Friday, June 19, 2015

Unanswered Questions from the June 6th Sierra Madre Town Hall Meeting

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(Mod: None of these questions have been answered by City Hall yet, so I figured I'd post the whole lot here and bring them to a wider audience. While the perceived message to raise the UUT to a highest rate in the state has been discussed repeatedly by certain city parties, oddly all of this other stuff has somehow been ignored. At least so far. Which is a shame since many are excellent questions. Perhaps you have some of the answers?)

How much money does the City receive from the Police citations of over 3,000 issued last year?  Is this money added to the UUT income to offset the Police Department expense?

When did the City start charging the Franchise fees to the utility bills?  Why was this charge started when the City used to receive payments without transferring that cost to the customers?  How much income does it give the City?

Where does the income come from to pay the 1998 water bond payments?  Is the payment made through the CRA Successor Agency?

How many dollars has the City paid for the water received from the MWD pipeline?  Are we using credits that have accumulated over the years?

What is the true cost of the water from the MWD pipeline and which of the four tiered rates is the true cost?

How much is the contract amount of the City Attorney?  How much has she been paid so far this  year?

How much has been paid out in legal expenses for cases that never get settled?  How many more years will it take?

Does the City Council have the authority to contract out any department such as the Police, Fire or the Library?  Should this be settled by a vote of the property owners?

Where does the money come from to pay for all the service contracts and what is the money spent on?  Please list individual amounts.

How many new employees has the City hired since the last defeat of the UUT increase that was on the ballot?

Does all of the income of the City get deposited into the Bank of America account which is known as the General Fund?

How much cash is in the restricted fund known as the Redevelopment Fund?  What is that money supposed to be used on?

What is the project known as Scarecrow and how much was paid to the Creative Arts Group?

How much money has been paid out to the more than one plan checker company and why does it take six to ten months to clear a plan through checking?

How many acre feet of water, per year, is used by the flushing of the water hydrants?

When will the water system be repaired and in working order?  This includes the tunnels, pumps and water main pipes?

What other departments, other than Police and Fire, is the UUT income spent on?

How much money does the Whitman Company receive for handing the billing of insurance companies?  Do they also do the billing of the non-insured?

What is the value of the purchase of a Paramedic Subscription?  Is it a flat donation or does it have some meaningful value?  If it is a donation, is it tax deductible?

Why are we spending money on a lobbyist?  Most people say City government should not be involved in this practice.

Is there any form of checks and balances on the spending side?  Who is the responsible person that is responsible for controls on spending?

When will the electrical switch panel be repaired that was burned out many years ago?  This is located in the building in the City yards.

Has the litigation over former Police Chief Diaz been settled?  If not, then when will it be done? How much has this cost the taxpayers?

       • When is the City going to end the fight against the property owners of 1 Carter so that the threat of the $30M lawsuit/claim can come to an end?  When will the first building permit be issued?  The Council and Administration know that the City settlement required that homes must be built for this subdivision that has been approved all along?

Why doesn’t the Police Department purchase one or more paper shredders and do their own shredding instead of contracting it out?

How much money has the City spent on outside consultants, for the General Plan and when will it get approved and finished?  Isn’t the over five years of time and money enough spent on this project?

Why did the City spend $50,000 on an EIR report against the 710 Freeway extension?  Why did we hire a new employee that was in favor of the 710 Freeway extension while he was working for Pasadena?

Is this meeting really for the purpose of laying the background for the introduction of another UUT tax increase?  Remember, this has been defeated twice already? If we are looking for reductions in spending then let’s not spend money foolishly.

The allocated amount of electrical usage on the water department was $500,000 per year.  Since the pumps have been shut down the Edison bill varies from $12,000 to $22,000 per month.  How much is the dollar saving on electricity? Why hasn't the city invested in Solar Power to save money?

Does the Police Department really respond to over 300 calls for Police service per week?  Are many of these calls simply transferred to other departments?

How many volunteer firemen live in Sierra Madre?

How many City employees have City credit cards?

Does the City Council understand that the people are looking for a smaller government that spends less instead of always focusing on tax increases?

How much does the City Administration pay out for computer and computer related services in a year’s time?

Why does the City pay out over $2,000 per month to the Pasadena S.P.C.A. when they receive all of the license income from the City?

When will the storage room at the Hart House get built?

What is the total cost per year of all the City employees, including all fringe benefits such as retirement payments, medical coverage and all other benefits including auto expense?  In other words, what is the big round number per year?

Why do we continue to give money to SCAG and the SGVCOG?

These two entirely antiquated and useless organizations continue to get money from us yearly, yet we receive very little of value in return. Rather they serve mostly as soapboxes for some of the biggest fools in the region. Why should we want to help financially enable their ridiculous behavior?

Here is an example from the Pasadena Star News (link):

San Gabriel Valley COG recommends tunnel option for 710 After nearly three hours of debate, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted to support the 710 Freeway tunnel Thursday night,

The 31-member group’s governing board voted 16-7 to endorse building a tunnel to connect the gap in the freeway, running under Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena and connecting to the 210/134 freeway interchange.

A recommendation will be sent to Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency for inclusion in their joint environmental impact report, ahead of the July 6 cutoff date for comments.

The SGVCOG’s governing board rejected suggestions by delegates from Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre and La Canada Flintridge to take no position on this controversial project.

In one of his first appearances since leaving the position of mayor, Bill Bogaard of Pasadena suggested SGVCOG would be taking a premature action and urged the agency to wait until the final EIR is completed.

“This has been going on for decades. It blows my mind for you to say it is premature,” retorted Alhambra City Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who introduced the successful motion.

Messina said the support for a tolled tunnel is in line with the Southern California Association of Governments, which put the tunnel option into its Regional Transportation Plan in 2012.

“SCAG has the (710) tunnel in their RTP. It meets requirements of the federal government on air quality, mobility and congestion,” Messina told the board. Dissenters said the vote in support of a freeway tunnel would break the SGVCOG in half. Some urged a no position to preserve a unified voice in the region on transportation matters.

“I feel this is like the Middle East. Either we are damned if we do or do not. We are just splitting the cities,” said Sam Pedroza, Claremont City Councilman and SGVCOG member who did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Here is the real absurdity in this. On the one hand we spent $50,000 in taxpayer dough to fight the 710 Tunnel. I am OK with that. If this tunnel ever gets built it will not only severely degrade the environment around here, the 210 Freeway would be turned into a 24/7 parking lot as well.

On the other hand we are also sending money to SCAG, an organization that is lobbying for the 710 Tunnel nonstop.

Seems kind of schizophrenic, right?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

50 comments:

  1. SCAG has always worked against us. This should be the last straw.

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    Replies
    1. thank you John Buchanan for being such a wonderful friend to the city and helping us steer towards acheiving the goals of SCAG on behalf of your employer

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    2. Edison owns "The COG." They even have their offices in a building Edison owns.

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    3. Want to help kill Edison? Get solar. My electric bill dropped from $400 to right around $50.

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    4. The problem with your approach 8:57 is that your panels are subsidized by everyone else. Can't wait until 1/1/2016 when the massive $$ transfer to Elon Mush (tesla) and his cousin (SolarCity) get cut off. Neither company is viable without subsidies. Crony capitalism, man.

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  2. I agree. We need to get out. Why give aid and comfort to the enemy?

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    1. If we get out of SCAG, the City Council member that attends won't get the meeting attendance $$. And who wants to lose the free buffet? Golly.

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    2. There was a great moment in council history when we were going to stop paying dues, and SCAG visited us and sang for their supper. It was none other than Ikrhata and another fellow. The Tattler covered it:
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2009/09/scag-boss-hasan-ikhrata-admits-to.html
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2009/09/lets-learn-more-about-jon-edney.html

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    3. Good old Hasan. How is it a former Soviet Russian planner went on to find a happy home in California doing regional planning?

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    4. CA One Party Rule isn't too far from Hasan's Communist Russia. Mr. Hasan must be really happy here!

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    5. Besides the 710 Communist China Tunnel Hasan's other big mission is to put black boxes in everybody's car so the government can track your every move and charge you by how many miles you drive. Isn't that wonderful?

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    6. Sustainable fascism.

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  3. Barbara Messina is the epitome of all that is wrong with government in LA County.

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    1. She is featured here in the Marketplace PR video for the SR 710 Tunnel in her constant flogging mode to promote the Port of Los Angeles truck traffic through the local communities. She doesn't seem to know that the Alameda Corridor (port freight trains) is way under capacity and could easily solve the issue if the Ports were willing to pay for the rail infrastructure instead of trying to unload those costs onto the public. What they're doing is vastly increasing cheap diesel truck traffic and underpaid drivers onto publicly paid for highways that aren't even being maintained now with tax dollars (gas tax revenue is down due to far more efficient automobile engines).

      Marketplace Media APM focuses on business, the economy, and events that influence them. Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, the show is produced and distributed by American Public Media, in association with the University of Southern California. With a weekly audience of more than eight million, Marketplace is the most popular business program in America–more popular than those of CNBC, Bloomberg or Nightly Business Report

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4b484H5AV8

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    2. The real missing link is Barbara Messina.

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  4. Not that this is any kind of big revelation, but the reason why all those questions haven't been answered is the city doesn't really care what residents are thinking about. They just wanted something that would show there is public support for putting a utility tax measure on the ballot for a third time.

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  5. Even though my head almost hurts from all those good unanswered questions, at least there were no questions about the horn!

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  6. look at the 2014 CAFR (comprehensive annual financial report) - http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/i-want-to/find/documents/category/16-finance-documents?download=1320:city-of-sierra-madre-comprehensive-annual-financial-report-2014

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    1. 7:35AM-I got to page 100, and I am now brain dead. Did you have a summary for this miserable document?

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    2. I do. The city's surplus and tax revenue is increasing, 2014 vs. 2013. Which means they have more $$ coming in. Its is indeed a spending problem.

      More fun? Check page 57 at the bottom. The city's pension costs are going down.

      Oops. Guess we caught them in a truth deficit.

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  7. Dear Tattlers,
    I can answer one question:
    "What other departments, other than Police and Fire, is the UUT income spent on?"

    The UUT revenue goes into the General Fund. In other words, it can be spent on (excuse my shouting) ANY DAMN THING.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, and that directly contradicts the "public safety only" message that the city used to say. But you know how that goes.

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    2. Big salaries, jumbo health care plans and platinum pensions. That is what it is all about. All while telling you the Library could go away. So many people believe the lies.

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    3. Didn't the library close already? Gene Goss told us lduring the ast election that it would.

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    4. Gene thought it was true because John Buchanan told him it was.

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    5. Gene's imaginary friends sent him imaginary emails saying it was so.

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    6. Is Gene aware of how clueless he looks sometimes?

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  8. It's all about city hall spending the residents money.

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  9. The uut money goes into the general fund and is technically spent on safety. The cost of the police far exceeds what comes in for the uut, so technically it all goes to the police dept. The money can't go to anything else because there is no money left to spend.

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    Replies
    1. If the people of Sierra Madre want money to only go to Public Safety, it has to be by a 2/3 vote. A parcel tax is an example.

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    2. So why did the city say it was?

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    3. The UUT measure says that the money goes for public safety. It was written and passed when the citizens wanted to have paramedics rather than EMT's. It has already been voted on that the UUT money goes to public safety. As explained above, all the UUT money technically goes for public safety because even though it is in the general fund, less money comes in from the UUT than goes out for public safety, thus, the general fund is subsidizing the police and fire.

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  10. These Scag people are dangerous.
    Several people think John Crawford and MaryAnn McGillivrey were targeted by these factions for theIr outspoken opposition to SCAG.
    Both their homes were burglarized.
    McGillivrey was a target of one of the dirtiest campaigns for city council ever. Totally slandered.

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    Replies
    1. Well said 9:28.
      Joe Mosca played the gay card for all it was worth, and lied continuously to fool people into having sympathy for him, all the while mocking them behind closed doors. What an awful time in Sierra Madre's history.

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    2. Those were awful times. We are still cleaning up the mess.

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    3. Those guys are still around creating their havoc. Ask Goss and Harabedian.

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  11. Everyone has a right to be stupid.

    Politicians just abuse the privilege

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    Replies
    1. Life is hard.
      It's harder when you're stupid.
      ~ John Wayne

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  12. IF we ever get the mess cleaned up.

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  13. I am sure I missed this..."tolled" 710 Tunnel? Where will the toll booths be? Fast track meters on the car windows? Just think of all the surface traffic ducking out of that "option."

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    1. Oh yeah. Let's say the toll is $10 or so (higher during drive time). They'll be lots of folks driving thru So Pasadena , Pasadena and elsewhere. Let's make "LAST FREE EXIT" in Alhambra by Barbara Messina's house.

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    2. It is designed for Port of LA truck traffic. Metro is just saying it isn't for the obvious reason.

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    3. Summary of the Metro/Caltrans documents, timeline of community meeting videos and how-to respond to the DEIR is up on this website. New deadline for public comments is Aug. 5th because they finally put up the Analysis of Costs and Benefits (CBA) for the SR-710 North study alternatives. (Thank you Anthony Portantino!!) Link to that is in the page...

      http://lwv-pa.org/

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  14. Stupid people do stupid things.

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    Replies
    1. like elect utility company employees, mortgage salesmen, construction company owner, commercial banker, building industry lobbyist to the Council?

      more like conniving people doing conniving things

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    2. They know how to do the hustle.

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  15. Suckered again by the city's blast, I went to the documents site to see the upcoming meeting's agenda. The eblast says it's online - it's not.
    It also says just enter the date - wrong.
    1) Go to city website
    2) Go to current documents
    3) Enter start date
    4) Enter end date
    5) Choose city group
    6) click search

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  16. Praise the Lord they just sounded the horn. Dinner will be ready on time.

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  17. Our "safety" horn just went off, I wonder how many people got blown away today?

    It would be nice for the City to actually start their safety campaign to let people know why the horn is being tested. Sure, we all know if there is an earthquake, but do we all know we should tune to 1630AM if there is an emergency?

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  18. All those poor sensitive ears! Hope not too many people fainted from shock and fear.

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