Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Best Letter Yet

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(Mod: Ordinarily you don't get letters like this in the Looney Views News. Our weekly adjudicated and taxpayer supported newspaper of record prefers rather to publish only those points of view that sustain it financially. Especially those of the Realty industry, development interests and benefits hungry municipal employee unions posing as city workers. However, if you look at the very end of this week's John Capoccia word rich opus on utility taxes, you can find the following letter. In the spirit of bringing it to wider attention than it might be receiving now, we thought we'd repost here on The Tattler. It certainly deserves more readers.)

Letters To The Editor: I have only seen letters in this newspaper supporting the utility tax increase lately, so I'm hoping I can offer a different viewpoint.

I am NOT in favor of another tax increase especially when no one has been able to articulate where the last increase in money was spent. How much of our water problem was fixed with the money that was "needed" in the past. We have lost the wonderful Sierra Madre water we had.

I don't see a real effort to tighter the belt in the running of the city. As I have recently downsized in order to retire, I am very aware that a good look at a budget can make a difference. Our present government seems to be of the thought that we can keep the "status quo" by just asking for more money once in a while.

The last straw for me was a vote at the City Council to cap Sierra Madre's commercial business utility taxes to $400 a year for water and sewer! So, basically, to heck with the residents, they can pay extra.

How does this encourage smart use of water in a drought year by a business? I understand that the mantra for this is to encourage business to come to Sierra Madre, but doing this on the backs of residents is not what we voted for in the past. And really, did anyone EVER more to Sierra Madre for the business?

Please vote…

K. Hood, Sierra Madre

Mayor John Harabedian?

(Mod: A recent Los Angeles Daily News article reprinted in the Pasadena Stars News called "Los Angeles County mayors gather to talk jobs, drought" - link - had an interesting moment. Whether it was a mistake or not is hard to tell since my calls to the reporter responsible have not been answered. However, judging by this article, John Harabedian may have assumed the right to an early seat in the still occupied throne of Mayor Nancy Walsh.)

All the sessions, held in small conference rooms on City Hall’s 10th floor, were closed to the press.

But after the meetings concluded, L.A. County reps chatted up reporters. Torrance City Councilman Kurt Weideman said he learned about countywide earthquake precautions, and intended to look at possibly retrofitting structures. “I have to know if all my buildings are safe,” Weideman said.

Sierra Madre Mayor John Harabedian attended a session on water, and learned new ways to capture rainwater, he said. Sierra Madre is so impacted by the drought that it is currently importing all its water, he said.

“We talked a lot about sustainability, and how to work together as a region,” Harabedian said.

(Mod: Hopefully in that closed door session the meaning of the term "sustainability" was finally revealed. Though obviously it must be kept a secret.)

John Capoccia airbrushes the inconvenient 2012 vote of the people

(Mod: One of the more disturbing aspects of City Hall's attempts to win a do-over vote on our utility taxes is its Orwellian refusal to acknowledge that the people turned down a so-called extension by over 60% of the vote in 2012. The irony here being that it was John Capoccia who not only championed voting against that year's UUT initiative, but also rode the popular anger over Sierra Madre having the highest utility taxes in California to a seat on the City Council. Here is how he tap dances around that inconvenient 2012 vote in this week's Looney Views News.)

But first, a little more background:  Measure U, when approved by the voters in 2008, specified that the UUT would be raised in three steps in three consecutive years – to 8% in 2008, 10% in 2009, and 12% in 2010. Measure U was accompanied by a companion Measure UA, which called for a non-binding recommendation that the increase in UUT be used only for public safety.   Prior to what would have been an increase to 12% increase in 2010, the City Council voted to suspend the increase, and keep the UUT at 10%.  They also further reduced the rate to 9% for water and sewer, to avoid creating a windfall as a result of imminent water rate hikes.  UUT revenue has been fairly level since. From the time Measure U passed, the increased expenditures for public safety have exceeded the revenue provided by Measure U.  This has been verified annually by the UUT Advisory Committee, and documented in our audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).  The difference was made up by belt-tightening in the General Fund.

(Mod: Apparently even for one of the chief architects in the campaign to finally end the excesses of 2008's Measure U in April of 2012, that vote no longer exists.)

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

34 comments:

  1. thank you K. Hood for your letter. Unfortunately it contains ways too much rationalism and common sense for at least three member currently on the council.

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    Replies
    1. Susan's got to have an angle she's playing - she prints another letter like this she'll have the realtors boycotting her paper or she realizes that she is in the minor minority in the city and the reign of queen bee is fading fast

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    2. I think the UUT - Dirt crowd is in a state of panic. None of the old lies are working now. They are badly exposed.

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    3. Susan has a problem - everybody on the NO side knows what she is about and what she's done or said to and about the city, our friends and neighbors. She's been decisive and very antagonistic and well rooted with those that got us in the water mess and playing games with us - she reported known lies and printed misinformation instead of calling out who was doing it

      All of those NO signs are also a NO to her - she's a little too late to the NO party and sees the handwriting on the wall, we are sort of tired of her milking the city.

      All the real papers say NO - but the lawyer Susan Henderson says YES on the UUT

      oh wait, she made up that part of her resume about having a law degree

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  2. sorry, but Capoccia's long winded screeds are beginning to remind me of Ted Kaczynski.

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    Replies
    1. The Unataxer!

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    2. overtalks himseld explaining why his opinion is more important or has more weight in the city than those that voted in Measure V and those voting NO on the UUT

      to be even on the fence in this matter reeks big time

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    3. Biggest flip flopper this city has seen since Joe Mosca. And he acts all offended because he is being called out on it.

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  3. be cause we can - that was the logic of Nancy Walsh when granting exenptions and water rate breaks to businesses, she can't articulate why a decision was made and does not want to be questions

    the next council should reverse this decision, it's not fair or good for the envirnonment - if you use the water pay for it don't make me pay for it, just because you can

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  4. this isn't Susan being fair, she just sees an overwhelming majority of the residents opposing the tax and she's jumping on the bandwagon to save her own skin. She's been constantly barraging us with misinformation and outright lies and now might realize that more and more people (advertiser's CUSTOMERS/residents) are tired of her endless games and manipulation.

    remember when Josh Moran called for a boycott of the SierraMadre Weekly when Henderson worked there and she was pro Measure V ? he wanted realtors togo into the businesses and tell them they were being boycotted

    if advertisers in the Mtn View News aren't aware they are supporting a paper that has a narrow agenda with editorials and anti-resident, maybe they will question the ad placements, I'm secretly avoiding realtors that advertise in her paper and other businesses in town.

    back with Measure V, Josh and the realtors did not want any information pro-Measure V published and the Sierra Madre Weekly which was managed by Katina Dunn, gave factual information and printed letters from both camps.

    Susan is a little late to the party but at least she's seeing the handwriting on the wall - or all the signs.

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  5. Does anyone know when John Capoccia will be addressing the $30,000 dollar plus health care packages some Sierra Madre employees are receiving? That seems to be another topic he finds inconvenient.

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  6. I wouldn't be surprised if Harbabedian identified himself as Mayor to that reporter. After all, he cheated to become Mayor Pro Tem. The boy wonder is a bit of a skunk.

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    Replies
    1. Mayor Pro Tem*

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    2. no he is a temp and as skunk at that just cause he photoshopped out SMPD patches in a supposed candid photo of John being tough on crime cept he was the criminal cause he used the photo in a campaign ad - completely agin the election rules and laws.

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    3. being a Mayor in SM ain't a big deal - you can be a senior citizen who is the greeter at a local diner and he can be Mayor

      it's too big of a deal for way too many we elect that get off on the title and do nothing with it

      of course he did, he's a lawyer

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  7. Harabedian is a narcissist. Typical of most politicians.

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    Replies
    1. He hasn't had an original idea in his life. All he knows how to do is tax tax tax.

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    2. he thought of photoshopping police patches out a photograph for use in his campaign and claimed "look no patch so the cops aren't in official uniform" but we could clearly see the gun holster

      he can't hold us accountable for taxes when he is held accountable for his campaign tactics and the Looney View News ran the ads despite knowing what he was doing was unethical if not illegal.

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    3. Susan Henderson is no stranger to ethical lapses.
      http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Demo-leader-resigns-under-fire-3155055.php

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  8. Harabedian also is connected to the Calderón crime family

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  9. I know this is actually too long to post here, but it sets off alarms and whistles with the names of those involved and the subject of a water "slush fund". Happy reading:

    Board will receive report on Central Basin Water District’s slush fund
    By Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News
    POSTED: 03/21/14, 7:23 PM PDT | UPDATED: 16 HRS AGO 0 COMMENTS
    COMMERCE >> A legal firm hired by a regional water district plans to deliver Monday its secret report on a $2.7-million slush fund that allegedly funneled cash to relatives, political allies and friends including a former assemblyman charged in a federal criminal case with money laundering.

    It remains to be seen whether the report from Arent Fox, a legal firm hired by the Central Basic Municipal Water District more than a year ago, will be made public. Officials paid the firm $500,000 to do an investigation into the fund, linked to former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.

    For now, the details of the report, which have been seen by one member of the board, remain secret.

    “I can’t talk about specifics,” Director James Roybal said. “The lawyers are always clamping us down. They want me not to say anything. They’re really strict on what I can say and I can’t say.”

    Roybal said he’s not even sure if the report will immediately be made public.

    “I know some board members want it be public, but there might be legal issues, we have to be careful about it,” Roybal said. “I don’t know to what extent we can release the whole thing.”

    The report’s contents haven’t been shared with four other members of the board because all have conflicts of interest, Roybal said.

    Two media law experts said the district needs to make the document available to the public.

    “It’s absolutely a public record under the Brown Act,” said Gil Aguirre, a San Gabriel Valley open-government activist. “If they want to keep the report secret, they would have had to meet in closed session ... and then claim the report was prepared by attorneys for litigation,” Aguirre said.

    The report is listed for discussion on an open portion of the board’s Monday agenda. The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 10 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters in Commerce.

    Jim Ewert, general counsel for California Newspaper Publishers Association, said Arent Fox’s work is subject to disclosure.

    The slush fund under scrutiny was first brought to light as part of a whistle-blower lawsuit filed against the district by director Leticia Vasquez.

    Vasquez said she plans to argue Monday for its immediate release.

    “The public has a right to know what happened to the $2.7 million,” Vasquez said. “We have a responsibility to the voters.”

    Vasquez claims the multimillion-dollar slush fund, approved by members Robert Apodaca, Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins, was created to design and manage a secret water-storage program.

    Former General manager Art Aguilar, who was deposed in a separate civil suit, acknowledged the existence of the program.

    The district has confronted several challenges in recent weeks. It was the subject of an FBI raid linked to a criminal corruption case against Calderon and brother state Sen. Ron Calderon. District officials also have come under fire for paying off $16,000 to a woman injured in a accident with Chacon. A resident of Commerce, Chacon has not had a driver’s license for nearly a decade but continues to collect mileage and $600-a-month car allowance from the district.

    Last week the district’s insurance company said it was considering pulling Central Basin’s policy due to dysfunction on its board.

    Central Basin General Manager Tony Perez referred questions about the secret slush fund and the Arent Fox report to Ricardo Olivarez, Central Basin’s house attorney.

    Olivarez did not return calls seeking comment.

    Three directors — Robert Apodaca, Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins — all voted on the appropriation of the $2.7 million, and Vasquez filed the lawsuit seeking to recover for the district the money that was paid to two legal firms.

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    Replies
    1. Los Angeles County is one of the most corrupt in the nation. Sierra Madre is caught up in that.

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    2. we're # 1....we're # 1

      keep our tax rates highest in California with the least in return

      we're # 1

      thanks Council

      new Council, undo this mess and stop listening to Bart Doyle, John Buchanan and the rest of those that got us into this mess or former Mayors who stood quietly knowing the truth....ahem Glenn Lambin

      we had legit Councilmembers who told us what was going down and they got drowned out by an uncooperative City Manager (s) and Council majorities that were full of utility company lawyers, commercial bankers and the "lawyers"

      Delete
  10. Facebook Friends: Be sure to go to www.facebook.com/NoOnUUT and "like" our page.

    Or, click on my name

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  11. NoOnUUT is also on Twitter!
    @NoOnUUT or go to www.twitter.com/NoOnUUT

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  12. just put up No yard signs and leave the social media stuff to youngins

    too much blathering on Facebook and Twitter - I tune that cr@p out

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  13. NEW COUNCIL AGENDA and CHECKLIST

    ____ place legal notices online and save $ ________ annually and be fully compliant.

    ____ because it was overwhelming voted upon by the citizens of Sierra Madre, uphold Measure V 100% of the time and stop with the UUT - forever until it's voted upon the citizens of Sierra Madre in the future.

    ____ place developers last in line at city hall and before the Council. Do not allow developers to present and represent - have them come in with final negotiation or last draft proposal. The yahoos at One Carter are yanging our chain.

    ___ require City Manager to stop any and all activites that outside of her specific duties - she creates busy non revenue work for city staff - make her accountable for the budget and staying within 90% of budget cause if she didn't in the real world, she'd get fired.

    ___ seek legitimiate, unfiltered and for public review, annexing the Sierra Madre Library into the Pasadena system with the requirement that the SM branch be given a 50 year lease, resident staff remains and operational costs are paid by Pasadena.

    ___ Reverse the "because we can" water rate incentives given to businesses, capping water rates at ridiculously low amounts and perks.

    ___ limit Councilmember comments to 3 minutes just like the public for each topic.

    ? what else ?

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  14. Crooks everywhere.

    A regional water board member said Friday he plans to ask the board Monday to take away the auto allowance from one of his colleagues who doesn’t have a driver’s license.

    James Roybal, a director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, said he also plans to ask the board to stop a $16,000 payment to a woman injured in a 2010 car accident that was caused by Director Art Chacon.

    Both the $597 monthly allowance and the payment to the woman are listed in the district’s warrant list that is on the board’s agenda for the 10 a.m. Monday meeting.

    “This is money that is not being properly expended,” said Roybal. “These are issues we have to address.”

    The board during a special March 13 meeting censured Chacon for lying to authorities and driving without a license.

    General Manager Tony Perez agreed to make the $16,000 payment and agreed that Chacon should receive $63,000 in workers’ compensation payments for injuries he allegedly suffered in the accident.

    Asked why Chacon continues to receive an auto allowance, Joseph Legaspi, spokesman for the district, in an email cited the district’s administrative code.

    “District directors may receive monthly car allowance for conducting district business in Los Angeles and Orange counties,” it states.

    However, the code also states the driver must possess a valid California driver’s license and carry automobile insurance.

    Questioned about how Chacon can receive an auto allowance since he doesn’t have a driver’s license, Legaspi replied in an email that directors incur transportations costs, such as car’s wear and tear gas and insurance for conducting district business.

    ReplyDelete
  15. There is now a "Yes On UUT" website. Uses the same platform as the Chamber of Commerce. I'm sure that is just a coincidence. There is no place for you to comment, which figures. The last thing they want is to hear from the likes of you. They just want your vote. And your money, naturally. http://www.yesonmeasureuut.com

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    Replies
    1. Same lie about UUT rates not going back up after the 2012 rejection of the utility tax extension. No wonder they don't want comments.

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    2. Why did they get their site up so late? Were they napping?

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  16. Re-defeat the UUT.

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    Replies
    1. The 'Yes on UUT' campaign - same lies, different day.

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  17. Keep exposing these criminals in our town, John Crawford.
    It's guys like you who will save us.

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