John - As I was doing the weekly housecleaning today, vacuuming, I thought about the fact that the penalties for water use above target kick in this month at the EXACT SAME TIME that the UUT tax drops by 2%. I hardly think this is a coincidence. Another interesting "coincidence" lies in the fact that the overall increase in the water rate system, which was implemented in 2013 and continues hiking until 2018 is the EXACT SAME span of time that the CALPERS "employer (taxpayer) contribution" is being increased as well. I may be off on the 2013 number, but whatever the two schedules are, they're identical for both systems. I remember this from when I was doing research a year ago or so. At this point, I question whether the money that's raised from the water department actually remains in that fund, separate from the general fund. It seems as though City Hall is trying to pad one from the other.
Mod: Interesting take, right? If anyone knows any of the answers do share. With a third attempt at a UUT rate increase steadily slithering towards the ballot here, we do need to know … That said, the following is what usually passes for the Sunday News on The Tattler.
Stock Market Plunge Stokes Fears That "Chinese Dream" Is Slipping Away (Vocativ link): The stock market plunge in China has prompted some of the country’s media outlets and social media users to worry that the “Chinese dream,” the government’s pet phrase for upward mobility for the middle class, may be fading.
The “Chinese dream” is a take on the phrase “American dream,” and Chinese president Xi Jinping has been promoting it since he took office in 2013. Immediately after XI created the slogan, it popped up on billboards throughout China, schools organized speaking competitions about it, and even television shows were named after it. The phrase symbolizes a booming Chinese middle class, Chinese military might and an improvement in living conditions for the Chinese people.
Buoyed by that notion, millions of Chinese have invested in the stock market–pushing it up more than 150 percent in the past year. But as the Chinese economy has slowed down, so has the stock market. Shanghai stocks have plummeted 30 percent in the past three weeks.
Mod: There goes the local real estate market. Or maybe not.
China's rich seek shelter from stock market storm in foreign property (The Guardian - link): Real estate agents in Australia, Britain and Canada are bracing for a surge of new interest in their already hot property markets, with early signs that wealthy Chinese investors are seeking a safe haven from the turmoil in Shanghai’s stock markets.
Sydney agent Michael Pallier said in the past week alone he has sold two new apartments and shown a A$13.8m (US$10.3m) house in the harbourside city to Chinese buyers looking for an alternative to stocks.
“A lot of high-net-worth individuals had already taken money out of the stock market because it was getting just too hot,” Pallier, the principal of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “There’s a huge amount of cash sitting in China and I think you’ll find a lot of that comes to the Australian property market.”
Mod: The Chinese stock market crash was an earthquake, and the tsunami is headed our way.
Poway mayor explains why city had to dump 550,000 gallons of water (ABC 10 San Diego link): The mayor of Poway is defending the city's decision to dump more than 500,000 gallons of what appeared to be perfectly good drinking water.
"I think it's a shame," said resident Helen Shelden. "I think the city should've prepared better for it."
"It was a perfect storm of conservation and heat," said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.
Vaus said Poway residents conserved so much water -- by 45 percent in May -- that the water just sat in the Blue Crystal Reservoir. Heat eventually got to it and there was a chemical imbalance of Chloramine. Because of state regulations, Vaus told 10News the water was not safe to drink.
Satellite Images Show Why This Year’s Predicted El Niño Could Be One Of Strongest In Years (CBS Los Angeles link): There is growing evidence that California could soon see one of the strongest El Niño events ever this winter, one that could put a dent in the state’s historic drought. New satellite images show what could be a historic weather event in full bloom, and scientists are confident what’s emerging in the Pacific could make it one of the strongest to ever hit California with a 90 percent chance of lasting through winter.
“That’ll at least, atmospherically speaking, load the dice, so that we could see an average to above average rainfall season across California,” said Tom Di Liberto with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Conditions are lining up in ways not seen since the winter of 1997, when downpours caused rivers and creeks to overflow.
Mod: About time.
On immigration, Donald Trump takes a page from Pete Wilson's 1994 playbook (Los Angeles Times link): More than two decades have passed since Republican Gov. Pete Wilson aired a television ad showing Mexicans scurrying across the border as an announcer declared, "They keep coming: 2 million illegal immigrants in California."
Wilson's short-term gain — he won both reelection and passage of a ballot measure to deny public services to immigrants in the country illegally — was soon outweighed by a devastating Latino backlash that turned California into a Democratic stronghold.
So there was a flashback quality to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's hour-long denunciation of illegal immigration at a campaign stop Friday in Beverly Hills. The New York real estate mogul accused Mexico's leaders of "ripping off the United States" in lopsided trade deals and professed grudging admiration for their "cunning" ways.
"The fact that they're sending criminals and prisoners into our country, and that our people are stupid enough to put them in jails, or let them roam the street, which is even worse, I have to respect them for it," Trump said.
It was jarring rhetoric in a state where politicians for years have avoided striking such a harsh tone on immigration, a touchstone issue not just for the growing ranks of Latino voters, but also Asian Americans.
Trump's approach also runs counter to California Republicans' turnaround plan, which entails running more Latino, Asian and female candidates to rid the party of its image as a domain of white men with conservative stands on immigration, abortion and other social issues. In Orange County, Republicans won hotly contested state legislative races last year in districts where the GOP candidates were Vietnamese American and Korean American.
Mod: So is The Donald about to do for the entire country what Pete Wilson did to California?
How San Francisco's "Sanctuary City" Law Kept An Alleged Killer On The Streets (Vocative link): San Francisco has a specific policy of not turning illegal immigrants over to the feds—and it may have cost a woman her life. The murder of a 32-year-old California woman, allegedly by an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has already been deported five times, has reignited the debate over so-called “sanctuary cities.”
The term “sanctuary cities” isn’t a legal concept—it’s a phrase used by immigration activists on both sides of the immigration debate to describe cities that have policies that make it difficult for the federal government to deport people who live there. The policies are designed to bring people who are in the country illegally out of the shadows where they often face abuse at the hands of employers, criminals and others who exploit the fact that they risk deportation if they turn to the police for help. Because there is no specific definition for “sanctuary cities,” putting a number on how many there are is subjective and ranges from 30 to more than 100, depending on who you ask.
The polices aren’t designed to keep criminals on the streets, immigrant activists stress. But if there is a state government that has gone on the record about its status as a refuge for illegal immigrants, it’s California, where authorities say Juan Francisco Sanchez-Lopez fatally shot Kathryn Steinle at random as she walked with her father on a crowded pier in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Mod: So when exactly does Sierra Madre start building that downtown homeless shelter again?
Pasadena City College’s accreditation placed on probation (San Gabriel Valley Tribune link): A regional accrediting commission has placed Pasadena City College on probation after reviewing the way the school is run.
If the administration does not bring PCC into compliance within the next two years, the commission could terminate its accreditation, according to a letter from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
The college must respond by October 2016 to show that its met the commission’s nine recommendations. PCC President Dr. Rajen Vurdien said the college is working “aggressively” on a solution.
“The college is fully accredited, it’s just that there are some issues we have to take care of,” said Rajen Vurdien, PCC’s new president as of July 1. “It has nothing to do with educational quality, it has to do with governance — with the administrative model.”
ACCJC found flaws in the college’s program review, in its adherence to its own ethics policy, in its planning and in its communication between administrators and staff. Board member Ross Selvidge in a statement stressed that the recommendations focused “primarily on organizational, administrative and decision making processes,” not on student instruction.
Mod: Pasadena is to education what Pasadena is to city hall embezzlement investigations - link.
Los Angeles County leaders still drive pricey gas-guzzling cars years after audit (Pasadena Star News link): Walk the garage under Los Angeles County’s headquarters and you’ll see rows of practical Ford Tauruses and efficient Toyota Priuses — the ones with government seals on the front doors.
Turn a corner and placards proclaim: “Reserved at all times. Member — Board of Supervisors.” Along this wall are sleek new Acuras and monster American SUVs. One, a $66,000 Yukon Hybrid Denali, gets 21 miles per gallon; those standard passenger sedans can get more than twice that.
The civil grand jury in 2008 criticized the Los Angeles county government for buying top officials “luxury” vehicles with poor gas mileage. Not much has changed since. The Board of Supervisors never set limits on indulgence, like the grand jury recommended. Nor did it track — besides for one year after the audit — how many expensive cars its workers drive. Now, new records show the county has 71 percent more pricey vehicles than it did seven years ago. Supervisors themselves bought take-home autos with features like plush leather and lousy fuel-efficiency.
“Most local governments are going stripped down. They’re going bare bones,” said Phillip Russo, CEO of the National Association of Fleet Administrators, an industry trade group. “It may not look good for your city council or mayor to be driving around with a certain vehicle that you paid for with your tax dollars.”
Mod: Here's an example of why the Supes are just an awful bunch of hypocrites - link.