Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So Now There Is Another Water Rate Hike On The Way?

A reader of this blog picked up on a statement Mayor Mosca let slip at last week's City Council meeting. I didn't catch it, but when I reviewed the golden moment on KGEM (a fine resource for digging out lulus like this one) whoot! There it was! Joe telling us - in his usual sort of round about way - that he thinks we need yet another water rate hike. It goes just like this:

There are 90 year old pipes that need to be fixed and uh this doesn't go that far to be that proactive to fix those pipes so um ...

And then he kind of trailed off. Perhaps he thought the better of it, deciding instead the product he was setting loose would be better delivered at another time. Or maybe the Mayor Pro Tem snuck The Mayor one of those "Are you #@%*//$#! nuts?" looks he gives him from time to time, and Joe decided he should talk about something else. You know, like how he told Senator Feinstein's staff that water is important.

It was also about as clear a message Joe has yet to deliver on something very important here. That the claims made last spring and summer about their water rate hike being based on the need to repair pipes was obvious hooey. After all, didn't the Mayor just say it wasn't "proactive to fix those pipes?"

This statement was made right after the City Council had finally passed their water rate hike. An event that followed 10 months of some of the most ridiculous nonsense I have ever witnessed. The message creep started out last Spring as a claim that water rates had to be raised in order to fix old pipes, and then slowly evolved to what the real reason was, the need to raise more cash before they blew a big hole in the City's already damaged bond ratings. City Hall is the home of $19 million in such water related debt alone, and was in danger of falling further behind on certain aspects of its financial obligations.

News that was first broken here on The Tattler after a tip from some folks who know their bonds. People who let us know that the City had been fibbing up a storm on this matter.

Which takes us to this. How are you going to float those big development related bonds the G4 yearns for if your Standard & Poor's bond rating numbers are in the tank? You do know that new bonds is what they're going to be attempting to roll out in the next few months, right?

Ironically this initiative will probably come riding in on the back of yet another pretty pony campaign based on the need to repair infrastructure. Just like the last rate increase, except this time you'll need to throw in things like streets and sewers. Joe's mysterious product preview last week on the need for more water money being perhaps the first real indication of G4 thinking on this matter.

Delivering to the people a message designed to make them feel less bad about having to pay more for the same old thing is a tried and true practice in both politics and governance. But usually the message is expected to have some truth to it. Today it is a well known fact that when the City of Sierra Madre, at the insistence of this City Council, claimed last summer that it needed to raise our water rates to pay for water pipe and infrastructure repair, they were not telling us the truth about their intentions. Why be delicate about it? This was always about bonds and City bond ratings. Something somebody must have decided we can't deal with.

Now when I want to get a feel for where the City's "official policy message" is going on some topic or other, I always turn to The Mountain Views News. The MVN basically functions like our very own local Pravda. It delivers the official message of our City government faithfully and unchanged, no matter how untrue or absurd it might be. Carrying the word of the Gang of Four like a dog fetching its master's slippers.

And nowhere is this more obvious than with City Hall's message creep on the water rate hike. The initial - now discredited - water pipe version can be found in the 7/3/10 edition of the Mountain Views News, written by Susan Henderson. It goes like this:

Current revenues from water users are not sufficient to continue operating the City's aging water system properly. This is primarily due to the fact that there has been no rate increase since July 2006 to keep up with the escalating costs of, for example, electricity that runs the pumps ... The City's current water delivery system, which dates back to the early 1990s, requires constant maintenance and improvements. As recently as this week, as if a warning to the City that the system's need for maintenance is immediate and aging water main broke in the canyons (sic). It appeared that the main had not been replaced since the 1930s.

That was very much in line with what City Hall was putting out last summer. Now compare that to what is said in the latest issue of the Mountain Views News. Notice just how closely it mirrors today's very different City Hall message on the reasons for the rate hike:

At stake was the City's ability to pay the existing bond obligation on time. Those obligations, entered into years before this Council was seated, were created in the 1990s and for political reasons, rates were not raised as recommended to keep up with increasing costs.

Now with any Henderson written article you do need to keep a careful eye out for information suppression. The $19 million in bond debt does have some of its roots in the '90s, but the majority of it came into being in 2003 when Bart Doyle was Mayor. Bart, widely suspected of being a generous benefactor to Susan's paper in many ways, was given what appears to be a pass in this article on any responsibility for Sierra Madre's current bond debt crisis.

Which, in my opinion, is one reason why the G4 fibbed about the reasons for the water rate hike in the first place. They didn't want to in any way impugn the reputations of their friends who sat on what we here at The Tattler enjoy calling the Shenanigan Council. Possibly the worst this City has ever seen until now, and the genesis of many of the problems we're wrestling with today.

You see, the Shenanigan Council didn't only put us into massive debt, they also administered a City Staff that utterly screwed up important paperwork as well. Which is how our once AAA bond rating got submerged in the first place.

Too bad they didn't spend that 2003 money on fixing our pipes.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. Rather than just detailing when Joe has not told the truth, maybe you should just pick out the times he said something that turned out to be true. Sure would save a lot of writing!

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  2. We don't get out much these days, but, boy, we saw the new street signs, the pretty pearly white ones. We wonder where that money comes from . . .

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  3. And the Band plays on.Nothing can possibly change with the present cast of characters in charge; their agenda is cast in stone.Put your anger and disgust into action and recall these clowns!

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  4. Once a court of law determines these clowns lied to get our money, what else can we do but recall them, 7:50?

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  5. Come to the event on January 29th residents of Sierra Madre.

    I know many of you are shocked, horrified at what this current gang of 4 city council has done in passing this terrible bond debt tax, disguised as a water rate hike. Sadly, as we now know, this is only the beginning.

    Former Mayor Zimmerman and several of our investigative reporters will be in attendance to answer your questions and concerns.

    You can make a difference! You can save our town! Your town!
    We need your help, please attend.

    JANUARY 29TH!

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  6. Interesting that Susan Henderson can publish two totally contradictory accounts for the purpose of the water rate increase within 6 months of each other. Anybody here ever read 1984?

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  7. Doublespeak it is, 8:50.

    Henderson has her own little Ministry of Truth.

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  8. The mayor for a few more months started his bonds campaign a long time ago.Remember the often repeated "I get so many calls every day about why isn't my street repaved" . So,so many calls.Every day.All the time.

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  9. To answer the title, of course there's another water rate hike on the way.
    And more bonds too.
    The leadership of the G4.

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  10. I don't mean to be cynical, but I'd like to see a signed petition from the residents of Sierra Madre who want to go deeper in debt in order to repave the streets.

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  11. blubbering Joe still reeks havoc and disdain upon Sierra Madre

    didn't Joe and John Buchanan lie originally about the water hike and they've circled back to the exploding water pipes after hiding the bonds and the 7 million dollar library and the 50K city hall new counter?

    so, what we are saying is Bart Doyle has the ethics of a slug?

    sorry, didn't mean to insult the lowly slug

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  12. Joe Mosca has accomplished nothing. Nothing good, that is.
    He rode into the Mayor's chair on the Zimmerman and MacGillivray coat tails, taking credit for the accomplishments of Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray.
    He's probably the most inept mayor this city has ever had. It would be laughable if not for the fact he is so destructive to slow growth and fiscal responsibility.

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  13. It wasn't just Joe Mosca that promised us another rate increase. The Mayor Pro Tem mentioned going through the 218 process again. It was pretty obvious that he meant the Council would be sticking us with another rate increase.

    Anybody have that quote?

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  14. Good to see the boys are being so proactive in their next wave of water rate wishes and dreams. More, more and more! You want to spend, you got to raise it.

    They have to go.

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  15. Oh, geeze! You know the worst part about another 218 adventure? Judy Webb-Martin and Paul Hosepvian at the podium alternately threatening and cajoling us into submission. After all, it's such a small price to pay for such great treated water that Joe Mosca has predicated his career on bringing us. And we Sierra Madreans deserve to water our lawns and wash our bodies with drinking grade water. Save me from the drama!

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  16. Are bonds covered by Prop 218? Anybody know the answer to that?

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  17. Joe will let John Buchanan take the fall for the next water bonds...or they will decide to start the 218 process overand really sock it to us.

    Don't forget about the assessment districts they want for streets, lighting, and landscaping. They will add water to the list.

    They have so many options to screw us.

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  18. Pasadena is alerting its residents to a 10 day total prohibition on outdoor watering from March 18 to 27 during an MWD temporary shutdown of a major regional water treatment plant.

    Is Sierra Madre affected? If so, how come we aren't being told?

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  19. The Nickel & Dime Express will soon be back. Can't you just hear Josh now? "It's only $14 a month. Why make such a big deal about it?"

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  20. 9:56 BOnds do not come under Prop 218. Bonds do not require voter approval.

    Assessment districts do not come under Prop 218.

    We are screwed.

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  21. oh god just stop. please stop.

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  22. Sewers and street bonds as well. They need to pretty up the town so the big development corporations will bless the Downtown Investors Club with their interest.

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  23. F-the downtown investor's club!

    How dare a handful of greedy mean spirited people destroy our town.

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  24. Practice Your LinesJanuary 19, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    $14 more for such delicious water? It's a bargain!

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  25. So they're going to make us spend our treasure going after the water rate increase on Prop 218 grounds all the while readying a bond/assessment district if we win. Clever. If we lose, which is highly unlikely given the status of our attorney, they win. If we win, which is highly likely, they have a fall back position to separate us from our money.

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  26. The first thing Joe asked for as Mayor was to investigate assessment districts for street repairs. Since April there has been no mention of it, but mark my words, it will be coming up in a future agenda as soon as the water rate mess is settled.

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  27. middlin memory skillsJanuary 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Not sure of this, but I think I've heard Mosca, Buchanan and Walsh all say 'we'll need more' and 'we want bonds'

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  28. 11:53

    Yes, we both heard that.

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  29. It really is a lovely irony. Getting a
    slow growth community to foot the bill
    for improvements required by high density developers.

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  30. Great way to put a sad fact:

    "Now when I want to get a feel for where the City's "official policy message" is going on some topic or other, I always turn to The Mountain Views News"

    She is not going to bite the hand that feeds her. That's why you can always find a copy of her product in city hall, or the senior center. Maybe no place else, but she'll get them there.

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  31. There is a genuine ideological split here between those who like bonds as a way of business, and those that don't. Look forward to an opinion piece or two on bonds in the Looney's News, which is available, as 1:47 points out, at Hart Park House or City Hall.

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  32. I have been trying to figure out whether there is a plot to bankrupt this nice little town, or whether we are just being fumbled into it by incompetent, pretentious leadership...

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  33. There is a massive cover story in the Jan 14 LA Weekly called "L.A.'s Church Of Our Holy Density: Villaraigosa's Crusade Embraces Crowded Living And Lost Privacy As A Moral Duty."

    It slams the living hell out of all crap John and Joe are pushing here. Must read! I'll have links and all that good stuff up on the site this evening.

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  34. I vote for a plot 1:59, only because of the way the other council members bristle whenever MacGillvray brings up a good idea that will lead to solvency.

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  35. It is interesting to watch Moran deal with enormous anger whenever MaryAnn speaks. Weird but interesting. He looks like he's going to explode.

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  36. Buchanan was polite and conciliatory to MacGillivray in the last water rate hike discussion, as he justified his decision to ignore her superior suggestion.

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  37. Buchanan and the rest are afraid that if they were to reopen the Prop 218 genie, the good citizens of Sierra Madre would pour into the streets once again like they did last summer. Which is fine. We'll let the Courts take that one out of their hands and give it back to us.

    Must be strange governing a city you fear.

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  38. protest letter gathererJanuary 19, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    And yet another irony - the citizens now know the truth, and most would be OK with that rate increase. The council could sweeten the deal by promising no new bonds, and they'd have it made. Talk about shooting selves in feet.

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  39. Anybody have any theories on why they tried to cover up the bond connection to the water rate hike? There must have been someting more to it. They couldn't be that stupid. Right?

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  40. It would have been a very different discussion with the actual facts.

    I for one wouldn't be asking anyone who would listen, "Why so much money?"

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  41. Great question 2:39.
    I don't think they're that stupid - they won the last election with a very clever and well implemented smear campaign.
    Nothing stupid there.
    Immoral, but not stupid.

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  42. So then why did they lie about the reason for the water rate hike?

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  43. Because, 2:48 pm, they think WE'RE stupid. They knew if they came out asking for an increase to pay off bond debt we'd ask questions. They thought if they tweaked a few pipes and caused some leaks we'd go for pipe repair. Never did they expect a protest.

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  44. Looks like you've got the posters stumped 2:48.

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  45. Shows they don;t respect
    Sierra madre much.

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  46. Oh, I think it's a case of their God complexes attempting to recreate Sierra Madre in their own images... you know mediocre intellects with narciscisstic personalities and delusions of grandeur.

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  47. I'm waiting for the LA Weekly links, Crawford!
    I wonder if John and Ken Show or Tim Conway show on KFI, will mention it?
    The love these stories, especially about Tony "Valgar". LOL

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  48. South Pasadena is also facing massive water rate increases over the next few years. All about infrastructure, again. Somebody should give those folks a heads up.

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  49. At least South Pasadena is honest, they are telling their people about their bond debt and this 147% raise over several years will help keep that bond in compliance as well as helping the infrastructure.

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  50. South Pas has strong activist residents, and a great sense of itself as a community.
    Oh wait - we do too.

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  51. Wow 3:57 sounds like the Tattler, good work!

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  52. Is there really any surprise that the city government lied to the people on Mosca's watch?
    Were you expecting a newfound appreciation for truth once he had the gavel?

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  53. My reflection with spoiled brats/liars/entitled/narcissistic leaders who do lie and do not get their way is that eventually they go over the top and do not care what happens to themselves or anyone else.


    It's a waiting game with Joe, John and Josh. Be careful Sierra Madre. Serious damage has already happened with Susan, and at the end of the day it is always about what is true.

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