Thursday, July 3, 2014

If We Take Away Our Tax Money, Doesn't City Hall Become Just Another Small Group of People With Opinions?

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Everybody has opinions. But the people who work at City Hall have opinions that are backed up by both well-compensated full time employees and as many lawyers as they want. All of it paid for by the taxpayer's dime.

And should it turn out that you, the earnest and hardworking citizen, do not always agree with their opinions, chances are you are going to be left out in the cold. Why? Because you do not have the resources City Hall has. Resources that, ironically enough, you pay for, and are regularly taken out of your own pocket.

And as you might have heard, City Hall will grant private meetings to any developer, right there in the City Manager's office with luncheon served by staff. But you, the financial facilitator of all this, can't even get in that building until 11AM because they're just too busy for you. 11AM being a time when you ordinarily have to be at work. All so you can pay taxes to a city that says it can enable the building of McMansions all across your town, and do so no matter what you, or anyone else, might care to think.

So who said the world is fair?

The Sierra Madre Weekly has come up with some excellent reporting on yesterday's big event downtown. That being the filing of the necessary paperwork to begin putting an initiative on November's ballot to repeal the remaining 6% of our supposedly temporary Utility Users Tax that somehow forgot to ever go away.

In an edition that hits our storied streets today, here is some of what they're saying (link):

Three local residents file notice of intention to repeal utility users (“UUT”) tax in Sierra Madre - The California Tax Limitation Committee’s “TAX REVOLT” continued this week in the City of Sierra Madre where local citizens filed a formal Notice of Intent to circulate a local initiative calling for the repeal the city’s onerous $2.4 million annual Utility Users Tax (UUT).

Sierra Madre residents Shirley Moore, David McMonigle and Earl Richey are the official proponents of this local tax initiative and have informally associated themselves as the Sierra Madre Tax Limitation Committee. Asked why he was seeking the repeal of the UUT, longtime Sierra Madre resident Maury Whitaker said, “The City of Sierra Madre is out of control just like every city. It’s being run for the financial benefit of public employees and the unions rather than the citizens. In these tough times it’s only fair that government share some of the pain and learn how to live within its means.”

Sierra Madre’s effort follows on the heels of a successful effort in Arcadia where the Arcadia Tax Limitation Committee headed by Carolyn Papp, Larry Papp and Greg Welborn recently qualified their own UUT repeal for the ballot. If approved by the voters, citizens of Arcadia will receive over $35-40 million in tax relief over a five year period.

I think it is interesting to note here that Arcadia's Greg Welborn is the author of a weekly column in the rabidly pro-UUT Mountain Views News. Pro-UUT since so much of the revenue this sketchy weekly paper receives comes out of the pockets of we the taxpayers in the form of City Hall's legal advertising. And nothing upsets old Harriet Susan Carter Poole Henderson more than anyone possibly getting between her and her golf money.

And just this week the City Council of Arcadia, who are reported to be less than happy with life right now, pronounced Greg's efforts to help repeal the UUT there as being "unconstitutional." How filing the paperwork and signatures necessary to give voters there a chance go to the polls and repeal unwanted taxation, and this in a nation that was founded upon a tax revolt against a similarly entitled imperial governmental body, can be called "unconstitutional" defies most belief.

The consensus opinion being that the City Attorney there is sandbagging in order to see if the signatories to Arcadia's tax challenge will lawyer up and fight back. Which apparently they are, and will.

All of which should make for a very interesting Greg Welborn op-ed column. The only problem being, will H.S.C.P. Henderson actually allow it to be published in her paper? I guess we shall see. It certainly would be an appropriate story for this weekend's special Independence Day edition.

Another thing. The latest hot rumor on this rapidly spreading UUT tax revolt is that the government of the City of Sierra Madre, along with Pasadena and Arcadia, are now pooling some of their legal and cash resources to fight it. Something that includes the hiring of a large and quite expensive law firm.

I don't recall this ever being discussed in any City Council meetings, so I am not sure who would have authorized the funding for such an effort. Maybe it will be added to the agenda for next Tuesday's City Council meeting? If so, that should spice up an already momentous evening.

I also wonder, how much in legal fees is that going to cost us? And is it really in our interest as taxpayers to defend a way of doing business that includes giving city government workers things like $36,000 a year health care plans?

Do you have a $36,000 a year health care plan? Probably not. So very few do.

Like I said at the beginning, City Hall has lawyers, paid for with our tax money, to help defend their interests against those of the taxpayers.

Is that constitutional?

When it comes to defending the funding for their platinum pensions and Cadillac health care plans, City Hall will spare us no expense.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

63 comments:

  1. Unconstitutional? didn't the voters vote the UUT taxes in in the first place? If the taxpayers put it in, why can't they take it out? I mean, even Nancy Walsh can see the logic of that.

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  2. Voting on taxes in unconstitutional? What day is it tomorrow?

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  3. The person circulating the petition and well as the filers must be registered voters in the local jurisdiction. If Greg is registered and lives in Arcadia, he is good to go.

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    1. if he's writing for Susan Henderson I already consider him to be a joke

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    2. It is funny what some people will turn a blind eye to just to see their name in print.

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  4. There have been NO secret meetings. Anyone can meet with City Staff.

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    1. I believe the word used in today's post is "private." As in "you are not wanted here." I doubt that the developer and the False Fathers would have had to wait until 11AM to get in, though.

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    2. The city always keeps their meetings with developers private. That way they can control the message when spinning it to the townies.

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    3. "These McMansions will be built using green building standards."

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    4. residents to the rear of the line
      developers to the front

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  5. In the litany of abuses leveled against the King of Great Britain, the Declaration of Independence states : "For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.". How much more clear can it be?

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    1. City governments in southern California are royalty. Taxes are given to them by right.

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    2. Umm We voted for the UUT?? Remember? We also vote for city council. Calm down

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    3. 9:57 when did you vote on the 6% permanent base UUT?

      Let me guess, never?

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    4. We vote for city councilmembers based on what they say when they run for office. Unfortunately, too many times they do things that are quite the opposite once elected. Remember Joe Mosca and his statements about his deep love for Sierra Madre and preserving something "so near and dear to our hearts?" Jumped right into bed with the worst developers ever, screwed things up almost beyond repair, and then ran away to England without finishing his term in office. Or how about John Capoccia, the guy who told us that he would fight to keep taxes low, and even recommended that we vote NO on a UUT measure? Turned out to be the biggest taxer we've seen in years.

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  6. We should do want we can to see that enough signatures are collected to qualify the measure for the November ballot. Whether the measure passes or fails is not as important to me as the fact that the voters get to make the decision. What could be more democratic and constitutional then that?
    Barry Gold

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    1. If we don't get a moratorium Tuesday evening I will vote against the UUT as a protest.

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    2. Absolutely, Mr. Gold. Let the people speak. It's their money, after all.

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    3. California is a republic,not a democracy.You get what is legal and just not what a gang of thugs demands

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    4. You mean a REPRESENTATIVE Republic, 10:18. That means that our representatives are to represent the will of the people. Thus an election is absolutely in order.

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    5. Well, 10:18, calling this City Council a 'gang of thugs' is quite direct, but if they don't impose moratoriums on July 8th, then the description will be very accurate indeed.

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  7. In the end this is all about money. The money city hall gets from utility taxes, and the development impact money it hopes to get from three McMansion developments. What the city needs to do is explain why they think they're entitled to it.

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    1. The city represents YOU. Why do you think you're entitled to it?

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    2. "The city represents YOU"
      And it does a piss poor job of it.
      "Why do you think you're entitled to it?"
      Because I pay for it with my taxes.

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    3. And it's my money, not the City's.

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  8. been there...done thatJuly 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    I have signed and carried many petitions in this city Measure V, recall, water rate protest letters, and helped in many campaigns. However, I do not think this petition will have a chance of getting qualified for the ballot. I do wish the circulators good luck because summer is one of the toughest times to catch people at home.

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  9. All this "foofarah" sounds like what is wanted here is to ultimately dismantle the City of Sierra Madre as an municipal entity and have it be part of Los Angeles County gov't. What kind of voice do you think you would have then? What kind of development would there be? Do you think you would even have a voice in development? Have a look around at the local county administered areas. Do you think your property values would go up? Somehow I doubt it. You also seem to have the opinion that "City Hall" is some of money grabbing boogey man. The revenue that the city gets is FOR the common good of the community. Everyone talks about how charming, intimate and lovely our city is, but it seems many just want it to go away.

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    1. Not too paranoid, are you. But, let's say you are right. So I guess then we will be seeing a water moratorium come out of Tuesday's City Council meeting, right? Because otherwise we will end up looking like those County administered areas that upset you so. And without the water needed to operate the 5.5 toilets that will come with each McMansion the city lets through.

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    2. Oh 9:25. It all sounds so nice "for the common good". However, how much does that cost us "commoners" and who decides what the "good" is? Who is anointed to make those decisions and upon what principles?
      Beware the slippery slope.

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    3. Amen 9:25 What will this "tantrum" election cost me? Lots of OT for city employees,waste of time and resources that should be better spent elsewhere like solving our problems not "cutting off our noses to spite our face"
      It will never pass,should never pass, and is a complete waste of MY money

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    4. I take it you're not happy about this.

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    5. Don't Worry, Be Happy!July 3, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Yes. Let's all just put on our blinders and shovel money to a city hall that believes it is OK to spend $36,000 a year per employee on health insurance.

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    6. 9:25, art thou name Chicken Little? Iseth the sky falling?

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    7. If be interested to see how it will be more OT for city staff, unless 10:14 will be paying for same

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    8. I think it is Buck Bacaw.

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    9. 10:45 - you mean they might have to work on a FRIDAY? The horror!

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    10. REPLY to your question?

      WHAT WILL IT COST ME?

      1) FACT... what has it already cost the residents ? MILLIONS of unaccounted dollars...
      2) FACT .. the city continues to illegally commingle the tax payers dollars and miss appropriates them...
      3) FACT.. the city agreement with tax payers was that all UUT monies would supplement police & fire services only. Elaine & staff have stated that city hall has no accounting for the UUT taxes received? if that's so, why are we the residents paying for this temporary taxes ?

      4) The Old City Manager commingled water & sewer monies in the city's general fund. He was fired!!!

      QUESTION... Why has Elaine - Bruce - Karen and city council not been fired?
      What they are doing is illegal!

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    11. The employees are there on every other Friday, have been since they did the reorganization. Quite of few of the employees live in Sierra Madre, so they pay taxes too. Elaine, Bruce and Karen plus the city council are not doing anything illegal. I'm afraid if you use the language and tactics you are using on the Tattler, then you definitely will not succeed in this effort of collecting signatures. A lot of what you are saying is just pure nonsense, even you FACT statements. There is an accounting of what the utilities send into the city. No monies are comingled. Look at the ballot measure and it didn't say there was a special fund for the UUT for fire and police. That was the campaign tactic by the POA to get you to vote for the UUT. There are no unaccounted dollars - The audits are all caught up, the city even won an award from the State for their auditing practices, and Karen is honest as the day is long.

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    12. 12:49 is correct. Governmental policy in Sierra Madre is based on anonymous comments made on a blog.

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    13. I didn;t know that, 12:53. Hello, City? I'd like to put in a request for free beer Fridays. To be held at Memorial park from 4PM to midnight. No major domestic brewskis, please. Especially Budweiser. Thank you!

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    14. It's to bright outside at 4PM to leave the Buck.!!

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    15. City hall needs to call Assemblyman Holden's office. There is a state grant for Free Beer Fridays. Sponsored by the Coalition to Lower the Drinking Age to 10.

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  10. Anyone remember this?
    Audit finds extra $1 million in Sierra Madre
    http://www.whittierdailynews.com/general-news/20090321/audit-finds-extra-1-million-in-sierra-madre

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    1. Another trip down Sierra Madre's Fiscal responsibility Lane.

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    2. Ahh, golden memories. The missing million dollars.

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    3. "I don't know where it came from. We just opened the books and 1 MILLION DOLLARS just appeared!"

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    4. Yes, that is when the audits were several years behind. Thanks to MaryAnn MacGillivray, when she got on the council, she insisted the audits get caught up. They were, and have been since that time.

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    5. That's what they tell us.

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  11. what about the city being paid over $ 18,000 for preplanning and staffing for the Mt Wilson Trail Race?

    our city charged the event with 200 hours of staff time fore pre-event planning - for an event that is the same year in and year out?

    either the director of the event is in on the city scam or a complete moron

    reeks of corruption and double dipping at our expense

    I was always told the Mt Wilson Trail Race was a fundraiser for trail maintennence, turns out its a fundraiser for city staff

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  12. So what else is new! Sounds as if the citizens are finally catching to the City's swindle and fraud!

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  13. Did I mention that as a poor(by Sierra Madre standards) old man I am exempt from UUT and a sizable part of my water bill :-}

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    1. Soon we will all be exempt.

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  14. 3:15. OMG you're probably right.
    Hey they can't get blood out of a turnip!

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  15. If you happened to have missed the best show on tv last night it was the Planning Commission giving the slap down to a developer complaining about how she could not reduce the size of the house she was tring to stick into a neighborhood of smaller house cause it was family money used to by the spec property.
    But the best comment came at the very end of the meeting when a commissioner asked if the commission could change the max squre footage before it came before the commission in other word make it smaller than 4000 squre feet.......like 2900. That way the commission makes the call rather than the development services dept. That will help keep the developement down!

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  16. 2013 Sierra Madre Water Quality Report

    if you look at this 2013 Sierra Madre Water Quality report you will see that the average amount of aluminum in Sierra Madre water is 140 parts per billion. Aluminum above 100 parts per billion is associated with Alzheimers.

    The water is making you stupid.

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    1. I don't understand.

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  17. click on the link. go to the 2nd page of the report and look at the testing results for aluminum. the "range of detection is from 95 - 220 parts per billion with an average of 140. Sierra Madre's water has elevated amounts of aluminum...sometimes in excess of the MCL (maximum contaminant level).

    go to google and type aluminum and alzheimer's...enjoy

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  18. http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/i-want-to/find/documents/category/15-public-works-documents?download=1125:water-quality-report-2013/

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