Friday, May 30, 2014

The Results From The Sewage Processing Prop 218 Rate Hike Protest Are In … And They Smell Kind Of Rotten

I received this yesterday, forwarded by our friend George Edwardz from over in La Habra Heights. George, as long time readers of this blog know, runs a blog called The Avocado Express, and he has proven to be the kind of stalwart citizen we here at The Tattler always admire. George played an important role in his city's decision to discourage their City Attorney and her law firm from continuing to serve the people there any longer. Instead that firm left under a cloud. Many celebrated.

Tax fighter John Capoccia was there
Their law firm? Colantuono & Levin, with that City Attorney being none other than the voluminously coiffed Holly "Go" Whatley. Holly can now be witnessed handing down numerous Solomonic judgements at Sierra Madre's Planning Commission meetings.

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.

Thank you, 
George Edwardz

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.

Mr. Edwardz,
 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.

Bon voyage!

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. So we're about to start paying a sewer junket tax? You sure these guys don't work here?

    ReplyDelete
  2. when touring the sewers, watch out for the lawyers and real estate agents breeding down there

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put a dollar bill on a hook and they'll come swimming your way.

      Delete
    2. If I go will they pay me scale?

      Delete
  3. All the more reason we should pay attention to who we vote for in EVERY election. I received one of the most deceptive pieces of campaign literature ever yesterday, where a paid advertisement endorsed Paul Tanaka for LA County Sheriff. His qualifications? "CPA. Mayor. He will protect taxpayer dollars while protecting our communities." No mention about any link to the Sheriff's Department, or that he is under investigation for acts during his stint under the former Sheriff.
    The campaign card says "Take this card to the polls", and you know what? I see voters carrying those cards into the polls with them, believing they are voting for the right person. Take Heed, voters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got one of those too. What deceptive garbage that is. It looks like an official political party list of endorsements, but all the spots are paid for. Tanaka is a brutal thug.

      Delete
  4. At the city council meeting Caroline Brown invited all of the city council members to a tour in her quest to sell Judy Chu's National Recreation Area bill. Mayor "out of turn" Harabedian said it would be great if all of the council members attended together, which is most certainly a Brown Act violation. And this is our Ivy League lawyer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they go for a walk in the woods they could become the Poison Ivy League.

      Delete
  5. Interesting picture of John Capoccia. I wonder if our local politicians understand just how extensive the Tattler network is becoming...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is today the day? Liberation Day? All packed, ready to go....buhbye!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Been gone for an entire week, pokey. As you can see, the blog continues. And will for years to come.

      Delete
    2. Bless you, Mod. Thanks.

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve is up early today. Must be his Friday thing.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure. Seems to me we picked up a slow-witted and obnoxious troll maybe 2 weeks ago. If the comments the troll made were more interesting, I'd look back to verify. At any rate, someone is making an effort.

      Delete
    3. Probably not Steve, 9:20 AM is before his day starts.

      Delete
    4. Whoever it is I think he needs a second floor room at the Kensington.

      Delete
    5. I hope his nurse has earplugs.

      Delete
    6. I was under the assumption you (mod) had an email address for all commenters or just IP address?

      Delete
    7. You know what they say about assumptions, don't you?

      Delete
    8. Guess I watch too much NCIS or confused you with the NSA........

      Delete
    9. I talk to people, read things, and type. That is about it. What other people do with it is beyond my control. Though I have to admit, sometimes I get a kick out of the wilder reactions.

      Delete
  8. I love that video. "These are light refreshments for Directors and above." IOW: Keep yer filthy mitts offa the cheese cake and Coca Cola, townie!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Will John Capoccia be taking the sewage sea cruise? Can we go, too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Below please find a link to the Sanitations Districts of Los Angeles County official ‘Boat Trips’ Junket signup form. Please no baby strollers.

      http://www.theavocadoexpress.com/News-PDF-Files/la-county-boat-trip_Junket.pdf

      junket n: 1. An excursion, especially one made for pleasure at public expense by a public official or committee.

      Delete
    2. Can I bring a fishing pole?

      Delete
    3. No, the trip is best compared to a harbor cruise with light refreshments served.

      Delete
    4. I hear it's a love boat.

      Delete
  10. ANOTHER SEWER RATE INCREASE...

    HOW MANY MORE SEWER RATE INCREASES DOES A GUY HAVE TO PAY?

    We just got a 160% water and sewer rate increase this year?

    QUESTION....
    1) I believe that some residents are experiencing indigestion...
    2) indigestion causes diarrhea...
    3) If my household has diarrhea, my sewer fees should be less because the sewer has "NO SOLIDS to break down"

    ReplyDelete
  11. Can we use a prop 218 process to do recallalss on city councilman or state and county officials?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bureaucrats are an elite in this county. There has to be some way to shake them out of their posh trees.

      Delete
  12. Is there any scientific reason why these boat junkets only take place in the summer? Is pollution a seasonal issue that only arises when the weather is nice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is the season when Sanitation District Directors spawn.

      Delete
  13. How come the city council liaison to the sanitation district didn't speak to us about this Prop 218 vote? Isn't that what they are supposed to do, keep us informed about these kinds of things?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was Nancy Walsh, don't know who it is now. You get a $$ stipend for attending.

      Delete
    2. Whatever they paid her, it was too much.

      Delete
    3. Is John Capoccia the new liason to the Sanation district? I am glad to see that he attended the meeting, liason or not!

      Delete
    4. It would have been nice if the liaison to this particularly rotten bunch had mentioned that there was a sewage rate hike going down. You know, as a courtesy. To me this is a big failure on somebody's part.

      Delete
  14. I vote to make the Mayor the Liaison, he needs to be sanitized.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I find it unbelievable that only 150 sent in protest votes.......out of 480k mailers. The numbers stink. It should be written so that the onus falls on those that want the rate increase. They should have to send in notification for a rate increase.
    I emailed my protest vote into the district. I JUST cannot accept the numbers. I think most forms went into the trashcan without being read!!! More uninformed voters/property owners. WAKE UP Sierra Madre residents. You are being taxed to the max!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you're quite right that the procedure should be reversed. I'm sorry to say I never even noticed that mail. It must have gone straight into the recycling can.

      Delete
    2. Take away their tax money and they're just another small group of people with opinions. Just like the rest of us.

      Delete
  16. Late today sewer headquarters (SHQ) confirmed directors are entitled to a $125 stipend for attending the Private Boat Cruise Junket. In my view, the cruise is an official meeting that could lead to a Brown Act Violation, if enough directors get together. So the public should be allowed to whale watch with the directors in case that happens.

    But what might our Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris say about the tour?

    Link to AG opinion on tours: http://www.theavocadoexpress.com/News-PDF-Files/ca-ag-10-702.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  17. Did Inman announce that Sierra Madre will run out of water within six months?If this is correct,why is the City doing a full court press to cover the Hillside with uber development!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'll post this at the end of today's blogging responses so it can be more easily seem. The statement or question as to whether or not my offer of showing some of the City Council members areas that are under the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation was a Brown Act violation was just that...I was asking the City Attorney if they could go on a tour of some of these areas in the Santa Monica Mountains with me. I, more than most people, know what a Brown Act violation is. So if you had been listening you would have heard the City Attorney's answer and not gotten yourself sideways in wanting Mayor Harabedian to be wrong. The City Attorney said yes they could go, with me, two at a time, and it would be just fine. I suggest others do some visiting, too. It would help Sierra Madreans see what is actually being accomplished in open space and park protection for all of Los Angeles County and some areas of adjacent Ventura County.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you Mr. Edwardz for your video and posted information. It is consoling to know someone beside our MOD is fighting the "good fight"!

    ReplyDelete