|Have they cloned City Attorney Highsmith?|
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.|
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.