Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who Is the One Person that Knows Where All the Water Bond Bodies Are Buried?

Bruce's famous rusty pipe
The answer? Bruce Inman. Bruce was there for both the 1998 and 2003 Water Bonds, the twin sources of the $23 million dollar debt load (including interest) that is currently killing off this City's Water Division. Despite all of the deceptive happy blather coming from our City Council, these bonds are the one actual reason why our water rates are going to be raised yet again, and within the year. Or at least they are going to try.

With interest payments now at nearly $1 million a year, how could our water rates not be going up? We hear so much about aged infrastructure and decaying water mains, but should we really be surprised that this is the case? With most of the Water Division's available revenue going for servicing this massive debt load, obviously just about everything else had to be neglected. And the dismal results show that. Debt and neglect being the two operative watchwords for Bruce Inman's failing water empire.

The actual bond documents are available on the internet. The 1998 Water Bonds can be founding by clicking here. The 2003 Water Bonds are here. Note that Bart Doyle was in office both times. As was Bruce Inman, who is still there today.

What I personally find offensive about this is that City Hall has once again set out to convince the residents of Sierra Madre that this massive bond debt is not the driving force behind the need to raise water rates again. Here is how the Water Division's financial woes were described on April 26 in the City's RFP for a consultant to conduct a water rate study later this year. A study that will eventually be used to help justify raising our water rates.

A water rate study was completed in May of 2010, and the proposed rates passed the Prop 218 requirements in July of that year. Following a community discussion of the proposed rates, a revised rate structure was adopted by the City Council in January 2011. The rates went into effect July 1, 2011.

Water revenue has not met the projections of the 2010 rate study. As a result water revenue is not adequate to cover operations, capital improvements, or debt coverage requirements. Therefore, the City Council has directed staff to seek proposals from qualified professional firms for the preparation of a new water rate study.

Notice the order in which the Water Division's troubles are listed? First is inadequate water revenue, second is the cost of "capital improvements." Only after those two are listed does "debt coverage requirements" get acknowledged. But is that really how City Hall should be referring to $23 million dollars in water bond debt? "Debt coverage requirements?"

It is as if even speaking the words "water bond debt" is to be feared, and no one should ever dare to even utter them. It is Sierra Madre's version of forbidden knowledge.

A new water rate increase would be a second big hit to your pocketbook in a little more than two years. It is also likely to be far larger this time. And in my opinion we need to start gearing up to fight it very soon. The Prop 218 fight of 2010 was a rushed affair, and frankly some mistakes were made. We were new at that sort of thing and basically making it all up as we went along. But the necessary lessons were learned, and now we know how to do it right. This time we will be a stone cold water rate increase killing machine. I alone pulled in over 300 signatures last time. I will do even better this time.

However, I don't mean to be completely hard nosed about this. After all, the $23 million dollars in water bond debt that is driving the need to raise rates is a fact, and short of bankruptcy or selling off the entire Water Division, it will not magically go away.

So here is one way that the City could possibly blunt the anger of residents who not only don't want to pay even more for water, but also are upset at being told rather stupid fairy tales by people who arrogantly believe that the people don't really need to know. And that is to tell the truth. City Hall hasn't tried this tactic yet, but given the very real potential for losing the next Prop 218 fight, perhaps they might want to give it a try.

My proposal here is that the City agendize the water bond debt question as an item for a future City Council meeting discussion, and have the one man who was in the saddle for both of these ill-fated financial disasters, Bruce Inman, explain to the people of Sierra Madre exactly how it all came about. Who was responsible, what it is these individuals thought they were doing, and why this massive debt load is destroying the Water Division and thereby causing considerable harm to our community. Bruce bears a lot of the responsibility here, and by enabling him to present the facts in a public hearing it will give him an opportunity to finally come clean.

What does the City have to lose?

One more thing. Here is an article that ran in the Pasadena Star News on October 6 of 2011 (click here). It discusses a few things, including this City's embarrassing failure to level with the public about the true cause of our previous water rate increase. A mistake they seem to be well on the way to repeating now.

Moody's drops Sierra Madre water bond rating

By Brian Charles, Staff Writer
Posted:   10/06/2011 10:34:26 PM PDT
Updated:   10/06/2011 10:35:37 PM PDT

SIERRA MADRE - Credit rating agency Moody's downgraded the city of Sierra Madre's Water Enterprise bonds from AAA to an A bond rating due to insufficient water rate revenues, according to a report by the credit agency.

The downgrade does not affect current indebtedness or bond payments and Sierra Madre officials said Thursday the second year of an incremental rate hike approved in early 2011 will serve as the remedy.

"The bonds will be re-evaluated in another year, and assuming the revenue estimates and the revenues that rate payers are paying, we will regain our triple A rating," said Elaine Aguilar, Sierra Madre city manager.

Last year, rusty water pipes were paraded through Sierra Madre City Council meetings in an attempt to rally support for rate hikes. City officials said the hikes were needed to upgrade 2.95-square-mile city's water system that supplies water to less than 11,000 people.

City officials pitched the rate hike as necessary to keep the water system from falling apart and said nothing about a bond rating or bond indebtedness, according to John Crawford, resident and blogger for the Sierra Madre Tattler, who broke the story on his website early Thursday morning.

"When they first packaged raising the water rates, they pitched as the pipes were broken and the pipes needed to be fixed," Crawford said. "They didn't say it had anything to do with bonds."

It didn't take much detective work to discover the real issue was pulling in enough revenue to keep credit rating agency from dinging Sierra Madre's bond rating and making moves such as refinancing bonds next to impossible, he said. 

"Later on Sierra Madre residents discovered that this was about the bond covenants," Crawford said.

Sierra Madre city officials switched tactics and repositioned the rate hike as necessary to satisfy credit agencies, but the public outcry had grown intense - there was massive opposition to the rate hike and the increase was challenged legally with the city eventually emerging victorious, he said.

The political scuttlebutt forced the City Council to hedge on a full-scale rate hike.

Instead of spiking rates high enough to meet the bond covenants requirement of 120 percent of funding for this year, the city slowly rolled out the rate increase and won't meet the revenue levels needed to satisfy credit agencies such as Moody's until 2012, Sierra Madre Mayor John Buchanan said.

"You trade-off coming fully up to speed on your bond covenants right away, against the need to bring your people along slowly ... and not hitting people with the increase right away," Buchanan said. "Of course the first proposal in front of us was for a steeper increase, but there was a second issue, the residents were opposed to a steep increase and we have a fair number of senior citizens on a fixed income."

Crawford blasted city officials Thursday for the quagmire left by not being forthcoming on the bonding issue from the beginning and a failed plan to keep the city from being downgraded.

"We pay more money and we still don't have a triple A rating."

Hopefully those running this town have learned their lesson and this time they will tell us the truth. Otherwise City Hall could find itself in a Prop 218 fight over water rates that this time it may very well lose.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. Bruce Inman could not be employed at his current position in another city. He is not qualified. Bruce is not a licensed civil engineer. Bart is the Root of the problem and Bruce has no authority or experience to stop the bone headed decision making. Bruce does as he is told. Where else is he going to go, that is why he is still here. However Bruce is counting the days to his retirement on our dime.

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  2. As do all Sierra Madre city employees, do as your told or you'll lose your job and invitation to this years Christmas parties.

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  3. I think this needs to be done. The city has never properly discussed the role the bond debt plays in these rate hikes. Probably to protect the reputations of the dumb city councils and Mayors that approved them. A consideration that is as ridiculous as the bonds themselves. If they want more of our money, they need to tell us the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When they started off lying and then continued to lie and give us wrong information, I really don't care what they say now.

      John Buchanan stood in front of us and flat out lied to us. He and Joe Mosca called emergency meetings for a pending implosion of our water system and the entire time they were covering for Bruce and a previous Council, who happened to be supporters of them.

      Now we have the party boi Josh Moran just spewing out more BS.

      I'm voting no and Bruce needs to go.

      And don't forget when they originally tried to sneak in the rate increase they were also seeking matching funds to build a new library in John Buchanan's honor...or lack of honor.

      Delete
    2. I agree. They never tell the truth. No water rate hike. Give me some petitions, I want to work.

      Delete
  4. If you look at both bonds you'll see that it was Doyle, Hayes and Stockley both times. The Borrow Brothers. And now we have to pay out the nose for water so their mess can get cleaned up? Thanks guys!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. City Hall is protecting its favorites.

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    2. Hayes was way over his head with making decision.

      Stockley and Doyle were being calculated with their decisons.

      Stockley is a banker - he knew what he was doing.

      Doyle is a building lobbyist, so he was just peddling his own scam.

      Delete
  5. Fire Bruce Inman!

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  6. In the Star News article John Buchanan blames fixed income seniors for the failure of the first rate hike to protect our water bond ratings.

    Shameless.

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    Replies
    1. In the PSN article Elaine Aguilar said we would regain our AAA bond rating in a year. It's been a year and a half since she said that. Where's the AAA rating, Elaine? Huh?

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    2. Elaine will say anything.

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    3. I find her to be embarrassing.

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  7. Inman announced that we would be out of water in a year. He announced that half a year ago? So is the rate hike in order to buy water from someplace else?

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    Replies
    1. Rusty Pipes Inman will say anything, too.

      Delete
  8. Page 26 on both Bond applications list the 10 top water users in the city. Very interesting in that Heflin's properties were listed three times in 1998 and in 2003 there was "private citizen" listed on those three same lines. Who is private citizen--the bank that own's the three Heflin properties now know as Stone House. In 1998 the city was not listed as a top 10 water user, but is listed in 2003. At any rate, all told, this makes up a very small part of the water users, because it is us, the individual private property owner or renter that is the biggest paying segment. There were two condo associations listed in both years in the top 10. Hastings Oaks was the 10th top user listed both times.

    Now, at Stone Gate, the former 1 Carter site, the city has placed a dozen or more failure to pay water bill notices on the posts of the unsold lots. How does this help cover water use costs born by the bank that still owns these lots. It is presumed that the lots without the water notices are owned individually. Use water, don't pay for it, get notice, ignore notice, and then the city goes after the rest of us with water rate increases. The unpaid water notices show amounts of $130.00 +/- owed.

    Good grief!

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  9. We are going to have to raise our water prices so that we can supply water to the mansions in the hills.

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    Replies
    1. The Doyle etc water bond shenanigans were always about development. So is the so-called "temporary" hook up with the San Gabriel Valley Water District. These people lie. Constantly.

      Delete
    2. GET READY TATTO.. WE ARE MOVING TO KANSAS...

      THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE'S WELL IS NEAR DRY!!!

      THE CITY WANTS TO CHARGE THE RESIDENTS MORE MONEY FOR WATER WE MIGHT NOT HAVE...

      THE CITY WANTS TO CHARE THE RESIDENTS FOR $1.5 MILLION DOLLARS TO PURCHASE ELECTRONIC WATER METERS & SPEARS / COMPUTORS TO METER WATER WHICH WE PROBABLE WILL NOT HAVE> THE WATER DEPARTMENT IS BROKE, DOES ANYONE WANT CHALLENGE THIS STATEMENT?

      2012... BRUCE INMAN MADE A SPEECH ON TELEVISION... SHARING WITH THE SIERRA MADRE REDSIDENTS THAT OUR WATER WELL WILL GO DRY NEXT YEAR IF THERE IS NO RAIN OR SNOWFALL?

      2013
      WELL ITS NEXT YEAR,
      BRUCE STATES THE WELL IS NEAR DRY... READY TO SUCK AIR NOT WATER....

      WHEN WILL BRUCE & ELAINE INSTRUCT CITY RESIDENTS TO GO TO THE CITY OF ARCADIA TO BRUSH THERE TEETH & TAKE A SHOWER. (It will be just like the gasoline lines... get in line)

      THANK YOU ELAINE, BRUCE & CITY COUNCIL MEMBER FOR DOING A GREAT JOB!

      It's now time to seek competent people who can run our city.. We need to ask Elaine - Bruce and city staff to leave and please take those old - rusty water pipes with them...

      from a concerned resident

      Delete
    3. Why is it iften...people ridicule individuals that have done well for themselves? water for the Mansions?

      Delete
    4. Because we have done well overselves and it is our perogative to make fun of nouveau riche oafs.

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    5. 12:24 --- Why is it that people who defend dirts are often near illiterates?

      Delete
    6. Because you'd have to be completely brain dead to believe them?

      Delete
  10. the downtown investors are running the show, city hall does what it is told to do, city employees just want to keep their easy, high paying jobs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, well compensated out of town employees that are rewarded for working against the interests of the people whose taxes pay them. Kind of like an occupation government if you think about it.

      Delete
    2. The dirt are never at the CC meetings. They don't need to be there because they know Moron, walsh and Johnny will see their agenda is carried out.

      Delete
    3. Too true. They have people who handle that sort of thing for them.

      Delete
  11. Maybe bankruptcy now would turn out to be the best choice;inasmuch as the City's DERANGED LEADERSHIP is driving us towards it anyway!

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  12. If the Stone Carter water isn't paid for, what happens when there's a fire?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we throw dry dirt on it!

      Delete
  13. We make s'mores.

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  14. Anyone intersted in Southern California weather report for today? Yes, 11:19 a.m. water to fight fires should be on everybody list of concerns
    :
    Strong surface high pressure over the Great Basin will bring north to east winds of 15 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph to much of Southern California and the Owens Valley through this afternoon. High pressure aloft building into California from the Pacific Ocean will bring much warmer temperatures to the region through Friday. Temperatures will be near 100 degrees in the valleys today and Friday. Widespread single digit humidity will affect the region this afternoon through Friday afternoon. An area of low pressure will form off the California Coast Saturday bringing a big drop in temperatures and an increase in humidity. There will be isolated showers and thunderstorms over the Sierra Saturday afternoon. This low pressure area will remain off the coast bringing well below normal temperatures along with scattered showers and thunderstorms to much of the region Sunday through early next week. The potential for large fire will be high over the South Coast, Western Mountains, and Eastern Mountains due to strong offshore winds, single digit humidity, and very dry fuels through Friday.

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    Replies
    1. There will be a large trough of hot air over 232 W Sierra Madre Boulevard on May 14. Some are calling it Superstorm Nancy.

      Delete
    2. Ever since BART DOYLE took control of all the stupid/greedy people in this town Sierra Madre has gone downhill.
      He is the main cause of all our problems.
      This evil little man should be tarred and feathered and run out of town!
      He is a DISEASE. He is KILLING the town.

      Delete
    3. One thing about Bart, everything he touches turns to crap. The Water Department is a good example.

      Delete
    4. Bart is the NUMBER ONE evil force in this town. He and his gang of criminals have destroyed a lovely town.
      Bruce is just a city employee......he is not responsible for what's happened.

      Delete
    5. He is a very destructive person. He does not care about us.

      Delete
  15. Looking into my crystal ball will cost you $50,000.May 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Does the city have any recourse against the 2008 Water Rate fortune teller that made the wrong predictions? NO
    Will the city use that gypsy again? MOST LIKELY

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  16. BOMB THREAT AT PASADENA HIGH SCHOOL
    SCHOOL IS IN LOCKDOWN !!!!!!!!!

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  17. Everyone needs to prepare for the eventuality of fire for all areas of southern California. Sierra Madre did very well in 2007--people paid attention and had their cars packed, facing out of the garage, houses closed down (leave a light on), they did their perimeter brush clearance, some buying fire gel for apply to the roofs and walls. Have a grab and go bag prepared or planned in your head. Make a list of what you want to take with you, if you had 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.

    My list to secure and evacuate: People, pets, papers (computer), photos, precious things--in descending order.

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  18. Fire updates:

    1) Springs fire (Camarillo- Ventura County) : 6,500 acres burned; several homes destroyed; fixed wing airtankers grounded due to wind gusts of 40 mph; mandatory evacs underway at Cal State Channel Islands; burning towards PCH; 0% contained; mutual aid for law has not been requested by Ventura County Sheriff Dept at this time.

    2) Summit fire (Banning-Riverside County): 3,000 acres burned; fire is about 35-45% contained; mutual aid for law has not been requested by Riverside County Sheriff Dept at this time.

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  19. Just heard a sky crane helicopter go overhead, east to west, no doubt being transferred from Banning to Camarillo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NPR says the Camarillo fire is going to burn all the way down to the ocean.

      Delete
  20. My guess is Doyle, Stockley and Haze thought that all the extra water revenue the city would get from a fully constructed DSP would more than cover the costs of at least the 2003 bond sell. Too bad for them that the people of Sierra Madre didn't want their garbage development. They need to be called out for this.

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  21. Great Post... I wanted to read it again....



    GET READY TATTO.. WE ARE MOVING TO KANSAS...

    THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE'S WELL IS NEAR DRY!!!

    THE CITY WANTS TO CHARGE THE RESIDENTS MORE MONEY FOR WATER WE MIGHT NOT HAVE...

    THE CITY WANTS TO CHARGE THE RESIDENTS FOR $1.5 MILLION DOLLARS TO PURCHASE ELECTRONIC WATER METERS & SPEARS / COMPUTORS TO METER WATER WHICH WE PROBABLE WILL NOT HAVE> THE WATER DEPARTMENT IS BROKE, DOES ANYONE WANT TO CHALLENGE THIS STATEMENT?

    2012... BRUCE INMAN MADE A SPEECH ON TELEVISION... SHARING WITH THE SIERRA MADRE REDSIDENTS THAT OUR WATER WELL WILL GO DRY NEXT YEAR IF THERE IS NO RAIN OR SNOWFALL?

    2013
    WELL ITS NEXT YEAR,
    BRUCE STATES THE WELL IS NEAR DRY... READY TO SUCK AIR NOT WATER....

    WHEN WILL BRUCE & ELAINE INSTRUCT CITY RESIDENTS TO GO TO THE CITY OF ARCADIA TO BRUSH THERE TEETH & TAKE A SHOWER. (It will be just like the gasoline lines... get in line)

    THANK YOU ELAINE, BRUCE & CITY COUNCIL MEMBER(S) FOR DOING A GREAT JOB!
    THESE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE CITY RESIDENTS / NOT POLITICIONS!

    It's now time to seek competent people who can run our city.. We need to ask Elaine - Bruce and city staff to leave and please take those old - rusty water pipes with them...

    from 2 concerned resident

    ReplyDelete
  22. LA Times ran a story last week that I thought was about the Sierra Madre ongoing debacle over bonded indebtedness, misssing funds, corrupt Council members, The City Attorney lying, and missrepresentations by the debacle principals. Turns out it was not Sierra Madre but Victorville with its cast of Kabuki City Administration Players". Over and over again we have unprincipaled city governments pleasing themselves as if they and only they know what is best for our City, of course using our tax funds, to pursue their nefarious activities. It seeems as if they don't care if they are caught as long as they have had enough time to enrich themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Democracy only works when the people get involved. Otherwise the government will rob them blind.

      Delete
    2. I agree. apathy breeds opportunists.

      Delete
  23. It seems the Dark Lord Doyle is doing a work around to redeem himself in the greater SGV. This from today's PSN:

    "Called Citizens for A Better College, the group placed a full-page advertisement in Thursday's Star-News as an open letter to the PCC board of trustees, urging them to put students first and move past the "behavior of a noisy few. "

    The ad is signed by former PCC trustees Ann Hight and Warren Weber, Arcadia Councilman Peter Amundson, former Sierra Madre Councilman Bart Doyle, former San Marino Councilman Michael Johnson and former Pasadena City Manager Donald McIntyre, among others."

    Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23155842/high-profile-group-emerges-support-pasadena-city-college#ixzz2SBuXEpVi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. Doyle knows that public education causes make him look good.
      Don't worry about that little dust-up in El Monte folks.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, those Measure TT bonds Bart pushed have done wonders for Sierra Madre's Middle School. And didn't not having a Board of Ed vote in March make us all proud? Again, thanks to Bart.

      I gotta question! Does anything Bart touches live?

      Delete
  24. If you have ever had any personal dealings with Bruce Inman ,you will know he is unfit for any Public Office.Sadly the same malaise of arrogance and dishonesty afflicts other City employees. The reason is simple -they are not subject to any normal standards of behavior.Lying,cheating & incompetence are the prevailing standard. I do not blame the people,the System is the problem.
    The solution is to have the absolute minimum of 'government' because of reasons cited above. Start by firing Inman and Aguillar!

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete