Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Tattler Water Rate Increase "Special Meeting Agenda Packet"

"Tuesday October 19 at 6:30 at City Council Chambers will be devoted to water operations. The meeting is NOT about the bond issue." - Terry Miller, Sierra Madre Weekly

Ever wondered how some City Councilmembers seem to have the most arcane information at the tips of their fingers, and are capable of producing it at the most opportune time? While you, the concerned resident, don't seem to ever have any of that kind of data available to you? Try as you might to find anything of value in our useless local newspapers?

It really isn't a secret. A few days before each meeting Sierra Madre City Councilmembers are supplied with a book of information called an "agenda packet." And in this book you will find just about everything that a full time staff of handsomely remunerated professional city employees can supply on each and every topic to be discussed. City Councilmembers are basically scripted by those seeking their guidance, while you, the conscientious resident, is stuck with little more than the Looney Views News for your research.

If information is power, then the City Council is driving a fully loaded battle tank while you have been equipped with only a plastic trash can lid. The odds are not good.

As any regular attendees to Sierra Madre's City Council meetings can tell you, certain elected officials are not above using that advantage as a prop to confirm their authority. Sometimes to the point of even rubbing folk's noses in it.

But today, dear readers, that all changes. Because, through the natural inquisitiveness of The Tattler, we have obtained a copy of tomorrow evening's "City Council Special Meeting" packet on the water rate hike. I am posting the Agenda Report for your edification. Because knowledge really is power, and here at the Sierra Madre Tattler we like to even things up when we can.

Oh, and I am certain Terry Miller will appreciate the part about water bond debt.

First, here is what little information on this meeting was made available to residents via the City of Sierra Madre website:

1. Discussion Regarding Sierra Madre Water Utility Operations And Water Rate Increase: Recommendation that the City Council provide staff with direction.

That is it for you. Not much in the way of clues. But the City Council Agenda Report, which is available to elected officials, along with the City Manager, Director of Administrative Services and the Director of Public Works, has a lot more information. You could have picked up a copy at City Hall if you had known about it. But did you know that? Not too sure very many do. Why it wasn't posted on the City of Sierra Madre website where most people get their information is a mystery.

Perhaps it was another case of "the legally required least notification possible?"

Here is most of that report. A couple less relevant sections have been excised for the sake of the typist's sanity.

Summary

Since May 2010, the City Council has received a number of reports, reviewed detailed analyses, and initiated a public information program to familiarize Sierra Madre water customers with the operations and financial condition of the City's water department and to obtain input and feedback from the community.

This staff report does not go into the details presented in previous staff reports; instead copies of the water related staff reports have been included as attachments. However, staff is prepared to present any information included in the previous staff reports, should the Council desire.

At the July 27th meeting, the City Council approved a two month long education and public outreach program aimed at:

a) Providing information to the Sierra Madre Community on the City's water utility
b) Responding to questions about the water utility operations, including, but not limited to questions about debt, operational expenditures, Prop 218, etc.
c) Explaining the reasons the City initiated a water rate increase process
d) Engaging the community in a dialog about the City's water utility, water rate increases and the city's future

Staff was directed to return at the end of the two month outreach period. This staff report provides a summary of the input received from five outreach events.

As directed by the Council, tonight's special meeting was intended to provide an additional opportunity to receive input, answer questions, and begin discussion of possible next steps.

Analysis

There were five outreach events held. The events were:

a) August 14th Walk & Talk
b) August 17th Community Water Forum (was also broadcast on SMTV3)
c) September 1st Community Water Forum
d) September 13th Community Water Forum
e) September 29th Walk & Talk

In addition, the following outreach tools were used:

a) Water Fact Sheet inserted in water bills
b) Two postcards mailed to all postal customers (a postcard notifying the public of the outreach events, and a postcard notifying the public of tonight's special water meeting.)
c) Information on the City's website
d) E-mails to subscribers of City's e-mail notification system
e) Surveys were available at all outreach events
f) PSA on SMTV3
g) Staff presentations to community organizations, such as Kiwanis, Senior Lunch program, and Coordinating Committee

Feedback

Staff estimates that a total of 200 individuals attended the five events. The first Walk & Talk on August 14th had the highest turnout, with almost 100 attendees. The remaining 100 individuals were spread out over the other four events.

(Ed: Within that 200 figure, did City Staff include the school children that were invited on those "Walk & Talks?" How about those non-rate payers living in senior housing? Or people already predisposed to the City Council's desire for a water rate hike? If this slim sampling is what they are taking as proof of community approval for a water rate hike, then I think skepticism about some of the conclusions reached below is in order.)

Overall, the vast majority of attendees rated these events as "excellent" and "very useful." There were definite "themes" that occurred at each of the events. Below is a summary of the main themes; "majority" reflects that these comments were heard frequently, and from a majority of individuals in attendance; "minority" reflects that the comment was stated by a few individuals in attendance (less than 3 individuals), and/or was stated infrequently (not stated at every meeting.)

To summarize the main themes:

Majority:
a) Comprehension of the necessity for a water rate increase, however "the 15% increase" the first year was "too high."
b) Water rates should be increased; there hasn't been a water rate increase in years; all other utilities have increased in cost.
c) The events were useful, informative, interesting, professional and well done.
d) The City is doing a good job of providing information, all available media/outlets are being used.
e) If there was a plan to increase water rates gradually over the past five years, why weren't the rates increased?
f) Appreciation of the city's outreach efforts and the information; there was a lot of misinformation.
g) Preference that the City maintain control over its water system; local control is best.

Minority:
a) Comprehension of the necessity for a water rate increase, and the City should proceed with the rate increase originally proposed in July.
b) Form an assessment district to raise funds for debt repayment and capital, instead of a water rate increase (preferred because of the income tax deduction). Would result in lower water rate increase to cover ongoing, day-to-day operations.
c) More printed materials/handouts would have been helpful.
d) It would be helpful to have more information regarding the water rate tiers.
e) The City should host a picnic to draw residents out for an information session.
f) Sell the water utility to a private water company; city should not be in the "water business."
g) Eliminate tiered meter rates.
h) Cost differential between the water rate tiers should be more significant; could result in a lower 1st tier cost and would also encourage water conservation; people who use more water should pay more.
i) Concerns that water conservation/reduced sales would precipitate another rate increase.
j) Comprehension that a rate increase was necessary; preference that a lower increase be instituted in year 1, progressing to higher percentage increases in out years, i.e.: Year 1 = 3%, Year 2 = 5%, Year 3 = 7%....this would permit adjustment to household budgets.
k) Water fund should go bankrupt so the debt will be erased.
l) There should not be any water rate increase.

(Ed: I guess they saved the best one for last. 200 attendees - some elementary school age, some living in retirement housing - versus the over 2,000 people who signed water protest forms and petitions. Who also apparently did not show up for the dogs and ponies. 10 to 1 is a very negative ratio, and I doubt it's the kind of result they were looking for.)

(Ed: And now we get to water bond debt part ...)

There were questions regarding the Water Fund debt at each of the events. After questions were answered, the majority of individuals at the events did not continue to perceive the debt as excessive or with a negative connotation. However, there were a few individuals who expressed a major concern about the water utility debt. Because debt was the subject of frequent questions, general information about the water department is included in this staff report.

(Ed: As obviously slanted towards increasing water rates as staff's "agenda report" is, this portion is the most obviously cooked up. And again, it is based on small turnouts at City run events designed to sell the water rate hike. Some of the very real concern over water bond debt stems from it having been left out of the May 17th Proposition 218 mandated water increase notification. Which many in town regard as a flagrant violation of the spirit of that law. This question was raised at these events. The non-inclusion of that information here is a clear indication of City Hall's continued refusal to face up to the consequences of their bad faith.)

The City's Water Fund currently has two bonds and one SGCMWD loan outstanding. The 1998 Refunding Bonds are refinanced debt. This is similar to an individual who refinances their mortgage and takes the equity out under a new 30 year mortgage. The terms are principal and interest (5%) until 2019. In 2003, when it became apparent that the City had Federal Funds available to do Capital Improvements to the water infrastructure, the City issued new debt; because for each dollar provided by a Federal Grant, the City had a dollar match requirement. The terms of the debt are interest only (5%) until 2019 and principal and interest (5%) 2020 - 2034. To receive the interest only terms, the bank required a revenue covenant of 120% operational income. The covenant is security to the "second mortgage" that the water Fund would remain financially healthy throughout the terms of the debt and that the City Water Fund would meet its obligations.

The City may only withdraw the bond proceeds after demonstrating to the bond trustee that the City (water utility) has eligible expenditures. The City's Water Fund, eligible expenses are limited to Water Capital Infrastructure as mentioned above. The City submits a claim to the bond trustee which includes invoices and payment information and the City is reimbursed for those expenditures.

The third outstanding debt in the Water Fund is an interest free 10 year term loan from the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (SGVMWD) for $1,456,875. The FY 2009-11 Budget documents reflect the first payment was due July 1, 2010; however, the SGVMWD provided and one year extension on the loan postponing the first payment until July 1. 2011.

(Ed: This is followed by a large chart that breaks down the overall debt, both bond and loaned. The total figure owed as of June 30th comes out to around a still immense $19 million dollars, or about $4 million less than we have been reporting on this site. The discrepancy could be due to payments having been made that are not yet accounted for in the Sacramento reports that we had been quoting. That and City Hall has yet to supply us with the information asked for under the California Public Records Act. Not bad for DIY, though. Remember, unlike the people stiffing us on the 2003 water bond information, The Tattler is still lacking for a fulltime taxpayer supported staff.)

Conclusion

This report provides a summary of the input received from various community outreach events. At tonight's meeting, the Council will receive additional input from the public. Based upon all the input received, the Council could provide staff with policy direction regarding possible next steps.

This really is kind of a wacky attempt at propping up an unpopular water rate hike. Apparently a very small minority of Sierra Madre residents showed up at City events designed to market this water rate hike, with 4 out the 5 events drawing only an average of 25 people. No indication is given if these were water rate payers, or casual folks out to check out the city pump house. As schoolkids and people living in retirement housing - and therefore not rate payers - were trundled out to these events to keep up appearances, then that 200 number would have to be regarded as specious. And when you consider that some of the actual rate payers present might have been there out of support for a City Council they are politically in bed with, the validity of this slender sampling decreases to almost nothing.

To me this represents another obvious attempt to circumvent the will of city rate payers on the matter of higher water costs. That City Hall needed to cook up a consensus is hardly a sign of strength. But that said, the blithe illegality of the City's Proposition 218 water rate increase notification process, especially on the refusal to name water debt as a contributing cause for the rate increase, will in the end render all of this silliness (to use a term with ironic intent) moot.

Bonus Coverage: So what in the name of all that is good and pure in life is this all about?

Attached at the end of the City's paper pile is something that many of us had been asking for, but somehow never received. Maybe now we know why. Listed in this report are the water infrastructure items that City Hall identified as needing funding from the rate hike and related Federal grants. Here is how those sentiments are worded:

The Public Works department has identified the following needs in Water Infrastructure improvements; however, due to the concerns about the City's ability to meet its current operational expenses, all projects are listed as unfunded.

The list has a lot of water infrastructure related expenses, some of them quite costly. Including $17 million for a "SGVMWD pipeline." But also listed are these two items:

Reconstruction of Library - estimated @ $7,000,000. (Reconstruction?)

Remodel front counters at City Hall - estimated cost is $50,000.

Not exactly sure how either one of these fits into "Water Infrastructure improvements." But a $50,000 City Hall front counter must be something truly hot. Does it come with tiki torches?

74 comments:

  1. thanks for slogging through this and giving us the highlights

    do they dare give staff direction to go forward this illegal rate hike?

    if so, bye, bye gang 'o four!

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  2. Interesting post about what happened in Banning, how, in violation of prop 218 they used $14 million from water bonds to pay for a new police station.

    The city councils in bed with developers need to be stopped or they'll just keep stealing.

    http://www.thebanninginformer.com/?page_id=2356

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  3. I know why the $7 million for a library is part of a list for
    water infrastructure. If it is built it would be "underwater."
    Just like the finances of the town dumb enough to build it.

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  4. Check this out from Banning and read it all...sound a little familiarOctober 18, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    What Botts is not telling you is that Proposition 218 requires a vote by the people for any diversion of funds from a water bond to any purpose other than water related expenditures. Prop 218 was put in place (1996) for a reason : it was implemented in order for the people to control taxation and to ensure that water related utility fees and indebtedness were not used for things that have no relation to water. People were sick and tired of being charged higher and higher utility rates ( sound familiar ?) without the money going to the utility operations themselves.

    With that said, what Prop 218 was aiming to stop is exactly the kind of abuse that has been occurring in Banning. The City Council used the water bond proceeds to build their “Taj Mahal”, the $ 14 million dollar police station. For all intents and purposes, the money used for the Police station was stolen from the taxpayer. So forget Botts’ lame excuses : “public hearings” and “proper notice “ . They do not justify theft – they never have and they never will. Bob Botts and the rest of the City Council : you broke the law !

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  5. All the Mayors are working together in Southern Cal. Where do they get all these rotten ideas?

    SCAG!

    Oh, no I forgot Joe never attended SCAG. He and John are naturally born crooks. Is that why they are referred to as a gang. Must be fun to just keep breaking the law and wait until you get caught.

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  6. The city spent all that money and time on these five walk & talks and all they got was 200 people to show up? Kids and seniors included? How much did they spend mailing those post cards? Printing up all their crap? What was that, about $30 a person? They'd have had more luck if they'd just paid people to isten to them.

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  7. People of Sierra Madre!
    Please don't allow this gang of 4 regime (even worse than the 2003 "shenanigan years") to "move forward".
    My God, people, it's your town. Save it.
    Thank you John Crawford for your honest reporting.
    Thank you for caring and looking out for all of us.
    Like MaryAnn MacGillivray, you DON't HAVE TO DO THIS, there is NOTHING IN THIS FOR YOU, but a desire to save Sierra Madre and do the right thing.
    If the people lose their town "moving forward" with this regime, they must take responsibility.
    You tried, John, Kurt, Don, and MaryAnn. You tried Canyon Zone committee, you didn't have to, but you did. THANK YOU.

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  8. The free press lives in Sierra Madre. Hallelujah!

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  9. $50,000 for a counter in City hall? No wonder they need to sell more bonds!

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  10. Where is the outrage over $7,000,000 for Buchanan's library? Paid for out of the water bonds no less! $50K for a new counter is peanuts compared to $7 mil for library upgrades. No wonder they were keeping all of this so quiet. Chances are no infrastructure would have been repaired. It would all have gone for bond debt, $17 mil for a SGVMWD pipeline, $7 mil for a library, $50K for a counter, and millions in "unfunded" infrastructure upgrades.

    For eight years John Buchanan has been working hand in glove with Rob Stockly and the gang of bandits known as the former mayors to build a new library in spite of worldwide financial disasters not to mention no interest on the part of Sierra Residents to pay homage to Johnny B's years of sitting on his thumb at the dias.

    If this outrage doesn't get you to the Council Chambers on Tuesday night, what will it tate?

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  11. $19 mil admitted to by the City as the bond indebtedness; $17 mil for the MWD pipeline; $7 mil for a new library; no new repairs, no operating costs, no common sense, no oversight, no transparency.

    Which one of Buchanan's supporters is going to get the contract to build the library? To whom does he owe for supporting him these last few years.

    Which developer is pushing for the new MWD pipeline? Not the onesie twosie buy the plans from the back of Home Building magazine, the likes of which swarm over any vacant lot. These are the CRA groupies looking to tear down and build in their own image the likes of Montecito, Howies, Alverno, and the Monastery. Who are they? When will they crawl out from under their rocks?

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  12. I'm puzzled by what kind of counter you get for $50,000. Is it
    marble?

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  13. Tighten your helmet strapsOctober 18, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    In answer to 7:30 am, the new counter which they propose is not just a counter but 1" transparent plexiglass windows which, as we all know, are designed to absorb the shock of bullets. It's a sad day for Sierra Madre when City Hall is turned into an impenetrable fortress.

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  14. Went to Monrovia City Hall to get a passport renewed and enjoyed the treatment of professional staff, ready to direct you to the proper department, ready to help behind a very old counter just inside the front door. It's in the lighting. Nice, warm lighting that makes people happy to work there. Makes people happy to go there. The Sierra Madre City Hall staff are nice people, too. But there has always been something different going on and I have never been able to figure it out. Years ago when I went first went to City Hall for information, I always felt that I was interupting somethng. That it was a chore for the staff to look up and help me. Not much has changed except that micromanaging added the "wait here for someone to help you" signs that went up. It is that damn fish bowl that they work in and that horrid lighting.

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  15. 7:45 -- I'm going to have to assume that the feared origin of those bullets are the offices located immediately to city hall's west. I believe process is called "Fifing" the guns. Happens at shift changes.

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  16. Tighten your helmet strapsOctober 18, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    Dear 7:56 am, may I point out to you that "our city hall" does not really belong to us but is owned by the CRA. To suggest that we use our $50,000 of hard earned tax money to supply mood lighting makes me wonder whether you are a licensed electrician.

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  17. Lava lamps would be a nice touch.

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  18. This attempt by city staff to present opposition to the water rate hike as a minority opinion based on the turnout at water walks is absurd. If anything they showed that those willing to turn out at these events were in the minority. And a very small one at that.

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  19. The counter is a Davis-Bacon Act bid, which is why public expenditures cost so much.
    Davis-Bacon is based upon prevailing wage rates, determined by union construction costs.
    Davis Bacon Act is a legal way to screw the public, rather than competitive private bids.
    It's your government, run by organized labor.

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  20. Sierra Madre has a bloated City Administration, Police Force, and requires expensive fire fighting equipment. It failed in the past to identify the manditory capitol and expense priorities and to budget accordingly, necessitating the use of bonds to bridge the gap. Council egos, real estate and developer greed preempt sound financial planning and execution.

    Now the kitty has run out and those with the "bad habits" are again looking for "freebies", ie. bonds, water taxes, increased fees to cover their collective buts and deliver on promises to speculative investors.

    The tax payers of Sierra Madre have had enough!
    "Tomfoolery" will not be tolerated again. Either get those reoccuring expenses and capitol needs funded from existing revenue sources or "GET OUT" FAST!

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  21. I can't count how many times citizens have gotten up at the city council meetings and elsewhere and stated that the tiered meter rates (size of the meter) is unfair and unreasonable. Some households must have a larger meter to get water pressure, not because they use more water as Bruce Inman contends. It just doesn't make sense.
    Yet, this issue is listed as a "minority" comment.

    This really proves that the city is not really listening to us, they are just giving lip service to placate us.

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  22. maybe it's time that we realize that the Sierra Madre library has run it's course

    I am a regular, but for 7 million dollars, I can drive to Hastings Ranch and pick up a book or two

    In this day and age, only a idiot of a politician would think that spending 7 million dollars on a library that services...what maybe a couple thousand people at best...is a good idea

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  23. As the average Sierra Madrean weathers the
    worst economic turndown since the Great
    Depression, City Hall continues to act like
    we somehow not only owe them a living, but
    must do so on their terms as well. Why are
    they so vital to use that they can dictate terms? Wouldn't we do just fine without
    them?

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  24. Beuller. Bueller. Anybody. Anybody. . . .October 18, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Can't we use the $7 million we borrowed to fix the pipes? Or do we have to waste it on the John Buchannan Books on Paper Anachronos Library?

    And I am always encouraged when City Staff judges an unmitigated success City Staff's efforts to push through the water tax increase! They need a raise!

    Though, perhaps, one might be a bit less effusive with the praise in light of the fact that STAFF PROPOGANDA DID NOT WORK ON THE 1700 RUBES WHO SIGNED THE TAX PROTEST FORMS.

    Where do they find these city worker types?

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  25. I know! Let's keep the library as it is and layoff a couple of librarians. Staff it with volunteers.

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  26. This whole water walk and talk is very much like the Downtown Specific Plan dog and pony show that suddenly had all the folks attending as being in favor of the DSP. And don't forget - it may not be 200 indivdiduals, it could be more than one person attending multiple times. 200 people is less than 1% of the water rate payers who were invited to pay a 40% increase and I'll bet of the 200 many were children who neither pay nor vote.

    Let's get real people. If you don't show up tomorrow night then you better just send in your check to fund the Council's legacy.

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  27. thats 7,000,000, folks, 7,000,000 ! out of the water fund,for what!!! bullet proof glass for the library! buchanan thinks we are all fools!

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  28. Hey "helmet" if you take from what I said about workplace lighting as being a liscensed electrician you need to take some time to work on reading comprehension. Thanks for the professional upgrade from retired to electrician, however.

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  29. Feral Children on the Sierra Madre Rock Candy MountainOctober 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    It is obvious the city staff are puky, lying want to keep their job sychophants to the city manager. Your city manager has engaged in a public smear campaign against the citizens from the moment she was overhead saying "they will never get enough signatures" when the water issue surfaced. It/She/They contrived to use a protest letter versus a real vote as you were entitled to under prop 218. She sets and manipulates policy. That report tone setter guide to the city council is like handing a waffle dripping with extra butter, syrup, and mounds of whip cream to a diabetic.

    The days of California being like a Banana Split with everything federal fundings is over for a while. The can "I have extra Bond sprinkles" and extra general obligation bond gummies are gobbled up. All concensus units are tightening their belts. The cities are still acting the part of gluttonous sugar eaters and we are worrying about a cup of Mac and Cheese and a drink of water. If they are funding addicts, you must intervene and help them recover from their addiction, call it tough love. The city council might be human if you separated it from the city staff, attorney, and manager.

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  30. Nope. You've got it backwards 11:35. Clearly you don't live here; you're not one of us. The City Council, the CC-1, isn't human.

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  31. A @ 9:08--Davis and Bacon were Republican elected officials in 1931 who put forward the idea that men (and women) should be paid a fair wage, especially if the projects they worked on were paid for by the hard-earned tax money that funded these projects.

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  32. Went to one of the "water walks" as I wanted to hear the speel and see who was there--maybe 25-30 people. Did not report on it as it was better to stay in the background. Sent another family member to one of their "water talks" at the YAC--4-6 members of the public, others in attendance were staff. Still, I will never believe that we did not have enough signatures. The whole "who could sign--who could represent the water usage at a particular meter" was manipulated from start to finish.

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  33. the reason only 200 people showed up for water walk and talk is because once the city staff, attorney and 4 of our CouncilMembers were caught blatantly lying about the original tax hike proposal, what's the point of listening to more lies and half-truths?

    the walk and talk was just another scam

    it's gotta bug Buchanan for him to know that an overwhelming majority of his neighbors consider him to be a liar and only on the Council to benefit his employer and his swollen ego

    we already knew that Mosca was a liar and was on the Council for himself

    Josh Moran admitted publically that he wants to use his Council position to appoint his friends and associates to city committees

    still can't figure out what Nancy Walsh wants or can contribute. she hasn't said anything that makes sense or shows any rational train of thought

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  34. I didn't go on the walk and talk.

    Did the city staff answer questions about the original lie they told us?

    And why they are still avoiding the truth?

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  35. Tuesday night's meeting will be based on a number of fibs. The biggest being that they have built a consensus for a water rate hike. They have done no such thing. They just got a handful of their friends down to hang around the water works for an hour or so.

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  36. We've had over 330 "page views" (Googlese for hits) in the last two hours. Don't know where we got picked up today, but this is big old traffic for our wee little bloggy thing.

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  37. I only pray everyone in Sierra Madre gets this information, Crawford.
    I pray they will act on it, once and for all.
    This should never be happening.
    With all the difficulties facing people these days, we don't need a dishonest and/or inept gang of 4.

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  38. according to john buchanan and joe mosca, a consensus is whatever they want

    how long are we going to allow buchanan and mosca to continue to lie to us?

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  39. the reason the hits may have gone up on the blog is Terry Miller keeps visting so he can copy and paste news for his editorials

    u know he reads this because he can't get his own research done

    both he and Henderson have never met facts they didn't despise

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  40. Good point, 4:28. Newspapers regard reading blogs as research. Of course, since nobody reads Terry's papers any more, it doesn't really matter what he cribs from.

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  41. Maybe with a new 7 million dollar library we can dedicate the toilets to John Buchanan?

    It appears that most of his ideas belong there.

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  42. THE PEOPLES OCT 19, CC MEETING AGENDA

    BY COUNCIL RULE YOU GET 3 MINUTES TO "GET THE EAR", OF OUR REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNING BODY. ONCE AN OPINION HAS BEEN EXPRESSED", (NO ONE MAY BE REPETITIVE, EVEN THOUGH OVER 2,000 RESIDENTS EXPRESSED THE SAME IDEA THROUGH THE PROTEST), "YOUR THREE MINUTES MAY NOT BE DELEGATED"

    PLEASE REFER TO THE AGENDA OF THE SPECIAL MEETING FOR AN EXPLINATION OF "PUBLIC COMMENT", "PUBLIC COMMENT FOR ITEMS ON THE AGENDA:", "PUBLIC COMMENT FOR ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA" and "ACTION ITEMS", "DISCUSSION REGARDING SIERRA MADRE WATER UTILITY OPERATIONS AND WATER RATE INCREASE", "PUBLIC COMMENT", PUBLIC HEARING INTERESTED PARTIES GET 10 MINUTES"

    And that folks is the Council's Rules of Order if you understand them.

    Not on the Agenda:
    * Water Bond Indebitedness
    * Prop 218 requirements for full
    financial disclosure
    * The protest list which was a list that
    became a partial list, from a City Mgr
    list that didn't just quite produce the
    required signatures
    * The detailed water infrastructure needs
    by item and the detailed budget that
    will be applied to those needs.
    * Discussion of the existing bonded
    indebitedness of 10, 19, 23 million,
    who knows for sure? (you would think
    that this item would be discussed first)
    * Discussion of the general recession that
    is causing cities all over CA and the
    Nation to curtail expenses, reduce
    services, reduce staff, (not to mention
    the "for lease" signs popping up allover
    our close by neighbors, and how that
    might influence our financial decisions)

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  43. Looks like the Rooster has posted a mountain of water rate agenda stuff over on his site.

    I wonder, what brought that on? That's a lot of activity for such a lazy daisy.

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  44. I knew that the agenda packets could be looked over (not taken away-old rules?) from city hall & maybe the library - but god almighty, how much time does a plain old resident have to give to monitor the city administration?
    See, that's what trustworthy council members are supposed to do....
    And walking into city hall is never a pleasant experience - they all look startled and anxious.

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  45. City Hall is dangerous if ignored.

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  46. I'ma wonderin if the residents of Allegria should be billed for the police overtime for Halloween?

    Maybe the Police Chief should put a stop to the Allegria Halloween festivites like she stopped the water pistols on the 4th of July parade.

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  47. poor ole Rooster.

    it's sort of sad that he posts things on his site and he's the only one that ever reads it

    i've never seen somebody that can write a 1,000 word essay and never make a single point

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  48. For Rootster, Terry, Patchy, Harriet, and all the rest: It just isn't news until you see it on The Tattler.

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  49. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesOctober 18, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    The city staff apparently does not have modern scanning equipment, so it's not "another case of "the legally required least notification possible?" But lets spend the bucks on the scanning upgrades so that we can encourage transparency and make all info easily available to residents. How about if we find the money for the equipment as we downsize staff?

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  50. doesn't our Librarian make over 90k a year?

    for such a tiny library serving a small town and we've got 3 or 4 other libraries within 15 minutes of Sierra Madre, isn't a library sort of a waste of resources?

    John Buchanan won't stop until he's got something named after him to satisfy his twisted ego

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  51. I always thought that city staff could be replaced by a computer. Because every time I call them about something they tell me I can find it on line.

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  52. It's the Belva Plain collection at our library, 4:54. It is one of the biggest west of the Mississippi.

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  53. so, what I gather from the hidden small fine print is that John Buchanan was once again lying to us?

    he's been trying to shove a new library down our throat for the past 7 years and in all the time I've spent in the library, I've never seen him in the library

    please tell the 50k remodel of our city hall counters is a joke?

    we've got some serious idiots (mosca, buchanan, moron and walsh) on our council and some flat out liars in our city staff

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  54. Sounds like Mosca was giving minority comments:
    "The City should host a picnic to draw residents out for an information session."

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  55. I especially liked how they ranked "there should be no water rate hike" at the very bottom of the "minority" list.

    So do you think city hall will begin to segregate water rate minorities in Sierra Madre? Will we have "Rate Hike Supporter Only" water fountains?

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  56. I admit that I am not conversant with the ways of municipal government, but why are projects like 7,000,000 library redoings and city hall front counter prettifying in the water works?

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  57. I know some out of work Sierra Madre craftsmen who would do a great job on the counters - and probably for hundreds, not thousands. What a disgrace these projects would be at those prices.

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  58. middlin memory skillsOctober 18, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    Is the "$17 million for a "SGVMWD pipeline." the very one that Bart Doyle pushed and Joe Mosca voted for the night he was sworn in the first time?

    If so, good. Sounds like there wasn't enough money to end many decades of our independence even though the politicos intended to.

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  59. Beware false Gods.

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  60. The way the billing system is now, people who use more, pay more.
    So the need for the tiers was????

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  61. Just you wait, at 7:29, poses a question that shows experience with city hall:
    "Which one of Buchanan's supporters is going to get the contract to build the library?"
    My, my, my, Fred Wesley's library redo, is still online at PBWS, under projects, then Institutional, page 6.

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  62. no doubt coincidentalOctober 18, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Hum. Fred Wesley is a strong supporter of the water rate increase. The "You'll regret it when all your pipes burst" kind.

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  63. It's safe to say that the Sierra Madre city Council is a failed governmental institution. We must severely limit ability to spend.

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  64. solvency? We don't need no stinking solvencyOctober 18, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    All you need to know about the staff's council-driven position:
    "After questions were answered, the majority of individuals at the events did not continue to perceive the debt as excessive or with a negative connotation."

    Debt, negative?

    Nah, it's just a multi-generational romp in fiscal adventuring.

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  65. 12:35 I never try to post like I live there. I may not be one of you as in a resident, but I am a Tatt. Have been since Titan, and you can have my John Crawford for council sign back when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.

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  66. Hey Tattered, I think your posts are great and look forward to reading them. I just read the original back & forth, and think the point was Target accuracy - our city staff is not wicked. They are just people who have chosen careers in city government, and they will follow what the mayor and the council tell them to follow. The power in this town is not with the staff, it's with the council. We like to keep our eyes on the real source of the threats to Sierra Madre.

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  67. Wanda the fortune teller says that tomorrow night the CC-1 will regretfully announce a new water rate hike, because golly gee and shucks, we have to do it or we'll lose our paramedics, our police department and our library.

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  68. The City Council will have to explain how 200 people at water walks carry a lot more weight than the 2,000 who signed water protests.

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  69. You forget 8:40, the 2,000 were operating in a pitiful state of ignorance about water. They have now been properly schooled.

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  70. Weird about a new library. Can the G4 actually READ??? They belong with the Rethugs: Sharron Engel, Christine O'Donnell & Michelle Bachman. Not to mention the other nuts who only care about money and power and pretend it is about you. But, cover it all up with divisive Christianity and Knowledge of the constitution.

    It has spread all over. Ignorance and fear. Betcha none of the above give a heck about libreries.

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  71. In the mind of Joe Mosca, the good people who agree with him are worth 10 times the bad people who don't.

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  72. A lesson in getting dunked?October 18, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    That edjamakaytion outreach was to school residents all right - watch the rusty old pipe so you don't see my hand in your pocket.

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  73. 8:28, I did not mean to imply wickedness, I simply observed the majority minority statements and remembered the pictures of the staff members in the papers doing a recount, holding an example of a bad protest letter, staged for and toward the cities benefit. I have observed in my city a change with a new mayor, new city manager, new police cheif, and two new council people and a temporary new interim city attorney. All that stemmed from the Titan debacle. The other half of that debacle exists in Sierra Madre with Doyle. My mips is certain that at the bottom of that misplaced or misappropriated money of unexplained bond debt especially the SGVMWD part (Leung was on the water board) will prove collusion and malfeisense. Perhaps it was the casual way they used a homeowner with a mortage refinancing and removing equity, like it was not tantamount to a thousand homeowners who are being foreclosed on. The city staff works for the city manager, in conjunction with the city council. You are asking for transparency, the city manager is handing you a smokey mirror.

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  74. The two month propaganda period is designed to help the City take advantage of a statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit against the City for its misconduct during the rate hike proceedings. How can they be sued if they haven't harmed anyone by actually raising the rates? Pretty wild thinking . . .

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