I can tell you this, however. When I posted yesterday the original title of the article was "Questions for Our Readers," or something like that. And far fewer people than usual checked in. But when I changed the name of the article around 8 AM to something about closing Sierra Madre's Post Office, the hit count went through the roof. We ended up with around 1,200 "page views" for the day, which is a bit better than average.
Anyway, enough on my statistics fixation. It's Friday, and there are a couple of things I really should follow up on. Here is one of them:
Bill Coburn's Other Incorrect Assumption
Earlier this week we discussed Bill's rather unfortunate conclusion in his recent editorial regarding the Water Rate Hike. Particularly on City Hall's refusal to discuss (or even acknowledge) the Water Bond Debt when they sent out their legally required notification on why they were doing so. This drew a few pointed reader comments, and none better than this one:
I commend to you the recent editorial written by Bill Coburn for no other reason than he finally concedes that MaryAnn MacGillivray was right.
That having been said, Coburn makes a statement in his editorial that needs to be more closely analyzed and then dismissed. Coburn writes:
"Further, the Council had an opportunity to quiet some of the critics (and there are many) that claim the Council/City Staff had misled the ratepayers by 'hiding' the water bond debt that most of the rate increase is intended to cover. Now I have to kind of disagree with that, because these bonds have been around since 1998 and 2003, and they are addressed in the annual budget."
First, I disagree with Coburn's suggestion that the ratepayers were aware of the bonds because they are addressed in the City's budget. Really Bill, how many ratepayers actually read the City's budget each year? Do you, Bill?
But let's humor Bill and assume that most of the ratepayers obtain and read the budget and were/are aware of the bonds. As so eloquently explained by our former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman in his speech before the Council, Proposition 218 requires the City to give every ratepayer including Bill's minority (purportedly unfamiliar with the bonds) written notice of the reasons for the rate increase.
This poster is definitely on to something. And here is the passage from Coburn's editorial that I believe seals the deal.
Now I recognize that there is a possibility that the protesters might have been able to generate enough letters of protest that the increase as proposed by MacGillivray might have failed. However, since a large number of the protesters have tremendous faith in MacGillivray and consider her to be a Council member they can trust when they lack that trust with other members, the fact that it was her proposing it and trying to get it passed would have eliminated many of those protests.
I'm not sure that Mr. Coburn completely understood what was going on that night. In my opinion a water rate hike would be an unfortunate thing, especially now that we know it is being done to make up for a shortfall in repaying old bond debt. Is it inevitable that we will have to endure some sort of rate increase? Perhaps. But by trying to whistle past this metaphorical graveyard on the Water Bond Rate and its real role in the financial problems at our Water Department, the perception has become far worse.
But also, in my mind at least, the Proposition 218 issue looms just as large. Because by claiming that they have the right to decide whether or not we should have use of it as laid down in the California State Constitution, Sierra Madre's City Council is attempting to deny us a basic guaranteed freedom. And in my opinion basing this on some very vulnerable rationales. This is hardly the side issue Bill makes it out to be.
Look at it this way, who do Joe Mosca or John Buchanan think they are in believing that they can take away our right to protest the levying of what is basically a tax increase? Who up and gave them that kind of power? If they want to raise our water rates, then as elected officials in this City they have the right to at least try. But to then turn around and say that we, as the people who will have to pay the cost of that rate hike, do not have any right to question their decision to go forward with this levy, and only on their assurance that this is so, is an outrage.
I think our Prop 218 right to protest the levying of taxes by government is something worth fighting for. Freedom always is. Even if it means hiring lawyers and dragging these people into Court. Which, should they decide to play God on the issue of basic rights here in Sierra Madre, I will do all that I can to make sure happens.
Another complaint about Patch reporting:
I received the following late Wednesday:
I was at the Tree Commission meeting tonight and one of the commissioners had seen the article on the Patch that gave the impression that there had been an interview with me about the Golden Spotted Oak Borer. I told her that I did not give an interview. Mr. Inman asked (after he had helped initiate the connection), "You didn't contact her?" I said I did call her but I told her that it would be best for her to go on line and look up the particulars and possibly reach out to the UC Riverside researchers. I did not give her any information at all.
In her on-line article I am mentioned 3 times as a member of the Tree Advisory Commission and that I gave a report to the Tree Commission "last Wednesday." There is no mention of this in the minutes of the Tree Commission October meeting. I did, however, make a comment at Community Communications at the City Council meeting at which Mayor Mosca asked me to get information to the city regarding a suggestion I made that we need to be proactive in helping curtail the movement of firewood as was recommended by the UC Riverside researcher that I heard speak at an Oak Tree Conference at Cal Tech. I was contacted by the Department of Public Works so that information could be on the Tree Commission agenda in November.
All in all this was very dishonest reporting. Ms. Gillis should have presented the information that she gleaned off the internet as such, without all the cozy and false journalistic style as to having had "a conversation" with me. The information about the Golden Spotted Oak Borer is factual. No reference to a local Tree Advisory Commissioner was needed at all. - Caroline Brown
Last Night's Planning Commission Meeting
It appears that a large developer known as the Dexter Corporation (click here) took it on the chin at the big meeting last night. More on that tomorrow.