Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ordinance 1312: The Gang of 4 Hides From the Water Rate Payers

I always thought "the process" (that mystical series of procedural mishegoss and manipulation that our current Mayor venerates like a druid worships goats) was a very slow moving thing, and that the almost eight months it has taken this City Council to initiate a relatively small water rate increase a sign of the intrinsic impotence of the concept. But you would also have to include in your judgement of this performance the ineffectual leadership of Mayor Mosca. Never has accomplishing nothing required so very many words.

And an indication of the imbalance between hoped for results and actual performance can be seen by comparing the nearly 2,000 water rate protests turned in by those opposed to raising the cost of water here, versus the 200 people who showed up at the City Council sanctioned "water walks" and other so-called "outreach programs." Designed, of course, by our patronizing city government to cure the people of the errors of their ways.

So let's see. One had the full sanction of the G4 City Council plus baskets full of tax payer cash to squander, the other some xeroxed sheets and a handful of people willing to donate some serious shoe leather. Given the advantages of the former over the latter, which of the two do you think had the greater success? The handful of people and their shoes, of course.

It just goes to show that when it comes to getting the support of the people on an important issue, there is no better asset than telling the truth. Which, given the misinformation handed out by City Hall on this matter (the water infrastructure repair canard versus the real cause for the rate hike - bond debt) it is a wonder those elementary school kids they used to boost attendance figures even showed up.

So does the G4 City Council know that they are outgunned in their seemingly endless quest to bump up water prices a smidgen? Apparently they do. Because why else would they be basing the rate hike percentages in Ordinance 1312 on whether or not it would trigger another round of the dreaded Proposition 218?

This was first pointed out by MaryAnn MacGillivray at our most recent City Council meeting, and is now confirmed by the newly released "City of Sierra Madre Agenda Report" on this water rate hike. According to City Attorney Sandi "Gray Areas" Levin, if the City Council were to come back with a higher water rate increase now than the one they had originally proposed last May (which was the catalyst of the popular uprising in town), the ability of the rate payers to challenge this would be legally available all over again. Something that apparently the Gang of 4 dreads even more than a 5 minute Public Comment.

City Staff has now returned with Ordinance 1312 which, if approved Tuesday evening, will raise water rates here despite widespread opposition to such a thing in town. And the numbers are carefully designed to come in just below what was originally proposed last May 11th. Something City Attorney Gray Areas has helpfully referred to as "the cap."

Here are those numbers:

May 11 Proposed Water Rate Increase Percentages: 32.95% to 37.42%

November 23 Proposed Water Rate Increase Percentages: 32.40% to 36.87%

So let me ask you this. Has there ever been a City of Sierra Madre rate increase specifically designed to cheat those paying the bills out of having the right to legally question it? This to me seems unprecedented for our little town. A rate hike expressly calculated with shutting the rate payers up in mind. Only the Do-Nothing Mosca Regime could come up with a solution as bad as this one appears to be.

One more thing. Contained within the Agenda Report on this matter is the following little word stack:

It should be noted that while technically there is no change in providing a Low-Income discount, in practice, it is possible that some seniors currently receiving a discount may not qualify as "Low Income" and may cease receiving a discount.

It's like they heard absolutely nothing anyone had to say.

The Planning Commission Fends Off The Aracadiazation of Sierra Madre

"Cut out 1,000 feet and then come back." - Kevin Paschall

In the absence of any City Council direction whatsoever on the matter of protecting Sierra Madre from predatory development, the Planning Commission has stepped up to fill the void. And nowhere was that more evident than the body slam they put on the Dexter Development Corporation this week. A purveyor of the kind of McMansions that are so out of character with our community, Dexter has now been forced to endure yet another rejection of its 723 Camillo proposal.

The application that the planning folks have so eloquently bounced a few times has asked for a Hillside Development Permit and Variance to build a two-story 3,648 square foot single family home. The Variance being required because they would need to locate their spacious wickiup right next to a rather prominent ridgeline. Something there are a lot of up there in the HMZ.

This looming structure, if it ever gets built (and we can only hope that it doesn't), would be in the vicinity of neighborhood homes of approximately 1,000 square feet less than the proposed structure. None of the surrounding homes, all in the R1 zone, are anything like the size this mausoleum for the living would be.

Which explains why, when Commissioner Paschall delivered his now famous "Cut out 1,000 feet" comment, the neighbors of this project all burst into applause.

Sierra Madre needs some heroes right now, and the Planning Commission is stepping up and filling the leadership gap.

Quantitative Easing Explained

You have got to love government jargon. It sounds like it means a lot, but once boiled down to its sparse essence there really is very little there. "Quantitative Easing" is basically the politically correct term for printing money to pay the bills. Something the Federal Government does a lot of these days so they can keep up with all that borrowing and spending. Or, in the case we're referencing here, issuing and selling bonds to itself through Goldman Sachs.

To see a helpful video explaining this in clear and concise terms, click here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. The number of 200 water show walkers will always be skewed as several were also protesters who signed and/or carried the protest forms. So the city's so-called support number if off by a few as was their bogus dismissal of a number of protest signatures--a moving target of who could be the representative to sign the protest for that water service meter or was it the parcel owner or was it the . . . . . . . .

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  2. The City Council creates fictions to make it seem as if their ideas and actions have popular support.

    They don't.

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  3. Mr Tugwit is wonderful! Why didn't anyone complain when Bush did all of this? Oh, I forgot...his friends all got tax breaks and were on the golf course or out hunting.

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  4. Didn't Cheney shoot one of his friends, also.

    Musta forgotten about Bernake..

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  5. Thanks Planning Commission, Original General Plan Steering Committee of 5 and MaryAnn.
    All of you face and uphill battle against the the Gang of 4 and big development that is backed by greed.

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  6. I love these videos! My favorite is called "Fire Hero Gets Schooled." The language is pretty raw (warning! warning!) but hearing the regular citizen dress down the overpaid "hero" is worth it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmC26RuO26g

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  7. Well thank goodness the council is moving to make sure that the seniors who might need discounts don't get them. Those lollygagging seniors who have given so little to the community better pay up or move out.
    And Joe can keep on pretending he cares about the elderly. Mug 'em with bills, but know their names when they come before the council.

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  8. Then sooner Joe can move those meddlesome seniors out the sooner Dexter can built the kinds of vast monuments to poor taste he prefers. Making Sierra Madre unaffordable for those on fixed incomes will be a big step forward for the development gang.

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  9. I say what I thinkin we take em all down to the river fors a smashin! Back before city council we useta make up our's own minds bout creasin water rates. I member I'd juss walk out in the street n yell, Hey you'ins, getsin out the dang bathtub!

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  10. Shoe leather wins most of the time. You know who knows this well? Our charming boy mayor. Remember his chortling over his worn out shoes? It's how he snookered so many people into voting for them. Knock, knock, knock, hi good people of our village that we all want to preserve and save, I am Joe and I want to preserve Sierra Madre.

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  11. Love the symbol Sir Eric. A Gang with four molecules.

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  12. knock knock knock's the sound they make when they rip us off!!! It's time we take this city back by force!!

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  13. Kevin Pascall may come off sometimes as not as sophisticated as the rest of the commissioners, but he is a true blue local guy.
    Thanks Kevin.

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  14. Does anybody know where the local Patch writer came from? He's not from Sierra Madre. Does he even live here?

    How perfect that the local corporation AOL chose a nonlocal to lead the local website.

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  15. Kevin is a straight shooter, and calls them as he sees them. Something
    that you don't see much of at City Hall right now.

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  16. Former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman's choice of Paschall for Planning Commissioner was widley criticized by the DIRTS, and the DIRT-controlled local press.

    Once again, Kurt was right and the DIRTS were wrong.

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  17. SM dodged another bullet - so farNovember 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Thank you to ALL of the planning commissioners. You think clearly and respect your neighbors. Best commission we've got.

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  18. 10:50. The "4" refers to atoms as in the atom-sized brains of the four Council members and not molecules.

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  19. Molecules are much too large for a bobblehead.

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  20. Thank you Sir Eric for this hysterical and popular
    Tugwit to create some comic relief. FUN!

    Invite them to satire our BOBBLEHEAD COUNCIL.

    And, everyone take a peek at "Obama is a Socialist and a Muslim"

    Priceless.

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  21. Keep up the great work Kevin!November 20, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Kevin is the MAN

    1000 Feet cut out ALL over the over building needs to be done!

    Thanks, Kevin!

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  22. Did JOE and JOHN plant the PATCH?

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  23. There are Patches all across America. The Bobblebosses had nothing to do with it. But how the hell AOL figured there is enough business in this town to even cover expenses is beyond me. They're just burning through all that Time Warner money they were given to get out of their hair.

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  24. AOL is contributing heavily to the general disenchantment people have with community participation, making a mockery of what is really local and what is manufactured local.

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  25. Councilmembers Moran and Buchanan have made claims that being elected means they are right, that unless people storm into city hall, they are right. Kind of like the whole weirdness about prop 218. Doing nothing = a yes vote.

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  26. Isn't it a good thing that all Joe does is talk? He can't
    do any damage that way.

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  27. Well sort of, 1:33.
    Nature abhors a vacuum, and something will rush in when Joe is thanking and thanking and thanking.

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  28. Do Druids worship goats?

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  29. The water bill paying residents of Sierra Madre should also remember the fraud of the tiers. The tiers are absurd, in that levels 1 and 2 have such little difference between them, counterproductive in that they do not address the need for SM Water to make more money as people conserve, and ineffective at encouraging conservation anyway as has been shown in the past.
    BUT! They cannot be altered without triggering Proposition 218.

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  30. Your last water bill came without a monitary difference between the tiers but they are still called out on the bill. I noticed that I had a 5/8th inch water meter at one time and now am charged for a 3/4th inch water meter. Now, 1/8 inch difference will cost me (that is if they follow anything like the 'sample' rate list sent out last June with the "INFORMATION" letter for the water rate increase) an additional 8 dollars every billing period. Hum? and guess what? There are going to be no mpre 5/8th inch water meters--those are all going to 3/4 inch. No big deal, no big deal, no big deal. 1/8" bigger gets you to cough up another 8 dollars every billing period. Fractions of an inch in diameter are real dollars that the city gains. Oh, that it would be spent the way it should.

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  31. If nothing else, the gang of four's reluctance to begin the Prop 218 process again shows that they are cowards.

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  32. 4:02, the council had decided to keep those tiers as a 'dry run' no matter what happened.
    But I suspect it's more like 2:33 said.
    They couldn't change them without starting something they most certainly did and do not want.

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  33. Did anyone ever find out for sure what the number of protests was supposed to be?

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  34. In the July 13th agenda report they stated 1848 protests were required. The official number of protests was 1719.

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  35. 1719 was the number of protests left after Joe Mosca stole the tabulation process, not the number of protests handed in.

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  36. How did Mosca steal the tabulation process? I didn't hear about that..

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  37. You don't think city staff took the tabulation process away from the city clerk on their own, do you? 3:55?

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  38. Joe didn't have anything to do with it, it was our esteemed city attorney who did it -- she couldn't afford to lose face after declaring in city council that protests never win. After they realized there was a protest movement going on, She wouldn't give the number of protests needed until the week before the deadline, it was only then that they ruled that it wasn't the "utility customer" OR property owner as stated in the guidelines but only the property owner that had a valid signature.

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  39. I'm sorry, but the "Joe didn't do it!" defense doesn't work while he is the Mayor. The Mayor is where the buck stops, and even someone as slippery as Mr. Mosca can't wriggle off that hook. Nothing like this could have happened without his say so.

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  40. Isn't that what the help is for? To take the blame for Joe?

    Back in more aristocratic times the prince would never have
    to take the punishment himself. That is what whipping boys
    (or, in this case, girls) were for.

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  41. Joe Mosca is the worst thing that ever happened to Sierra Madre. The man is a sociopath and a very dangerous narcissistic politician.
    Worse than Bart Doyle.

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  42. only the worst kind of manager tries to blame their screw ups
    on the hired helpers...

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  43. There is a long line of very bad characters that have happened in Sierra Madre. Joe is hardly the worst. He's just the most recent. Each of the most appalling issues facing the residents today has its roots in the era of Bart Doyle, Rob Stockly, Glen Lambdin, Tonja Torres, Enid Joffee, and Doug Hayes. Remember Enid's 260+ conditions to building at One Carter that were unenforceable? It wasn't Joe that instigated MWD shenanigans. It was Bart Doyle. Joe is following in his footsteps. But worst? Don't give him more power than that piece of worms*** deserved.

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  44. Thanks to the Tattler,we, the residents and homeowners,have been informed of what amounts to a criminal conspiracy to defraud by lies and deceit the citizens of this community.It will ,of course, only continue unless our Community has the will to confront these crimes beyond this Blog and public comments.The city establishment can endure this well beyond our ability to protest.I have heard suggestions from contacting our Representatives,Atty.General as well as outside Journalist to focus on this outrageous illegal "water Rate Heist".

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  45. As the kids say, Just Do It!November 21, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    So, 9:54, will you be at City Council on Tuesday night? Will you come to the podium and confront these crimes?

    And what about the rest of you, residents and homeowners? Mosca, Buchanan, and the moron count the faces in the audience, that is the "new" faces. The same old hundred or two hundred, and the 2,000 or so letter writers, well they don't count so much.

    If you want to stop these conspirators in their Brown Act tracks, come on down. Fill out a speakers card. Go to the podium and say, "This is an illegal act. The residents and homeowners were not properly noticed. I am against a rate increase." That's it! You will have just stood up and been counted, on the record.

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  46. Much is happening this Tuesday! Start popping the corn! If you absolutely can't get down to City Hall, turn on SMTV3 for what could possibly the best show in town - First Reading of the Water Rate Hike, and the combined City Council-Planning Commission Meeting on the Canyon Zone Plan.

    We know the water rate hike is illegal; we know our Planning Commission is being challenged by five of the most egregious builders and developers in town set to rape and pillage what's left of the canyon.

    Do more than blog! Speak and be heard!

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