Monday, June 27, 2016

California Eminent Domain Report: After 15 Years, Not Even A Thank You

Mod: The world can be an ungrateful place, and there really isn't too much that you can do about it. Take Don Murphy, present owner of Sierra Madre's previous City Hall. After inadvertently paying the electric bills for one of the City of Sierra Madre's parking lots, and for 15 long years mind you, Don found himself in court up against the full force of city hall's legal might trying to get his money back. In case you were wondering, below is what the city's legal mightiness was looking like when all of this went down. As you can easily see, the city spared no effort or expense.


Here is the California Eminent Domain Report on what went down (link).


Nice, right?

If you'd like to see the court's decision, click here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

48 comments:

  1. I heard about this a while ago. If I recall correctly, the family didn't take action for something like 7+ years and then wanted every dime refunded. Doh!

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    1. They were hustled, and the city was the hustler.

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    2. If the city government had any integrity, it would give the building owner some kind of exemption on his utility taxes, until the books were balanced.

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    3. city made the mistake but the property owner was certainly asleep. sorry no sympathy from me.

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    4. Old city hall is a big building with lots of small businesses. The parking lot portion of the bill could easily get lost in all of that. I don't know that for certain, but neither do you. Benefit of the doubt would be nice here.

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    5. That property has two parking lots as well as the building. I guess the fault was in the owner trusting Edison to give him an accurate bill.
      And the city needs to pay him back.

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    6. The city screwed up and rather than admit to it instead racked up several hundred or so billable hours for Michael Colantuono.

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  2. I just read the opinion. Murphys paid that electric bill from 1985 to 2010? Heck, that's 25 years paid without verifying what the electric bill was for? Helluva way to run a business.
    [head bangs on desk]

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    1. Obviously it wasn't a bill that detailed that portion was for the city's property, and the building Murphy owns must generate a hefty bill in itself.
      He's not the thief.

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    2. Unlike the city Don paid the bills.

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  3. The way the utilities bill are broken down make it difficult to determine what is being paid out.
    The city did this with another homeowner over the water bill; he paid for two properties but only owned one. He got the same treatment from the courts and city.
    Big brothers watching out for you; cant fight city hall.

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    1. start with the assumption that due diligence is not a job requirement from city management

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  4. I wonder of there are any other cases like this.

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    1. Wouldn't be a surprise.

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    2. City Hall is never wrong. And they have the taxpayer funded high-priced lawyers to prove it.

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  5. You will find that city hall is quick to cast it's crooked evil finger of blame towards others but slow to own up to any failures on their part,litigate a issue while spending a $100,000.00 to only cover up a bill of $18,000.00 along with setting a president for future claims of misdeeds against the city of Sierra Madre.

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    1. Funny how the Innocent think City Hall is on their side, well they aren't and will lie and distort the facts to get every dime out of you, the tax payer. No NICE GUY attitude coming from City Hall. The yes on UUT group should experience that. I would guess the YES UUT people may get some special treatment, after all they have there meetings and lunch together.

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    2. our city management, Council and planning commission didn't even notice that the Cong Church was remodeling one of it's building, didn't notice the trucks, noise, construction crews and after the project was completed, the city forgave the Church and issued no penalties or fees

      from what I recall, a former CC candidate and planning commissioner during that time was also an elder at the Church

      our city management has always had a different set of standards and rules for city favorites

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    3. He quit the Planning Commission when questions were asked.

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  6. Just when I thought it was safe to go back into city hall

    The sharks never give up. The only way to deal with sharks is to make soup out of them.

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    1. 1:23PM That's why the city no longer has true volunteers to do a lot of this stuff. They have volunteers for commissions-big whoop!

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  7. Everything city hall does is to get money for themselves.

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    1. you mean like billing the Mt Wilson Trail Race for over 700 staff hours for staff time spent planning the trail race?

      no surprise the the non-profit even paid the bill despite selling sponsors on the theory that the event was raising money to maintain the trail, but instead paid the city padded staff hours

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    2. Its been a while but do you have a link or some form of citation for the 700 staff hours comment? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just want to double check as its been bandied about a lot and I can't remember seeing it.

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    3. http://66.92.220.85:8090/tylercm/eagleweb/downloads/Community_Services_Commission_Complete_Agenda_Packet__June_17__2013.pdf?id=DOC74S24.A0&parent=DOC74S24

      Scroll down to near the bottom and look for "2013 Mount Wilson Trail Race Financial Review." Then scroll down to the bottom of that. Big numbers. Not quite 700 hours, but $31,000 for staff work on an event like this does seem like a lot.

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    4. More numbers from that link ..


      Huck Finn 2012
      PT Hrs Part-Time Staff Event Day (88.25 hours) $ 3,530.00
      Part-Time Staff Planning (96 hours) $ 3,840.00
      Full time hours not shown
      $4,799.99 loss

      Huck Finn 2013
      Part-Time Staff Event Day (45.75 hours) $ 2,037.50
      Part-Time Staff Planning (20 hours) $ 1,000.00
      Full-Time Staff Event Day (23 hours) $ 1,909.00
      Full-Time Staff Planning (160 hours) $ 13,280.00
      $15,064 loss

      Mt. Wilson 2012
      Part-Time Staff Event Day (35.5 hours) $ 1,420.00
      PT Hours Part-Time Staff Planning (200 hours) $ 8,000.00
      Full time not shown
      $1,771.77 profit

      Mt Wilson 2013
      Part-time Staff Planning (59 hours) $ 2,950.00
      Part- time Staff Event Day (22.25 hours) $ 1,112.50
      Full-time Staff Planning (300 hours) $ 24,900.00
      Full-Time Staff Event Day (24.5 hours) $ 2,033.50
      $9,570.94 loss

      If you combine the 2013 Huck Finn Fishing Derby and Mt. Wilson Trail Race full time Staff hours worked alone, we are talking a whopping 507.5 hours. When you consider that each full time staff employee puts in around 36 hours a week, we would seem to be talking about a full month's worth of work from just about every one employed at City Hall.

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    5. Talk about double dipping...here is the crime: if the were being paid their hourly salary and were doing this within the work day, then they are being paid twice...wrong on the face of it and probably illegal, too. This creative financing should get at least a couple of people at the top fired: the city manager and the assistant and the finance director, why not thrown in the department head in charge of this activity, too.

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  8. The very first city mng. John Gillison, appointed by the Bart Doyle gang; had a unique way of keeping track of city finance. I wonder if this type of accounting has made it more difficult to track discrepancies?

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    1. every thing wrong goes back full circle to Bart Doyle, who when elected represented the building industry and he's still meddling as a lobbyist in our city and everyone he has supported politically in the city for Council or commissions has been bad news for the city.

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    2. Only Bonds Bart could have set up Sierra Madre to pay $15 million dollars for a $6.75 million dollar water bond. He's gifted that way.

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  9. 8:36 is right but not everyone has the clear vision to see that. It's the hugs and smiles they are buying into.

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  10. Wonder how many bate and switch set ups have happened like that. An intentional UN-intentional. Maybe if we had a better computer and software person that would have been caught? If you are the bookkeeper watching every nickel and dime you should have caught that. Very interesting indeed. Wonder if the City payed said person a better salary that would have been caught. Another thought, it was caught but someone decided to ignore it. Guess the truth will never be known.

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    1. guarantee you that had the situation been reversed the City would sue or fined the property owner

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  11. The city did not do what they needed to do with that meter. I also suspect that the cost of keeping the lights on at that parking lot were mixed in with his Edison bill for the old city hall. I am not sure they should have been let off the hook like they were.

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    1. I would have maintained responsibility and turned off the power - require the city to pay me to turn it back on since they transferred ownership.

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    2. And get your ass sued, that sound smart.

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    3. Is it possible to only sue one part of the anatomy?

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    4. Only the largest part

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    5. The more some people lie, the bigger their butts get.

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  12. City Hall, dumb like a fox? As a city manager you don't get that position and big salary without being very smart. Cunning, sly, crafty, tricky, clever, cagey, designing, devious, dodgy, shrewd, subtle, and the list goes on. A city manager has to be at least one or more of those on the list. Pick one or more on the list then realize this person is watching out for themselves first, City second and where does that leave the residents?

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  13. I think it leaves us residents paying more taxes.

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    1. gotta cover those pensions and overtime we have several officers ready to retire and we need to pay the overtime and retirement salary.

      only in the public sector management or PD/FD can you retire at almost a full salary and have your own savings to enjoy and know that taxpayers are going to pay you in perpetuity a lifestyle of leisure and allow you to relax, get a 2nd job, travel and be paid for by taxpayers, not your own savings

      nah, our system isn't broke

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  14. I wonder if this is one of those situations where the city spent far more in legal costs than they would have had they just picked up the cost of what this guy paid for their parking lot electric bill.

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    1. Great point, 11:14.

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    2. probably since the city manager looks out for the best interest of the law firm and the law firm looks after the city manager / management best interest

      don't expect much common business sense from city management, it's all about shuffling paperwork, over complications, pensions and busy work - no real management.

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  15. And then there is the sad Hildreth case.....

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  16. Wouldn't 1985 -2010 be 25 years?

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