|Tax fighter John Capoccia was there|
So George had read about the County Sanitation Districts sewage processing Prop 218 rate increase shenanigans here on this blog (link), and decided to get on over to that meeting and check things out. A true peoples' witness, and thank you very much.
And what George discovered was pretty much what we'd come to expect. Almost nobody knew about this meeting or the Prop 218 sewage rate increase protest. Out of the 480,000 protest ballots that were mailed out as part of a "notice," only 150 came back. Obviously that infamous 51% threshold for defeating this boondoggle was not reached, and you will soon be taxed even more for processing sewage. A rather unpleasant and sticky situation for certain.
There is more to this story. While at this meeting George Edwardz came across something that I believe I need to share with you today. What he discovered is that this sewage processing tax rate increase is not due to additional costs for that important function alone, it will be used to fund other things as well. Like deep sea fun junkets for L.A. County sewage chiefs. Here is some incriminating evidence:
As you can see from this letter, the good ship Ocean Sentinel's excursions out onto the deep blue sea, courtesy of we the taxpayers who flush many millions of dollars yearly into the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles, are open to all who wish to go. Or so it seemed. And George Edwardz, like many citizens concerned about the strange workings of government, decided that he wanted to join them on that jaunty sewage ship of the high seas.
Here is the note he sent to Sewage Central:
Hello Ms. Sanchez, attached please find a PDF of a scan confirming my request for the Boat Tour. I also faxed a copy to your main fax number.
However, the reply George received in return was not quite what he was looking for. It turns out that while the invitation might give the appearance of citizen inclusivity, apparently the actual rules are quite different. You must either be invited by someone from amongst the chosen, or be the fruit of their loins.
Thank you for your interest in our trips. Unfortunately, these trips are not offered to the public. As you can see from the letter that was attached to the response form, it is addressed to our Board of Directors. The tours are designed for them. Thank you again for your interest. We are unable to accommodate you on our Board of Directors Tours. We do have public tours available. The next one is scheduled for June 7 and will be a tour of our San Jose Creek Water Reclamation Plant and the Puente Hills Materials Recovery Facility. Please contact Ms. Nell Madigan at (562) 908-4288, ext. 2300 if you are interested in joining us for that tour.
Sincerely, Cheryl Sanchez
Secretary to the Chief Engineer and General Manager
County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
So there you go, these are taxpayer funded family fun cruises for senior management of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. In other words, a serial junket. One that apparently runs most every summer weekend, and done so these fellows can get some whale watching in at taxpayer expense.
You have to consider that this rate increase will not only significantly impact 3 bedroom 2 bath single family homes, but also hit larger homes, religious institutions, hotels, retail establishments and landlords as well. Many of whom have vowed to pass on the increased costs to their renters.
And these senior sewer dudes will still get to take free boat trips almost every summer weekend? To "trawl" on the taxpayer's dime? Perhaps that Sriracha Hot Sauce guy might want to reconsider his decision to stay in Irwindale.
All in the name of fighting pollution, of course. These ploys always have something to do with saving the world. This is California, after all, and that is how your government sells things like tax increases. Everything is marketed as being necessary to save the planet. Have another oyster.
So here is George Edwardz's conclusion. He gets the last word because, after all, he did all the important leg work.
John, here is some info that the boat tour could become a Brown Act Violation:
California Attorney General Provides Brown Act Guidance on Tours of Facilities (Hanson-Bridgett link): The California Attorney General's Office issued an opinion concluding that a majority of the city council may not attend a private tour of the facilities of a water district that provides services to the city for the purpose of acquiring information regarding those services without violating the Ralph M. Brown Act. The guidance provided by this Attorney General's opinion applies equally to governing bodies of special districts, such as county water districts, that are subject to the Brown Act. A majority of the governing body of a public agency may attend a tour of facilities if the tour is held as a noticed and public meeting of the public agency, or if the tour is structured in a way to otherwise be exempt from the requirements of the Brown Act.
The question arose when the Metropolitan Water District invited officers and employees of its local agency constituent members on a trip to tour water facilities. The tour was open only to invited guests, and not to the public generally. The purpose of the tour was to provide information about the water service that the Metropolitan Water District provides to its member agencies. The Attorney General determined that this type of tour was a meeting within the definition of the Brown Act.
The Attorney General specified that the Brown Act applies to informal gatherings of a majority of a legislative body designed for the discussion of public business. The Attorney General went on to state that this tour would include the acquisition of information relevant to the water service Metropolitan Water District provides, or may provide, to the city and the gathering of such information is the public's business within the city's jurisdiction.
Sounds right to me.
Check out this video!
Television production is what he does for a living, and George Edwardz made a video of this meeting. If you watch TV news the chances are quite good that you have seen some of George's work and not even known it. You can see his video of this conclave of tax happy sea doggies at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts by clicking here. Note the cameo appearance from the Mayor Pro Tem of Sierra Madre.