Over on NBC News L.A.'s edgy PROPZERO site, Tattler favorite Joe Mathews lays down the first of today's two joyous barrages on the reeling redevelopment axis. This one is entitled, "The Redevelopment Blob Is Growing."
The Sacramento Bee's Capital Alert site is pointing out a trend that has been ignored in the debate over Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to eliminate redevelopment agencies.
The point is: the problem with redevelopment is not merely that such agencies gobble up a slice of property taxes that could (and, it says here, should) be going to schools. It's just that the slice of that pie is growing. Fast.
The Bee cites a controller's report showing that the $5.7 billion in property taxes that redevelopment agencies took in 2008-09 is THREE TIMES the amount they took a decade earlier.
Now a 300% increase in the amount of our property taxes CRAs suck up is quite a lot. And all that squawking we're hearing from League of California Cities types (read: G4) about how a CRA demise will deprive poor people of housing is rather hypocritical in my opinion. The reason they're about to lose their Sacramento excuse for existing is that they built precious little low income housing, or anything else worthwhile for that matter. Instead many gave vast sums of our tax money to whatever corporations took them to lunch last. The real problem is they built almost everything but low income housing, and have taken more and more money to do this in the process.
Ask yourself this question, how much low income housing has been built in Sierra Madre using property tax generated CRA funding? Come to think of it, what exactly has our CRA money been spent on? Is there a list we can look at? And why does our CRA always meet behind closed doors?
Anyway, here's how the Sacramento Bee breaks it down statewide on their Capitol Alert site:
Each year the state controller's office publishes a thick report on the activities of redevelopment agencies, most of which are operated by city governments. And the latest report, covering the 2008-09 fiscal year, details the extent of their finances.
It reveals, for instance, that redevelopment agencies captured about 12 percent of all property taxes collected in that state, $5.7 billion. It shared $1.2 billion of those revenues with schools and other local governments, but retained the other $4.5 billion.
That $5.7 billion is well over three times as much tax money as redevelopment agencies captured 10 years earlier, an examination of the 1998-99 controller's report shows. And the debt incurred by redevelopment agencies also has grown sharply. In 1998-99 they had $42.7 billion in debt. By 2008-09 that had more than doubled to $87.5 billion, most of it in the form of bonds.
Well, we here in Sierra Madre can also tell you all about bond debt. Especially after we dug out the information ourselves. All at a time when City Hall had been busy blaming its bond woes on our unwillingness to pay them more.
Anybody who wants to read California State Controller John Chiang's report can access it by clicking here.
Let me know what you find.
EVG numbers continue to rise
Bill Coburn notes at the very end of his current Police Blotter feature visible on the News.net site that the number of EVG fraud cases is now over 525. The loss rising to just under a quarter of a million dollars.
Why is it this story has become so quiet as of late? There hasn't been any kind of update from the Sierra Madre Police Department in quite some time. Nor has there been any press refresher from City Hall since last January 6. And certainly not a peep from the peoples' local guardians, The Mountain Views News or The Sierra Madre Weekly. Though the MVN's Susan Henderson did write this week about an unrelated crime from 6 years ago.
Is it that the crooks have gotten away with the money and those who have failed to solve the case hope the victims will just get on with their lives? Has it been deemed that such a reputation challenging event is detrimental to the SMPOA's current attempts to get the boys in blue a raise, and that is City Hall's real priority?
Or is it that those who bear the responsibility to make something happen haven't been able to do that, and would just prefer not talk about it.
I think further updates on this story are sorely needed. The City really does need to be a little more forthcoming about what is after all the biggest crime in Sierra Madre's history.
FEMA issues an untimely warning about winter flooding
Over on the Sierra Madre Weekly website there is a warning posted from FEMA about the dangers of flooding during the winter rainy season. It apparently was sent out in the form of a dispatch, which was received a week or so back by the paper's editor, Terry Miller. Here is how he tees this missive of mercy up:
FEMA Urges California to Prepare for Flooding This Winter: FEMA Urges Arizona, California and Nevada To Prepare For Winter Flooding Wildfires, Rainy Season Conditions Cause Significant Property Damage.
FEMA, as you might recall, is the federal agency credited with disastrously screwing up the rescue efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the place a while back. Their reputation for basic competency having been pretty much shredded in the media once all the details became evident.
In the country I come from Winter began on December 22, 2010. Which means a good portion of that season has already passed us by. So why would they be issuing a winter flooding alert now rather than, say, back in November when the reminder would have been a bit more timely?
Perhaps this coming August we will receive a warning from FEMA that it gets hot during the Summer. The Sierra Madre Weekly will be certain to pass that important information on to us as soon as it becomes available I'm sure.