|Thinks your vote doesn't count.|
Back in 2012 a total of 1,553 voters in Sierra Madre said NO to an increase in utility taxes. In 2014 1,372 people again said NO to City Hall increasing their utility taxes as well.
Both times the NO vote totals were more than the YES vote totals, which in a democracy means that the people here had twice delivered their verdict. One that City Hall didn't like. That being a clear majority wanted their utility taxes to be capped at 6%. However, apparently in Sierra Madre the peoples' vote no longer counts.
The reason given to justify this rather reactionary notion is that maybe a couple of hundred people, many of whom supported an increased UUT in both 2012 and 2014 and lost both times, showed up at what was called a "budget town input meeting," which was held at the fire station. Put together and run by the same City Hall that was not happy about those two election results.
There these 200 or so election losers loudly proclaimed themselves victors. And because this relatively small group of people went to the fire station last Saturday morning their opinions now amount to more than the votes of that vastly larger group of people who rejected their tax increase demands at the polls a couple of times.
A novel interpretation of democracy that the City Council appears to have sanctioned last night. That is, when they were not raising fees.
So let me ask you this, can we call it a coup yet? Or maybe the revenge of the sore losers? Perhaps a tax tantrum? And what can anyone say about the elected officials who have bought into such obvious nonsense? Maybe there is something they're afraid of? So afraid that they dare not even talk about it?
The elephant in the room, the one that no one attending dared to admit they had just seen, is the absurd amounts of money the Sierra Madre Police Department is being paid. At just under $4 million a year in budget, they are literally bleeding the town dry. In the financial and metaphorical sense. Here are some rather glaring examples of remarkably out of line SMPD compensation (link):
There is something else you might want to ponder. According to the Los Angeles Times the average income of Sierra Madre residents is $88,000 (link).
As the graphic says, and for anyone out of touch enough to still believe our town is a bastion of economic privilege, Sierra Madre's holds a Los Angeles County rank of #51 in this category. It is not Beverly Hills.
So ask yourself this. What is it an SMPD Sergeant does that makes him worth almost $100,000 a year more in compensation than the people paying his salary? Anything come to mind? File lawsuits, perhaps?
This so-called budget crisis is really all about the power of a single municipal employee union. One that is currently negotiating with the city as we type to make even more money for its members than they do now. Something that City Hall apparently now wants to raise utility taxes to accommodate, despite the wishes of the taxpayers. The SMPD pretty much owns City Hall.
So much so that nobody even dares to talk about the actual reasons for the city's budget shortfall.
In other words, it is freely given platinum compensation, and not services, that is responsible for the travails of a city government that cannot make itself work within the budget those who actually pay for things gave them through their vote.
Get ready to shoot down a UUT increase for a third time next April. And then again two years after that. This doesn't look like it will ever end.
The Honkin' Horn is gagged
It is once a week testing, not daily honking, that was the City Council's verdict last night. They also showed some real concern about the decibel level. The fact that no EIR was ever done for this obstreperous horn, nor was the city's noise ordinance ever adjusted to accommodate it, could very well have raised some legal concerns at City Hall.
Silencing the blasting brute might take up to a week to implement. The horn is controlled by someone who works at Post Alarm, and apparently it can't be shut down that quickly.
Annaliese, the owner of Lunch Salon, which is located directly across the street from the horn, was the night's rockstar. Kind, thoughtful, intelligent and very well-spoken. She also has a video of a family whose kid was literally knocked over by a horn blast. Something the City Council chose not to watch.
You do know that the fire horn was always the practical joke of a few longtime residents, right? Backed up by a previous City Council?
The only thing is, a lot of people were never in on the punch line.