Saturday, March 29, 2014

SCAG Wants To Send You A Bill For Driving Your Car

Your car data recorder is ready
The Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG if you like to speak the language of state bureaucratic oppression, has come up with what they think is a brilliant idea. And like most things that governmental organizations like SCAG think are brilliant, it involves taking more money from you, the Willie Loman in this unhappy equation.

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.


  1. I thought the same thing, Mod. it would be considerate o f the PUSD to change the date of their meeting to Wednesday or Thursday of next week. good to see that the PUSD is so in tune with our town.

    1. I agree. That is not good idea.

  2. hey Tattlers. better check to see if your NO on UUT sign is still up. Noticed one had been destroyed while I was out on my walk this morning.

    1. Shame on you Mayor Nancy Walsh and UUT Oversight committee member, Amy Putnam. One would have hoped that you and your "yes" group would have behaved more honorably this time around.

    2. Sounds to me like they are afraid of the "simple math" that says that when the base rate of something that is to be taxed increases greatly (i.e. the 61% water rate increase) that the income realized from it, even at a lower tax rate is greatly increased. Therefore, there is no "million dollar shortage" and safety services will continue. Please remember, all tax revenue goes to the General Fund, none of it goes to the water dept. As the CPA noted on Tuesday, the "yes" folks claims are "silly at best and deceptive at worst". Vote NO on UUT.

  3. After the black box gets installed in the car, then its a very short step to the government giving us a quota for how many miles we can drive each year. This is another example of how the advances in technology are a double-edged sword. When will people wake up to the fact that as the government gets bigger, the citizen gets smaller. When will religious liberals wake up to the fact that as government takes more of our money through confiscatory taxation, people have less money to donate to churches and other charities. This is another reason to oppose the UUT. If we continue down this road, churches will eventially disappear and we will become like Europe where no one donates to charity - the government just takes care of it.

    1. Agreed, but they wouldn't even have to impose a quota, all they would most likely do is really gouge people when they drove above a certain number of miles, which would not only limit driving, but would also raise tax revenues, which is what this is all about. Welcome to the world of a democrat super majority in Sacramento. All the dems know how to do is "tax and spend", period.

  4. Apparently the Yes On UUT folks have been using undocumented laborers to distribute their flyers this morning. No $37,000 a year health plans for them!

    1. Probably paying them $2 an hour.

  5. The Middle School is one more example of changing the character of our town. To hell with the neighobrs and blocking the views they have enjoyed for many years. The new school will accomodate 150 more students so to hell with additional traffic and congestion. Some neighbors say they were promised this and that about it still looking like a 1-story structure. This is a classic example of why you can't be complacent and expect people to do the right thing.. The neighbors need to band together and immediately hire a good lawyer to represent their interests.You cannot rely on "promises" from city officials and developers. If the neighbors don't band together, then they need to shut up and stop complaining. They get what they deserve.
    LIkewise, if Mater Dolorosa ever decides to go foward with a housing project, you can bet the profit motive is going to be the primary motivation for them as well as the developer. Do you think they are going to be looking out for the neighobrs or the community? Not a chance. The almighty dollar is their motivation and to have that originate with a religious organization that took donations to preserve the grounds is a disgrace. Choosing to sell off their land is so short-sighted. Its like the Huntington Library selling off their "excess" land and then left with no room to expand their gardens the way they have. You need visionaries to lead these kinds of organizations and not small-minded people who want to get a quick buck.

  6. Going rate for the day labors is 10 an hour, anything less is just taking advantage of them.

  7. SCAG with their black box is like a bad joke gone public. Surely this should not be allowed to go any further. The tax planners have got to be laughing that this has gone as far as it has. This is America and we stand up for what is right, this is so wrong that we can not be complacent with this mentality of taxation. Everyone must speak up.

  8. ha ha I told you so. Now live with it.March 29, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I suggest that everyone take a look at the ALF that the voters gave a yes vote. It's going to be huge. LOL LOL LOL


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