Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have Traditional City Governments Become Economically Unsustainable?

Jerry Brown's demolition of "Community Redevelopment Agencies" (CRAs) looks likely to happen soon. The argument that is quietly winning the day in Sacramento is if the money needed to help close a $26 billion budget gap doesn't come from places like the 400 or so CRAs from all across the state, then it will have to come out of something else. State employee retirement pensions being practically the only other place left where there are significant amounts of cash.

And since we are talking about state employee union benefits here, the California Democratic Party would have to be seriously contemplating political suicide to go that route. Union support being their most reliable and valuable asset. Which leaves Redevelopment Agencies somewhere under the bus. The Democratically controlled state legislature really doesn't have much of a choice. Getting rid of the CRA means union pensions can be protected. At least for a while. There really is no other choice for them but to throw the whole CRA apparatus to the wolves.

What this means for local city governments is that billions of dollars in property tax money is about to be ripped from their control. California no longer has the kind of ready cash needed to allow elected officials to float millions of dollars for developers to build strip malls, movie theaters and mixed use condominium complexes. Hard times have hit the Golden State, and that level of financial luxury no longer exists. Welfare for developers might have been a fine and dandy way of generating political power for elected officials in the past, but there just isn't that kind of spare cash around anymore. Pols are just going to have to find another way to grease the wheels.

So how are "full service" city governments going to survive in a state where the good times have decidedly rolled on? Here in Sierra Madre we have a Police Department that seems to add new members monthly, a generously staffed and growing City Hall, paramedics, and a Fire Department that can somehow keep replacing perfectly serviceable older equipment with the shiniest new trucks in the SGV.

But with state CRA funding going away, and taxes and fees now hitting the saturation point in town, how much longer can such an old school business model continue in Sierra Madre? With the Police Department up for yet another raise and increased retirement, City employee pensions and benefits increasing yearly, the General Fund flat-lining, local business people in a state of open revolt over higher fee and rate schedules, tens of millions of dollars in old bonds demanding attention and new bond debt on the way, an ongoing addiction to consultants, plus increasingly obstreperous taxpayers here highly unlikely to vote themselves yet another tax hike any time soon, the answer is about two years before we go into the red.

Or at least that is the time frame Mayor Mosca put out to his political constituency Monday night. Apparently it is after the CRA money is gone that things get really interesting.

In Costa Mesa those days are apparently over now. And in a sign that private sector style financial solutions and business models are finally starting to make headway in the public sector as well, they are now initiating drastic changes. Here is how a website called Voice of describes what could become the wave of the future for many challenged California cities:

Costa Mesa Becomes Ground Zero in Ideological Budget Battle - While many jurisdictions face tight budgets this year, Costa Mesa officials on Tuesday night drew an ideological line in the sand, rarely seen at the local level, voting 4-1 to study privatizing nearly half the city's employees.

On the potential chopping block is a vast menu of city services: fire protection, jail services, street sweeping, IT services, building inspections, payroll services, animal control and maintenance for a slew of services like parks, streets, medians and vehicles.

In addition to the study, the council action authorized the city to issue hundreds of layoffs notices to employees - - something city officials say state law requires them to do even when they are just considering a privatization plan.

The Orange County Register reports the story this way:

Costa Mesa may outsource half of its services - The Costa Mesa City Council is considering outsourcing roughly half of the city's government functions.

All city employees were notified Friday afternoon that the City Council had added an item to the agenda for its meeting Tuesday: layoff notices for employees providing 18 city services as a proposed budget-cutting measure. Those services include maintenance, information technology, communications, payroll, firefighting, jail administration, animal control, building inspection, and printing.

Aside from the fire department, the two city departments that would be hit the hardest are the Public Services Department, which handles maintenance and engineering, and the Administration Services Department, which would be gutted.

Our City Hall has seen the numbers and they know exactly where they are taking them. This was the underlying message from Monday night's "State of the City" meeting. While all that Sacramento bashing might have been politically correct (they're broke after all, so what difference does it make?), traditional city governments are now fighting for their survival. Including ours.

The choices are both stark and clear. Do we continue to employ people with responsibilities like keeping seniors properly entertained, or do we fix the pipes? Do we continue to fund a police department that requires three patrol cars to issue a speeding ticket, or do we do something about the sewers? Do we need to pay for someone to snoop around residents' property looking for unauthorized tool sheds, or do we repair our most challenging streets?

When City Hall fights to raise fees and access costs, works behind the scenes to enable the sale of new bonds (which is what the water rate increase was actually all about), or lobbies to increase UUT rates, then it is time for people to recognize what is really going on. Our City Government is fighting to maintain what for them is a pretty good way of life. And they know the numbers are now working against them.

The question for us as tax and rate payers is can we afford to sustain that way of life for much longer. And even if we can, is it really worth it for us to do so? Are we really getting that much in return? Wouldn't we just be better off out-sourcing City Hall and saving ourselves a bunch of money?

Or do we just continue doing what has always been done because we don't know any better? Or because we're being told this is how it has to be? Once again California's economic straits could prove to be a game changer.


  1. Interesting!Privatizing Public Service makes a good deal of sense.Certainly the cost of government has become has become an increasing burden to the taxpayers as well as a threat to the National economy.

  2. Where I work they laid off entire departments and outsourced the work. The IT department was outsourced all the way to India. The company didn't want to do any of this but they saved millions of dollars a year because of it. It is the way things are done now.

  3. The City of Sierra Madre has a fully staffed Planning Department with support staff, yet the City says that we have nothing in the planning stages. Why do we have a Planning Department? Because they are planning something.

    We now have over 35 police officers, again with support staff, but the City, nor City crime has increased for decades. So why not hire more officers to harrass the citizens that employ them.

    Do Not forget the number of Lawsuits the City is dealing with, and at least one, if not two more to come. The Water Bond law suit and the Hildreth's counter suit.

    Do Not forget the legal costs of all the law firms we hire.

    So how long can we run the City this way? Until the money runs out or we lose a number of the law suits.

  4. Do well sell bonds, raise fees and increase taxes to keep things the way they are, or do we get creative? That is the question as I see it.

  5. The problem is the City Administration has been creative for years, now it is time to pay the piper.

    The City has to either raise taxes, or improve the the way the City does business. We have to encourge new business and have the City deal with them in good faith, or cut, cut, cut. Without new business, less City Administration costs or cut in services,there has to be layoffs, or a increase in our property taxes.
    Time for the City to live within a budget, like every family in America has been forced to do.

  6. The city is moving towards bonds. Joe's statistically
    unsubstantiated claims about our streets looked like
    a sales pitch to me.

  7. What if cities banded together and shared services? Police and Fire would work. IT and personnel would be a good combination as well.

  8. Another great informative article by the TATTLER!

    7:54, I think you are absolutely right. They are setting us up for some big $$$$$ bond debt.
    They killed the "golden goose", no more welfare for developers. Nobody left but us "chickens" to pick up their obscene tabs for useless BS.
    Time to fix the water pipes and the streets and where do they get the money? From us chickens.
    Problem is, us chickens are really pissed off because we have been lied to and cheated all these years!
    We may just "fly the coop" on the gang's new tax the chumps plans.

  9. Just asking, JudyMarch 3, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    I hear people say new businesses improve the city's finances. I am guessing there are licensing fees and sales taxes. Am I missing something? Do these fees and sales taxes actually add up to any significant amounts? And if they do, is the amount offset by traffic, crowding, and increased crime?

  10. Let's see, we need sales taxes so that we can afford city hall. And we need city hall so somebody can collect the sales taxes.

    Make sense?

  11. As Joe stated in his speech, we only get a small fraction of our revenue from the business community. Property taxes are our main income. So you and I, fellow homeowners, are paying for the overstaffed community services department, the overstaffed police department and for our "volunteer" fire department. When are we going to say "no more"! Joe also said some city staff wages are coming out of the CRA. When that cash cow dies, then what?

  12. Anonymous at 8:28! LOL LOL LOL

    That's the funniest post so far today!

    To answer your serious question, "make sense"?
    Well, it does to city hall, it's created a few jobs.....THEIR JOBS!!!!!!

  13. The City's new budget should be available in a couple of months. I suggest that everyone spend some time looking it over. Perhaps we can have some private buget reviewing parties with our own experts leading the discussion. We would then be prepared to ask the tough questions that the Gang of 4 will either ignore or not be bright enough to comprehend. Every staff position needs to be justified.

  14. 8:39 If 25% of a staff persons salary comes from the CRA funds then in theory they should be spending 25% of their time on CRA work. If the CRA disappears, then so does 25% of their work load. Their pay should be cut by 25% since they have nothing to do. Or cut staff back and divide the work up among the remaining people.

  15. That's a great idea 8:44.
    We have some top notch experts in the financial field, who would be more than willing to donate their expertise to this issue.

  16. If CRA money goes away, then according to Joe the city govt will have some financial difficulties. Which means we'll have to raise taxes. Because if the city govt has financial difficulties then, um, then .... Oh darn I forgot that part. What happens again?

  17. There is plenty of pork that can be cut especially in the Comuntiy Services and Personnel Department.

    Remember most of the programs/events used
    to be run, staffed and coordinated by volunteers.
    Now there is a staff person who cooredinates the volunteers. The lastest victim is the 4th of July event.

  18. there is a reason why many work in government - most can't hack in a real business world

    some of our city hall and especially the council majority is a quagmire of repetitive ineptness, misinformation, deception, defiance and overblown self importance

    when most businesses are controlling and reeling in spending - not our Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp - they plod forward with their own agenda of pushing the limits of development and their personal agendas (which happen to benefit their employers) of some nutty SCAG goals of us having a population of over 20,000 in our city

    Terry Miller is a crack up or a crack pot - for a former $ 25 per shot photographer, he claims that "one" resident is claiming that 218 was violated and only a few residents are opposed to the rate hike

    uhhh, what about the 2,000+ or so petition signatures old Terry Boy? pesky facts have no place at the Weakly do they Terry?

    instead of reporting both sides, the lazy puesdo reporter just makes a quick phone call, writes verbatium what he is told to write and walla - he is spouting the city party line

    just continuing with the lies

    now our media is following the pattern of our Council majority, City Attorney and manager - just keep lying and eventually the morons will believe the lies to be facts

    sort of like Susan Henderson's resume

  19. Patch has a big article up on the water rate lawsuit. It appears that the Howard Jarvis people have not taken the City's side on this after all. No retraction from Patch yet.

  20. avoid blogs that captureMarch 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    What? 10:14, please elaborate - how did the article both give the information that the Jarvis people are not on the city's side, and avoid a retraction?

  21. Good Morning Tattlers,
    Did you happen to see this NY Times article about cities going broke because of municipal bonds?
    Here's the link:
    It's a very interesting article and relevant to our experience here in Sierra Madre, especially the bit about lowered bond ratings and the bloated city governments refusing to exhibit fiscal restraint in any way. I think it might foreshadow what awaits our fair city if the current administration continues with the status quo.
    Keep up the fight Sir Eric. I laughed hard at your earlier article about hanging up on Patchy McPatchypants.

  22. It's Patch, 10:20. There is no rhyme or reason to what they do. Plus Elaine blew a curveball by them on the Spanish language thing.

  23. Monterey - in today's Patch piece they said that I "declined to comment."

  24. Reality trumps illusions and Balloons filled with Hot airMarch 3, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Great story today. I enjoy having to exercise my brain muscles to reply on these complex issues. I believe that if you reflect back, politicians did not involve themselves in building. I believe the Redev Agencies polluted their thinking to serve that agenda. Somehow our council people, feel that they have to build to be good council people. Planning was enough, to handle creative new developments.
    Redev took our lawmakers and turned them into judas goats. Redev employees were separate from the council of of a sudden, our council people were coerced in wearing redev hats, they aren't trained for that. Unless we start electing civil engineers, our council people aren't qualified to make infrastructure decisions. Redev scammed them into allowing them to take our tax dollars and give permission to rip up our cities and to be happy about bond debt. It is wrong thinking. It is spiritually wrong to eminent domain. I make no bones about telling my council people, my city loves me so much, they want to make me live in a transit center to gas me. I see for a moment they are taken aback, but also, I see the recognition, I am right. Remove the illusion they have they are doing right, save their souls as it were. Be blunt and honest. Quit fawning over them and tell them they are killing you for the greatest ungood for the smallest amount of people. For money, votes, monuments to ego, it doesn't matter politicians are letting the Redev Ag suck the life's blood and money from their cities and citizens.

  25. Public sector employees got too greedy and now the system will break. It's happening all over. LA City Council is considering lowering fire fighter pensions by 10 %.

  26. I like the sound of the Costa Mesa Administrative Services being "gutted."
    Our city manager and staff, and some of the council members, throw around money as if it is an abstract concept. Listen to them talk about one hundred thousand dollars, or five hundred thousand dollars, or a few million dollars. They do not take it personally. And after they roll all those big numbers out, suddenly five thousand is chump change.

  27. 8:39, indeed Sierra Madre gets most of its revenue from property taxes. There was much discussion about that when the decision was made to develop the hillsides. However, kind of a big fat fly in that ointment was announced by the then City Manager John Gillison: any property tax revenues generated from Carter and Stonehouse would be negligible in the city's budget. He explained that after the state took its portion, what was left was only a drop in the bucket.
    In other words, the hillsides went cheap.
    And the only way to significantly increase property taxes is through mega development.

  28. Why can't the city just admit they lied a little on the water rate increase, say they're sorry, and let the rate payers have their say? Don't they know Zimmerman is going to kick their fannies all around a courtroom in a few months? The stupidity of these people is amazing.

  29. My nomination for the best paragraph summarizing the state of the city:

    "But with state CRA funding going away, and taxes and fees now hitting the saturation point in town, how much longer can such an old school business model continue in Sierra Madre? With the Police Department up for yet another raise and increased retirement, City employee pensions and benefits increasing yearly, the General Fund flat-lining, local business people in a state of open revolt over higher fee and rate schedules, tens of millions of dollars in old bonds demanding attention and new bond debt on the way, an ongoing addiction to consultants, plus increasingly obstreperous taxpayers here highly unlikely to vote themselves yet another tax hike any time soon, the answer is about two years before we go into the red."

    That's what the Mayor should have said in his speech.

  30. About the fire dept. equipment, I thought the need was to get the state of the art equipment so we could be included again in mutual aid. Don't know all the details, and frankly I'm for outsourcing, because the fire department isn't really made up of volunteers anymore, but there was a good reason for the equipment upgrade.

  31. 8:44's idea is a really good one that I hope happens.

    I would volunteer but I'm a rube at the budget stuff.

    Can somebody who knows about this take on organizing the Citizens Budget Review Team?

  32. One of the responses the city staff gives when volunteers suggested is that volunteers can be inconsistent, and continuity suffers.Continuity.As if our city workers have ever had continuity.Ain't that the kettle calling the pot black.

  33. This is such a joke, 10:14 am.
    Who would they expect sensible people with an IQ over room temperature to believe, that stupid Patch idiot or former SUPER Mayor and Super Lawyer, Kurt Zimmerman?

    Damn all these dumb residents of Sierra Madre who never even bothered to vote in the last election. Look what has happened!
    We could have had a sensible council majority of MacGillivray, Watts, Alcorn and Crawford instead of Mosce, Moran, Walsh and Buchanan.
    None of this would be happening.
    MaryAnn MacGillivray should be the MAYOR every year she is on the council.
    She is the only one with any integrity and true intelligence!
    Thank you MaryAnn for staying on this
    current City Council.

  34. 8:08 has thought it out. Out sourcing would only shift the services to the control of others and not materially reduce the cost, unless it were sharred among juxtapositioned Cities

    Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, and Duarte could easily share a manager to supervise: Personnel, Street and Water, Police, Paramedics, Fire Protection, Codes and Regulations. One City Mgr would oversee the new entity (real savings there). The number of FTE's (forty hour equivilents) could be reduces dramatically while hours of operation increased proportionatly. (That would mean weekend duty for some which would be a novel concept).

    By sharring and saving a lot of money, capitol expenditures could be dramatically increased to give a "new look and effiecient services" to all the former Cities.

    I would not count on it however. It makes too much sense

  35. 11:36, couldn't agree more. The logic and effectiveness of 8:08 is doomed, because it could really work.

  36. From the 2009 Sierra Madre Financial audit:
    Page 17

    The water and sewer funds primary revenues are generated by utility services provided to the 4400 residential, multi-residential and commericial customers in Sierra Madre. (it goes on to state the cost of water etc, it has a security lock on it so it cannot be copied and pasted, readers will please read it themselves, and I will skip to the end of the paragraph) Currently the city is undergoing a fee study for the water and sewer fund for a possible rate increase effective July 1, 2010. With city council approval of the fee study, a Proposition
    218 VOTE will be required to increase the utility rates.

    Page 49 Long Term Debt:Notice of completion and was March 15, 2009 and was approved by the city council April 28, 2009. The SGVWM has extended the first payment terms until July 1, 2011 pending the approval of new water rates.

    Now, they took away your right to vote on prop 218. They substituted a protest letter, purposely designed so it would not be understood and then manipulated the recount of the protest letters of almost 2000 people to fail. It was a turkey shoot.

  37. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is kingMarch 3, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Now, (yesterday) is the time to start planning reductions in city services. 30 years ago, we were able to run the city government on a third of the paid staff we have now. The earth did not open up and swallow the town.
    We can cut development services significantly, turn over plan checking to the county which we were doing decades ago. That would greatly reduce overhead.
    Bring volunteers back to aid community services.
    Job sharing and services sharing with surrounding municipalities should be planned out.
    But having a City Council that is sitting on it' hands and trying to figure out ways to squeeze more fees and taxes to pay for itself has to stop.
    Or will end up stiffling itself to death.

  38. Gobble correctionMarch 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    12:00 here, sorry they took away your right to vote on the water rate increase as specified in prop 218. I should have proofread it. I was going back and forth between two windows.

  39. People are tired of the city asking for more and more money. Look at the response to the water rate protest. They are going too far now.

  40. Los Angeles Rainfall At 105% of Normal for the Water Year.March 3, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Don't forget to worry about the constant threat of scarcity. Maybe next year there will be no rain at all. Keep visualizing that and you won't have to worry about organized crime on Baldwin, 19,000,000 in bond debt, and the population doubling in a few years, according to the city's consultants.

    If you are new to Southern California, this is a semi-arid region with an average annual rainfall from 1877-2009 of less than 15 inches.

    Think of that as a constant. Then avoid being manipulated by green weenie politicians like mosca and buchanan.

    Why write this today, because politicians don't talk about the "drought" much in the rainy season: but they will as soon as the skies clear.

  41. If the state takes away the CRA funding, the reason for Buchanan and Mosca being in Sierra Madre will be no more. Perhaps they could find another city to organize the different development scams?
    I'm sure they will find a more than willing population of developers and realestate interests to work with them elswhere.

  42. Not sure it was a curve-ball, Moderator, as much as it was just an obviously bullshit answer. Your letter and the article quoting from it clearly state the language issue is not part of Prop 218.. If that's the kind of answer's she want to give that's her prerogative. But we're all a little smarter than that!

  43. Elaine must love Stephens. He is very gullible.

  44. Point of ClarificationMarch 3, 2011 at 1:11 PM


    The Sierra Madre "Volunteer" Fire Department was kicked out of mutual aid because of the incompetence of it's members, not the state of the equipment. They were/are a danger to themselves and any real firefighter, in an emergency.

    Now, the same incompetent (Dirt) individuals are being paid salaries...and they have shiny, new vehicles and equipment befitting their self-deluded egos.

    A couple million dollars in new vehicles will not fight a fire without highly skilled and motivated firefighters to operate them.

  45. One problem with "shared" services. More likely to end up with Ratzo Rizzo at the wheel. Face it he makes Buchanan look good by contrast.

  46. Depends on what you think of Buchanan, Local Control.
    Buchanan has hurt Sierra Madre, and will continue to do so until he's off the council.
    Bad leadership, bad decisions, completely subservient to Sacramento and SCAG - running scared for 8 years.

  47. Bracccck, Brack, BraccckMarch 3, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Wowie Zowie! I just sent an email to Gov Brown and thanked him for his efforts to dissolve the redevelopment agencies. I mentioned the fact that I blogged in the SMT, and he had a lot of fans here. The language of 502 RDA is listed online at the CAgovfinance part, and it is truly thrilling to read!

  48. "Have Traditional City Governments Become Economically Unsustainable?"


  49. Buchanan is Joe Mosca with brains.

  50. 2:50 is right. Can anyone recall one time, one single time, when Buchanan stood up to the state or the regional governmental bodies, for the good of Sierra Madre? One time?

  51. Hey they just indicted a former mayor of upland for extorting bribes and campaign money from businesses who wanted licenses. John Pomierski and Hennes, both owned construction companies 11 count indictment in the LA times.

  52. Just watched a vid on the Avocado Express of a La Habra Heights resident named Jean Good Lietzau, going after activists in her community. Guess what one of her main points was? The lack of CIVILITY

    Good Lord, it's an epidemic. Local small town imperialists do not want anyone to disagree with them or to resist them. If they do, it's rude.
    That's crazy.

  53. In Sierra Madre incivility is defined as not agreeing with Joe. Something that could cause his media surrogates to accuse you of all sorts of politically incorrect things.

  54. I think Buchanan is a dangerous buffoon. I also think that the number of buffoons and buffoon voters increases outside of Sierra Madre. If we (and no, not me) could elect Buchanan, other cities could (and did)elect Rizzo. Do you think Rizzo could have been elected here?

  55. If Rizzo were portrayed as a poor abused victim, he could have been elected here in a heartbeat.

  56. 3:36, a liar was elected here, twice. Mosca hurts your argument.

  57. Those attacking Ratso here would have been accused of
    being fattyphobes.

  58. Persecutors of the Portly

  59. Chubby Checkers and Wide Sides Snides.

  60. Rizzo's campaigners would be the Guardians of Civility for the Round.

  61. Steve Tobia would come out with a special issue of The Magazine
    called "Sierra Madre's Fabulous Fat."

  62. Susan Henderson would "write"" an editorial, Being Fair to the Fat In Sierra Madre

  63. Local Control @3:36, I think these jolly Tattlers are saying, yes, Rizzo could have been elected here, and he would have had the full support of the local what-passes-for media.

  64. One of the drawbacks to allowing a population to be free, to get educated or to educate themselves, to believe that they have a right to speak and believe as they see fit, is that some of them will do just that. When others tell them they cannot say what they think or believe what they believe, the reception to that arrogant assumption will not be civil.

  65. Political correctness, both the right and leftwing varieties, are ploys designed to silence the opposition. When the civility card was played during our last election, it was a tactic designed to suffocate true political debate. Which it did.

  66. I guess it's over.

  67. I'm sort of looking forward to the ideas and suggestions that may sprout from the minds of Josh Moran or Nancy Walsh.

    I know...I know...they aren't allowed to have ideas or input without first running it by John Buchanan or Mosca, but wouldn't it be funny to hear ideas by Moran or Walsh on what the city should do going forward?

    it'd be comical and probably uncivil, but it'd be interesting

  68. You're asking a lot of Nancy and Josh, 4:58. I think both learned long ago that silence is their best defense against being wrong.

  69. Silence is also a friend when the synapse aren't firing.

  70. I don't think even the city of Bell would have elected Josh Moran.

  71. Very low voter turn out gave Sierra Madre Josh Moran.

  72. That's true 5:50, but so is the fact that the Dirts and the Downtown Investment Club members were organized and hit the ground running. The smear campaigns, the total allegiance of the local print media (and now you can add the local Aol into that mix), the twisting and turning of the truth to make them appear as the injured ones - all that took some thinking and strategizing. They won from dirty tactics (appropriate, no?) but they won. After all, our opponents have money in mind. Don't underestimate them.

  73. Civility is the new creed for campaign consultants. How many times did you hear the word during the last National election? There is a book on how to win elections. The first thing on the list is to get the police and fire departments on your side, then find an issue and stick with it, and find a word that you can carry out through the campaign period. Classic Mosca, Moran and Walsh. They must have used the same consultant.

  74. Hey, I just clicked on the Patch article that popped up on my computer to find out about the car over on Santa Anita and got a big red WARNING sign that said that site was pfishing and be careful opening it. That says a lot for AOL, now, doesn't it?

  75. Aol basically survives by charging 4 million longtime subscribers for services it gives away for free to everyone else. That most of these are elderly people too technologically unsophisticated to figure this out makes it an even seedier practice.

  76. People still talk about AOL? Move on folks, they are irrelevant in today's world, consider AOL obsolete, kaput, finished, dead to the world...AOL? REALLY ..THEY DIED WITH THE 28.8 MODEM!!