Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Agenda Man Asks: Will the Water Rate Increase Take Place Tonight At Midnight?

And the answer to that one is if tonight's City Council meeting agenda stays the way it is now, yes, it very well could. In the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness, when it is late and nobody will be watching, at the bitter end of what will likely be a very long meeting, when they've reached the final item on a 9 item meeting agenda, the G4 Council will vote into place the water rate hike that they have been attempting to pass for over 6 months. Which makes this about as appalling an example of bad leadership as our little town has seen since, well, the 2004 approval for development at One Carter. Which over six years later has yet to see the construction of one single solitary home.

Now you probably remember from two weeks ago that the instruction the G4 Council gave to City Staff was to go forth and create a new grid of water rate hike options that would reflect the requirements for properly servicing the 2003 Water Bond debt. Sierra Madre being out of compliance with the covenant requirements for maintaining 120% of what is owed at the moment, or something. A menu of three ala carte options is what staff was asked to provide, and I will share a little bit of each of them with you shortly.

In light of everything that has happened over what's been 6 long months of some truly rank deception on this matter, it is only fitting that the final decision by the G4 Council on raising our water rates should take place at the end of a meeting that encompasses more agenda items than we have seen in months. Which means that the final vote on this water rate increase won't take place until around midnight, when the town is fast asleep.

Apparently the G4 Council prefers to do this bit of work when there is nobody around to watch.

Perhaps you also recall there was an undetermined amount of time provided for returning with this menu of options. The tall tale being that since City Staff would need to go back and consult the consultant, it could take a little time. Something that perhaps helped to ease some of the tension in town, giving folks the sense that this matter would take a while and we wouldn't have to sweat it out so soon.

Well, such is the way with dreams. It turns out that all the consultant needed to do was plug into his computer a few new numbers, print out the results, and then slap it on the usual boilerplate. Probably took all of a half a day. Certainly City Staff knew this, as I suspect did the G4. And that what had been alluded to as something further down the road turned out to be when the next City Council meeting was scheduled to take place.

All of which fits the way the G4 Council works. Nothing is ever completely on the level with these guys.

So just how deceptive has this so-called process been in regards to the water rate hike? First it was supposedly about the state of the City's plumbing, and that extra cash was needed to repair some funky pipes. Then came the water rate protest, which led to City Staff arbitrarily throwing out 250 or so protest forms signed by real Sierra Madre residents. Which they figured was enough to get them out from under Prop 218. Then it was revealed right here on The Tattler that the actual reason for raising our water rates was not the pipes after all, but to help the City cope with $19 million dollars in bond debt. Which forced the G4 to swap out their story, and quite abruptly. Something they did without even blinking an eye.

And now, of course, we know that it wasn't just about bond debt, either. Rather it is also about improving the financial profile of Sierra Madre so that our bond rating can be returned to the AAA status we lost in 2004 when City Hall forgot how to do its paperwork. Something very important to Mayor Mosca as he pushes to sell even more bonds. Sewer, street and, of course, water infrastructure bonds. All so he can provide the kinds of amenities needed to enable the Los Angeles style high-density development that brought him to our town in the first place.

But let me ask you this. You do know that this is also a matter of protecting General Fund moneys, right? The bond debt will have to be paid no matter what, and the money found somewhere. And that demand could become so great in a few years that things like staff cutbacks and reductions in service would have to be considered.

Government always takes care of its own first.

So what are the three water rate increase possibilities that will be offered for the G4 City Council's consideration this evening? Here is the heart of the matter, taken from the menu of options created for them to choose from.

Option 1: This option provides five years' of equal increases with the 1.20 bond covenant requirement satisfied in year five. Establishment of the different tiers requires an initial increase of 7.26% from the current rate to reach Tier 2 and an initial increase of 8.94% to reach Tier 3. Once the tiers are established the annual increases match the Tier 1 increases at 4.19%.

Option 1 results in a cumulative five-year increase of 22.78% - 28.38% depending on the customer's consumption tier.

Option 2: This option provides five years' of equal increases with the 1.20 bond covenant requirement satisfied in year three. Establishment of the different tiers requires an initial increase of 8.38% from the current rate to reach Tier 2 and an initial increase of 10.06% to reach Tier 3. Once the tiers are established the annual increases match the Tier 1 increases at 5.66%.

Option 2 results in a cumulative five-year increase of 31.69% - 37.18% depending on the customer's consumption tier.

Option 3: This option provides five years' of equal increases with the 1.20 bond covenant requirement satisfied in year two. Establishment of the different tiers requires an initial increase of 10.06% from the current rate to reach Tier 2 and an initial increase of 11.73% to reach Tier 3. Once the tiers are established the annual increases match the Tier 1 increases at 7.54%.

Option 3 results in a cumulative five-year increase of 43.83% - 49.43% depending on the customer's consumption tier.

So there you are. Do recall that back on May 11 the proposal then called for a 5 year increase of 32.95% to 37.42%. And since the G4 cannot give approval to anything above that rate without (in their City Attorney dependent minds) triggering Prop 218 again, the chances of them approving that rather jumbo Option 3 increase is nil. I suspect it is only there so John Buchanan can lower his glasses and humbug, "Now that is what we should be approving on financial grounds, but because we are in a difficult economic environment I don't believe we ought to." Which will immediately set those very compassionate Bobbleheads to bobbling, I'm sure.

Now Option 2 is only a fraction below the May 11 proposal, yet given the G4's desire to cut the voice of the rate payers out of the equation by eliminating Prop 218, this one could be approved. But I'm not sure that would appeal to Mayor Mosca's sensibilities. He does need to be liked, and it might seem rather uncivil to hit this town with basically the same increase that caused all the hubbub in the first place.

So my money is on Option 1. This will enable the G4 to posture about their kindness and concern for "doing the right thing" in these troubled times. You know, like they are giving us a gift. And that would still help to get that bond rating up to where they want it to be.

All so they can spend this town into far worse debt than it has now. Because from the very beginning it really was all about money and real estate development, and precious little else.



  1. You could place Point A three feet from Point B and it would
    still take the Gang of Four a mile to make the trip.

  2. Thank you for your summery of the "The Great Swindle of 2010".The city's timing is flawless. Coming at the time of pending hyper inflation in the basic commodities as in food and gas.Now we can add water.All politicians small or large like to build monuments to themselves so they can be remembered.Trust me Gang Of 4,you Will be Remembered,not fondly but as shoddy,servile courtiers to special interest.

  3. Joe doesn't just want to bring in the kind of development he's told us
    he is against. He also wants to get us to pay to make it possible. What
    a great leader Joe is!

  4. Sharpen the sticksNovember 9, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    This is grim, Agenda Man. I want wit, biting humor. I want to wake up to meaningful metaphors with just a hint of rascality. I don't want grim. You make it sound as if the water rate increase is a done deal... I suppose it is, isn't it? Is there a take away here? Well, we made CC-1 cower in fear for two weeks while the protest letters were being counted. The very fact that we garnered 2,000 names in the protest through some very hard work by dedicated Tattlers. And that we've packed the City Council Chambers several times in the six months since this all started.

    Well if tonight's a done deal, let's get on with the next step! I'm in.

  5. We need to pack the room tonight. This is outrageous.

  6. Did you mean:RECALL, 7:00 AM?

  7. Packing the room means they brustle their feathers and do what they want with arrogance and narcissism. Next Fox will ask them to join them where they belong. They do not care about the people, they care about big business.

  8. I know I speak for myself when I say it's not the rate increase, it's the process the CC-1 went through. I hope when they announce Option 1 they include an apology to we the people for lying to us in the first place, trying to pull the wool over our eyes. And then I hope they burn in hell.

  9. You'd think being Joe would be punishment enough. What he thinks
    he is going to get out of squandering the most productive years of
    his life doing this kind of nonsense is beyond me.

  10. I direct you to his campaign literature of earlier this year, 7:28 am. Joe will spin these eight years to show productivity rivaling Mother Teresa and Ronald Reagan.

  11. The rate hike was a done deal the night Sandy Levin said that it was the right of the council to raise rates up to the amount they announced in July. The night the protest letters were deemed insufficient.

  12. in public comment ask for 9 on the agenda to be at the beginning of the meeting,and for are water commission to be put on the next agenda before any water raises be put on the citizens .
    i want to know why we are a half a million dollars over are covenant and how we got there, and were we are going . a open to the public commission is fair and transparent and the right thing to do

  13. Joe's big vision for Sierra Madre is getting us into more debt than
    the city can sustain. Which will probably qualify him for a job in

  14. 7:49, if Sierra Madre politics teaches us anything, it is that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

  15. Good call Sir Eric. Option 1 will satisfy the "golly gee we didn't want to but we have to for your own good" lie.

  16. I disagree with one point in the report.
    Council member Buchanan will not be so pithy.
    In fact the 10 minute explination that rolls out will no doubt begin with something along the lines of:
    Now folks, I've struggled with this and it comes down to the role of leadership, the responsibilities of the community and the blah blahblahblahblahblahblah....

  17. This is a DIRTY trick of the worst kind.
    The bobblehead gang of 4 fully intends to pass this horrible water rate hike at midnight where no one will be watching or probably even in the audience.
    This should prove to everyone just what these people are about.

  18. People may be asleep at Midnight, or even somewhere else and not at the CC meeting even if agenda item 9 gets moved up to the first part of the evening by citizen Community Communications request (If MaryAnn asks for it you know it will be denied) BUT the electronic communicator can be at work--Neuroblast needs to have the meeting recorded--turned into several hundred plus copies of handout CDs and the tale told to all door step to door step.

  19. Whatever do you mean 8:16? They are about saving Sierra Madre! The little village with the golden water. You must be one of those nuts who is always unhappy, always uncivil, always complaining. Mean to Joe too. No water for you.

  20. Do I understand correctly that even with the highest rate increase (which as Crawford points out they will not do because it triggers prop 218) there will not be enough money to repair infrastructure AND service the debt?

  21. Agendizing the water rate hike as the last item on a very full schedule is sleazy political tactics that is fooling no one!

    Please come to the council meeting early and when the gang of 4 call for approval of the agenda....line up and speak exposing this and call for the water item to be placed from number 9 to number ONE OR TWO.

    Sleazy political tactics! Sleazy political tactics! SLEAZY POLITICAL TACTICS!!!!!!!

  22. Mosca, Buchanan, Moran, and Walsh have become
    hardened politicians, who in pushing their pre-determined decisions have desensitized themselves to the voice of concerned residents.
    They will go through the motions of listening because they are required to do so. But they have already decided to do what they damn well please.
    You are not fooling anybody.

  23. It makes me sick to my stomach to have to watch the council meeting tonight. To listen to blabblermouths, Mosca, Buchanan and Moran pontificate about everything in order to boost their own egos.
    Pass the BARF BAGS.

  24. Staff lied. The General Fund is S A F E. The bond debt can only be paid from WATER REVENUES.
    That is the only recouse the bond holders have. IT is in black and white.

    This is the time to hire a Bond Attorney as a consultant or go back to the orginal bond attorney...Fulbright and Joworski

  25. Maryann or someone in the public should ask to have the the agenda item moved becasue it is so important. The order of items is moved all the time.

  26. Thank God, in MaryAnn MacGillivray we have one lone councilmember who has the integrity to put what is best for Sierra Madre, untarnished by political ambition.
    "In God We Trust" and "In MaryAnn MacGillivray We Trust".

  27. It is amazing how much of a mess Mosca has made of things.

  28. worked on the recallNovember 9, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    That's what happns when a liar is elected.

  29. interesting..8:43 Staff lied(So what else is new)You sound very informed.Maybe the time has come to include Professional Services along with pitch forks and torches as nothing else appears to attract their attention!

  30. The cc-1 line will go thusly:
    1) We gave legal notice. All we had to do was tell you that the rate was going up. Then you would be curious and say, oh yeah? tell me more, and Prop 218 would be satisfied. Our attorney told us so.
    2) We then gave you all the edumacation a person could wish for, walks and talks, and made clear to you that the pipes needed fixin' and that we need to have beautifully purified water to flush our toilets.
    3) We listened to you, and now we are going to do exactly what we set out to do or the city will go belly up in bond default and not be able to continue going deeper into debt.
    4) Pay.
    5) Shut up.
    6) and from the mayor "Thanks!"

  31. I predict if the G4 push this through, that the people of Sierra Madre will rise up, just like they did with Measure V.
    We are in a much better climate these days than in 2006-2007 when we did Measure V.
    In those days, there was a real estate bubble.
    That is no longer the case (to put it mildly).
    We are also in a period of time when small cities are fighting their corrupt city halls and WINNING. People have gone to jail. They have resigned, even from Sacramento elected offices.
    The bobbleheads are makin' a big mistake in doing this to the people. They will do it, but it will backfire!

  32. 200 people on water walk and talks count; 2,000 letter protesting against the rate increase don't count. It'll go, "More people wanted the rate increase than didn't want the rate increase." Therefore, we (the CC-1) are duty bound to honor the wishes of the 200 people and raise the rates. "Oh, and we got some letters in favor of the increase."

  33. Calm down people. Have any of you besides Crawford actually looked at tonight's agenda? Yes, there are 9 agenda items, but the first 8 shouldn't take more than about an hour to get through. Moving the water rate hike to the top of the agenda would do nothing but end up postponing all the other stuff because the tattlers will stall the whole meeting.

  34. Any city council with John and Joe on it doesn't get anything done in an hour. Much less 8 agenda items.

  35. Same thing occurred to me 9:43. Not that I know what that stuff is about the building codes (?) but saying fire codes are good & need to be in place shouldn't take long - and everything else looked kinda quick.
    We'll see.
    Either way, early or late, they're going to vote for the hike.

  36. Change we can believe inNovember 9, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    I was wondering if we could have a recall effort timed with the next election cycle, to eliminate the G4. It's obvious this is necessary, since 2 openings on the council will be coming up. Recall the G4 at the end of Buchanan's term.
    Any suggestions?
    They are about to vote against the will of the electorate

  37. That well don't pumpNovember 9, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    I looked at the Agenda number three was interesting, about the water quality candidate vote so I called the San Gabriel Water Basin Authority and asked who the three candidates are: Margaret Clark City of Rosemead, Luis Aguinaga, South El Monte and Monica Garcia of Baldwin Park, When they asked why I told them it was an agenda item, that we were discussing the water rate increase, invited them to read the Sierra Madre Tattler and told them about the rusty pipes versus the refinancing of the existing bond debt fib story and that people were protesting it. I also mentioned the boasting of a 37.5 percent profit to American Waters wall st investors on their website and that it was no mystery where this 37.5 increase in water rates was coming from. It will be interesting as to how the council votes and chooses, very telling. I guess Sierra Madre gets to vote because it is a non pumping city.

  38. So, if I understand you, Buchanan times off in 2012, recall Mosca, Walsh, and the moron (who all have two years to go) then re-elect MaryAnn, and find four new viable candidates to run against the opposition's candidates? Run recall, re-election, and election campaigns all at the same time?


  39. Change we can believe inNovember 9, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    It's mad enough to work, It's at the time of an election cycle, and people just need to be reminded about how they were stabbed in the back.
    If we are going through an election effort, it would give us a "twofer"

  40. We would have nothing to loose by making Moran and Walsh vulnerable, even if we were to get 2 people in without a recall, we would have a minority vote anyway. What would be the point in running in the next election cycle, if you wouldn't be able to change the policy direction?

  41. If the G4 does something illegal and/or unethical, we can go after them.

    If a recall is called for, we need to act before the next election to get it in place and on the ballot.
    We can't recall Buchanan, but we can go after Mosca the pimp for Sacramento special interests and the two idiot bobbleheads.

  42. The G4 only has pretend ethics.

  43. Much ado about everythingNovember 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster web site has the minutes of October 2010 meeting (November not up yet,)The site won't let you copy and paste but if you go there, you will see USGVMWD and SGVMWD, just purchased water at $479/AF to be delivered by December 31, 2010, good read, and you will also see they are purchasing water at tier two rates. You can see who they are buying from and why. Now to me this means there is really no such thing as Sierra Madre Water Company other than for billing. Secondly right now in the cities there are using 1.18 to 1.50 per ft. as comparable water price quotes, folks gasping at 2.79 per ft water rates and I am sure there will be fainting at 4.79 plus profit per ft. but in the minutes it is written as $479/AF go read it and get armed for tonight

  44. You are all missing a big point. The water rate may be adjusted BUT, they haven't mentioned the tiered rate for the meter size, which will stay the same as they proposed. This is the most objectional rate of all because it is unequitable for everyone concerned. This will be hardest on our merchants as they have automatic sprinklers that are on a meter as well as their meters for their businesses. DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS SCAM!

  45. Tell the merchants to get their butts down to the meeting and do their own yelling. If they care about this as much as you say they do they'll be there, right?

  46. You are right 12:51, and it's a third rail for them. They will not touch it. They know how close they were to losing because of the 218 process.

    The damn city council should have a bake sale to pay for the damn bond that another damn city council took on.

  47. No 12:55, that is Moran's line.
    People hate going into city hall, pure and simple.
    What all the angry citizens need to do is be willing to put their money where their mouths are.
    A war chest for legal action.

  48. It would be good to hear from some of the outraged shop keepers once in a while. We hear from the occasional business man, but it seems to me the shop keepers are just going along.

    It would greatly aid our cause if they'd stand up and be counted.

    Nobody's yet contributed to a war chest in spite of all the bravado and posturing...

  49. Forget the merchants, it's a big scam on us too.

  50. The only person that comes in to give the business owner's point of view is the very cautious Bill Coburn. Not sure if the City
    Council sees Bill as being any kind of
    challenge to their plans.

  51. Not much coverage on tonite's CC meeting over on The Patch yet.

    However there is a heartwarming story about Pepe the Pug, Rescue Dog of the Week.

  52. More on the Smokey (the) Bear naming conventionNovember 9, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    "Actress Betty White clutches a Smokey the Bear stuffed doll and wears a U.S. Forest Ranger hat during..."

    "On Tuesday, the Forest Service presented her with a badge and a ranger's Stetson hat, which she donned during a ceremony at the Kennedy Center. When Smokey Bear arrived mid-ceremony..."

    Both quotes from the AP today announcing Betty White made honorary Forest Ranger. So there you have it folks.

  53. Smokey was in my trash cans the other night.

  54. Ah I like Ms Betty White, but that was not Smokey Bear, that was a man in a cutsey plush toy bear suit. The Real Smokey the Bear has big eyes and he points at little children and Says Don't Start Forest Fires. He has a big gruff bear voice and jumps off signs in the forest to hunt you down and whip your butt if you do. It doesn't matter where you are he will find you and turn you into a small tot marshmallow roasted on a stick. Then he eats the marshmallow. Then he takes his bucket of water and puts out the fire.

  55. Item 9 has been moved to #3.
    Thank you MacGillivray.

  56. Anybody want to kvetch about the meeting, I vote no on Garcia and Luis A, but I like Maggie Clark agenda three, Area 3 is the whole area,

  57. The Bart Doyle Bond Debt is being honored this evening with a rate increase for the residents of Sierra Madre, most of whom doesn't know him from Adam.

    Is there any way we can increase public awareness of this great man and his achievement in bringing us to this sorry pass?

  58. Those clarifications were not that clear, and a bi monthly metter charge is stupid but it makes those figures of 6, 8 and 11 really 12, 16, and 22, those last charts I could not read but,

    my bill from SGV water says 20.00 Service charge
    Quantity rates per 100 cubic ft--CCP Tier 1 13 ccp @ 1.948= 25.32 so my bill is 46.04

    OOh nasty three minute fight, like Mr. Ritchies he is the nooo man

  59. They are going to pick three simply because that is what the dec 31 2010 cost of 479/AF is the 43 to 49% and they know there will be no reserve.

  60. Tweaking is cheating Mr. Moran, what a weiny boy. What a little pricklet, everybody he talked to wants the water rate increase yeah, all those pink and purple elephants will tell you everything you want to hear. Bet he tweaks his home loan documents too, and those reverse mortgages. Well thank god for Ms Mary, So what they are getting an extra 10 percent tweaked but putting it over 4 years?

  61. The bad Josh came out tonite.

  62. Josh Moran was in fine form I must say.
    The 2,000 water protesters were part of a sour grapes political game, MaryAnn apparently insulted what he thinks of as his intelligence, and he stole her idea of an oversight committee. When she pointed that out, he said "Nu-uh! You wanted to waste time - uh no, not waste, uh"
    Very entertaining guy. Think he has a permanent hangover and he's in a terrible mood.

  63. There ya go Sierra Madre.
    Pay up.

  64. Notice how Mr. Civility himself Josh Moron rudely rebukes MaryAnn as she asks re: instituting the 218 process? As well as Joe just thanking MaryAnn as if she was a voice from the audience and not a fellow councilman. They are so dumb that they didn't catch MaryAnn's point at the end of the discussion that the massive public education process would cost as much as instituting 218, which Joe said they can't afford. Way to go Joe!

  65. These people, except for MacGill, do not inspire any confidence.

  66. unbelievable - literallyNovember 9, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    You've got to love the doublespeak.
    City Manager: There are no plans to increase debt.
    Walsh: We need that bond rating to get more loans.

  67. Josh highlights for me:

    Go into Happy's and buy...uh....

    It's abhorrent!

  68. Sir Eric, you picked the wrong option! They said to hell with you residents, we're going for the bucks as fast as we can

  69. I'm developing an allergic reaction to Buchanan's voice - and this new buddying up of Buchanan and Moran is disturbing. Time to change the channel.

  70. The business people who were upset by the water rate hike, people on fixed incomes who were upset by the water rate hike, all part of the great sour grapes conspiracy.

    Monkey Moran. Wotta punk.

  71. Mr. Moran's rampant emotionalism is truly inappropriate in the public arena.

  72. Do you think he might be taking growth hormones? Was it roid rage?

  73. Good question 9:15.
    I do not know Josh Moran, but his reputation proceeds him.
    Some psychologists say that people who start drinking or smoking at an early age tend to stay that age.

  74. Nobody is quite as stupid as somebody who is demanding that they are not stupid.

  75. Another oversight committee, request, from Moran well we call that fugue amnesia, where you keep repeating the same things. Buchanan isn't looking too good either, as in red face versus tan.

  76. O.K. so there were 1700 or so residents/parcel owners who were duped into signing the protest because it was a political sour grapes ploy and they were given mis-information. Thank you Josh Moron for that. I'd like to take a look at that list and see if any of them had Moran signs on their lawns. Apparently the only people who are to be listened to are moron supporters. The other 10,000 citizens of Sierra Madre can go pound sand.

  77. Morans behavior is bellicose. He appears to be a misogynist.
    He ... walked the banks apart, a thing of
    misogyny, in a suit of flannel.
    —Herman Charles Merivale, Faucit of Balliol, 1882
    Did anyone notice how much Buchanan stuttered or couldn't find the right words?

    Mosca 3 minutes, 6 minutes 3 minutes, 6 minutes, he had to stifle a scream, himself.

    It was like watching talking turds in a toilet bowl.