Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wayne Lusvardi on the Proposed L.A. County Storm Water Runoff Parcel Tax

The Yaroslavsky Money Dash
Some of the maniacs on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would like you to believe that their self-styled beneficent and salvational proposed new parcel tax really is actually a "Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure." After all, who on God's Green Earth could ever be against clean water and clean beaches? I personally have never met a dirty beach advocate, though perhaps they're out there. If such individuals exist, they have been very quiet lately. And who knows, maybe these guys are down at Zuma Beach right now scattering candy wrappers and plastic water bottles up and down those storied and pristine sandy stretches. Nothing in this world should ever surprise people as eminently aware as ourselves.

Of course, what this really is all about is a new and creative way for the money mulching operation Los Angeles County is running to lay their hands on even more of our dough. The $23.5 billion big ones they're getting today is apparently not enough for them anymore. This Stormwater Runoff Parcel Tax (my term) being a way for the Soops to receive another $200,000,000 million for whatever it is they do to make this packed out County the dysfunctional mess it is today.

Wayne Lusvardi, who writes for the always brilliant Cal Watchdog site (along with his currently at leisure local affairs site Pasadena Sub Rosa, which he assures us will be back in action soon), has published a number of articles on this latest attempt to squeeze even more cash out of we the too often dunned people. Here is how Wayne lays it all out in an article titled "Pollution tax heads for LA County" (click here):

The tax climate forecast for Los Angeles County has turned gloomy. There is an $8 billion annual tax storm that is coming in 18 months. It will rain on every property owner in the county.

But the tax monies will mainly flow to a few politically connected groups and unions.  To comply with new state law, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is proposing an annual parcel tax of $8 to $83 per single-family home.

Big box retailers will get a tax bill for $15,000 per year, in addition to their existing property taxes.  And commercial properties in downtown Los Angeles on impervious clay soils will get socked with a $200,000 added tax per year for storm water capture projects.

The parcel tax is being called necessary to comply with unfunded mandates of the Federal Clean Water Act to prevent the downstream pollution of flood control outlets to beaches and artificial recreation lakes along flood control channels.  However, in 2010 the California Legislature enacted its own storm water cleanup law only for Los Angeles County, Assembly Bill 2554.

The remainder of the state has no such law.  This tips off voters that the real intent of the legislature is to create green jobs in L.A. County’s distressed unincorporated areas, which overlap the watershed area zones in the county’s storm water capture program.

Los Angeles County is complying with this new state law with its “Clean Water — Clean Beaches” Measure.  However, calling it a tax “measure” is a misnomer because there are no suitable limits or control mechanisms on how much would be spent under the current law.

One of the things that typifies current marketing trends for many of the things we don't want is to Greenwash them (click here). According to the Sierra Madre Green Committee densely packed shelve-housing development downtown would be "green" because it would somehow magically encourage people to take the bus to work. The coal industry, very concerned about electric power plant change-overs to more environmentally beneficial natural gas, proclaims as often as it can afford that their product is "clean." As in "clean coal." Which is oxymoronic.

Not that long ago the uber burger barons at McDonalds changed the inspirational color hues of their patty packaging from yellow and red to yellow and green. Why? Because they want you to believe that they care about preserving our planet's precious natural resources. Which means landfills are now being filled to the brim with green colored burger wrappers instead of the traditional ketchup red.

Can I get a right on, people?

So in a marketing environment such as this, why not proclaim that an effort to cozen even more tax money out of property owning L.A. County residents is green? If McDonalds can do it, why not the LA County Board of Supervisors?

So what is the actual purpose behind the Soop's "Clean Beaches" baloney? Here is where Wayne Lusvardi brings it home:

On Nov. 9, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board passed Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Order MS4. It requires all 88 cities in the county to develop storm water clean up projects within the next 18 months.

The proposed $5 to $8 billion project will mandate that property owners pay a flat parcel tax unconnected with the market value of their property (not ad valorem or added value tax). The tax is purportedly for many water detention basins to be constructed in unincorporated watershed areas and in each city instead of on a regional basis as they are today.

Fifty percent of the $8 billion in taxes will go to nine unelected watershed groups in the following watersheds to divvy up the proceeds for green jobs: Ballona Creek, Dominguez Channel, Upper Los Angeles River, Lower Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, Upper San Gabriel River, Lower San Gabriel River, Santa Clara River, and Santa Monica Bay watersheds.

The stated purpose of creating Watershed Groups is to provide jobs to residents in unincorporated areas with high proportions of low-income households. Funding shall be in the same proportion as the fees collected in each watershed area. The watershed groups will also constitute an additional layer of unnecessary government.

So much for the beaches. And can this be how John Buchanan planned to deliver all those "green jobs" to the people of Sierra Madre? On the backs to the taxpayers? Shouldn't that be called "green welfare" instead?

A lot of good people are now gearing up to defeat this tax, and according to some of the folks I've been talking with it can be beat. We will be writing about this issue a lot over the next couple of months. It is the kind of local politics that we can - and should - do. We beat the UUT extension. We can help beat this as well.

Is Sandra Levin getting out of the City Attorney business?

Recently I got an e-mail from our friends over at The Avocado Express blog, and it now appears that our departed City Attorney Sandra Levin is preparing to announce her denouement from similar responsibilities in La Habra Heights. This following closely on the heels of her recent scamper from Los Alamitos as well.

But it's not just that. Apparently Lawyer Levin is also looking at a career change. According to a Dec. 18 press release from the LA Law Library (click here), someone we know very well has just been appointed their new Executive Director.

LA Law Library Board of Trustees today announced that Sandra J. Levin will be joining LA Law Library as Executive Director, effective December 26, 2012, succeeding Marcia J. Koslov, who is retiring after 7 ½ years in the position.

“We are extremely pleased that Sandi will be joining the LA Law Library full time” said Susan Steinhauser, President of the Library’s Board of Trustees. “She has already distinguished herself in her role as the Law Library’s General Counsel. With a total of 25 years in the legal profession in roles ranging from named partner to elected official, she brings an extraordinary blend of experience and ability to the Library. Her legal intellect, thoughtful approach to problem-solving and planning, and interpersonal and management skills, make her the ideal leader as we expand our position as a leading legal research and community center."

“I am excited to be joining the LA Law Library at such a momentous time,” Ms. Levin said. “The accomplishments of Marcia and her staff over the last seven and half years are nothing short of remarkable. I look forward to carrying out the vision of the Board of Trustees to reach a larger segment of the public and the legal community, provide services both virtually and at our Main Library, branch and partnership locations and open our doors to a broader range of events and activities.”

We can only hope that Sandi will find this librarian gig more to her liking. As most of us are aware, a resume' that contains too many job changes is never a positive reflection on one's career.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

45 comments:

  1. when will they ever learn that government does not create jobs, the private sector does. this proposed parcel tax is just an end run around Prop.13. If we allow this there will be no stopping them! This is our money they want to take. We need to send them a message by soundly defeating this. Sign me up, Mod, I'm ready to work.

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  2. that is why we have a private army, police, fire , ect

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    1. Somehow I think we will be able to survive without a District Commissioner of Storm Sewers.

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    2. Most taxpayers see the benefits of an army and police and fire departments. That acceptance implies that these services are efficient and necessary. Our police department is not efficient, and many are ready to dump it and hire the Sheriffs.

      I do not think that many believe that it is in the taxpayers' interest to "create" jobs.

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    3. i'd be able to survive with that, and a lot of other sh.......oot

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    4. The Sub-Minister of Mud for the Western San Gabriel Valley Area.

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    5. SUB-MINISTER OF MUD! HA HA!
      If ONLY they would call it that --- then maybe more people would realize what they're up to with this nonsense.

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    6. The Duke of Dirt.

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  3. Does this mean Colantuono & Levin will be disbanding?

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    1. Good question. That Sandi has now left 3 City Atty jobs in the last two years must mean she has lost the stomach for all of the abuse she takes for the slanted legal work she does. She could be running away.

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    2. Yes, this is possible, 8:40 am.
      Hopefully, she'll have a change of heart and decide to contribute rather than to eploit.

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    3. I suspect it's more like certain economic goals have been reached, and it's time to enjoy the rewards.

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    4. Sandi Levin, woman of conscience? I dunno ...

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    5. thus changing the firm's name to Colantuono & Leavin'?

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    6. Interesting about Sandi Levin; I hadn't heard her name in a while.
      I remember that through her law firm she was responsible for crafting some less-than-earnest legalistic loophole language about five or six years ago for Pasadena's Measure D -- our own utility user's tax measure -- which helped the city hide some trickery from voters. (Measure D went on to win.)
      Who knew that in the intervening years she has been hired as the city attorney for a string of cities in the San Gabriel Valley?
      Well, lest anyone think that one person can't accomplish much, it just goes to show you how much (destruction) one person CAN do.

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    7. Oops, my mistake: She hasn't only worked in SG Valley cities but has been legal counsel for cities all over So. Calif.! yikes

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    8. You would be so lucky....

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  4. What's next? An air tax? Oh wait, that's "cap & trade."

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  5. I guess Sandi's job will be to tear out the pages of the law books that have to do with justice--you know those pesky "grey areas."

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    1. Yes, and white out any references to "units" and replace them with "suites."

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  6. One of Sandi Levin's most memorable moments in La Habra Heights. Yes, we can get a little intense when it comes to open government. http://youtu.be/Xk-NFVSRZII

    EOM

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    1. Great video, George. Thanks for posting it here. When is she hanging it up in La Habra Heights? Your city is the last one she has left.

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    2. Thanks Mr. Edwardz. Keep the "disruptions" going - long live democracy.

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    3. Doesn't Sandi contradict herself in that video? To the first gentleman she says Vipperman's e-mail cannot be read aloud because of atty/client privilege. Yet when Mr Edwardz goes to the podium she says it can be read, and nobody can legally stop him. The old gal is all over the map.

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    4. Here is news flash I was sent Thursday morning: "Ms. Sandra Levin will announce her resignation as the city's Legal Counsel at the next City Counsel meeting. She will head the Los Angeles Law Library."

      If that's correct she will announce her resignation at the January 10th, 2013 meeting of the La Habra Heights City Council.

      We reached out to Ms. Levin on Thursday for comment but have not received a response.

      EOM

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    5. Sierra Madre, Los Alamitos, and now La Habra Heights. Sounds like a Trifecta.

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  7. Did I miss something? I didn't see any announcement of Levin leaving Coluantano & Levin... just filling in her hours.

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    1. Check out item 14, "Moonlighting" from the draft agreement: http://www.theavocadoexpress.com/News-PDF-Files/LALB-Sandi-Levin.pdf

      View complete document at: http://www.lalawlibrary.org/pdfs/Agenda_20121218.pdf

      EOM

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    2. So she can keep lawyering as long as she wants, with a few restrictions.

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    3. I think she is getting out because things are changing. Her style of city lawyering has met with fierce resistance everywhere she's gone. People have had their fill of slick dishonest city attorneys. Sandi has seen the writing on the wall.

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  8. We have two water problems in Sierra Madre:

    1) Too much of it creates flooding, and takes our car chemicals and flushes them out to the beach.

    2) Too little of it repleneshing our aquifer, hence why we have spreading ponds.

    An easy way to avoid this tax is to make our streets permeable concrete so the water doesn't go into the sewers but into our aquifers. Do it right and it cleans it as it goes down.

    We replenish our aquifer, we reduce mudslides in the hill areas, we have less expense for mud clean-up, and we don't flush our precious water out into the ocean.

    And that solution costs a bit less than a few years of this tax, and the end result is sustainability for us.

    However, it does cost more than we're spending now.

    But god forbid someone propose something that costs something around here.

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    1. People have been hoodwinked too ofter to trust any suggestion offered!

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    2. Too true. There is City Hall's version, and then there is that little thing called the truth.

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    3. 11:30 - we pay the highest Utility Taxes in the State of California. Are you suggesting that this money has not been spent wisely?

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    4. 12:33: I'm not suggesting anything beyond the fact that we should have permeable concrete in Sierra Madre. Especially up in the canyon where erosion and flooding is a nightmare.

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    5. the flooding and erosion in the canyon has nothing to do with pavement . It happens after the hillsides burn no anoumt of permeable pavement would have any effect

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  9. Stormwater management is already mandated at the State level by AB 32, and the various jurisdictions have been implementing it over the last few years. So there is NO excuse for a special tax to accomplish this in LA County. As a matter of fact, compliance is required from *contractors and businesses* and doesn't actually cost the County anything except to do what they're already supposed to be doing. This "tax" is total baloney and a fundamental money grab, not to mention getting around Prop 13.

    http://www.pg-tim.com/files/Workshop_Summary.pdf

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    Replies
    1. "No man's life,liberty,or property is safe while the legislature is in session." Mark twain

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  10. Off topic, There is a new video on you tube about autism. It is called "Autism made in the USA" by Dr. Gary Null, I am watching it now, very good. Give it a look if you are interested.

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  11. Thank you, 12:42 pm Water wise. Also thank you, 1:30 pm for speaking up for Autism.
    I say congratz to Ms. Sandra J. Levin with her career move, as Executive Director of the L.A. Law Library. Sandi was always very nice; but it was her Bozo partner Colantuono that advanced all the bad legal loops for many cities in the SG Valley.

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    1. Oh 2:31, did you miss Levin's work on screwing the Sierra Madre residents out of the Prop 218 process?
      She should be thoroughly ashamed of herself.

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    2. That is why C&L get paid the big bucks. They do the dirty work for shady city governments.

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  12. 2:31 Sandra Levin could be trusted about as far as you could toss a 1 ton rock. The Prop 218 was engineered by herself and other charlatans in Sacramento. She worked hard to facilitate "smoke and mirors" for Elaine and her troops. Think that has anything to do with her moving around so much?

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  13. What a tragedy that every year in our "rainy season" the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers along with others, dump in concrete facilitators enough water into the Pacific Ocean to make LA a self sustaining water City. Dams and storage facilitys would handle that job as well as not "dumping" runoff laced with trash which we now are expected to pay billions to clean up. Government looks for "make work" rather than "smart work".

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