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Kind of like it is with our City Hall and the utility tax increase they insist is merely an extension of the existing arrangement, even though it involves the taking of a lot more money than the people voted for in 2012. When it comes to the government getting more money out of the people, your votes don't count for as much as they once did.
And, of course, with SCAG, which is made up of that same batch of unwholesome people forcing towns like Sierra Madre to accommodate absurd amounts of new stack and pack development, you don't get a vote at all. They just tell you what it is you are going to do.
In an article this week called "As Highway Fund goes broke, Southern California planners advocate drivers pay a vehicle miles fee" (link), here is how the Pasadena Star News lays it out:
The small print posted above the gas pump tells a story of our nation’s roads in crisis.
While the driver only notices the pump price, the amount of federal tax included — 18.5 cents per gallon — has remained the same for 20 years. If you add more fuel-efficient vehicles and more people taking the train, the tax revenue drops so low that it can no longer keep pace with higher labor and material costs for road, bridge and highway improvements, according to the Southern California Association of Governments.
As a result, the Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt by July, SCAG officials said.
This hidden crisis has prompted California lawmakers and transportation planners to consider a replacement, a vehicle miles traveled fee that assesses motorists by their cars’ odometer readings and spits out a bill every month or year.
SCAG recently passed a resolution asking Congress to replace the federal gasoline tax, known as an excise tax, with a VMT by 2025. In the meantime, the six-county planning agency wants to see Southern California become a test site for a pilot VMT program.
“I don’t think the gas tax is working,” said Carrie Bowen, director of Caltrans District 7, which includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties. “More people are driving hybrid cars, and the improved efficiencies have reduced the amount of money we get for our highways.”
What SCAG would actually like to do is put a black box in your car that would track your freeway usage. This way they could tally up how many miles you drive and then send you a yearly tax bill. Here is how the Los Angeles Times described this is an article several months back called "A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue" (link).
As America's road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.
The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America's major roads.
The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.
"This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do," said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is planning for the state to start tracking miles driven by every California motorist by 2025. "There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it."
This isn't the first time SCAG has pushed this rather Orwellian notion. As Federally funded planning bureaucrats with all the time in the world to think of ways to get more money out of private sector workers, they can work the process. And besides, the first time they floated this notion the response was not quite as good as they'd hoped.
By the way, did you know that Hasan Ikhrata, the head of SCAG, is a former Soviet planner? As in the old Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin? You can check that out, plus how this all went over last year, by clicking here.
Some folks are not happy about Sierra Madre's new Middle School
An article currently available on the Pasadena Star News website talks about what could be perhaps the next chapter in the seemingly endless saga of getting a new Middle School built in Sierra Madre.
Too big? Sierra Madre Middle School is ‘a monolith in our backyard,’ says neighbor (link) - When steel posts were erected a couple weeks ago for what will become a new $27.8 million building for the area’s middle school students, East Laurel Street residents say they were “aghast.”
“They have built a monolith in our backyard,” Kirk Osborne said.
After seeing the approximate roofline of the new Sierra Madre Middle School building based on the steel beams, residents believe their view of the Valley from their hillside homes will be diminished.
Pasadena Unified School District spokesman Adam Wolfson said the height of the building has not changed from the original drawings presented to the community in 2009 even though the plans were amended because construction bids initially came in over budget.
After years of delays and uncertainty as to whether the school would be built, ground broke this summer on a new building that will accommodate 650 students, 150 more students then the existing school holds. The new construction includes 20 classrooms, a multipurpose room, music rooms, a computer lab, library and atrium.
There apparently will be a meeting at the Sierra Madre Elementary School on April 8 at 6 pm to discuss all of this.
That is also election night here in Sierra Madre, so maybe the PUSD might want to consider changing the night of this get-together? Unless that is the point.