But apparently a lot of the financial information being put out by City Hall just isn't that reality-based. Whether this is through ineptitude, an inability to deal with numbers, or they just don't think it is all that important, is anyone's guess. I favor the latter explanation. It goes along with my belief that this has always been about putting a third UUT measure on the ballot next April. The City apparently having decided that the last thing they should be doing is wising up the marks with any substantive data. Better to just play upon resident emotions while at the same time reaching around back for their wallets.
In this weekend's edition of the often vaguely written Mountain Views News, the paper's publisher, H. Susan Henderson, points out just such an inaccuracy. One that she originally took at face value, and then published it in her paper. Much to her obvious chagrin.
Here is how Susan describes it:
Here is the graphic that Susan Henderson's concerned readers alertly called into question:
Now I have been known to question Ms. Henderson's methodology and commitment to accuracy from time to time, something that would normally be expected of a newspaper that receives money on a noncompetitive basis from the public purse. However, and at least in this case, that would not be the right thing for me to do. You see, I also took budget numbers provided by City Hall and posted them on my site, believing them to be accurate. This happened last Thursday.
Here is how that one went (link):
I was informed by someone in the know that the medical insurance numbers currently available on the city's website are not accurate, even though they have been live there since last November. I was also told that the correct numbers would be posted as soon as possible. Friday City Hall was closed, so today could be the big day.
The spot on the city's website where I found the above numbers also has health insurance plan cost figures for classified employees, along with whatever it is the rest of the help is called. Those numbers are inaccurate as well.
So here is the point to all of this. The City has asked residents to help them figure out how to deal with the city's budget problems. And quite a few people have answered that call. Myself and Susan Henderson included. But where else can they get the numbers they need to work with than the city?
There are not many other places for people to go. And now that it turns out that at least a portion of those City supplied numbers are not accurate, what is the point of doing anything at all?
And where does that leave that "resident input" part of next Saturday's meeting on the budget?
It just doesn't get much more Sacramento than this. The head of the state agency in charge of creating affordable housing for the less fortunate among us is himself tearing down affordable housing to build luxury condos. No, really. This from the Daily Beast:
California Housing Boss To Build Luxury Condos Over Poor Tenants’ Homes - California affordable housing head evicts 17 tenants from his own building to clear way for the construction of luxury condos:
Today, in bitter irony, the head of the California Housing Finance Agency, a state agency tasked with helping low- to moderate-income Californians find affordable housing, is being picketed by dozens of his own soon-to-be-evicted tenants, who are being forced out of rent-controlled apartments so he can rebuild them as luxury apartments.
CalHFA Chairman Matthew Jacobs, a Democrat, is also a real estate developer, and is invoking the state’s controversial Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants if they plan to tear down buildings or get out of the landlord business entirely. Jacobs’ plan is to demolish nine such residences in order to construct more modern, four-story, condominiums with parking garages that will be sold at market value. Seventeen tenants will be displaced in the process.
“Here is a person who is supposed to be producing or helping get affordable housing get produced in the state actually knocking down existing affordable housing so he can profit off building luxury units,” Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival told radio station KPCC.
The Ellis Act, which was enacted in 1986, has been increasingly used in housing-crushed California cities to get around rent-controlled protections. In 2014, landlords reportedly cleared out 725 apartments, up from 308 in 2013. Los Angeles currently has a staggeringly low 3.3% vacancy rate, which is lower even than New York City’s, and experts state the city is about to hit a wall, with zoning for 4.2 million people and a current population of 3.9 million. With growing scarcity of housing causing values to constantly rise, financial pressure is on affordable housing landlords to find a way out and cash in.
Jacobs’ tenants protested by handing out fliers outside another development of his on Saturday afternoon, a five-unit luxury building with prices around $1.5 million, and in front of his home. They mourned not just the loss of their homes but of a neighborhood’s community-centric way of life.
For the rest of this tale of bizarre state government hypocrisy, click here.