remember most about the Measure V opposition was the work of the PR firm Schubert Flint.
    And the money the Realtors' organizations poured into it.
    I never did hear who ran the PR for the last council elections, who the specialist in smearing was.
    Long range strategy there.

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  61. Your mouth to God's ear 1:39.

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  62. Ooooo 1:40, I think you're right. Every time MacGillvray came out intelligently and forcefully, team Joe was probably ecstatic and working on how to turn her integrity to their advantage.

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  63. Points taken 1:39, but there still have to be people to step up to push.

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  64. Lot going on in the country right now. For better or worse the natives are very restless. And very suspicious of slick talking gummint boys.

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  65. Do you speak cityese?September 26, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Slick talking is right. It's gotten to the point where a translator is needed in order to understand the Mayor's rambling discourse, or the purpose of Walsh's ruminations, or the intention beyond self aggrandizement of Buchanan's verbosity. Moran is clearer because he's "processing relationship"

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  66. Tattlers: Re: 1:04: Take a cue from KFI's John and Ken. When they want to make a point, like sending a chicken to Jerry Brown because he won't come on the show, there is momentum, because everyone is directed to do the same thing. This isn't about reasoned discourse and independent thinking; it's a show of force. IMHO if someone would suggest a form letter, for snail-mail and/or email, with the targeted address, heading, and cc's, give a few days for discussion here, get a sense of the numbers, then such a letter might have the desired effect.

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