Complaint filed with Los Angeles District Attorney against City of Sierra Madre - Public Integrity Division looking into allegations (link): One Sierra Madre resident is claiming that city water customers were collectively overcharged more than $88,000 for water in fiscal year 2011-12, according to documents obtained by Beacon Media Inc.
Sierra Madre resident Earl Richey is so convinced of this that he has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Division.
Office Spokesperson Jane Robison confirmed on Tuesday that a complaint had been filed. However, she could not offer any specifics about the complaint.
Richey alleges the city over-billed the community by approximately 92 acre feet. He said he multiplied that figure by the city’s Tier 1 water rate of $2.21. He added he arrived at the alleged over-billed amount by multiplying that by 435, the number of water units in one acre foot.
“The city billed customers for more water than they produced,” Richey said. “I consider that fraud.”
Richey also believes the city should have fixed its water problems years ago and not wait until the current drought-like conditions.
“If it’s true the city has no water reserves left, the city should have been discussing these issues 30 years ago,” he said. “Why did we wait until the city is bone dry?”
(Mod: It is at this point in the article that Elaine Aguilar attempts to gainsay Earl's claims with what she feels is a bit of convincing counterpoint. Whether it is or not I am not sure as what she says really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Of course, Elaine is the same person who one 4th of July weekend tried to convince me that I should support the 2010 water rate increase because we would get Federal matching funds for water infrastructure repair. I am not certain, but I believe those moneys eventually went into the General Fantasy Fund.)
City officials said while Richey’s math is correct, there is more to the billing process than what he is figuring.
“What you have here is sort of a situation of apples and oranges,” City Manager Elaine Aguilar said.
“You can’t take one apple and one orange and have two apples at the end of it. What (Richey is figuring) is apples and oranges. They’re numbers and they’re water numbers, but you can’t compare them together and say, ‘this is the end result.’ They’re two different things that are being put together.”
Aguilar added she and her staff have explained this to Richey, but that he just won’t listen.
“We have spoken to Mr. Richey in the past to why this is not possible to do what he is trying to do,” Aguilar said. “It is impossible with our current technology, to do what he is trying to do.”
(Mod: Elaine's argument seems to me to have gotten bogged down in fruit. If somebody understands what she is getting at here please take the opportunity to explain it to me. As Ross Perot says, I'm all ears.)
Who is the Sierra Madre Watchman?
(Mod: There are now three installments in the Sierra Madre Watchman series. Numbers 2 and 3 are in today's edition of the Sierra Madre Weekly. Pick up your copy downtown today. The first installment appeared there a few weeks back - link. I got permission from Terry Miller to reproduce it here. It is some pretty good stuff.)
THE SIERRA MADRE WATER STORY
For over thirty years, the people have been asking the City government to repair the leaky water mains. The big questions are: “When is the City going to fix the water mains? How much water is wasted by this neglect? Who is to blame, and what should be done?"
In 2010, the City said that a raise in the water rates was needed by 7.5% and adopted 3 tiers of rates, in order to repair the water mains and to increase the reserves by $500,000. They raised the water rates depending on how much water was used by the people. They said that they wanted to encourage conservation. According to Bruce Inman, the Public Works Director, the cost of a unit of water is the same whether it is the first middle, or last unit used. The result is a penalty on those people that need more water. The City is the responsible party to furnish the water in the quantity that is needed by each and every property.
The Mayor has stated that she wanted to raise the rates by 15%, but she lost in the vote. When will the City Government accept the blame, and what should be done? When will the City take the blame for their own mistakes, and do something about it, and quit blaming the people as being wasteful?
The City has not repaired or replaced any water mains nor have they built up the reserves. They say they don’t have any money to do what they said they would do with the money from the rate increases.
What would you call the action? A lie to the people or just plain fraud? In any case, it is the mismanagement of our monies and the question arises, should the City Manager be fired and, if so, how many others should also be terminated?
Out of an income of over $8M, the City cannot find any money to maintain the water system! They do have money to spend on a study, at a cost of $48,000, or more, to find out how much to raise the water rates higher. They also have money to pay a lobbyist $5,000, and money to send a number of City Council Members to visit our politicians in Washington, D.C. Note: They don’t seem to be able to talk to our representatives at home.
Now you hear the same story all over again and the City has scheduled a series of meetings and tours, to once again, try - to brain wash the people as to how bad the need is to have the people pay more for the same thing. What makes them think that the people will believe what they say they will do? Where is the guarantee that the money will be used for the purpose that they say?
When will the government take the blame for their own mistakes and quit blaming the people as being wasteful? Enough is enough!! No more water rate increases without a vote by the people.
An Honest Citizen, Sierra Madre Watchman