At the heart of everything financially ruinous for our town stands the 2003 Water Bonds. Originally sold to investors for $6 million dollars, through an extremely misguided policy of making interest only payments for a decade and a half that debt has now climbed to a frightening $15 million dollars. Something that had led to an impending financial ruin for this City's once proud water enterprise, along with degrading our Moody's water bond ratings to the level of junk (link).
So we thought that today we would put together something we are calling "The Five Questions About Our 2003 Water Bonds That City Hall Won't Answer." Because let's face it, what could be more unconscionable than a City government asking for yet another water rate increase while at the same time refusing to answer some of the questions at the very heart of their need to do so?
Of course, this does give us the opportunity to just keep asking these questions. Something that we are more than happy to do. It also allows us to continue urging people to send in their Prop 218 water rate protest forms to City Hall. At least until we get some answers.
Here are those 5 questions:
1) Why did the City Council at the time the 2003 Water Bonds were sold commit us to something they must have known this City could not afford to pay back? Or, if not, where did they think that money would come from?
2) Why did the City decide to pay only the interest on the 2003 Water Bonds, knowing full well that doing so would require Sierra Madre's water rate payers to assume financial responsibility for an additional $9 million dollars in completely useless debt?
3) Why does City Hall refuse to in any way identify the elected officials who originally set us off on this financially ruinous course? Or discuss whatever their reasons were for doing so, even though those actions have today helped push our water enterprise to the brink of bankruptcy?
4) Why has the City refused to address the widely held misperception that these proposed water rate increases are to fund water infrastructure upgrades, rather than mainly servicing demands laid out by Moody's that we pay more for water in order to repair our junk level bond ratings?
5) Is increasing water rates 61% intended to refurbish Sierra Madre's junk level Moody's bond ratings so that the City can then sell more bonds? Potentially increasing the bond debt load this City is carrying to as much as $40 million dollars?
So there you are. City Hall is closed today so we won't be getting our answers right away. Maybe they'll be ready for us early next week. I'll let you know if that ever happens.
Our story about the unusual departure of Nancy Walsh gets some traction
Sierra Madre's best weekly newspaper, the aptly titled Sierra Madre Weekly, has now picked up on some of our recent musings about the inappropriately silent and rather unprecedented departure of Mayor Nancy Walsh from our political scene. Something both baffling and, dare we say it, less than civil. Here's what The Weekly has to say about it (link):
Political ‘silly season’ in Sierra Madre - Prop 218 protest votes growing with the deadline Jan. 28: Our friends over at the Tattler bring up a good point in a post Tuesday with a great headline: “Where Have All The Flowers Gone? The Civility Party, Once the Hope of Many, Is Now No More.”It seems that everyone is either leaving council, has left or is planning to do so.
Nancy Walsh apparently did not file by Monday’s deadline, although we received no formal announcement from her or Josh Moran.
As the Tattler says…..“They’re all gone. Not a one of them is left for us to marvel at their decorum and civil ways. The Civility Party, the three 2010 Sierra Madre candidates for City Council who won feverish acclaim as those who would restore our community to something it probably never really was, all of them have now gone away.
Has there ever been a Mayor anywhere in this troubled old world who decided to leave office and didn’t bother to tell anyone? Nancy Walsh, who never drew the papers necessary to run for a second term of office, became ineligible to seek reelection after yesterday’s 5PM deadline for incumbents. She didn’t issue any public statements or press releases about this momentous decision, no condolences were given to her disappointed followers, no speeches were made, no dinners held, nor did she speak to the news media about why exactly she has chosen to so abruptly end her career in politics.
She didn’t do anything. The deadline for filing came and went, and nothing was said. That was it.”
The Tattler has also been keeping a running tab of the Prop. 218 Protest votes received at City Hall: The latest as of Tuesday follows: “Envelopes now at City Hall – 872 (Important Note: envelopes may contain multiple ballots.)
Hopefully Nancy Walsh's unusual departure will finally be explained in this weekend's Mountain Views News. Most likely in an article written by one of the few people she actually speaks to, Susan Henderson.
Until then we'll just have to wonder what Sierra Madre did to be treated with such cold indifference and disrespect.