Friday, March 17, 2017

The Pasadena Star News Take on Sierra Madre's New City Manager, and So Little More

Tombstones?
Mod: The local news embargo on reporting anything regarding the Number 1 growth industry of Trinidad, Colorado holds. It only brought that city back from the brink of financial collapse while also attracting national attention. And the embargo on anything regarding Sierra Madre's crippling CalPERS and water bond debt also remains firmly in place. Can't let anything quite that reality based upset the marks. After all, reporting on something that controversial might actually sell some newspapers, and why would the Pasadena Star News ever want that to happen? It goes against their current business model. Better to say just as little as humanly possible.

Sierra Madre’s new city manager faces similar challenges from previous city (Pasadena Star News link): As the city’s incoming city manager, Gabriel Engeland will inherit many similar issues he faced at the top position in the small town of Trinidad, Colorado — ailing infrastructure, low revenues, high expenses.

The Michigan native, who officially began his new position on Monday, said the city’s challenges are one of the reasons he was drawn to applying to the position.

Sierra Madre appears to be at a critical juncture,” said the 37-year-old. “Water management will be a big thing; it was a big thing in Colorado.”

Engeland has worked in city government in Arizona and Kansas before serving Trinidad as city manager for two years. He has a bachelors in community development from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

“He came in very well prepared. He knows what he’s getting into,” councilman John Capoccia said. “We have some fiscal challenges ahead of us. He has an impressive list of accomplishments, he’s very personable and easy to work with. I hope he can provide sound management, and working with the council and citizens to make sure that their expectations are met.”

Engeland said he’s ready to get started on tackling several issues in the city with the main ones being fixing the city’s water infrastructure and especially how to pay for those projects, along with other projects and services in the city.

“My plan is to start with a zero-based budget as a way to prioritize the city’s needs,” he said. “We will go through each line item with the goal of shrinking government spending.”

As of now, Engeland doesn’t see any staff layoffs in the near future, but will eliminate any open positions, and hopes to rein in the budget while still ensuring “services to the citizens aren’t impacted.”

“It’s going to be a fun summer; (the city and city council) have a lot of big decisions ahead of us,” he said.

Engeland was chosen after a quick recruitment and interviewing process since the retirement announcement by former city manager Elaine Aguilar. After nine years, Aguilar retired in December 2016 but agreed to stay on as interim city manager until March 13.

With an annual salary of $182,000 and benefits package, Engeland has committed to five years at the city.

Along with his wife and newborn daughter, Engeland has relocated to Sierra Madre as well.

“The city is amazing,” said Engeland. “Sierra Madre is very authentic, very genuine; we’re really enjoying it so far. I’m excited professionally and personally.”

Mod: So here's the news. Sierra Madre is authentic and genuine. Whatever that means. The new City Manager went to college, and is going to cut spending without reducing staffing or cutting services. This while also accepting financial compensation far higher than that of any of his predecessors. All very traditional approaches here. And Sierra Madre, a city that just raised its utility taxes to amongst the very highest levels ever seen in California, is the victim of "low revenues." It is, I suppose, if you are trying to create the impression that taxes need to be raised yet again. Always a strong possibility. It would certainly help to explain why John Capoccia likes Gabe so much.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com 

42 comments:

  1. Council member John Capoccia ran his campaign promises on elect me, I know how to spend your money and I am not afraid to tell folks give "us" more.

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  2. John Capoccia originally ran as an anti-tax candidate. Once elected he never voted no even once on any tax, rate or fee increase.

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  3. So Sierra Madre becomes the pot capitol of So Cal? Engeland's former employer, Trinidad, is located in Las Animas County, around 20 miles north of New Mexico. Trinidad has plenty of recreational marijuana stores, which are the closest ones to the southern Colorado border if traveling on I-25 North. Since the SM City Council gang can't get the tax increases or the real estate deals to cover the financial shenanigans in Sierra Madre, that will have to do. California is a different state, however, and Sierra Madre isn't close enough to Mexico.

    https://www.coloradopotguide.com/where-to-buy-marijuana/colorado/trinidad/

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  4. The zero based budget and line item, with shrinking government spending, sounds very promising.

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    1. With no reduction in services or head count. And this is different how?

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  5. My guess is that people running for office don't have all the information that people who get into office have.
    They don't know just how how many bad decisions have been made about our finances.
    Wouldn't be a problem if everyone read the Tattler.

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  6. You get a lot of that here as well.

    Trump Embraces One Of Russia's Favorite Propaganda Tactics — Whataboutism
    http://www.npr.org/2017/03/17/520435073/trump-embraces-one-of-russias-favorite-propaganda-tactics-whataboutism

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  7. Capoccia..."He has an impressive list of accomplishments, he’s very personable and easy to work with". what are those accomplishments; did he leave his previous jobs after balancing the budgets and everyone was smiling or did he get run out of town? He's personable? So what? I need him to do his job (that I'm paying him to do), do it well, and don't really care if he gets along with Capoccia. There are some people at my job I don't get along with but I deal with it because I'm a big boy. I guess time will tell...

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    1. jeez, all he did was take the low hanging fruit and open up some weed stores

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  8. Pinch yourself!
    The President has just said "ObamaCare is dead".
    I will celebrate by giving up a healthy choice food today, and instead order a McD's Shamrock Shake.

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    1. Very appropriate to celebrate the loss of reasonable health care with some fast food poison. Enjoy your clay.

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  9. The new city manager can start by getting rid of the city pensions and the free tacos which the old city manager provided!

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  10. The Tattler photo of "Tombstones"; was a gift to the City of Sierra Madre handcrafted by one of our locals. Frank L., owns a cement contracting business, he made the beautiful entrance marker to replace a small wooden sign.

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    1. True art is a living metaphor and can be seen in different ways as events change.

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    2. Ever since the city was so gifted, people have expressed a strong dislike for the funereal design.

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    3. Given the city's financial woes, maybe someone should put dates on the larger one. 1907 - 2018?

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    4. Actually it replaced a big beautiful rock.

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    5. When Frank moves on we can replace the entrance marker when George goes we can replace the horn.

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  11. Hard to know where to start: interview applicants for a position and paint the picture of the town in the best light to get someone (the "best" applicant) to take the job. When does the truth hit the fan? Almost never soon enough. "Everything is hunky dory in Sierra Madre."

    When the last UUT was passed to stay at ? % forever (I forget the %) it couldn't possibly have generated enough money for what the city needed to keep in place in the way of services and debt payment. The struggle to raise more money is underway. What did our grandparents say to our parents (and if they didn't say that to us we can just skip back a generation): "When money is tight live well below your means."

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  12. Thank you 9:25am
    The pensions are tied into the state, they cannot be reduced.
    There are other ways to bring the pensions back into a sustainable contribution to city employees; that has been enacted. The new mng. and the hiring pkg. is an example.

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    1. CalPERS requires a conscious decision by a city to join. While it is good that City Hall recognized the need to change, there is the matter of $9 million dollars in unaccounted for debt. The City needs to explain how that happened before asking for more taxes. Blaming the library just isn't going to work this time.

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  13. Too bad the new City Manager was not here before the Director of Public Works, Bruce Inmann, retired. It would have been good for Mr. Inmann to hand over his information--efforts, needs, failures, insights--to the new City Manager.

    Staff in Public Works are hardworking and forthright. They had to be circumspect under the "leadership" of Elaine as she was a micromanager. I hope everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

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    1. Clarification on the water bond debt needs to happen. Making interest only payments since 2005 is costing city residents many millions of dollars. Blaming this on the Library like with Measure UUT is not acceptible.

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    2. Hey, you're Trump Troll!

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    3. No, you are.

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    4. Hey you're the other trump troll!
      Classic rubber/glue rebuttal

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  14. Trolls get trumped again! Crooked trolls swamp the vote

    former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.

    Tom Price, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress. The Georgia lawmaker traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry.

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  15. Moved here over 40 years ago. Paid my water bill and didn't think much about infrastructure. Obvioulsy the city leaders--elected and staff--did't either. I have heard it from a former mayor that the water department was the cash cow for all sorts of other projects/functions/on-going expenditures. Not a thought to the fact that money from the sale of water should be in the fund for future water infrastructure repairs but that was in the future. The future is now. Then there is the other B I G problem of paying for the water tank replacements, or rather not paying for the replacements, but paying for the great opportunity to borrow the money. Than and other bone-headed decisions that we all have to grapple with now.

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  16. The City always had retire benefits, back about fifteen years or so, that council in a four to one vote; made the changes and voted for the upgrade.
    If you had attended City Council meetings, you could have voiced your concerns.
    The Council was similar to those serving now, in one ear and out the other. No acknowledgement, no discussion on what was presented from the speaker at the podium, just zzzzzzz.
    This is what happens when people get into public office and don't hear what the people that elected them, have to say.
    Council meetings not as contentious because Council members have already made up their minds.
    The CalPERS upgrade was not studied or passed back for the Finance Director to study and offer insight. But, then again the upgrades were great for the under paid City Employees!

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  17. The water department was the "cash cow", or slush fund, ebb and flow into one department and another.
    Many "favors" or trading vs. C.U.P.'s were a regular thing out of City Hall.
    The City had so many volunteers that many were turned away.
    If something needed repair or a family was in need, the community would step in.
    The swimming pool was maintained and chlorinated by the lifeguards.
    Health laws, Insurance, back ground in Education, Unions, all have changed the course of how the town has changed.
    The Easter Egg Hunt; I recall the men on the Fire Department and their wives coloring hundreds upon hundreds of real chicken eggs, and then placing them in the park for all the children.
    The Fire Truck decked in Christmas lights with Santa and the stockings for the kids.
    The Firehorn would signal lunch, dinner, and emergency. The Church bells would all be heard throughout the town.
    The Policemen would give a ride home to anyone from the Buccaneer or VFW, if a call was made for a ride.
    Soap Box Derbies down Grandview, a Toy Loan in the center of town.
    Enough of memory lane; this was mostly all done through volunteers and their own money and eveyone had plenty of good clean Mountain Spring Water to drink.
    All this was less than half a generation ago.
    The town had great reserves built up, in case of an emergency.
    Everyone in town new each other, landlines still had partylines, so gossiping kept most out of trouble.
    What has changed? I'am still trying to figure that one out.

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  18. Sounds like y'all blew it for the rest of us.

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    1. Which "y'all"?

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    2. Y'all old timers

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    3. Y'all a hater.

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    4. Yup, hate the fact that y'all old timers blew it. We payin' for your mistakes.

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  19. Bart Doyle and Rob Stockly, and John Buchanan, all envisioned a Sierra Madre building boom, that would help with their disastrous water decisions, while benefitting them personally.

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  20. Well at least HE lives here.

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