What this means is that close to 25% of the Water Company's 4,000 plus customers are so entirely angry with the lousy job being done there that they filled out and signed their names to Prop 218 paperwork, and then mailed it into City Hall. You could take this as an indication that they have not been having a quality customer experience. Or maybe they are just tired of funding this city's constant recoveries from self-inflicted financial disasters.
It is also hardly what anyone would call a big vote of confidence. And certainly the taxpayers do not seem to be in the kind of mood conducive to the passage of Measure UUT in April. What over 1,000 protest ballots should tell anyone is that a lot of this community's most aware and likely to vote residents are not very happy right now. Add their family members, people who were not allowed to cast ballots on the water rate hike, and you have quite a few votes. In the 30% voter turnout environment expected for April's City Council election, they will be the majority.
I certainly would not want to be a pro-tax City Council candidate in this election.
Of course, only a few members of the public showed up last night to this City Council meeting to discuss the water rate matter. Basically because it would have been pointless to do so. After all, if our City government was really interested in the public's opinion about a water rate increase, wouldn't they have put the question on the ballot for this April's election?
Something no one there cared to do because they clearly understood that the outcome might not have been as favorable for them.
By favorable I mean anything that guarantees significant amounts of money being removed from the public's pockets and given to City Hall. I'm not sure anything else gets taken seriously there anymore. It really is only about money now. It is just about all they do.
What Prop 218 assumes is that 100% of the eligible voters are in play, and that enough of them could potentially cast enough "No" ballots through the mail to defeat a water rate increase. However, and as it is in many places, we live in a city where often less than 30% of the folks vote in local elections. Something that makes the level of resident participation needed to win in a case like this almost impossible.
In a Prop 218 election, it isn't a majority of voters that wins. It is a majority that includes people who haven't voted in a local election in decades. Plus anyone who is not an officially designated ratepayer is weeded out. The odds by design are obviously stacked in favor of the taxer, and not the taxed.
So they got their water rate increase, and all the City Council members warmly thanked the residents for supporting it. Even though each of them must have known that by choosing Proposition 218 as the vehicle to get this water rate increase done, they made the public's ability to express its supposed support far more difficult than if they had put this issue on a ballot.
I will assume this means that each of them understood that they were thanking people for something that most likely doesn't even exist. After all, isn't that why they did it this way? More proof that you really do need an advanced degree in Orwell Studies to properly understand City government in this town.
This City Council also approved "zoning" for homeless housing in Sierra Madre. With Josh Moran going so far as to claim that nobody would ever build this stuff here because the costs here would be prohibitive. I guess Josh, or anyone else on this City Council for that matter, has never seen websites like this. Or this. Or this.
It is state and federal government grant money paradise out there for homeless shelters. Perhaps they did know that, but preferred that you didn't. Maybe it is a secret that only developers should know.
And despite the fact that all five Councilmembers ran for office promising to maintain Sierra Madre as a low density town, they all voted to approve a housing element to the General Plan that will open this burgh up to quite a lot of high density infill development over the next eight years.
It is all quite predictable, I guess. What else would you expect from a city government that only cares about raising rates, fees and taxes?
Is it any wonder that so few have faith in City Hall anymore?