Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Last Night's City Council Meeting: Rolling Out a Doomsday Scenario for All the Folks at Home

"This is what happens when you kick the can down the road." - John Capoccia

Last night all of those well kicked cans came back out for another spin. But I must admit, the marketing was new, and quite decidedly apocalyptic. The City is going broke, it is being consumed by old bond debt, and on top of all that we could very well run out of water within the year. Which will make a lot of us unpopular at work when we show up unshaved and smelling like too much Old Spice. A whole lot of badness in that if you think about it.

This very dire sounding information was quite abruptly revealed to the residents last night, and the consequences were laid out in no uncertain terms. The inevitable solutions were shared as well, and these were very familiar. Renewing the UUT at as high as 12% in 2014, and preparing the public for sharply increased water rates. To do otherwise would be to risk the end times.

In other words, it is back to business as usual. Many of the same issues that have been discussed over the past several of years have returned, and the campaign to raise taxes and water rates has begun all over again.

I guess it all depends on how much of this you choose to believe. Many of the players on last night's stage are the same people who tried to sell the previous water rate increase as vital because the City's ancient water pipes and infrastructure were on the verge of a liquid armageddon. Only to have it later revealed here on The Tattler that what this was really all about was servicing debt on some old water bonds lest our Standard & Poore's ratings go down. Which they did, paradoxically, and after our rates had been raised a full 7%. A whole lot of good that did us.

And while nobody evokes a sense of doom quite as effectively as Bruce Inman, especially when he is talking about the City of Sierra Madre running out of water in 12 months like he did last night, it must be remembered that he is also the same guy who ran around town a couple of years back lugging around a piece of old rusty water pipe and claiming the city's waterworks were about to implode unless we started paying more for water.

If Bruce had wanted to be straight with us back then he would have been lugging around a satchel filled with 1998 water bonds instead. But I digress.

And there is a bit of a disconnect to all of this as well. How can City Hall on the one hand advocate the building of the 96 so-called "suites" Kensington, while at the same time proclaiming we're on the verge of running out of water? I personally feel that my credulity is being taken for granted here. If they were actually serious about our running out of water, wouldn't they be busting their humps to institute a building moratorium?

Of course, it wouldn't be a launching of new public relations product by the City if it didn't come with a marketing campaign. This one kicks off with a grand October 24th get-together of the City Council and members of our various commissions and committees to discuss our financial woes. The purpose being to lay out all of the consequences to each committee and commission should the UUT "sunset" and return to 6%. With the message being that if you wish to save all that is important in your special world, then you must join with Mayor Josh Moran and renew the UUT at 12%. And while you're at it why not raise the water rates as well?

In other words, the campaign to raise just about everything has now begun anew. All done in the hopes that City Hall will be allowed to continue to do business as it always has, and that nothing much will either be sacrificed or changed. No matter what the real financial consequences to those who pay those taxes and rates might be.

But as I said, it really all depends on what you choose to believe. It is going to be interesting to watch this obviously orchestrated little scenario unfold, water apocalypse and all.

It is also sad to think that much of our City government really isn't serious about saving money, and instead is content to try and peddle the same old "raise everything" solution to their problems. As they have so many times in the past.

Maybe we'll just have to go broke before these people finally get serious.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

80 comments:

  1. Bruce has been saying for at least 2, maybe 3 years that the water level is going down, and that we have been spending lots of money pumping our water from reduced levels, and that something must be done. But, the city council has opted to ignore his facts and give us bogus information for a rate increase, has ignored the bond issue that needed to have a designated reserve, and specifically voted down MaryAnn's proposal that would have put money into the reserve, protected our bond rating and helped the water department in rate increases.

    That would not have addressed the issue of lack of water in the Raymond Basin which we rely on for our water supply. That would have only addressed the financial issue. We still need to have a moritorium on building, have a plan to conserve water (like we did a few years ago with "shared showers", and "If it's brown, flush it down", etc. Conservation at it's ultimate. And, we need to heed De Alcorn's suggestion that we have a citizen's water committee or commission that will study what needs to be done with citizen imput. The more citizens get involved, the more they can buy into the idea of a rate increase, or conservation measures.

    I am, for one, tired of the city saying that they can have all the solutions. We need to have a citizens committee who will study what should be done. I can't trust the city - even with an "ad hoc committee" of council persons to come up with a solution.

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    1. I don't think more committees or commissions are going to solve this.
      If the voters had only elected MacGillivray instead of big government wonk, Haribedian, this would not even be happening.
      But they did not....so we pay the price......again.

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    3. Please repost your point without the name calling. Thanks.

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    4. Dear Water Consumers,

      Have you ever considered that most of the water usage in Southern California, actally about 90% is used for agriculure? Of the remaining 10%, almost all of that is used by the manufacturing sector of the economy. That leaves a tiny percentage used by individuals. And of course it is the irrigation of landscaping that uses most of the residential water. Trying to conserve water by taking shorter showers or not flushing the toilet has no real effect on the water supply. Of course, politicians like to pretend they are addressing the issue by "involving" the residential consumer. Why, I remember a clever slogan some years back that said, "Sing shorter songs!" Isn't that precious? A way to save 10 to 20 gallons of water. Now, when it takes thousands of gallons to keep landscapes green and pools filled, why would anyone speak of not flushing the toilet? Could it be a classic "misdirection," to get our minds off the real issue? But, how could someone like Mr. Bruce Inman misdirect us? Some say he didn't tell the truth about the rusty pipes and the bonds, but that is just the story that nasty Tattler tells. Cheers!

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    5. Yep. Bruce Inman, Misdirector of Public Works. AKA the Snide-Piper.

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    6. Oooh. Good one. Whatever did happen to that pipe, anyway? We need it for the museum.

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    7. Landscaping and pools hardly use up 90% of Sierra Madre's water supply. Look at your water bill. If you are a household of 2 and you are going above the first tier, you are using too much water. The City may be setting us up for another water rate raise by fudging the facts, but what if they're not? I'd rather people start conserving now (I have for years) than have to pay dearly for metro water or some other source.

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  2. The City of Sierra Madre follows the example set by Sacramento and Washington DC.
    They want to hold onto their power, continue the waste and graft, and pay for it by raising our taxes.
    Anyone want to bet me that after the November elections, no matter who wins, Congress will enact a VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) to us all.....it's the only way they can continue to "kick this can down the road" Keep the masses on goverment handouts(socialism/social justice) so they will contiue to follow like sheep and keep voting for the same people who are only looking out for themselves and the elite.
    We are all going to pay and continue to pay, until we finally HIT BOTTOM. When those of us paying taxes are finally out of money. When the voters realize what has happened.....maybe, maybe they will take action, but don't count on it.
    We've been conditioned to be helpless sheep.

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    1. Great. A National Sales Tax. Didn't France just increase theirs to 20%?

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    2. The amount our deficit goes up every month is almost equal to the money we spend on entitlements!

      Actually entitlements, SS, Food Stamps, etc amount to about 80% of the total monthly deficit increase.

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    3. I just checked my pay stub, I've been paying into Social Security for some time now. How is that an entitlement?

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  3. Replace smpd with the sheriff. Save $1 - 1.5 million per year. Problem solved.

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    1. It is the most obvious solution, and I think Josh would choke if he tried to say it. We are going broke because we have a white elephant of a police department. Our water infrastructure is falling to pieces because we have a white elephant of a police department. We can't retire these destructive bonds because we have a white elephant of a police department.

      Say it, Josh. I dare you.

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  4. I like the picture. Very funny. Though something in a Chicken Little motif might have also worked.

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  5. One of the reasons people disengage from politics is that it is so frustrating to watch obvious answers to problems be ignored. Why are they ignoring the obvious solution of contracting with the sheriff?

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    1. If I was the SMPOA I'd start making nice right about now. They must be feeling a little like the chicken a week before the big town bar-b-que.

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  6. You know what? Maybe going broke wouldn't be the worst thing. Close city hall down, start from scratch, and fill at least half of the positions with volunteers.

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  7. Our next mayor, Nancy Walsh, proclaiming she knows nothing about water and that she instead will just go with whatever Inman tells her was not reassuring. She will be running this town at the worst possible time.

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    1. Does anyone believe it will actually be Walsh doing the running?

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    2. Excellent idea 7:06..Not as radical as one might think.It has been the source of bumbling bungling incompetence for decades.Start with cutting staff,"GO County"for protective services and forget pushing expensive "pie in the sky "development projects which are design to enrich a few and urbanize the Village character of this community.

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    3. Nancy not knowing nothing anything to do with City business or being a Councilperson is no surprise

      I tried to give the benefit of the doubt when elected but she's been nasty, vindictive, condesending and just plain oblivious to any real issues.

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  8. Running out of water can't be good for the real estate business.

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    1. The water usage for the dream McMansions at Stonehouse and One Big Crater, plus the water usage for just the laundry alone at the Kensington, would hasten the end of our water by what? One fourth of a year? One third?

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    2. How much staff time gets spent dreaming up ways of bamboozling more money out of the residents? Obviously last night's little show took some careful planning. Winding up Nancy alone must have taken hours.

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  9. I think all the committees, commissions, councils, and every member of the city staff should get together for a day long seminar to study the word "essential."

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    1. Add the word UNSTUSTAINABLE.

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    2. OK, but that would require another day long seminar.

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    3. No, all it would take is former Mayor MacGillivray giving them an hour long seminar on what is really happening and how it can be corrected before it's too late.
      That is all it would take.

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    4. That's all it would take for people who can hear.

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  10. That conversation last night, the one about how Sierra Madre can conserve until the netherworld freezes over, yeah that one, but if Arcadia doesn't stop pumping cheap Raymond Basin water it will only be for naught. All the while this tale of gloom and doom was playing out on SMTV3 the water cascading down the wash was deafening. Isn't that the water we've contracted to sell to Aracdia? The water collected in the water tunnels? The Ad Hoc Water Committee can't come soon enough but will it make a difference?

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    1. Josh wasn't happy to here about any ad hoc water committees. He is in this one for the tax and rate increases.

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  11. by advocating the necessity of a tax increase to solve our water situation, Josh is not trying to solve a problem, he's trying to create the biggest "I told you so" to stoke his own ego.

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    1. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

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  12. Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! But this time I really mean it! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!

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  13. I think they should change the name of the Kensington to "Raging Waters."

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  14. We need a regime change. Hopefully in 2014 we get it.

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    1. After a regime change in 2012 to get it started.

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  15. Took the advice of a wise Tattler last year and switched my cell phone accounts to an out of town address. I save about $15.00 per month. Not a fortune, but every cent kept out of the hands of these sanctimonious crooks is worth the effort.

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    1. Thanks for the TIP..If all the residents did this maybe these crooks would get the message

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    2. Have you noticed your Amazon.com purchases now are taxed at about 10%? The crooked beast is slouching toward total control of your life.

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    3. The obvious answer here, 9:17 am, is not to buy from Amazon.com. Perhaps you're one of the ones who's subscribing to the Water Department's big push to raise the water rates? Complain like crazy but go along?

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    4. Is there a better place to shop online?

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    5. Example: eBay Dummies 7th edition

      Amazon $16.49 plus $1.79 tax (no shipping on $25 orders 5 - 7 days))
      Barnes & Noble $18.07 plus tax online
      Powells $24.99 plus tax online
      eBay $20.82 no tax, free econ shipping

      So, if you want a book today hop in the car and battle the crowds otherwise looks like Amazon is still a good deal including tax

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    6. The big question with Amazon charging sales tax is whether S. Madre will get the sales tax income or whether Sacramento keeps it. My bet is on Jerry Brown.

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    7. If you're going to buy a book ot two, take some time and go to Vroman's. Nice folks and the last decent bookstore around.

      Take a friend.

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    8. I like to browse. I shop Vromans every time.

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    9. Vroman's is lovely and their service is superb. But buying books at Vroman's is a lot like grocery shopping at Whole Foods. You pay dearly for the ambiance.

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    10. I am also a loyal Vromans customer, but I recognize the truth of what you say 1:59. It's not all elegance though - they really do carry a much greater variety of books than any other stores, and arcane ones at that. But if I demand that city staff figure out what luxury is, and I do demand that, I have to apply t to myself too. Vromans is a luxury. The Paperback Exchange or any thrift store, or the back of the library, is for readers on a budget.

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    11. The problem with shopping on line is you usually know what you want, and that is all you really see. But with a store like Vromans you discover things you knew nothing about. Some of the best books I have ever read came to me by chance like that.

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  16. 9:17, you can thank Jerry Brown for that.

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    1. The Death Star wants it all. Every damn cent.

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    2. The Force Is With Us.

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    3. Quidnunc of BorgozieuSeptember 26, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Josh, I am your father.

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  17. Getting back to home base.Maybe bankruptcy would be beneficial in the long run.The prospects for financial sanity ever happening for this city is dubious.

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    1. Sierra Madre has a very old school city government. We basically need to reinvent the wheel here. The financial pressures we are facing will drive this. This is what change looks like.

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    2. Thanks again to all those Sierra Madre folks who voted down the UUT increase. Can you hear us now? Good.

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    3. Kind of the way it works with government. Give them more money to deal with overspending, so then they spend more. The only way to stop them is to stop giving them more. The route to fiscal sanity in Sierra Madre is to sunset the UUT. It is already the highest rate in California.

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  18. Stop the lawsuits! Stop wasting our money, money we don't have! Stop letting the law firms get rich on our tax dollars.

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  19. Why not bankruptcy? If you want the Sheriff's, the city should just opt out and become incorporated. I don't think the city of Arcadia or Pasadena would want us. The parks and rec are basically run by outside interests. Now the city needs to do the same with the Police, Fire, Paramedics and the Library. There is no real Supermarket in this town and now the up coming vote reguarding the upscale memory loss facility will take up the remainder of the downtown land for the business district. Also the elementary school appears to be in bad politics.
    Will someone please blog and remind all of us Sierra Madreans what it means to be a village?

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    1. lol - this just cracks me up "Village"

      dude or dudette

      Sierra Madre is in Southern California, Los Angeles County

      in a region of 15 million people

      and yet some tout "small town"..."village"....which is isn't, can't be and will never be again - that thinking is from 50 years ago

      a small town is out in the boondocks, miles away from another town

      We are in a metropolitan area, with a half axed police department and a volunteer fire department whose basic requirement is "can you carry a keg at the 4th of July beer garden"

      You mention "outside interests" - well that's what has been running the city for years such as the Arcadia Board of Realtors or utility companies allowing employees free time to "market" their interests inside of the city government and thank you very much, we received two of the most worst city councilmen in history, John Buchanan and Joe Mosca who did nothing but cater to outside interests and what ever benefitted their employers

      or Bart Doyle, the often investigated former Mayor who worked for the Building Association and everything he does or says is to benefit himself or his associates



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  20. It takes people not willing to give up on their town, buck up butter cup...there's work to do!

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  21. If there is no water, then there is no water. Money in your pockets for water is a repeat performance..... Let's just call in the Rainmaker.

    Do not believe the lie again. We will NOT pay a high tax just because THEY say so. No more development AT ALL. Time for the Sierra Madre Revolution. Storm the PALACE on SM Blvd and do not lie to me TWICE!

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    1. They're holding our water ransom. We are being extorted.

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    2. wasn't this the same city staff that lied to us about the UUT and distributed misinformation and openly dabbled in the gray areas of the law and then conveniently misplaced documents and claimed out city water infrastructure was on the verge of collapse?

      I assume everything that comes out of the mouth of our City Manager, Attorney and a few select Councilmembers (Moran, Walsh) is either self serving, muddied or a deliberate lie.

      It's been the pattern and it hasn't changed.

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  22. Extortion is so strong a word.

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    1. It seems to be getting around, though.

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Well now I wish I could have seen it.
      On second thought, it's probably best not to.
      Thanks Mod.

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    2. It would have caused you to question your belief in the goodness of man.

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    3. Most people are good. It's just that the ones who aren't tend to be very, very loud.

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    4. You really think so? My take is most people are neither good nor bad. They just don't do anything.

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    5. what was wrong with my choice of words?

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  24. Friends don't let friends post drunk.

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  25. THE PASADENA STAR SHOULD BE ALL OVER BRUCE INMANS STATEMENT - SM HAS 12 MONTHS OF WATER LEFT

    Sierra Madres water & sewer issues are just like the presidential debates...

    Is there anyone in town who has a dictionary...

    Please provide the residents the definition of the word "ADJUCATION"

    SIERRA MADRE DRAWS ITS WATER FROM "THE RAYMOND ADJUCATED WATER BASIN"

    WHY HAS THE OTHER CITIES WHO DRAW THEIR WATER FROM THE RAYMOND WATER BASIN FAILED TO ANNOUNCE THAT ALL THE WATER WILL BE GONE IN 12 MONTHS ALSO!

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  26. Watched a bit of the playback of last night's meeting. Sure am grateful for Capoccia and Koerber.

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  27. maybe it's just time for Sierra Madre to shutter City Hall and annex into Arcadia or Pasadena

    goodness knows with the shenanigans of a few previous Councils, we are certainly on the verge of imploding

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  28. out city staff works on the theory that if you lie all the time and make up BS - some of it will stick - spin misinformation and tell half the story

    jeez Bruce, you were just spinning complete fabrications just a couple years ago about impending doom

    and here you go again

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