But from Sandy Levin it now appears that what we're up for is a hugger-mugger of curveballs and dodges designed to, well, baffle people? That certainly is disconcerting. So what's next, water rates chosen by spinning bingo drums with Vanna White doing the lucky draw?
In today's Pasadena Star News there is an article entitled "Sierra Madre residents charge city violated law in proposed water rate hike." It covers much of what was discussed yesterday here on The Tattler without suffering the embarrassment of actually mentioning the likely source for the story. Which I guess makes us "research." Kurt Zimmerman is interviewed extensively, and he explains exactly how the water rate hike noticing procedure of the City of Sierra Madre was such a perplexing mess. As such being totally out of synch with the requirements of Proposition 218. He also goes on to state that this city's $23 million in water bond indebtedness was the likely driving force behind the steep rate hike the City demanded. A small matter the City decided not to share with us last May 17.
But Sandy Levin appears to be of a different opinion. Here is what she had to say to Brenda Gazzar of the Pasadena Star News:
"The fact that the notice raised questions in people's minds indicates that it did exactly what a notice is supposed to do. It's not supposed to provide all the possible information. It's supposed to provide enough information that it causes people to want to find out more, and that's exactly what it did."
So this Notice was actually supposed to be a kind of puzzle? Perhaps if what was sent out by the City was an invitation to a meeting or an ice cream social that would be more than fine. But under Proposition 218, a voter mandated amendment to the California Constitution, what is actually required is a bit more stringent than Sandy's "mood swing" and "hang loose" approach. Those requirements being a clear accounting of how much the rate hike would actually be, the reason for that rate hike, and the basis for how that charge was calculated. They come directly from Prop 218 itself, and anyone who can read should be able to figure it out.
None of which was adequately covered in the May 17th water rate increase notice sent out by the City. Though it did achieve Sandy's apparent goal of confusing people. Which might account for quite a few of the approximately 2,200 protest forms that inundated City Hall around that time. Most people are not really willing to mix their water bills and Chaos Theory.
You'd have to wonder why the City bothered to send a notification at all. Why not send out something more interesting, like a humorous water rate hike greeting card? Or a "Let's Be Water Friends" bouquet from FTD? Or maybe enlisting some earnest volunteers to travel door to door to recite the following topical poesy?
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Our pipes are real old
So we'll stick it on you!
That would certainly raise the kinds of questions that Sandy deems to be at the heart of a California State Constitutional process for legally raising water rates.
But when things seemed at their very darkest, along came Mayor Joe Mosca to provide some needed comedic relief.
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.
You'd think Joe would have provided a schedule for when it is appropriate to do some letter writing by now. Nobody wants to be premature in sharing their thoughts during an outreach campaign that is supposed to be all about finding out what people are thinking. Though what I do find kind of disturbing here is that the City sent out its questionable water rate increase notification without the Council having had "a policy discussion on the matter."
Maybe city staff was just feeling kind of wacky that day and wanted to use up some old stamps before the postage rates went up again?
"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."
Yes, who would ever want to speak out on an important issue involving the taking of people's money until Joe and the City Council determines what it is we're permitted to talk about.
Only in Sierra Madre ...
Bonus Coverage: The first comment received to this post was so good that I thought I would move it up to the front page.
Deja Vu All Over Again:
Mayor Mosca's comment is actually consistent with his history.
As some may recall, it was "premature" to kill the DSP because he hadn't shoveled enough city cash to his buddies in the development plan business to consider the DSP complete. Who knows, maybe another $500k would have convinced the canyon dwellers that a companion condo canyon on Sierra Madre Blvd. was a good idea.
Result: Seeing the council could not be trusted to responsibly exercise it's discretion over development, the rabble stripped it of that discretion under Measure V (a bad but necessary law). Now it's "premature" to kill this water rate-tax hike which, if sent to the angry rabble, would no doubt fail. Why? Because the idiotic rusty pipe "outreach program" might convince the rabble to tax itself in the middle of a recession. The alternative of confronting our real budget concerns by, say, getting rid of the police department and saving $2 million a year, is too hard for our mayor, who really wants to be loved.
Last Add: The moderator is not thinking like a lawyer. Sandy Levin advocated chaos because it will lead to litigation which the lawyers always win. That's not chaos - it's business generation. Like all Sierra Madre litigation, it will drag on until the city reaches the inevitable conclusion that it can't afford the fees to fight to the death and caves by starting the water process over.
Last Last Add: Are there really people that buy Sierra Madre water bonds? Are they guaranteed by the state or something?