Sunday, February 8, 2015

SGVEP President Cynthia Kurtz Supports The 710 Tunnel - And Gets A Lot Of Your Tax Money While Doing It

Solid Gold Cyndi: Your tax dollars at work (link).
You often never know where your tax money goes, or what exactly it does after it gets there. One of the great mysteries of our time is how your hard earned taxpayer dough is used after you've sent it off to the oftentimes not so fine folks running your local government agencies. Which is unfortunate because quite often it is spent to not only support agendas that you don't actually want, but also for things that could even do you and yours actual grievous physical harm. In the case of the 710 Tunnel that would come in the form of marked childhood asthma increases and dramatically heightened cancer risks.

Here is an interesting financial conflict of sorts. The City of Sierra Madre sends some of your tax dough in the form of dues to the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, an organization whose president, the above pictured Cynthia Kurtz, is a leading spokesperson for the potentially lethal 710 Tunnel. A $20 billion dollar Caltrans/Metro boondoggle that, once it gets built, will turn the San Gabriel Valley into a near 24/7 traffic gridlock nightmare and a heavily polluted environmental red zone as well.

Yet, and at the very same time mind you, our City Council has sent $50,000 in hard earned tax dollars to a consortium of cities fighting the 710 Tunnel. Done in full recognition that this tunnel would be a multiple threat disaster for the area we live in.

Quite a bug tussle in competing tax moneys. On the one hand Sierra Madre sends money to an organization whose leader is helping to lead the charge to build the tunnel, while on the other hand it sends money to the combine of cities fighting it.

An interesting form of financial schizophrenia, don't you think?

While we are at it, sales tax money generated by 2008 ballot initiative Measure R, which you thought was supposed to be used to pay for things like Metro buses and Gold Line cars (AKA "210 Trolly"), also provides "$750 million for the 710 North traffic congestion relief efforts." Which is the politically correct way of discussing the 710 Tunnel. This revelation comes to us from Metro itself, and can be easily confirmed here.

Which just goes to show, you should never ever vote for a tax increase. Chances are very good the additional money raised will be used for things you were not told about, and likely don't want.

On Friday we posted an article called "The Usual Bureaucrats: Pushing Hard For The 710 Tunnel" (link), which in part discussed the tunnel boondoggle advocacy of San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership boss Cynthia Kurtz.

This attracted the attention of a particularly attentive Tattler reader, who came up with some rather interesting information for us. We are going to let him take over from this point on.

Cynthia Kurtz is getting a pension of CalPERS pension of approx. $135,938.52. I believe she was Pasadena City Manager. I have also heard credible reports that she got herself a really big raise right before she retired so it spiked her pension up.


According to CitizenAudit.org (they have interesting PDFs of all the relevant individual SGVEP tax returns - link) Cynthia Kurtz's 2012 salary there was a beefy $171,029.00 (not including benefits).

So if you add that to her sweet CalPERS haul it means that she is taking in a total of over  $306,967.00 a year from the taxpayers! All while working to cram the 710 Tunnel down our throats, whether we want it built or not.

Talk about paying for the rope they'll hang us with.

Here are a couple of things that are odd. Sierra Madre's very own master of disaster, Bart Doyle, is retained by the SGVEP as its legal solon. Yet he receives no salary for these efforts. So what's the Bartster's angle here?

It also appears Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck is in the social swirl there as well. Maybe he tutors them on how not to do financial oversight. He's good at that.

So why does Sierra Madre send the SGVEP money again?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

51 comments:

  1. It seems obvious to me that we need to get out of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and say goodbye to Ms. Kurtz.

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    1. Is she the wife of the Heart of Darkness guy?

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    2. Apocalypse Now?

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    3. I agree. We should quit.

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  2. Wow. What a shocking piece. Although I am learning to be less shocked as this nightmare draws out.

    Thank you for writing this piece.

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  3. Your taxpayer dollars hard at work …….. against you.

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  4. Of course Doyle is working for free. It's the only way he can get anyone to hire him.

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    1. That isn't true, though. He gets full buffet privileges at every meeting. Even gets to take a little home with him if he likes. In case he gets hungry later.

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  5. Here is a list of the cities that belong to the SGVEP. They need to be made aware of what their tax money is supporting!

    City of Alhambra
    Altadena
    City of Arcadia
    City of Azusa
    City of Baldwin Park
    City of Bradbury
    City of Claremont
    City of Covina
    City of Diamond Bar
    City of Duarte
    City of El Monte
    City of Glendora
    Hacienda Heights
    City of Industry
    City of Irwindale
    City of La Canada-Flintridge
    City of La Puente
    City of La Verne
    City of Monrovia
    City of Montebello
    City of Monterey Park
    City of Pasadena
    City of Pomona
    City of Rosemead
    Rowland Heights
    City of San Dimas
    City of San Gabriel
    City of San Marino
    City of Sierra Madre
    City of South El Monte
    City of South Pasadena
    City of Temple City
    City of Walnut
    City of West Covina

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  6. I'm not against the 710 Tunnel but I'm against graft.

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    1. Rule of thumb for the San Gabriel Valley: where there is lots of tax money, there's corruption.

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    2. (;40 AM Thank you for your clarification. If I had not been so emotional I would have worded "majority rules" in a different way. I can hear the nuns rattling their beads at me now!

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    3. 4:42PM. This man didn't die or get hit by a car. So what's your point?

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    4. If we give you a carrot 7:25, will you promise to go back into the barn?

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  7. I was taught in Civics class that majority rules. Not just in a vote, but in ideals, in what is the common good. When did it change to the me,me,me,I,I,I group I understand the Civics is no longer taught. I am hoping that people who watch reality shows and make stars of their pathetic casts are not in the majority. We read about a 60 year old man in Detroit who had no car and walked 21 miles one way to get to work and got there on time. People like that used to exist in more numbers. Where did they go? The world owes us everything. If we can't do it on our own, the government will. People who work for you make more money and have better perks than you. Just find a new tax. What does it take to make people stand up and take notice? I had a friend tell me that he was disheartened with what he saw around him. The apathy, making him feel he stands out there all alone for what he believes in. Little Sierra Madre is a prime exampe of that. There are maybe a 1000 who show that they care. It is the same in PTA orany other group. It was probably true during the Revolutionary War. History doesn't change. It happens over and over again. Mainly because people don't change. They remain constant in their apathy. They will rush out to the "shades of Gray" movie (wrong title, I know). These same people are good at letting you know what affects them personally, but time given to the community as a whole is nil. Unless of course it affects them personally. The me, me, me, I,I,I, bunch. So we let the greed and corruption continue. We would be livid if these politicians and their ilk came to our house and took whatever they wanted as their due. But we aren't upset that they take our taxes. They rob us of our livliehoods and we allow it by letting them get away with robbing our tax dollars. They take our land to pay for their salaries and perks and we are left to live as urban dwellers what will become a distant memory, space, a little air and privacy. We let all this happen by not caring. We have our excuses lined up so I don't need to mention them here. When I feel like this, I think of Maude; that marvelous elderly lady who spoke at a commission and brought us to our feet in applause. I guess it inspires me. I want to be just like her when I grow up. So I will continue and urge those that are discouraged to stay involved or better yet get involved in what is good for all of us not just a few.

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    1. Thank you for this great post!

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    2. 9:40. A small but very important point. if, in your Civics class you were taught that the majority rules, then you were taught incorrectly. as our Founders knew, that can lead to tyranny of the majority, which is not necessarily good either (You know, when your mother used to ask you that if all of your friends were jumping off the briidge, did that mean that you should too?). No, we are supposed to be governed by a set of basic principles that are to act as our guideposts. In the case of the USA, it is our Constitution that is supposed to guide us. Unfortunately, self-serving, hubristic souls have ignored this for too long of a time.

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    3. I agree with you 9:40, except I'd say there are more like 100 of us who care (often seems like 10). I keep fighting for what we have in Sierra Madre, because I feel we can make a difference. It does get tiring, though. As far as the neighbors of the Camillo houses not caring, some of them are elderly. I don't understand why the others on the block don't do anything though, especially since there will soon be two more.

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    4. The Founding Fathers believed this democracy would always be maintained by an informed and involved citizenry. Unfortunately, and as the rapid decay of local government in California show us, that is not the case in 2015.

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    5. " We read about a 60 year old man in Detroit who had no car and walked 21 miles one way to get to work and got there on time. People like that used to exist in more numbers. Where did they go? ".......they died from exhaustion, or were hit by cars. The man had a car, it broke down, couldn't afford the repairs and reverted to taking buses and walking to work, a Ford dealership donated a new car to him, good for them.

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    6. Actually the founders were mixed as to wether the citizenry could do their job, hence the Electoral College.

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    7. City governments have an electoral college, 9:04? How's that GED thing working out for you? Is this gonna be the big year?

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  8. Pissed Off TaxpayerFebruary 8, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    So today's big question is:
    Who on the Sierra Madre City Council will sponsor action to leave the San Gabriel Valley Econimic Partnership? And also to ask SGVEP why their Exec. Director Kurtz is supporting the 710 Project thst Sierra Madre and several other cities are against?

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    1. Here is a government official who supports the SGVEP while at the same time opposing the 710 Tunnel.
      http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/batman/images/a/a0/1692963-profile_twoface.jpeg/revision/latest?cb=20111103064141

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  9. $300,000 a year puts Ms. Kurtz very close to the top 1% of earners in the US. All paid for by the taxpayers. This stuff makes me sick.

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    1. Solid Gold Cyndi!

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    2. Another reitired employee feeding at the public trough. Remember that she will get that pension for the rest of her life with cost of living increases and full medical benefits - all that for "retiring". But like most public employees, they "retire" so young that they always continue to work. What a scam! Most of us will need to work longer and retire later so that we can contribute to this madness.

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    3. what a great deal for folks like Ms. Kurtz. she has found a way to have a stellar life style income by having others pay for it with the swear of their brows. and then she has the temerity to tell others she knows what's best for all of us!

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    4. What Ms. Kurtz claims is best for us are those things that get her the most money.

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  10. So Sierra Madre wants us to pay higher UUT taxes, higher water & sewer bills AND water penalties so they can belong to the SGVEP? Excuse my French, but what a bunch of crap

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    1. I agree. This makes no sense to me either.

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    2. 9:48 - Is that a pun?

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    3. Curious. Where do you see a pun in that comment?

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    4. Water penalties - like don't flush your toilet every time you use it - isn't that a bunch of crap???

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    5. Ahaa, its fastidious conversation on the topic of this article at this place at this weblog, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here. But what is crap?

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    6. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. You must be the beholder.

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  11. Most people have no idea who the SGVEP, SCAG or SGVCOG even are. Or the tremendous amount of resources they flush down the sewer, or how they work on the behalf of those who only want to screw the taxpayers. Solid Gold Cyndis exist because hardly anyone cares. If they only understood the price they are paying.

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    1. And then they turn around and stab us in the back.

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  12. I got an e-mail from a homeowner in Highland Oaks who said the homes that are being snapped up are mostly ones of the original owner, Prog 13 protected, and now open to huge property tax increases that the Arcadia CC is salivating over. If you go to the Camillo Open House to day see if it seems to have followed any Fung Swei principals.

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    1. That's a very good point 11:47. That's why the city staff, and city manager (who probably don't live in Arcadia) want these McMansions built. Not ony do the property taxes rise up to a percentage of the current market value, if the house is torn down, its a substantially more expensive home. When in doubt, always remember to follow the money. Never underestimate greed in determining why decisions are made the way they are.

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  13. I just walked by the Camillo houses. Please go see them - you won't believe what they look like. Don't forget the seller is Robert Ho, he of the One Carter McMansions that "a modern family needs," according to Adele Chang, the architect. Open House is 2-4. Brown family, John Vanderveld, Falikian family, and unidentified friend/neighbor - all of you who said teardowns are families moving in, that there are no developers buying up properties, go to the Open House. Then see if you have the nerve to chastise us for trying to protect our funky Sierra Madre, and our own property values. I can't imagine living on either side of those houses. Ugh!

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    1. Bring a gas mask. Those places just reek of PVCs.

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  14. Saw the houses, very nice, decent size back yards, very modern, they'll go quick.

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    1. You'll be snapping one up for yourself, right?

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    2. Saw the houses too. Cheap construction, finish is already coming off hand rail, small bedrooms, very little closet space, cheap drawers, but you can sit in your living room and have a perfect view of the junk in your garage. The house would be ok as a second house at the beach. They really aren't houses for a family. Lots of bathrooms with off brand fixtures that I have never heard of before. But what do you expect $1.6M

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    3. They were quite nice but not my style , the one at the top of oak crest also open today was my kind of house but only 3 million

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    4. What was nice about them, beside the fact you could see what your neighbor was cooking?

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    5. The complimentary set of see though binoculars.

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    6. That's the second comment is as many days about spying on a neighbor's cooking. We got a peeping tom in the 'Dre.

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    7. Privacy is a big concern in this community, 9:07. Especially with all these two story Ho houses going up.

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  15. Cynthia Kurtz was Pasadena City Manager when Danny Wooten started his embezzlement of Pasadena's Underground Utility Fund in 2003. She left in 2009 and Beck took over.

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