Thursday, February 5, 2015

South Pas Fights Repeal Of Its Utility Taxes By Refusing To Allow A Public Vote - Is Sierra Madre Next?

Have they cloned City Attorney Highsmith?
I watched the South Pasadena City Council meeting 'live' on my computer last night. I wouldn't call doing something like that not having a life, because I actually do have one. Family, house, job, new electric car, some good friends I enjoy talking to, all of those things people generally associate with showing signs of being among the living. But you could call watching that meeting last night a hiatus from life. Perhaps also a warning of what might actually happen to you if you aren't careful. One day you could wake up to discover that you live in a world where South Pasadena City Council meetings are all that there is.

Sort of like in the movie Groundhog Day. Minus any hope whatsoever of redemption.

The contrast between the almost robotic way South Pasadena runs its City Council meetings, and the comparatively free wheeling and open affairs Sierra Madre conducts, is pretty evident. If you go to address the City Council at the public comment podium there you will be subjected to an interesting series of electronic beeps that, while distracting and even disconcerting to people attempting to keep their thoughts straight, do help the speaker avoid going over their allotted time.

Apparently in South Pasadena that would be an extremely bad thing to do. I've heard the punishment is being forced to spend a few hours with Michael Cacciotti so he can explain the finer points of mustache care to you.

I digress. The reason I watched this meeting is because Pasadena TeaPac submitted a petition with the necessary 800 signatures to the City Council there. The purpose being to completely repeal that City's 7.5% UUT (utility taxes) by way of the ballot. TeaPac is doing this in a number of cities, and Sierra Madre is most definitely on the hit list. Along with Glendale, Arcadia, Pasadena, and a few others.

This will happen here, and soon. Look at it like this, the population of South Pas (as they enjoy referring to themselves) is just under 26,000. The population of our Foothill Village is right around 11,000 souls. Getting a UUT repeal measure on the ballot here is going to take a lot less, about 300 signatures. Piece of cake, right?

During the previous Prop 218 water rate challenge I got nearly that many signatures all by myself. The secret being sturdy shoes and hit the 4th of July parade hard.

I was curious to see how South Pas's officialdom would handle this challenge. The options available to them under the California Constitution being vote to immediately to accept the repeal of the UUT, which obviously they were not about to do, or put it on the ballot for the people to decide. 800 signatures being the legal requirement to do that in Lo-Pas.

We've all seen this one before.
So what happened? Neither, of course. After a long and tedious presentation that included the usual hostage taking of both their Police Department and Library, South Pasadena's City Council voted to receive and file the entire matter, then move on.

They threw down the gauntlet, as some say. The purpose being to challenge TeaPac to get together a lot of money, hire some lawyers, and then sue. Which is pretty much what will happen in every other city as well. The cumulative effect being to make this a very expensive effort. Fighting City Hall can set you back, you know. Fighting six all at once even more so.

My assumption here is that our old friend, Michael Colantuono, one of this state's leading authorities on utility tax law, has blessed each of these afflicted cities with a scripted gray area legal strategy that, if successful, would keep the voters of these towns from ever even getting the chance to decide whether of not they want to get rid of their utility taxes.

Trust me, we will see this exact same strategy when the Repeal The UUT bandwagon hits Sierra Madre in a few months. And remember, we do share the same Colantuono City Attorney with South Pasadena. So yes, the cupcake is already baked.

And it might work. These cities all have taxpayer funded lawyers to fight this, while TeaPac will have to scrape together the money needed through bake sales and car washes. Either that or they will need to find some willing benefactors with very deep pockets. We will see if they have the will and the wherewithal.

My take on all of this? Simple. You can keep the UUT, or not. That is your business. I'm not going to tell you what to do.

But the smart thing? Use all of this anti-utility tax fervor as a negotiating tool. Sierra Madre City Hall is scared to death that the voters of this town will take away the remaining 6% utility tax left to them after last April's election. Out of the municipalities facing the potential loss of their UUT through the ballot, Sierra Madre is the most likely place to actually vote to do it.

City Hall will give you anything if you'll just promise not to do this. Sky is the limit. They'll even stop McMansions.

Why would you want to throw away some of your most effective political leverage? You don't even have to actually do it. Just the threat alone is enough.

Personally, I think utility tax anxiety has at least something to do with this city's rather stunning and quite sudden conversion to the slow growth cause.

A wild theory perhaps, but I rather like it.

Mayor Harabedian endorses Anthony Portantino for State Senator!

Poor Anthony Portantino has been taking it on the chins lately over those fake political endorsements we wrote about the other day. So much so that he has been running around the valley getting various Mayors to video tape endorsements of his candidacy for the State Senate. I guess that after getting caught cooking up false endorsements on an Internet website nothing less than video taped testimony will do.

Click here to view the video. Sierra Madre Mayor John Harabedian bats last.

You'd think that after his Paul Tanaka for Sheriff endorsement misadventures John would have learned his lesson. I guess not.

One more thing. Mayor Harabedian claims in his video that Anthony Portantino represented Sierra Madre in the California State Assembly.

That just isn't true. Our Assemblyman at the time was Tim Donnelly.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

36 comments:

  1. The City Council of South Pasadena last night proved that Fascism is alive and well in their "fair" city. They spent a great deal of time squawking about how necessary the UUT tax is to their city (the Little Engine that Could, as they continued to call it). their UUT tax is used for everything, not just public safety. It finds the summer concerts in the park, Easter egg hunts, and the July 4th parade. their carefully scripted fearmongering really showed that they don't represent the people of So. Pas; they were more intent on preserving their power. If the council was so certain that the good folks of So. Pas would not approve a full repeal of the UUT tax, why did the Council not vote to place it on the ballot? are they really that afraid? Why won't they let the people decide?

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  2. The council in South Pasadena last night proved the truth of the Mod's maxim : Take away the money from politicians and they are just a group of people with opinions. the only thing missing from their shameful display last night was the John Buchanan technique of holding his downcast head in his hands and wondering how the city will ever survive.

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  3. Last night's So. Pas. charade made me think:

    Hmmm, who decides if a City is to be a "full service city?" In Sierra Madre, former Mayor and King of Development John Buchanan used to utter "full service city" every other sentence.

    You know who gets to determine "full service city"? The taxpayers. Put the UUT repeal on the ballot and let the voters decide whether they'll pay more for City Employees' pensions and medical.

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  4. When we had the highest UUT in the state we also had the highest employee health costs. If we had no UUT would we have the lowest employee health costs?

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  5. Of course Colantuono would want lawsuits. He'll make a ton off them.

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    Replies
    1. Yet another example of how the high cost of justice is used to suppress democracy in America.

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    2. Hell, he's still collecting $$ over Carter 1. At least 2 of those 8 cases form the early 2000's are still open.

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    3. I wonder how many millions of dollars in tax money Michael has sucked out of Sierra Madre.

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    4. Gotta pay for fancy vacations and nice cars somehow.

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    5. And young men.

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  6. Take a look at TeaPac website. So far Sierra Madre has been able to do what it needs to do without this.

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    Replies
    1. What website?

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    2. 7:48, can you please post a link?

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    3. You mean, repeal the UUT? I missed that memo. The 10% Sierra Madre tax is still on my utility bills.

      Sierra Madre has a 6% floor UUT that will NEVER go away unless it's repealed.

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  7. Darn it. Just when I was ready to get over Harabedian's photoshopping election material, because he's done such a good job leading meetings. He shows himself to be doing what he's told. Darn it.

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    Replies
    1. Johnny's a big government guy.

      Remember when he ran in 2012 he supported a 12% UUT tax rate (gulp!) for Sierra Madre. In other terms, that's a 50% increase from the 8% UUT rate we'll have 7/1/2014 due to sun setting.

      Gotta pay for those Platinum Pensions for his friends in the Unions and POA.

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    2. John Harabedian strikes me as being a little conflicted. On the one hand he knows what is right for the people of Sierra Madre and he tries to cover that. After all, he's lived here all of his life. On the other hand he hears the siren call of county and statewide politics, and he wants so badly to please those people as well. He wants to be one of them some day. Unfortunately those two interests are at odds with each other, and sometimes he looks foolish.

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    3. He needs to work on his selfie video technique. That one makes his nose look big. He stood too close to his smart phone.

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    4. I sure got the impression that Johnny got a call from Portantino at work, stepped into the conference room and fired up the iPhone. Urgent!! Anthony's Senate Race is at stake!!

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    5. Fat Tony is feeling the heat. In politics you can't play fast and loose with the truth and then expect not to be called out over it.

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    6. Why would John H. want to associate himself with a washed up political has been from
      New Jersey like "MoMo" Portantino? John and his wife had their first child last year, he has a bright'
      future with a big downtown LA law firm. Why would he get in bed with Fat Tony?

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    7. Many a virtuous young man has been dragged to his ruin by the whore named Sacramento.

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  8. continue to stay strong and vigilant, Sierra Madre. remember, Government never sleeps.

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  9. Mod. said "Take away the money from politicians and they are just a... group of people with opinions."
    Let's have some fun refining that?
    ....with personal agendas that they pretend are representing the citizens needs

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    Replies
    1. Take away our tax money from the politicians at City Hall and they become just another small group of people with opinions.

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    2. I think it would make them friendlier and more likely to listen.

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  10. So. Pas city council proved last night that they work for themselves and the city. they do not work for the people of the city. I hope So. Pas votes them all out next time. especially Cacciotti!

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    Replies
    1. Cacciotti is another dude who sees himself going on to bigger and better things in politics. I wish they'd invent a cure for that.

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    2. Gotta love how Caciotti announced that AQMD gave So. Pas a $145,000 grant. Caccioti works at AQMD.

      Conflict of interest, much?

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    3. In organized crime that is known as "earning."

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  11. What was the grant for?

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    1. Bike trail or some such

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    2. He pushed it as a great new way for South Pasadena residents to commute. I wondered whether Michael might be doing that himself.

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    3. I'd rather they spent the $145,000 on road repair. It'd benefit a helluva lot more people.

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    4. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in the state that get lost among the idiotic bureaicracies that waste it. Sacramento budgeted millions of dollars to do something about cleaning up the air, and by the time a portion of it got to the AQMD and Mr. Mustache it was turned into a bicycle path. God save us from these idiots.

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  12. There sould be a facebook page of people who are straightening out the record, saying " I do NOT support this guy"

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