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.