Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rick De La Mora's Letter to Mayor John Capoccia on Sierra Madre's Excessive Police Funding and the LASD

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Some people are unhappy about the soon to be all but finalized 12% UUT ballot initiative proposal that once upon a time tax fighter Mayor Capoccia hopes to include on next April's election ballot. Others are equally upset about the obviously rigged kangaroo court "process" regarding the proposal to bring the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department here to Sierra Madre. A cost cutting move that would both save Sierra Madre's operating General Fund budget about $700,000 while at the same time upgrading public safety services considerably.

The following comment posted here on The Tattler last week regarding the so-called "Sheriff’s Contract Proposal Review Committee" being a good example of what we are talking about today.


And some people actually wonder why the place gets called "Mayberry."

The question being raised by some residents is what's so difficult about getting a hard quote for Los Angeles Sheriff Department services and then laying that side by side with our police budget? At the very least you could use it to beat the union over the head with during contract negotiations.

Oh, but I guess then they wouldn't pose with you for your campaign postcards, right?

  
The taxpayers continue to pay a high price for that Harabedian shenanigan. No news if the City of Sierra Madre's investigation into this matter has come to any conclusions yet. After all, it has only been three and a half years.

The following letter from Sierra Madre resident Rick De La Mora was sent to Mayor John Capoccia and the rest of the City Council yesterday. Knowing Mayor Capoccia's reluctance to reply to e-mails that do not agree with his positions on issues such as this one we are not holding our breath over any possible replies.

That said, the comparison between La Canada Flintridge's arrangement with the LA County Sheriff's Department and SMPD costs here actually was brought up by Capoccia during his run for office in 2012. But then again, so was his principled opposition to tax increases. And we all certainly know where that campaign promise went.

Here is Rick De La Mora's letter:

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Dear Councilman Capoccia:

My family and I live in Sierra Madre. We attend St. Rita's Parish, where my two youngest children attend school.

I am writing about the City of Sierra Madre's apparent intent to again put a tax increase proposal on the ballot and to support that effort by actively insulating the police services budget from public review.

The City's 2015-16 general fund budget list $8.9M of total revenues and $8.3M of total expenditures.  Of this amount $3.9M is to be spent on police services (assuming further police related expenditures are not categorized elsewhere). This means that 47% of the city's General Fund expenditures go to police services.

For comparison purposes I have reproduced below the public safety section of the La Canada Flintridge city budget for 2015 – 16.  La Canada has twice our population, three times our area, significantly more business, and three major highways within its borders. It is also a very nice town.

Like Sierra Madre, last year it ranked among California's safest cities.  La Canada's total public safety budget, which includes items other than police services, is $3.2M.  This is compared to general fund expenditures of $11.9M.  La Canada therefore spends 27% of its general fund on police services.  La Canada is not unique. In fact, I challenge you to find another city that matches Sierra Madre's 47% police spend.

          
The reason Sierra Madre spends $700k a year more on police services is that we have chosen to fund an independent police department. That choice has consequences. While La Canada has 73% of its General Fund to fund parks, recreation, the purchase of open space, and other public goods, we have only 53% leaving us effectively nothing with which to pursue discretionary expenditures.

Moreover, having contracted with the county for police services, La Canada is not on the hook for future pension benefits associated with employing those officers.  We are.  Neither of these problems will be corrected by raising the UUT and risking a counter measure seeking to repeal it.

Given these facts, I find it troubling that the City Council has effectively declared the police department and the 47% of general fund revenues it consumes off limits for budgeting purposes. In fact, rather than educating the public on these rather straightforward facts, the City has elected to conduct "surveys" about whether or not we "like" our police department without explaining the costs associated with it.

To be clear, I "like" having our own police department.  When we were burglarized last month (the second time in two years) the officers were courteous and professional. That is not the issue. The issue is if we can afford it an independent police department. And, more importantly, what public good we are giving up to maintain that independent force.

Thank you for your service to the City, Rick De La Mora

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Tonight's Sierra Madre City Council Meeting

The only big issue on this evening's agenda is an attempt by certain City Councilmembers to put a utility tax increase on the ballot for next April's elections. Here is how that one reads on this evening's agenda (link):


This would be the third attempt since 2012 by the City of Sierra Madre to raise the utility taxes here. The first two having met defeat at the polls. I would also like to remind everyone that at 12% Sierra Madre's UUT ("CalPERS Tax") would be the highest ever in the State of California. Which would be an unfortunate price to pay for Councilman Harabedian having gotten his photo taken with the two uniformed police officers pictured on the 2012 campaign postcard reproduced above.

The following chart comes from a site titled California City Finance.com (link). What it shows is that at 12% Sierra Madre would have the highest UUT ("CalPERS Tax") in the state. It is a utility tax rate that would literally be "off the chart."


    sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

73 comments:

  1. So let's see here. The current UUT rate is 8% and taking it to 12% is therefore a 50% INCREASE in the UUT tax. When the UUT rate goes to 6% (scheduled for July 1, 2016), then a 12% UUT represents a 100% INCREASE in UUT taxes. Not even Sacramento or the Feds are that audacious. This Council and City staff are completely incompetent if they think this is the only solution.

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  2. Excellent letter from Rick De La Mora. Too bad the City Council doesn't listen to reason.

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  3. You guys would really rather have County Fire & Sheriffs in here, than pay an extra $45 per year??? Don't you get it? You complain about house burglaries, but then are prepared to be ok with 20 minute response times. Obama and Moonbeam are releasing 6,000 more "non-violent" offenders, which means more daytime burglaries and mail/package theft. Guys, think of the greater good here....seriously. You claim to love Sierra Madre so much, but don't want to protect it. I don't get it at all...

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    1. That "20 minute response time" is one of those big lie deals that you guys are pushing. The Sheriffs would be in the same building the SMPD is in now. The response time would be exactly the same. Don't you know what an ass you look like when you parrot this crap?

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    2. Unless the City is totally stupid (I don't think we're there yet) they would pay for "dedicated" LASD units (you see them with the city name on the side). that means unless there's a serious call such as officer down that SM would have the same number of cops on the street.

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    3. If anything, 6:30, the response time would be quicker because the Sheriffs don't weigh as much.

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    4. In my unfortunate experience the police department does not stop house burglaries. For example, it did not stop the burglary we suffered in 2014. Nor did it stop the burglary we suffered in the morning two weeks ago. Not their fault. It's not what the department is supposed to do.

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    5. When our house was robbed we ended up filling out much of the police paperwork ourselves. Then we had to go down to the Police station three times to get someone to sign it. Otherwise we would never have gotten anything back from the insurance company. We came away from the experience feeling like we'd been dealing with children.

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    6. The UUT is all about the big pension these folks all get when they "retire". Can you imagine pulling in over $100 or $200K every year for the remaining 30 years or so of your life. We will soon by paying people more who are not working then we pay thje people who are working and still performing services for the public. The salaries and pensions for our "public servants" have gotten way out of hand. Once we rein tn the spending and make those people retire when the rest of us retire like age 65 or 70, then you won't have to raise the UUT tax.

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    7. 7:11 you are correct. It is more appropriately called the CalPers Tax and not the UUT.

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    8. Yes. That is where the additional UUT goes, things like CalPERs. Infrastructure has little to do with it.

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    9. Zero of the UUT goes to water infrastructure. That's a separate organization and is supported thriough the water and sewer bills.

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    10. I've notice that those who say "the greater good" always want my money to pay for it. Funny how that works.

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    11. Really. What part of "No" don't they understand?

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    12. Because of that unethical campaign postcard with uniformed officers John Harabedian needs to recuse himself from any conversation involving the CalPERS tax.

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    13. It's all been handed over to the Detectives Bureau.

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    14. Henry Amos will get to the bottom of this.

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    15. 6:30 is either paranoid or SMPD

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    16. Maybe both. And with lousy math skills to boot.

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    17. 6:30 jeez - maybe LaCanda would like to dump the Sheriff dept and subcontract out the SMPD?

      as for me, I'd rather wait for the Sheriff's dept

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    18. Why would the response time be slowe than it is now? The sherriff would use our police building.

      Just another lie like we will loose the library ,our holy grail.

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    19. Why would the response time be slowe than it is now? The sherriff would use our police building.

      Just another lie like we will loose the library ,our holy grail.

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  4. The City of Sierra Madre does not respect the vote of the people.

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    1. That's because they think we are stupid. Explains all the "education" that we are getting from City Hall. Easier fior them to dio that than really cut costs. Which they haven't really done significantly.

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    2. Being lied to is offensive. I was not going to support the 0% UUT. Now I will.

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  5. Thank you, Mr. De La Mora. I was doing some research yesterday on CalPERS. I noticed that Ms. Diaz received 18,000.00 plus for 5 years of her time. If she's married her spouse is covered for life, too. Neat package. The city is not being honest. They do not make it easy to find anything on their award winning website. I have had occasion to deal with the PD. We had several items stolen from our front yard. When we reported it, we got a bit of laughter but really no action. We had figured out kids did it on a lark. We understood that. But isn't a theft a theft? We went back over our camera footage and saw the car, the kids, etc. We then took it the PD and only then did they move on it. They found the items and the kids. We have no idea what the final disposition was as it was sent to that "dark hole" called the detectives unit. It was like the kids they let go during school hours with a container of booze in the car. This was in the last 3 years. PEOPLE NEED TO GO TO THE CC MEETING TONIGHT. Otherwise it will be stacked like the last one. No one wants the city to fail. But the UUT can go up,up,up. Then there is the ever looming parcel tax. And the only thing that seems to get taken care of are the employees who are never threatened it seems. We just hear about closing the library and less community services.

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    1. "No one wants the city to fail"
      Really?
      So why does the CC and the City Manager Aguilar keep funding the Ponzi scheme that is the finances of our City?
      The way to prevent the City from failing is to eliminate the people and policies that got us here. Until then it is futile to object.

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  6. This town is corrupt! the City Manager is incompetent and is just waiting to retire and spend her pension at our lost. The Wolf is a true turncoat. The Wolf was just another plant or spy that the DIRT convinced that taxpayers of Sierra Madre that he was against raising taxes...Lair! The Wolf is DIRT thru and thru! Just look at who he is always seen with. John Buchanan, Rob Stockey, Glen Lamdin etc. The Wolf is a carpetbagger and should be recalled at a minimum!

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    1. Having read a previous Tattler I was able to follow the references to the Wolf as being John Capoccia.

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    2. It is a real howler.

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    3. I think its a Gray area.

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    4. Did someone just whistle?

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    5. How many shades of gray?

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    6. I'll be doggone.

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    7. Get ready for four more years of John Buchannan. He's going to run again.

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    8. Johnny B Is going to run against Capoccia and Harabedian? My my. They eat their own.

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    9. Buchanan has a consistent record of horrible failure to run on. In Sierra Madre that is a plus.

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    10. John Buchanan is a employee of SoCal Edison - he stood in front of us and lied about the UUT. He is probably one of the worst if not the worst Council member we've ever had. Buchanan tried to sneak and give away a city parking lot and I have zero trust in him.

      If he runs, he's doing it for himself and his employer. I'd rather have Harabedian and Goss than Buchanan.

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    11. Buchanan said or is a rumor that he is running for Council again?

      Yuck.

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  7. Let's be clear ,thePolice and other Public Employees are looting the City of Sierra Madre.
    Ultimately It is not Capoccia's fault.Nor Elaine Aguilar ,nor prior City Councils. The fault is with the Electorate for not recalling the offending Council members.Further Elaine Aguilar is just destroying our fair City from within by approving of the looting.
    No Council seems to have the guts to deal with the issue in a responsible way.
    Ultimately this apathy ,weakness & inaction will lead to far greater pain & suffering.
    On a positive note ,we need to enact new 'rules' after the bankruptcy to insure this never happens again. It would be constructive to discuss the specific wording of those new rules to rein in the CC.

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    1. The offending members of the Council are long gone. The current council is working the best they can with what they have. I suggest we support Denise and Rachelle to the hilt no matter what, because they are the most knowledgeable and trustworthy. If they recommend a ballot measure, then, we should do what we can. With cash reserves and bills paid, no court would let Sierra Madre go bankrupt.

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    2. I don't understand. The "offending members of the Council are long gone," but we still need to make decisions that are based on their mistakes? Isn't that a definition of insanity?

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    3. 12:43 I support DelMar and Arizmendi wholeheartedly. The other 3 make it difficult for them. The Mayor speaks to them like they are drudges. They are forced to back the 3 dudes. But I bet one of the ladies will have something to say tonight. There will be no cash reserves or bills paid from the UUT. It will only cover the deficit for next years budget. It will not fix our pipes, sidewalks or streets.

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  8. If you look at the police expenses you will see they can eliminate over time and can hire fill in officers cheaper. What they want is to help pay officers more money, does that money factor into their pensions, I think so. Many ways To cut back but who wants to stick their neck out. You will feel the rash.

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    1. from what I understand with Calpers that the total salary including overtime is what is figured into the pension so that's why you see the senior officers racking up overtime

      for doing what? you guess is as good as mine

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  9. Much of what passes for local police control is a myth right now. Plenty of their responsibilites are contracted out to other forces that are called in to help.

    I have a friend who located her own stollen vehicles, two of them, by doing her own dectective work, and, with the help of an astute Arcadia police dog handling law officer.

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  10. http://samepagenation.com/2015/10/done-study-finds-federal-employees-paid-lot-private-sector-counterparts/
    Study: Federal Employees Paid A Lot More Than Private Sector Counterparts – Almost 80% More
    Are we supposed to believe that government employees produce that much more value?

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    1. That you can blame on governor moonbeam when he unionized the federal workers during his first term as governor.

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    2. State workers, not Federal workers

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  11. I would like to note a couple of facts.

    First, my letter to the Mayor was intended to be conservative. to that end, I refernced savings of $700k. That is a minimum figure. There are two reasons for this.

    First, given the vast disparity between the size and populations of La Canada and SM, SM can expect to undercut La Canada's police spend by some margin.

    Second, I used the overall La Canada public safety spend of $3.2 M as opposed to SM's $3.9M. The actual La Canada Sheriff contract is budgeted at only $2.3M.

    Given these two facts we should be able to save well in excess of $1M annually. That is $1M a year that could be applied to improve our civic life to the benefit of young and old alike.

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    1. The Lanbdim committee determined that we would not save anyting if we switched to the sheriff with almost the same number of officers. Something is wrong with your calculations of Lanbdin's

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    2. Lambdin and the rest of the highly interested parties on that committee were selected to come to just that conclusion. They're lying, of course.

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    3. If what 1:37 is true, it speaks solely to the incompetence of our negotiating team. Does anyone really believe that the negotiators in La Canada are so much smarter than Mayor Copaccia and his co-horts?

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    4. wait what? Glenn Lambin is leading this committee?

      he's one of those that royally screwed up the city before while as Mayor and on the Council

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    5. City Hall is in the pocket of the cop union. They want nothing to do with the Sheriffs. The dirty secret is half of the SMPD would not be hired by the LASD. They don't meet the physical and mental requirements.

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    6. Lambdin is a genuinely squirrely dude.

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    7. I remember Glenn telling me that he served in Vietnam and then I hear that he didn't?

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    8. Glenn has a casual relationship with truth.

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  12. All it will take is one huge water pipe to blow....where will the money to fix that come from? More debt from the MWD? I want to know the law that says UUT can't be placed in an infrastructure fund instead of the general fund. That would earmark a lot of money toward fixing the bad water pipes. Anywhere you drive in the city you'll find patches in the street. We got into this mess because we were apathetic. If you want to try and keep what you have go to the CC tonight. Voice your feelings. Be heard.

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  13. How many times has the SMPD sued the city?

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  14. What's the latest progress with Earl Richey? Is the City still stalling?

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  15. Too many. How many times has the sheriff sued any city?

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  16. UUT repeal is now on the ballot in Arcadia.

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    1. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

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    2. Arcadia doesn't need a UUT. They have GemCoins.

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    3. Arcadia is backed by amber mine.

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  17. This dude is boring me to death.

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  18. What has the Community Services Officer program ever accomplished?

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  19. Glen lamdin is DIRT

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  20. Interesting article http://sciencelife.uchospitals.edu/2015/10/13/advanced-ambulance-care-increases-mortality/

    Several years back, Sierra Madre was one of only three cities in the Los Angeles area that didn't have advanced ambulance care (just basic). With much fanfare, and a supposed one-time expense of half a million dollars, we joined the advanced ambulance care group. But this article says, after much review, basic actually has better outcomes, and at much less expense.

    In essence: it's better to just get someone rapidly to the hospital, rather than treat them on the spot.

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