"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.