Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Do We Stop John's Bonds? Get 700 Signatures

There was quite a bit of comment yesterday on John Buchanan's vow to float bonds for "large capital improvements." Which I take to mean the creation of the kind of infrastructure (water, sewers, etc) necessary to sustain the large scale development that has been Buchanan's great white whale ever since he arrived in this town.

John being our very own Captain Ahab, and Downtown Specific Plan style development apparently his Moby Dick. This has become a kind of all-consuming obsession for him, and he just can't quite get himself past that whale. And no matter where the City Council may go in its deliberations, as long as John Buchanan is a part of it things will always come back to just that one thing. Which is what is happening now.

A lot of those commenting on this blog yesterday wondered what it would take to stop the issuing of any of John's Bonds. Bonds that could put this town at risk of a fiscal meltdown as we would certainly struggle to deal with so large a debt load. After all, we've struggled with the bond debt load we have now. Which is why the City Council recently voted to raise our water rates.

There was some discussion about recalling any Councilmember who would vote for floating any new bonds. And then there were also those who wanted to put a measure on the ballot that would make any proposed new bonds subject to voter approval. Something that would be a pretty hard sell in so bad an economy.

Which is where I stand right now. And just so you know, I did what I usually do when I need some good information, and called knowledgeable friends who told me just what it would take to get such a measure on the ballot. One that would give voters the right to refuse any bonds John and his allies on the City Council might hope to float.

And it turns out that doing such a thing really wouldn't be all that difficult. The formula for getting something like that on a General Election ballot is the signatures of 10% of the registered voters in Sierra Madre. For a Special Election it would take 15% of the voters. And if you figure Sierra Madre has around 7,000 registered voters, to qualify for a General Election slot all you would need to get is 700 signatures. Or, if need be, 1,050 for a Special Election vote on this matter.

Which, as many of us know, we could do in our sleep. This would hardly be a hopeless case, and should bonds come up for discussion by the City Council quick action could be taken that would put a halt to the creation of massive levels of new debt.

Today's Possible Vote In Sacramento On Redevelopment Agencies

There are apparently two ways of killing off Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs). The kind preferred by Jerry Brown would take a 2/3s vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The benefit of doing it his way would be that all current CRA moneys could be reclaimed by Sacramento now, which would contribute considerably to balancing this year's State budget.

The other way would be by a simple majority of the vote in both legislative Houses. This would still mean the demise of CRAs, but would not officially happen until January 1, 2012. And while it would mean that the money each local CRA has control of now would stay in their hands for another 9 months, those redevelopment agencies would be dead and gone by year's end. Which, while not perfect, isn't a bad ending, either.

That vote could very well happen today. This from a post on the California Eminent Domain Report, dated March 23:

... rumors are now afoot that Floor sessions for both the Senate and Assembly are possible tomorrow. There may be an effort by the leadership to have one or both houses vote on a measure providing for the total elimination of redevelopment agencies by majority vote. Stay tuned ...

Passage of CRA ending legislation by simple majority vote is considered to be pretty much a slam dunk in Sacramento. Like I said, it isn't the perfect solution, but I'll take it.

The Green Advisory Committee Meets Tonight

Listed among the "goals and objectives" of the Green Advisory Committee, and up for discussion this evening, is the following mission statement:

The Committee will discuss and make recommendations for the Energy component of the draft "accords style" model of overall goals and objectives and enhance sustainability and green programs and practices in the City.

Which sounds authoritative, but could be lacking for true clarity. Because apparently the Committee is not completely certain what "sustainability" actually means. Something that they plan on grappling with later on in the meeting. This from Item no. 5:

The Committee will also continue the discussion on the definition of "sustainability."

Which does beg the following question: how can you enhance something when you are not completely certain that you fully understand the meaning of the thing to be enhanced?

On Wikipedia the problem of clearly defining sustainability is discussed at length. Here are two passages that highlight the problems inherent in basing your search for clarity and purpose on an incompletely defined concept.

A universally accepted definition of sustainability is elusive because it is expected to achieve many things. On the one hand it needs to be factual and scientific, a clear statement of a specific "destination." The simple definition "sustainability is improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems," though vague, coveys the idea of sustainability having quantifiable limits. But sustainability is also a call to action, a task in progress or "journey" and therefore a political process, so some definitions set out common goals and values. The earth Charter speaks of a "sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace."

To add complication the word "sustainability" is applied not only to human sustainability on Earth, but to many situations and contexts over many scales of space and time, from small local ones to the global balance of production and consumption. It can also refer to a future intention: "sustainable agriculture" is not necessarily a current situation but a goal for the future, a prediction. For all these reasons sustainability is perceived, at one extreme, as nothing more than a feel-good buzzword with little meaning or substance but, at the other, as an important but unfocused concept like "liberty" or "justice." It has also been described as a "dialogue of values that defies consensual definition."

So we're wishing the Green Advisory Committee all the luck in the world with that one. This is a mighty task they have taken on. And should they come up with a working definition of what "sustainability" actually might be, they need to make certain everyone is let in on their findings.

Because they will have done something that nobody has accomplished before. Which will make it big news in the world indeed.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

55 comments:

  1. Where do I sign?

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  2. It's your last chance to save our city from becoming another Dump City USA...The choice is yours!

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  3. It is perfect, let the J's + 1 saddle us in more debt to pay for things we can hardly afford. Let us increase the Police Department, of course with raises, what good is the centuries old voluntary Fire Department, let's make it a "paid for" department, where we can let them hire their friends that are already volunteering. As soon as the City go Bankrupt, the J's + 1 will just leave town, never to be seen or heard from again, it has happened before.
    We will have to have the sheriffs and back to the roots, an all voluntary or a small county fire department satellite office that is affordable.
    The City needs to live within its means, just like everyone else has had to do.
    We need layoffs, not new hires.
    Without New Bonds and CRA Money, The City will be going BK sooner than later.

    Another breaking story, heard first on the Tattler

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  4. Bucks Cannon wants to run this city just like his friends in
    Sacramento run California. Free money for his friends, debt
    and more taxes for everyone else.

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  5. I'd be happy to sign, and happier still to canvas door to door. I've grown weary of watching our City Council amass bond debt then play kick the can to the next set of elected officials. I have to live within my means, is it too much to ask the same of our local politicians? Enough is enough. Where do I sign?
    Thanks again to the Tattler for doing what it does so well.

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  6. Obviously the city can pay the police department what they want. So, with that said, whats the problem? If the city really wanted to save money on our Police Department, contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. It's that simple. You know what the ol' sayin is, "s... or get off the pot". Come on na!

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  7. People taking control of policy in their town. Can the Gang of 4 stand
    so much democracy?

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  8. " . . .respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace."

    Read between the lines, my friends. This stuff is radical.

    Respect for nature = retrograde ludditism, for example spending millions at LACCD for a single windmill that can't power a 60(57) watt light bulb.

    Universal Human Rights = the end of Judeo-Christian morality. (Why should the North American Man Boy Love Association not receive government funding?)

    Economic Justice = the abolition of capitalism.

    A culture of peace = pacifism and appeasement of the kind that emboldened Adolf Hitler, another notable radical.

    Those of you who are into this stuff, enjoy!

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  9. Why do you think Pot Hole Joe goes on about our streets so much?

    Bonds.

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  10. Pogroms, Stalags, the Gulag Archipelago were just in reality sustainable green spaces destroyed by the nasty Americans.

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  11. Bond debt is not sustainable.

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  12. Give me a petitionMarch 24, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Could be done in our sleep. Every water rate protester plus the people in their homes would surely sign on that one. Including only my next door neighbooors, I can have 15 signatures without even walking two houses from where I live.

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  13. Those numbers are very encouraging because we can get them in a timely manner when the issue is about financial misdeeds and the prevention thereof!

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  14. Hello my name is
    and I live on
    Have you heard about the bonds?

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  15. Sue in the officeMarch 24, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    I'll take care of the clerical side of things: flyers, petition forms, pens.

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  16. Money is a topic everyone understands. And going on a borrowing spree at a time when everything else in the state is going in the opposite direction will outrage a lot of people. I do not think Buchanan will be able to sell bonds no matter how hard the bobbleheads bobble. There will be an uprising in this town that will stop it cold.

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  17. The City can issue bonds in as little as 90 days once vote to do so at a City Council meeting. If something is going to be put on a ballot someone needs to act quickly Because the petition must be written, approved, published, circulated, signatures counted, and then the council will set an election. If it isn't a special election, the election would be next April when the regular City election is scheduled. That is over a year away. So 15% of the voters signatures must be gathered in about 90 days to force a special election. The current City Council has plenty of time to issue bonds and there is not one single thing anyone can do about it. So get moving.

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  18. 9:53, what about the posts made today and yesterday gives you the impression that people are not already moving? But thanks for all the specifics. I've done this enough time to know that we must keep the timing front and center.

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  19. Piece of cake, 9:53. That is what we do these days.

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  20. Sue in the officeMarch 24, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    I'm ready to type up the petition.
    I'll give Crawford my name and contact info.

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  21. I think people know it is crunch time. We either stop Buchanan's bond
    blitz or we kiss the Sierra Madre we have always known good bye.

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  22. Ding Dong! The CRAs are dead. Which CRAs? The Wicked CRAs!
    Ding Dong! The Wicked CRAs are dead....
    Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
    Let them know
    The Wicked CRAs are dead!

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  23. We know our council majority will break their necks to encumber every last cent for their pet projects, oh-so-blighty, but we can also hope that justice branch of the state will figure out a way to get 'em for it.

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  24. Like many other cities, Sierra Madre has been a fraud from the beginning of the CRA. We have lots of things here, but blight ain't one of them.

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  25. Moderator, as Wikipedia articles go, that's a good one.
    It presents the complexities of the sustainability definition issue in a fairly even-handed way.
    For the town of Sierra Madre, the definition should include what it already is, given the grace of geographical location and the efforts of many residents who have come before us.

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  26. Article on the PSN site shows that Sean Baggett is the target of an immense smear campaign in this run for the seat 6 Board of Ed job. Looks like Tom Selinske is going the usual route for candidates representing established interests around here. No wonder Mosca endorsed him. He and Joe both love to play down and dirty with the truth.

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  27. Didn't their Mommas teach them about having goals?March 24, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    What I find odd about Mayor Mosca, John "Nuckie"
    Buchannan, Josh Belushi and that nice Walsh lady is that they never state what it is they want to accomplish. For example, they could reasonably say that in the next year I would like to redevelop the nursing home site with single family housing, or condos, or mixed use, or whatever. And here is how I propose to do that.

    Instead, we get tactics unmoored to any goal. Think "let's float a bond" without any link to the goal the "floating" will serve. This leaves the Tattler folks free to speculate that they want to "float the bond to lay the infrastructure" that will enable them to level downtown and replace it with a condo canyon - all to the benefit of their big energy employers. The lack of any articulated vision leads me to wonder if they just like telling their friends they are on the counsel.

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  28. 11:15, thanks for pointing that out.
    Sounds like Bagget is taking the right approach - expose the smears for what they are and set the record straight.
    Wish we had had the time to do that here when Mosca and his strategists ran their dirty campaign.
    Haven't forgotten what you did Joe.

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  29. Look at what Selinske said when he was busted for shenanigans worthy of the gang of 4:

    "Selinske said he initially recused himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. But he was relieved of his worries by PUSD attorneys.

    "After I checked with district legal counsel there was no conflict of interest, so I moved forward," he said."

    Sound familiar?

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  30. All I need to know about the Baggett-Selinske race is that Mosca endorses Selinske. Case closed, vote for Baggett.

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  31. Very helpful remarks 11:22.
    The pro-development side has always had to mask their intentions, and it is crazy making.

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  32. I'm not surprised the Selinske campaign is resorting to smear tactics. He
    Is a part of that whole ugly mess, and they do stuff like that.

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  33. Y'all are too hard on Selinske.
    Do you question his motives in revealing these blips in Baggett's past?
    Selinske is just trying to be helpful.
    The question is, who is he helping?

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  34. Selinske is part of the same crowd as Mosca. Smear is what they do. Ugly
    men, ugly tactics.

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  35. Simple rule: anybody who is Mosca's enemy is my friend.

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  36. Pa and I have been practising our Palmer Method Penmanship all morning: we are ready to sign!

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  37. M & P Fan ClubMarch 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Well written signatures in the cursive style count twice.

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  38. You need the legal office of ?? to be sure that the petition is absolutely written in the language needed with the right type size and margins. Citizens did it wrong one time and set out to do it again when what they were after was put inplace by council vote to avoid the exposure this repeat would have heaped on them.

    Next effort, drive out to legal office of ?? other side of LA, pay for the service (including printing) and get the petition of the street. Hurry up and decide. The troops are ready.

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  39. Do you need a water meter to vote? What size? Grey areas, just to make you think. Does a 1/2 inch meter man get a full vote? Just doing what I'm paid to do. If your wife pays the bills, who gets to vote? These questions cannot be answered, we will just tell you that your vote wasn't counted. Mmhnnn.

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  40. Low Spark of high heeled boysMarch 24, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    10:54 sing it out, don't hold back repeat chorus: Ding Dong! The CRAs are dead. Which CRAs? The Wicked CRAs!
    Ding Dong! The Wicked CRAs are dead....
    Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
    Let them know
    The Wicked CRAs are dead!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Signature gatherering for anti bond protest? That is what I call a true walk for wellness.

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  42. People need to know just how powerful they are. City Hall lives off the
    money we give them. Take control of that and they'll lose their attitude
    and fast.

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  43. 2:02, I call it a walk in the park.
    It is always so much easier to discuss when it is about money.

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  44. I find it very intereting that all of a sudden the CRA/City Council is rushing to spend the CRA monies that they have been hording. Could they were hoarding the money so they would have had a big pot to offer a developer but the the DSP failed and the economy turned. If that is not the reason, then why haven't they been spending it right along?

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  45. The hard truth is that 4 of the 5 people on the council will not listen to reason, and will blindly pursue what they have decided, for their own reasons, to pursue.

    Lawsuits, ballot initiatives, popular democracy. It's the only way to stop them.

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  46. Interesting thoughts about the CRA money.
    So is that how the DSP was paid for?
    Does the missing/then found misfiled million figure in anywhere here?

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  47. Astute analysis of Councilmember Buchanan's goals, Tattler. But don't forget, he has a major victory behind him: he was successful in creating development of the hillsides. After that, he was successful in declaring himself an advocate for the Green movement. Nifty trick, that.

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  48. He's good at inversionsMarch 24, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Watch Buchanan try to sell bonds on the grounds of financial prudence.

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  49. Buchanan will try to "sell" the bonds using the following senarios:

    1. We can get it done now with cheaper dollars and everyone in the future (30 years) will pay for it. (Boy will they ever) Maybe even interest only with a huge balloon payment due in 30 years...Yippee

    2. Since we are having to allocate for future maintenance and replacement out of the General Fund we do not have the money for big projects.

    3. Payroll and PEERS are so great that unless we do projects with bonds, we will need to cut services and programs. The word library and Paramedics will said and all the fools will get weepy.

    4. We can get mataching funds from the State (which is broke) or the Feds.

    5. If we do all the streets, sewers, lighting etc. at one time with bonds, in the future we will only need to maintain them. (problem is that all the money will be going to pay the bonds.

    6. We know what is best for you stupid voters and after you are educated you will understand.

    All will be said with great pauses and sighs.

    Get that petition ready N O W

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  50. Any news on the CRA vote today? Nothing new on that eminent domain site.

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  51. let's see if I understand this.

    John Buchanan moves into town and as a human resources lawyer for So Cal Edison, he is given almost unlimited free time off from work to volunteer (only in select high visibility committees) and after establishing himself as a "do gooder", he starts a campaign to run for office on behalf of his employer and since being elected, Buchanan has repeatedly pushed a development agenda - which benefits his employer.

    After setbacks with Measure V and conspiring with Joe Mosca (another corporate lawyer for a utility company with unlimited free time), the two have attempted to dismantle Measure V and thwart legitimate citizen efforts to protect the community ideals and stop Mosca/Buchanan ticket from pushing SCAG agendas which would over double our population.

    When we had a pipe burst and a minor sinkhole resulted, the two seized the opportunity to declare a state of emergency and that our entire water infrastructure was on the verge of collapse, which was a smokescreen, basically a lie, to hide several matching pork projects such as Buchanan's 7 million dollar new libarary, something he has been jonesing for since he moved here.

    After being exposed for his lies to his neighbors about falsifying a water emergency, somehow behind the scenes at city hall, a sincere effort of a petition to stop the water rate hike was derailed because the city management and Council majority would not provide public records and categorically dismissed the petition as invalid, regardless that the petition was a handful of signatures short.

    Not to be deterred, Buchanan the attorney and Mosca the attorney lead the Council to ignore the state constitution and basically issued Council direction to staff to circumvent Prop 218 and continued to railroad the citizens by pushing their own private agenda of aligning the city with SCAG population goals.

    Then after being exposed again as a liar, or using extreme doublespeak to confuse and mislead us, Buchanan finally fessed up that it was about massive bond debt incurred by previous councils and it just so happens that Buchanan supporters and friends were those that secured bonds and spent millions of taxpayer monies on supposed water projects that were never done.

    And finally, Buchanan says that he and this Council majority is still going to move forward with bond spending projects, in light of today's economy, to basically ignore the concern's of a majority of residents to secure massive bonds and unload long term massive debt on the future of Sierra Madre.

    After being caught red handed in a breach of ethics and manipulating the public trust for his pet politicalo ego projects, protecting the misdeeds of his political supporters, continuing to push SCAG agendas (despite an overwhelming opposition in the community) and moving forward with bully tactics of power abuse with his personal decision that the city must be saddled with his vision, regardless of the cost and destruction to the charm of the city and meanwhile serving the interests of his employer.

    I guess the bottom line is that he lied to us from the start and it will be easy to find enough signatures to send a clear message to John Buchanan that his vision for Sierra Madre is unwelcome and quite ugly.

    Buchanan and Mosca are SCAG fans that feel that our city should double it's population and that is why Buchanan is still being pigheaded about what he wants - he wants new construction, pork barrel projects that strokes his massive ego and doesn't care one bit about the city, it's about John Buchanan's legacy.

    His legacy is cemented with me.

    Liar.

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  52. if John Buchanan's mouth is moving, I assume he is either lying, hiding his agenda, working on behalf of his employer or spouting a self serving message

    I still haven't heard Buchanan explain why he was hiding his library project that was tied to the initial water hike discussions and why he was lying to us about the pipes when he was working behind the scenes on his personal projects

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  53. Politicians such as John Buchanan thrive on political illiteracy. They create
    fairy tales to sucker in the ignorant while threatening those who know better
    with the worst kinds of attacks. It takes informed citizens to sustain good government. But when there aren't enough of those around you get John.

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  54. john joe josh and nancy are corporate fat cats. as disgusting and dishonest as the koch brothers.
    they all care about the mask and the money.

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  55. Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me.

    Even if President Bush couldn't remember that expression, I certainly can. And I hope that other Sierra Madre voters can, too. The point is that all these bonds -- you know the huge amount of hidden debt that was swept under the table until it couldn't be ignored any longer?--were sold to us voters as for capital improvements. Do we look stupid enough to buy that again? I mean, really. The purpose of these bonds is to cover the debt service on the previous bonds--in modern parlance, it's refinancing. And if you throw in a little extra debt then you can buy a park bench for Kersting Court, or something like that. I continue to be astonished at what these people will say and do. I'll sign that petition.

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