Sunday, December 13, 2015

Earl Richey and His Merry Band of NO UUT Canvassers Asked John Capoccia to Sign Their Petition Yesterday - The Mayor's Reaction Was Not A Positive One

Did not wish to sign.
Well, this wasn't really Earl Richey's doing. It was one of the guys in Earl's door knocking brigade. But he was there, which means Earl had the opportunity to both witness the event and pass on the following story. But first here's a little background on this tender situation. Earl, along with his merry band of utility tax fighters, wants to put a measure on next April's ballot that will do away with utility taxes altogether in Sierra Madre. We're talking about a 0% UUT.

Obviously City Hall is not in the least bit amused.

This is also something that flies entirely in the face of what the City Council is attempting to do. That being to raise the UUT to 10%, making Sierra Madre one of only a select few cities in California with double digit utility tax rates. Mayor John Capoccia, who began his political career in Sierra Madre as a UUT skeptic, somehow forget all about his campaign promises to oppose such unpleasantness once he got elected. John then went on to help boldly lead the charge for UUT increase ballot initiatives in both 2014 and, well, right around now.

But we've all grown used to these tales of Mayor Capoccia's utility tax flip-floppery. That is how it goes with politics and politicians, right? And many of us here do seem to have forgiven him. It's all part of being civil, I guess.

So yesterday Earl and his merry band of tax fighters were out canvassing over in Mayor Capoccia's neck of the woods, collecting signatures for that "No UUT" petition they've been working on with such a purposeful and selfless zeal.

We'll let Earl take the story from there.

"Saturday we were out walking the streets collecting NO UUT petition signatures. Sterling knocked on John Capoccia's door and, when the Mayor answered, asked him if he would care to sign. The reaction was not a good one. John said he thinks WE ARE, all of us, including your Tattler, a bunch of nuts. John was questioned on the head librarian's huge CalPERS pension, and John stated that if one gets one, then all future city employees are entitled to them. Evidently, John does not have any issues with the city being broke."

I have been called worse of course, and by much better folks. Some of the very best, actually. However, given the recent revelations about the size of Sierra Madre's massive and largely unreported employee pension obligations to CalPERS, which number in the many millions of dollars and could threaten this city's financial solvency in the not too distant future, his grumpiness did not seem very well informed.

You'd have hoped for a more refined and higher level of indignation. Then again, maybe he was upset because Earl and his petitioneering pals had just walked on his lawn. Or something.

You never really know.

So how is Earl's NO UUT petition effort going?

They do seem to be finding a fairly significant amount of people who are willing to sign. Since voter turnouts in Sierra Madre have dwindled to something between apathy and the population of the dark side of the moon, it doesn't take all of that many signatures to get an initiative on the ballot these days. Less than 300, actually.

Here are some numbers Earl has supplied The Tattler. These are as of December 10th.


I don't see how they can miss. Of course, there are various City of Sierra Madre and Los Angeles County governmental entities that might attempt to squash Earl's earnest efforts no matter how many signatures he comes up with. Attempting to take away tax money that city and county officials believe belongs to them by right is never an easy thing to do. Yes, they will get upset about it.

These government agencies have done it before, too. As those who have been following this story are certainly aware, this isn't the first petition Earl has had to carry through the cold hard streets of The Foothill Village. Last time the concerned officials shot him down for being one mere signature short. This after they'd thrown out a bunch.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. But the thought of having a 10% UUT initiative on the ballot, and right next to one calling for the end of utility taxes altogether, is an intriguing one.

What if they tie? Do we then go to a 5% UUT?

Throw in the SMPD's "You Can't Fire Us!" ballot measure and things could get really interesting. Does anyone know how that petition effort is going? Anybody talking to the Buchanans these days?

Former Councilmember Don Watts on Sierra Madre's financial troubles

(Mod: Don wrote a great comment last night, and I thought I should highlight it here.)

It is obvious now as it was many years ago, that Sierra Madre as a "full" service city was not sustainable, regardless of the people's preference. We should have contracted out to the County for police services back then. (Something that would have been very unpopular at the time).

We would have had a County substation, and many of the local police would have been transitioned to the  L.A. County Sheriffs. We would have had our legal liability greatly reduced, and retirement liability would have been manageable.

The notion of what a "full service city" is would have to change. The library could be a branch of the County Library system, with Sierra Madre volunteers and board ... zoning and planning services would be at the county offices.

It is a hard a pill to take, including for myself, but we need to reorganize and prioritize city services. Otherwise, we should consider bankruptcy court, where a judge will make those decisions for us.

Historically, many of these services were under County control, and that seemed to function fairly well. However, Sierra Madre's identity will stay unique, much like Altadena, we would still be able to retain much of the decision making power we have.

Good luck. I wish you all the best through the holiday season.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. Support the 20/20 proposalDecember 13, 2015 at 5:29 AM

    The mayor's stubborn refusal to confront police costs has led to two unnecessary uut proposals and a police union proposal that would deny the city of all leverage in future negotiations. It is truly rich that he is frustrated by the chaos his refusal to lead has created. He should resign.

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    1. John Capoccia spends a lot of time with the City Manager. That might explain his willingness to support status quo policies.

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    2. It is chaos isn't it, 5:29. On the one hand we have people screaming at Sheriff's representatives in Council Chambers, on the other we have those who wish to take away all utility tax money. Something that will guarantee this city's financial collapse. You say it is a lack of leadership. Yes, you might be right about that.

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    3. Does anyone notice anything different about this UUT tax raising effort and the previous two? Seems almost exactly the same.

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    4. There used to be a time when my property tax bill covered everything. Now when I look at my property tax bill I see the following additional line item taxes:
      Municipal Water: $177.63
      Community College: $86.07
      Unified School: $1,102.13
      Flood Control: $52.09
      SGV Mosquitos VCD: $11.86
      County Sanitation District: $146
      County Park District: $8.32
      Trauma/Emergency Service: $100.81

      Do you see what they are doing here? They have gotten around Prop 13. Don't get me wrong, these are all worthy causes but it used to be covered by our property taxes. All the government is doing by these additional taxes is freeing up money so that it can be used to give the public employees higher salaries, benefits, pensions, and letting them retire often at the ripe old age of 50 or 55. Is it no wonder that every study has shown that the public employees are now being compensated 30-50% higher than workers doing comparable jobs in the private sector. And you want to raise the UUT tax and have me keep paying for this? Give me a break. I will never vote for higher taxes to fund schools or police or whatever. Live within your means and you won't have to keep raising my taxes!

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    5. Capoccia needs to get some steel in his spine and not cave into the unions that simply want more and more money. Before you reach into my pocket, solve the massive overtime compensation used to pad the salaries of most of our police force. I can understand that you might need overtime if we were confronted with some terrorist attack or riot or some such emergency but not the way its being paid out in Sierra Madre. Solve those problems first before you reach into my pocket and take more of my money.

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    6. I think they overreached by trying to increase the UUT to 10%. It has now prompted a backlash such that voters may vote to remove the UUT entirely.

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  2. Word to the wise. Stay off the Mayor's lawn.

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    1. Didn't he tear out his lawn? Capoccia is a turncoat. First time he ran he supported a "NO" vote on the UUT because he knew that would get him elected. Now that he has come under the spell of Elaine and City Hall, he no longer needs to pretend to be for the citizens of Sierra Madre. I wouldn't trust that man as far as I cold throw him.

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    2. John Capoccia is in the pocket of Elaine. He does her bidding.

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    3. He tore out his lawn a year or so ago. He's a water saver and the sign in his yard proves it! I live close to him and didn't get the UUT guys at my house. I would have signed it just to annoy the mayor!

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  3. Cappocia is a bad guy...always has been.

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  4. Imagine a world where the council (I) explained the city's financial condition, (ii) confronted the source of the problem by contracting with the sheriff, and (iii) asked that the uut be set at 8% to fund civic improvements. "Crazy Tattlers" and citizens of good will would have lined up in support.

    Instead the mayor set up a phony sheriff's proposal committee to help the union by declaring the police budget off limits, asked for a 67% uut tax increase so he could hand every penny of it to the police union, and unleashed the 0% uut monster. Nice work John.

    At this point I think the responsible position is to vote for the 0% uut proposal until the city acts on the sheriff's proposal. Once it does it can go to the voters for a 6-8% uut, which I would support.

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  5. He's never had a lawn 5:41
    He pushes water conservation...but of course his real issue is raising taxes.

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  6. Sign Earl's petitions!
    The city council and city manager are panicking because if this gets in the ballet for a vote....just when the El Niño is hitting us......people will vote to stop excess taxing. ..these city officials are praying that the drought continues.

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  7. Thanks Don. Your calm wisdom is sorely missed in this town.

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    1. What Don is talking about is exactly what that very wealthy community of La Canada Flintridge has set up. They use the Sheriff and the Library belongs to the County system, with a local "Friends of the Library" that provides some more local support.

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  8. So long as we pay, what will it be three librarians over 150K to run s amall-town library (2 retired ones who receive a big pension for not working and 1 to do the the work), I will never vote for a tax increase....ever. The taxpayers are paying more money for less services as the city continues to accrue its unfunded pension liabilities by paying the city employees too much money and allowing them to "retire" too early with a big pension. I put "retire" in quotes because most of the city workers, police and fireman don't retire, they just take another job so they get two incomes coming in. What a gravy train. All the rest of us who work in the private sector have to retire later, if ever, to pay for all of this. Earl Richey is right that the only way to stop this is not by trying to micromanage departments but to simply starve them of revenue. If that is done, they will be forced to pay more reasonable wages, benefits and pensions and live within their means. Its become too easy to simply raise the taxes of people who haven't seen their wages go up.

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    1. exactly

      those that benefit from this ponzi scheme are those that vote it in, control it and we the taxpayers really can't do anything about it unless we cut them off

      I will always vote NO on every tax measure or whatever at the local and regional and state level as long as CalPERS is part of the equation

      just remember, we have the likes of a Nancy Walsh who retires, collects almost a hundred grand a year as her "retirement" and we are paying for it

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  9. Sierra Madre will need a strong Mayor to get through this. We don't have one now, haven't had any lately, and won't get one next year.

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    1. We need MaryAnn McGillivrey back.
      We need Don Watts back.
      We need Clem Bartoli back.
      Along with Rachelle and Denise...they would save out town.

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    2. Yes. People who will make the hard decisions that need to be made. Not pols who base their decisions on who emailed them last.

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    3. MaryAnn, Don,Clem,Rachelle and Denise...would keep Sierra Madre solvent,safe and the best place in the San Gabriel Valley to live.

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    4. Agreed. How do we give CC candidates a lie detector test? Capoccia just lied his way through the election process and then became Elaine's puppet.He is a disgrace. I don't object to his stupid ideas,it is the turncoat lies that get me.

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    5. Both Denise and Rachelle ran on No on the UUT measure. Now, they are endorsing the measure. Strange how things change when you can see the full picture. And, as I remember, Capoccia's campaign said that we don't need the 12 or 10 percent UUT AT THIS TIME. Well, things change.

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    6. Is it too much to ask that those who indebted this city to the tune of millions of dollars in pension debt to CalPERS might actually show the moral courage to stand up and explain why? I personally think this is an immense crime against the people of Sierra Madre, and someone needs to explain how this happened. I don't give a damn about Capoccia's grammatical ballet steps regarding the UUT. Don't we deserve the truth?

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    7. Then how do you explain the change of minds of Denise and Rachelle?

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    8. Denise and Rachelle have always been open with folks. Send them an email and ask them that very question. And then send it to The Tattler to be posted.

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  10. GREAT POST 7:56 am
    You nailed it.

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  11. Earl is reporting that they are at 239 signatures this morning. They are back on the streets today.

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    1. Go for 500. Send a message.

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  12. just remember that the UUT started with a lie and misinformation, it continued with misinformation and spin - those still pushing the UUT either benefit from it or were endorsed politically by those that caused the distrust in the first place

    Capocia was endorsed and supported by John Buchanan and the rest that stood in front of us and lied about the need to the UUT

    Harabedian and Goss were also endorsed by Buchanan

    I'll always vote NO on the UUT - send a message

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    1. Yikes, I don't know what you all are thinking. Capoccia wrote the ballot argument against the UUT while he was running for council. Buchanan wrote the for argument and it was also signed by Josh and Nancy. I can hardly think that Buchanan was a supporter of Capoccia during that election! How short our memories.

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    2. Things certainly do change.

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  13. Well this is encouraging. At last there seems to be some acceptance that BK is serious possibility. I have been proposing it for over a year here and until recently the response was dismissive. The longer we postpone BK ,the worse it will be.
    Capoccia isn't going to suddenly morph into the leader we need nor even the Council Member we thought we were electing. Elaine isn't going to change from an obsession with coddling her (?) employees. WE are the ones who need to change.
    Until recently people here and in town would ridicule Earl Richey for tilting at windmills. Seems like people are now coming round to seeing Earl has the right approach.
    Earl's petition will be a great catalyst for getting a change in CC with a last minute reprieve from BK .It may be the wake-up call the City & the electorate need.
    Harabedian ,Capoccia & Goss did not create this situation but they sure made it a whole lot worse. If we do have to file BK ,I hope the names Harabedian, Capoccia and Goss are forever linked with the bankruptcy of the City of Sierra Madre.

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  14. How do we contact someone to sign?

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  15. Maybe mayor John could change his mind and walk the streets to obtain UUT tax petition signatures. It's truely a season for giving. It's the taxpayers decision as to how they choose to vote in April 2016, not mayor john'$

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  16. When we collecting signatures for Measure V, we needed a minimum of 10% of all the registered voters. Just to be safe we got over 15%. When did the requirement change ? I sure hope Earl has received the correct target number.

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  17. 9.36 post the UUT tax petitioners will be walking our city streets again today. Petioneer signing will be available in Kerstin court between 5 to 6 pm Sunday at the green park bench.

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    1. I am 10:45. Thanks for the Information

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  18. As asked above...how can we contact someone to sign the petition?...there are two of us and we are anxious to sign.

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  19. Be sure to get extra signatures. The City Council will instruct Nancy (as one of her many duties as elected City Clerk) to get the signatures verfied with the County Elections office. These signatures must be of currently registered to vote in Sierra Madre. No fudging. They will go over this with a fine tooth comb. Also, the language of the ballot measure (I am sure the group had help with this) as they can reject the signatures if they find anything at fault on many levels with the petition.

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  20. I am sure the city will find all of the signatures on the Anti Police Outsourcing measure to be just fine. Isn't that the tops?

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    1. It will sail through without a hitch.

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  21. As far as the police petition...is that legal? Seems very wrong that they can coerce the city as well as the citizens in that manner. As for the Mayor, I have thought about him all day, well most of the day. What goes on in his head? Why does he have such a negative reaction toward a person or an entity that doesn't agree with him? I've had the same problem with him. What an arrogant putz! He really should resign. Of course, then we would have Goss and what could be worse than that? Elaine should be gone. No water should be spread. No taxes should be passed. No more delays on anything to do with infrastructure.

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  22. God bless Earl Richey. He is out at Kirsting Court right now collecting signatures in the cold and drizzle with his friend Matt.

    Thank you Earl and Matt.

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    1. We were saw Earl and got to visit with him for a short time.
      Earl is a former horse owner at Santa Anita.
      We signed his petition.Everyone should sign

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