However, there has now been a sudden change in all of that rhythm. Apparently this debt problem has become so acute that the City of Sierra Madre, in the guise of its new City Manager Gabe England, has now actually issued a communique 'fessing up to what has been going on in the Foothill Village for about the last 15 years or so.
Sierra Madre, because of its extreme amounts of Water Bond and CalPERS debt, is literally awash in red ink. We are talking about $10s of millions of dollars worth of debt. Debt that the taxpayers of Sierra Madre will be expected to cover, and apparently soon. And if they don't? Well, I'll leave that to your imagination. It won't be pretty.
Here's a problem with this sudden message change. Engeland's communique was issued this Friday. A time when most Sierra Madrean's minds were on their plans for the four day 4th of July weekend, and not the city's financial woes. Do you really think this timing was just a coincidence?
There is a somewhat airbrushed version that appears in this weekend's Mountain Views News. Airbrushed in that it only deals with the most general part of the City Manager's revelations, leaving some of the more unpleasant aspects on the cutting room floor. After years of helping the city suppress just this kind of news, the MVN must be finding all of this sudden transparency to be quite uncomfortable.
I'm not going to post much more about this until July 5th, which is when people will be back from their July 4th break. This is probably one of the most serious problems Sierra Madre will ever deal with, and for City Hall to suddenly reveal that it has a massive debt problem when most everyone was off enjoying their summer break is, well, interesting timing.
Let me leave you with these thoughts. That massive debt problem existed when you were being asked to vote for Measure UUT more than a year or so back. And you were specifically told that this utility tax increase was absolutely necessary, and it was about saving the Library. You were also told it was about the Huck Finn Fishing Derby, the Mount Wilson Trail Race, and the Senior Center. You were told a lot of questionable things, yet never the truth.
What you were not told is what the utility tax increase the residents voted for was really about. It was about Sierra Madre's debt problems. Water Bonds and CalPERS debt problems. Things the city at that time refused to acknowledge. The only place you were told about that was on this blog.
The YES On UUT fibbers spent a lot of money bashing us for that. They even put out a widely distributed postcard smearing this blog. Which is kind of flattering if you think about it. Look at it as a gold medal for truth-telling.
But now the city is kind of admitting that this really was about Sierra Madre's massive debt issues after all. The new City Manager has been given that job, and maybe he actually should be given some credit for committing an act of attempted transparency. After all, nobody at City Hall ever dared even hint at this level of truth during the lead up to the last three utility tax votes.
But Engeland is only telling you half of the story. If that. Wouldn't you like to know who was responsible for Sierra Madre's acute fiscal crisis? And still is? Or how they got the city into this mess in the first place? Don't you think you have a right to know these sorts of things?
This story is about so much more than just its numbers. We'll be back on July 5th with more.