Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Will the City Council Apologize to City Clerk Melinda Carrillo Tonight?

Mod: The following e-mail received some fairly large circulation over the last week. I thought I should share it here because threatening newly elected City Clerk Melinda Carrillo with the loss of her pay, as incredibly meagre as it is, was exceptionally rude and uncalled for. Hopefully the City Council will at least consider an apology. As a beginning act it certainly did not reflect well on Mayor Goss's very first night on the job.

Dear Council Members,

I sincerely hope that the first item on your agenda next Tuesday will be a profound apology to our City Clerk for browbeating her the way you did at her very first council meeting. She did not deserve to be put on the spot the way she was. She signed up to earn one rate of pay, and within the first hour you are telling her that you may decrease this, or she can quit if she wants to. Yikes!

Secondly what was that all about, asking her if she wouldn't have run for the position if someone else had?  In 32 years, Nancy Shollenberger only had one person run against her.  We are lucky Melinda stepped up to take the position. Do you not realize that we are getting a bargain with our elected City Clerk? If staff takes the minutes, then the city will have to pay benefits and CALPERS. We hear continuously how overworked the staff is. Now it would appear that the Library Director and Community Services positions will be combined. This is not the time to nickel and dime a valuable resident out of a service to the community.

Please consider an apology.

Clearing up the pension debt inaccuracy in a staff report

Mod: The following is found on agenda item #5 and is titled "WATER SYSTEM FINANCING OPTIONS AND MONTHLY UTILITY BILLING. It is somewhat misleading. You can find this in the original by clicking here.


That $6.75 million number is a portion of the 2003 Water Bond debt. The actual financial obligation is actually more than double that because to date the city has made interest only payments on that principal. For whatever unkind purpose the author of this agenda report chose to leave a lot of that ridiculous amount of interest exposure out of her report.

When MaryAnn Macgillivray was Mayor she dragooned the City Manager into releasing the actual 2003 water bond debt figures to the public. To my recollection that was the only time this has ever been done. Here are the actual figures.


Sierra Madre's 2003 "Bart Doyle" water bonds were originally $6,750,000. For whatever reason the city decided to make interest only payments on those bonds through the year 2019, while also extending payments all the way out through the year 2034. The entire cost once all is said and done being $14,925,486.00, or substantially more than double the principal.

Why this ruinous debt load was ever incurred has been the source of much speculation over the years. Many are of the opinion that it has a lot to do with the so-called "Downtown Specific Plan," a hare-brained redevelopment scheme that would have seen much of Sierra Madre's picturesque downtown razed and replaced with the kind of generic crap found in way too many California cities today.

Fortunately Measure V put an end to all of that. However, the 2003 Water Bonds had already been issued. We're still paying for this incredibly bad financial blunder today. And yes, precious few pipes were repaired in that process.

Tonight the City Council will begin considering floating an additional bond (misidentified in the staff report as a "loan") in order to raise the $13 million big ones necessary to rescue the water department and its badly neglected infrastructure. It is important that the residents completely understand just how much additional debt this will involve, and just how large a debt load the city will have then taken on.

Fudging the figures in this manner is not an exactly noble gesture.

Anybody know what is going on with this?


The Hildreth trial has been going on for more than a month now. An extremely long time in my opinion. Any information would be appreciated.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. Perhaps Mayor Goss could address the City Clerk situation during Council Member reports. That is what a Leader would do.

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    Replies
    1. nebulous forces are afoot

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    2. Will this help mayor Goss fix the sidewalks, his pet project?

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    3. they can start by fixing the sidewalks that are being destroyed by the roots of CITY trees searching for water that i get punished for supplying to them.

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    4. They need trimming. They'll add it to the bill.

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    5. Wah,always punished...

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  2. I seriously doubt the City or council members let alone the mayor will extract their foot out of there mouth tonight.

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    1. City Hall seems to have a policy about never admitting its mistakes.

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    2. Too bad. A little sincerity would go a long way.

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    3. My bet is that they will double down - there will be contained indignation that anyone dare suggest they were anything but aboveboard and transparent, with the city clerk and with the water finances.

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    4. "Righteous indignation can be your friend."

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    5. They're just looking for more money.

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    6. It's a process.

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  3. Being on the city council means never having to say you're sorry.

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  4. With Sierra Madre's water enterprise Moody's rating any bond sale will come with a pretty steep cost.

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    Replies
    1. That 3.875% interest rate is such a bait and switch. When the City commits and they get close to issue, the bond sales guys will say, gee, we're sorry, it'll be closer to 4.5%, add up the overhead costs and the refi will cost a crapload of money.

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    2. Moody's affirms Ba1 on Sierra Madre Water Enterprise, CA's water revenue bonds
      https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-affirms-Ba1-on-Sierra-Madre-Water-Enterprise-CAs-water--PR_325485

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    3. 9:14 The interest rate be be set the day before the bonds are marketed. The rate is determined by the market and the lower the bond rating the higher the interest. I have been in on several rate setting conference calls.

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    4. Sierra Madre's water bond rating from Moody's will have a lot to do with the interest rate residents will pay. Since the water company's rating is basically junk, that cost will be high. That is why that high 5% interest we're paying now has not been refinanced.

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    5. The OS Offering Statement clearly states the water dept can Not issue additional bonds backed by water revenue funds. That's why the loan from the loan sharks.

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    6. It is that bad? Damn. The city has been reduced to going to Payday Loans.

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  5. I'm going to preface my comment by saying I might be wrong. But this is how I see it: There are a lot of people in this city who don't bother to vote. There is another part that votes for the status quo. Those people are the people who get us into these messes. They voted in the 2 incumbents. They voted for the UUT. I've tried to understand their reasoning. By doing so, they have empowered a couple egotistic candidates. Why? What's in it for them? They get to party with them? That's what one of their minions brought before the CC. The rest of us get to suffer their stupidity. There is a payment of 145,000.00 in the warrants. What is it for? 2700.00 for new badges, the cost of new uniforms and patches. Small amounts, but they add up. If you look at the dates, services are being paid for April and it's almost June. Some things don't get paid this month in a rob Peter to pay Paul movement. They're combining two departments, one of which they promised would be inviolate. Where are these people who so valued their library? Of course, you never get to see revenue. I never can find it on the award winning website. And so it goes. UUT money hasn't even come in yet, and it's already spent. No wonder apathy wins out! What do you do with people like this?

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    Replies
    1. Cut off the $$.

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    2. Correct answer, but not for Sierra Madre. The residents lack the sophistication to understand the issues.

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    3. 9:24 - The answer for those of us who love Sierra Madre is to keep knocking on doors, and informing people. Right before Measure V, one of my friends, who was one of the initiators, said, "You don't know what's going on in this town." She was right - I didn't. Then I got involved, knocked on many, many doors, and we got Measure V passed despite all the money thrown at defeating it. Since then I've knocked on many more doors. Sierra Madre is small enough that we can make a difference, even though it gets very discouraging at times. Please speak up tonight - pick an issue, or all of them.

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  6. So sad everyone who lives here is stupid except us.

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    1. Look at the bright side. Soon Sierra Madre's kids will be able to attend Arcadia's schools. They'll end up being a lot smarter than their parents.

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    2. More likely, they will find out that they are unable to compete with the kids in Arcadia.

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    3. Arcadia doesn't want Sierra Madre. There is a huge bond debt for the past two school bonds and the current and proposed water bond dept. We have nothing that they want, except the Monastery property.

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  7. Re Water Bonds: The City is proposing two options with the same result....more debt.
    1. The technical name for this process is called a refunding. The current bonds are paid off with new bond money and the payments may be extended many years into the future. Since the City's bond rating is in the crapper, doing this would be very expensive because of the higher interest rate the city would need to pay because of the poor bond rating.
    2. or the City can go to a financial institution and borrow the money to payoff the outstanding bond debt. The interest rate will be high and is normally renegotiated every five to seven years. At that time the City may choose to incur more debt to repair the water infrastructure.

    The question remains. How is this additional debt going to be repaid? How high will the water rates go? My guess is they will opt for a parcel tax or special assessment to cover this debt.

    They are just kicking the can down the road for future councils.

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    1. Kinda like when you keep refinancing. You have 25 years left on the old mortgage, you replace it with a 30 year mortgage, 2 years later you replace it with a new 30 year mortgage, that way when you're 60 you'll still have 25 years of mortgage payments. No retirement for you.

      Cities do the same thing. Like paying the minimums on your credit card, same thing.

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    2. But they still need to raise an additional $13 million dollars. Where does that come from?

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    3. You and I, 12:10. You and I. The millionaires who aren't.

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    4. The argument for $13M is a straw man. Throw the whole kitchen sink in at once.

      I love how the City doesn't do regular maintenance for 30 years and then we're supposed to do it all in one lump. So bogus!

      I really think the CalPERs platinum pensions are gobbling up more and more of the regular revenue. We'll borrow our way to prosperity!!

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  8. 13 million divided by 11000 residents. That is roughly 1200 USD per resident. Be prepared to pay this, one way or the other.

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    1. Maybe the Council can read my finger. Oops, sorry.

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    2. $4,800 for a family of four. Such as deal.

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    3. The next wars will be fought about water, maybe even here in Sierra Madre.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122195532

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  9. What is happening is raising the taxes on fixed income residents will cause them to move out of town. The new residents come from places where money is no problem for them. The new paying residents will be like the new building across the street from City Hall. I think no problem for little Johnny as his parents have Athens to support them. Don't know if old John has parents here so he may not care. Unfortunately most residents don't know what were talking about, they will know in 5 to 10 years when it will be their turn to move out of town.
    Not so funny then.

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    1. Most seniors downsize, not only because of taxes, but also because they cannot possibly maintain a 2000+ sqft. home like they used to, when they were younger. I would suspect that most residents in Sierra Madre are responsible enough to know that, but maybe they are not.

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  10. After 100 plus years, the council is considering to switch from narrative minutes to action minutes of the city council meetings. This means that you will only be able to read the motions and their results for the council meetings, not the discussion or audience comments. They say it is to save time for the city clerk who would ordinarily spend several hours doing narrative minutes. It so means you would have to go to the tape itself to get a feel and information of an issue being discussed. So much for increased transparency, as Elaine likes to brag about.

    To be able to know what went on at a meetings months before, and not know exactly what meeting it was, you'll have to watch tapes of several meetings to be able to pinpoint what meeting it was, and the discussion that led up to the decision. Take my word for it, I've had experience of looking at city council action minutes before since some cities are doing them, and it isn't easy or fun.

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  11. GC046442 Seems one of the parties might be incorrectly assessing the case. Per the court website:

    05/13/2016 at 01:30 pm in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Half Day of Trial Held

    03/31/2016 at 10:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/30/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/29/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/28/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/23/2016 at 09:00 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/17/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/10/2016 at 08:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/09/2016 at 08:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/08/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/07/2016 at 08:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    03/03/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Trial continued

    03/02/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

    02/29/2016 at 09:30 am in Department NCBA, William D. Stewart, Presiding
    Court Trial - Long Cause - Full Day of Trial Held

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  12. Just tried to watch the meeting. No broadcast - the "streamer stopped streaming."

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    1. Damn. I wanted to know what they decided about some things, esp. the planning commission's work. Hope someone who was there will post about it.

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    2. Institutional zoning code amendments passed unanimously.

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    3. Thanks 8:45. That's good news.

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