Wednesday, January 25, 2017

City Council Meeting: The Fine Art Of Saying Nothing

To view last night's City Council meeting click here.

The video from last night's City Council meeting has been posted above for your viewing pleasure and enlightenment. For the record, the last time a City Council video was posted to the City of Sierra Madre website it was for the meeting held on December 13 of 2016. Meaning that you don't always get what you're paying for.

Two takeaways from last night's meeting. Both having to do with the same strangely content-free language the City Council likes to use these days.

The first example being City Hall is not going to raise your water rates, instead they are going to conduct a "Water Utility Rate Study." Don't get me wrong here, they are going to raise your water rates, but it will never be put quite that way. Rather this is going to be a cost adjustment based on a study conducted by an expert consultant paid upwards of $75,000 to create. Which the city will then take as an unquestionable justification to charge you even more for your water.

But just don't call it a water rate hike. The people you voted into office obviously do not want anyone saying something quite that crass. It could spook the herd and even interfere with a needed revenue flow increase. Rather it is to be referred to as "an adjustment based on actual hard costs."

Let's be honest, what they are saying here is also very much a sales pitch. But one that very few people will recognize as such, which is why it will probably be effective.

The other takeaway comes from the hiring of Gabriel Engeland to take the place of Elaine Aguilar as City Manager of Sierra Madre. Who, by the way, was pushed out. Which is why the City Council is praising her so much now.

I am pretty sure Gabe (as he was referred to last night) could very well be a fine fellow who will do a remarkable job. There is no evidence to the contrary, or at least not yet. And they did lock him into a five year contract that, at today's prices, makes him something of a bargain. City Managers in this part of the world start at over a quarter million dollars a pop, and with far better benefits than this dude is going to get.

That they had to go all the way to the dusty south end of Colorado to find him is telling. Gabe is the happy product of a far less expensive municipal labor market.

However, rather than tell us very much about this new City Manager last night, the City Council instead chose to talk about how well they all worked together when making this choice, how enjoyable the process became for them, and generally what a fine job they did when selecting this guy. I'm sure they're relieved the whole thing is over, and obviously this wasn't an easy job. It could have been a disaster, after all.

But what about Gabriel Engeland? Do you, the Sierra Madre taxpayer, really know anything about this guy yet? Did you hear much last night that made you feel this was a wise choice? The City Attorney did note that he balanced the budget of Trinidad, Colorado. Apparently that's something not done there in a very long time. A local miracle of sorts for that little town of 9,000 or so souls.

But did anyone actually tell you how this was done? Here is a portion of an article that ran in a Colorado newspaper last year titled "Marijuana tax revenue keeps on growing" (link).

In a memo to the Mayor and City Council members, City Manager Gabe Engeland provided an updated look at marijuana-licensed locations and what the current legalized marijuana map looks like in Trinidad.

Trinidad currently has approved 16 locations for Marijuana, with nine of these approved locations open and operational,” Engeland wrote. “15 of the 16 approved locations include some type of ‘retail’ component in the license. In addition to this, the Planning and Zoning Variance Commission has either approved, or will have before them shortly, another 32 locations seeking to operate a marijuana business. In total, the number of locations in Trinidad which could seek formal Marijuana licensing from the City Council will be 48. 

“From a very high level, the projections and estimates staff had provided to Council in the third quarter of last year appear to be holding true. As an industry, marijuana sales are averaging between $1 million to $1.2 million per month, meaning the City is collecting, roughly, $100,000-$120,000 per month in sales tax revenue. Staff still believes, over the summer months this year, the sales will increase to somewhere between $1.3 million to $1.6 million, where they will peak, prior to settling at around the $1.1 million mark as the median number for 2016.”

Do I think this a terrible thing? No, of course not. A city has got to do what a city's got to do, and after all the stuff is legal in Colorado. As it now is in California, may I add. I personally think smoking pot turns people into idiots, but folks have the right to do as they please. Even give themselves an herbal lobotomy. None of that is my business.

But if public officials here are going to brag about Sierra Madre's new City Manager having balanced the budget of his previous city, shouldn't they also share how it was actually done?

Instead they talked about themselves and how they feel. Which is definitely a part of the fine art of saying nothing.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

45 comments:

  1. Between my now $315 water bill and the prospect of marijuana dispensaries opening up all over town, I feel like I'm living in a nightmare. When I bought here fifteen years ago, my water bill, which included trash, ran $110 for two months in the middle of summer with much higher useage. That same figure today is $365. What's God given in California is awesome. Man has absolutely decimated this state in countless ways. Anyone who voted for Brown, particularly this second time around, should be hung. Period.

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    1. Agreed, and I'd like to add that a good friend of mine pays $45 every two months for his water and sewer bill in South Arcadia, and another friend pays $30 per month in Monrovia. Why is it fair that our public employee salaries "must be" within 15% of surrounding cities, which massively benefits Sierra Madre's employees, but our water bills and user utility taxes are sky high compared to these same cities????? Time for anarchy.

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    2. You are threatening to kill people because they voted differently than you?

      You're a worse nightmare than my eater rate

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    3. Nominee Jerry Brown Neel Kashkari
      Party Democratic Republican
      Popular vote 4,388,368 2,929,213
      Percentage 60.0% 40.0%

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    4. 7:19 AM
      Because Arcadia and Monrovia have other tax income than Sierra Madre has.
      Arcadia has the development and Monrovia has businesses.
      Sierra Madre has none of the above. So, the only one left to tax is the residents.

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  2. I agree with the first post of today, the state of California is very poorly run and we the tax payers are getting what "we" voted for. I left that oval blank on my ballot and still "we" ended up with Jerry Brown.
    Not only are we being charged a very high rate for water, but soon thanks to Jerry and his law makers, we will be charged to dispose of that same water. The MS4 update that was given by council last night deals with water run off and eventually it includes the waste water "we" flush from our homes. So if you live in Calif. the politicians tax you coming and going, more than a birth and death tax, this is an ongoing monthly tax. *this should be added to that running list of taxes the Tattler has posted. Thank you Moderator for keeping us informed.

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  3. Pecunia non olet....

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    1. Pecunia non olet ("money does not stink") is a Latin saying. The phrase is ascribed to the Roman emperor Vespasian (ruled AD 69–79). Vespasian imposed a Urine Tax (Latin: vectigal urinae) on the distribution of urine from public urinals in Rome's Cloaca Maxima (great sewer) system. (The Roman lower classes urinated into pots which were emptied into cesspools.) The urine collected from public urinals was sold as an ingredient for several chemical processes. It was used in tanning, and also by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woollen togas. The buyers of the urine paid the tax.

      The Roman historian Suetonius reports that when Vespasian's son Titus complained about the disgusting nature of the tax, his father held up a gold coin and asked whether he felt offended by its smell (sciscitans num odore offenderetur). When Titus said "No", Vespasian replied, "Yet it comes from urine" (Atqui ex lotio est).[2]

      The phrase Pecunia non olet is still used today to say that the value of money is not tainted by its origins. Vespasian's name still attaches to public urinals in France (vespasiennes), Italy (vespasiani), and Romania (vespasiene).

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    2. It almost looks like the old Romans had the very same problems that Sierra Madre has today.

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  4. Corruption is worse under populist leaders: watchdog
    http://nypost.com/2017/01/25/corruption-is-worse-under-populist-leaders-watchdog/

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  5. It is important to point out that even though some states have legalized marijuana, the use and sale of it is still very much a crime under federal law.

    Will Jeff Sessions Start a War on Pot Smokers?
    http://www.alternet.org/drugs/will-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-start-war-pot-smokers

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    1. Good thing the GOP is all about states' rights. Oh, except when the states disagree with them.

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    2. Libertarians who voted for Trump enabled their worst enemy.

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  6. My water an sewer bill is close to $800 plus a trash bin fee of 325.

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    1. Us too, 8:35, but only since the crazy penalties started.

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    2. I guess we're going to see if water customers have reach the breaking point.

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  7. Only raise the big water wasters rates. The rest of us are conserving and sadly have had to watch trees and foliage die.

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    1. Me too 9:49, I've lost 3 trees, still have brown water, and purchase drinking/cooking from the store! Aside from being brown, the water often smells of strong chemicals. It's a sad state of affairs for a city that once had the best drinking water ever!

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    2. 10:12 AM
      Time to move!

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  8. Thank you 7:46am. I'm with Titus. These water rates stink.
    I am also with the GOP, a party of self respect.

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    1. GOP as the "party of self respect."

      A party that threw all of its (claimed) values out the window just to win. That's the funniest 😂 thing I've heard all week. Thanks for the laugh--can't wait to share it!

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  9. The excutivethat order signed today will enforce the 2006 law of boarder security. Let the building begin...
    "The American people will no longer be required to subsidize a disregard for our laws".

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    1. Boarders can be a real problem. Especially when they don't pay their rent.

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    2. Necessity is the plea for every infringement on human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.

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    3. You have a disregard for spelling

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  10. When "boarders" don't pay rent, they are asked to leave. When individuals living here illegally break laws they are asked to leave our borders... similar laws, variations of spelling, same outcome.

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    1. Good save, kid, good save

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    2. Run to the boarder!!

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  11. 8:35. You complain about paying $800 per month for water. Why are you using so much? Tell us how many gallons per month you use.

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    1. Swimming pool, pond, leaky toilets?

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    2. Overcharging water company?

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  12. Surprised that Trump guy isn't touting the Dow going over 20,000. Maybe he can provide his astute economic analysis on how this will produce economic growth rather than just being a symptom of expectations of lower capital gains taxes.

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  13. Trump guy understands economics.
    Just what exactly "claimed values" were thrown out "the window" by the GOP? as I see it, a new door of opportunity has just opened.
    MAGA Make America Great Again.

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    1. We'll, let's just start with the GOP's claim to be the party of "family values."

      Has the GOP's "family values" plank changed, or did it always have a soft spot for cheating on spouses, multiple divorces, having children with 3 different women, p***y grabbing, and lusting after your daughter." Are these your GOP family values Trump guy?

      Since "Trump guy understands economics," let's hear his macroeconomic explanation how the current upswing in stock prices portends long term growth.

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  14. I crapped my pants when they started talking about the Parcel Tax. I thought the UTT would solve everything like the baby rhyme time.

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    1. You can't believe everything you see on a postcard.

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  15. Higher water usage, we have leaky pipes, down town business has been promoted, the kensington assisted living across the street from city hall with over a hundred occupants all drawing water. Our city water usage is going up but yet the residents are being hit to reduce and pay fines, what a great system our city is working under. Unfortunately residents don't know this and don't have time to get involved, they can only read the propaganda that is pushed in front of them. Let's deal with the facts here people, learn what is really going on. You ask what is going on, truth be known local government isn't managing the city and cant control their spending, that is the problem that us tax payers keep being asked to fund. Stop it, get involved, get out from behind your computers and do something about it.

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  16. 12:16, maybe they have a garden or a lot of fruit trees. Maybe they have a large lot or a large family. Maybe they have a big leak or there water meter is broken. Maybe it's not really a problem if we knew all the facts.

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  17. Mary Tyler Moore died today. She led a courageous life as it was filled with heartaches. Her personal life never interfered with her acting career.

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  18. The intolerances of the left progressives continue. During the anti Trump rally a limousine valued at $90,000.00 was set on fire. The limo belonged to a Muslim Immigrant. Welcome to America.

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    1. If I had known I'd have brought some s'mores.

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    2. Zealots like you are fiddling while Rome burns.

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    3. What made you think the whoever was responsible for the car catching fire was a trump protester, or of the left, or even progressive?

      just repeating nonsense you've been force-fed

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    4. 4 legs good, two legs bad ...

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  19. The torched limo did not belong to the driver and his company did not make a big deal of it. The driver did not support Trump and was not upset by the damage.

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