Actually the City Council basically said nothing. Each just sat there and blinked their eyes. They did compliment whomever it was that delivered the information to them however, and then moved on like absolutely nothing had happened. This despite the historic magnitude of what was going down. Here are those two rather momentous events, psychological disconnect and all.
1) It was revealed in an actual city report that Sierra Madre's total CalPERS debt exposure is $9 million dollars. This in a city of 11,000 people. According to last year's UUT skeptic version of Martin Truitt, that comes out to $814 of city employee pension liability per living Sierra Madre resident. Small children and babies included. The City Council offered no enlightening commentary on the significance of this huge amount of previously unrevealed debt. Nor did they intimate how much of the utility tax hikes being asked for would be spent to meet so onerous a debt load. They did compliment the person who delivered the report, however. They thought it was nice.
The City Council asked very few questions, and offered no insight on the significance of any of this. Nor did they even take the time to answer questions from the residents who came to speak at the podium. Despite assurances from Mayor Capoccia that they would. Why is this? Did the City Attorney forbid them to speak on these matters? Was it part of the time-honored tradition there to never admit that City Hall just might be at fault for its own failures? Did they believe that if they didn't talk about it, none of this actually exists?
I don't the know answers to any of that. This entire air brushed and largely content-free meeting was swept under the rug and over in less than two hours.
Barry Gold Addresses the City Council
There was some hope for leadership last night, however. And if it wasn't for Mr. Gold we'd have been looking at an entire night where very little was actually said. Here was Barry's take:
Just in case anyone has forgotten what real leadership looks like.
The City's illegal campaigning for Measure UUT continues
The following City Hall prepared publicity material is now up on the Pasadena Now website (link).
Of course, were you to attend this city sponsored pep rally for increased utility taxes and ask questions like, "What is the significance of Sierra Madre's $9 million dollars in CalPERS pension debt?" you will likely be ignored. It isn't a dumb bunny issue, and therefore not what they want you asking about right now.
Obviously nobody at City Hall wants to tell you anything about this stuff. Neither last night or at the upcoming affair being described above. They prefer instead to rely on staged and carefully controlled events like what is being cooked up at the Fire Station.
Brown vs. CalPERS: The ugly status quo wins
The following opinion piece comes from The San Diego Union Tribune (link):
Brown vs. CalPERS: The ugly status quo wins - The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension agency, is desperately in need of a shake-up. That’s not just because of revelations about kickback schemes and other scandals. In a word, CalPERS is obstinate.
One historic example: In 1999, the agency persuaded the Legislature to approve a retroactive 50 percent pension boost for state workers with the argument that it would have little or no long-term cost to taxpayers because the stock market boom of the late 1990s would never end. This led many local governments to adopt similar retroactive pension increases. When this yielded fiscal nightmares, CalPERS launched a public-relations campaign that dramatically downplayed the problem.
More recently, the CalPERS board has blocked modest pension reforms sought by Gov. Jerry Brown. This and other decisions prompted the governor’s two appointees on the 13-member board to press for term limits for leadership positions. But at a meeting last week, board President Rob Feckner broke a 6-6 tie and became the deciding vote against imposing term limits. Feckner is serving his 12th one-year term as president, according to calpensions.com.
Why might Brown want Feckner out of the job? The governor has said the CalPERS board needs more independent voices. Feckner was president of the California School Employees Association for four years and executive vice president of the California Labor Federation for five. Such a conflict of interest wouldn’t be tolerated with the president of other boards of directors. But with CalPERS, it’s par for the course — for worse and worse.