Thursday, December 29, 2011

State Supreme Court To Rule On Redevelopment Agencies This Morning

10:20 a.m. update: Redevelopment Finished!

Here is the story - just up on the Pasadena Star News website:

California Supreme Court allows redevelopment money grab - The California Supreme Court on Thursday found that state lawmakers had a legal right to seize $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help solve the state's budget woes, at the same time reaching a result that may put the state's nearly 400 local redevelopment agencies out of business forever.

California's high court concluded the Legislature had the authority to raid redevelopment funding earlier this year, rejecting arguments from redevelopment advocates that the budget gambit violated voter-approved Proposition 22, a 2010 measure designed to bar the state from seizing local funding to pay its bills.

The justices, however, struck down a separate state law approved as part of the legislative package that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay afloat if they agreed to relinquish a large share of their funding to the state. Most redevelopment agencies had planned to take advantage of that safety net to remain in operation, but the ruling is likely to slam the door shut on their ability to fund local projects.

In short, redevelopment agencies have now gone the way of the Edsel. My only question now is what happens to all that money Sierra Madre's CRA spent on things like consultant surveys on consumer preferences and parking planning? Do we now have to give it all to Sacramento? And if so, how much exactly do you get for a used Kodiak?

Click here for the full PSN report. Back to our earlier article ...

Today could be the day that Jerry Brown's quest to end Community Redevelopment Agencies finally comes to an end. Whether it will be a happy one or not depends on how you see this issue, and whether the State Supreme Court in San Francisco rules to abolish them or not. Quite a few people have been awaiting this decision, and an awful lot is at stake today for both the state and cities such as ours.

Here is how the Sacramento Bee (click here) puts it:

The California Supreme Court will rule Thursday on the legality of the state's move to grab $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help close California's budget shortfall.

The state's high court indicated on its website Wednesday that it would rule by 10 a.m. PST Thursday on the legal conflict. The Supreme Court previously had agreed to rule on the crucial issue by Jan. 15, when half of the redevelopment money is slated to be turned over to the state for the 1011-12 fiscal year.

We posted a couple of fine explanatory articles about all this last fall. The one with all the key information about what could be going down today ("California's Redevelopment Agencies Could Be Down For The Count") can be be accessed by clicking here. Everything you'll need to know to be fully informed about something that has huge ramifications for cities like Sierra Madre. Should CRAs go away the development agenda that has driven so much policy in Sierra Madre in the last decade or so could be severely crippled.

The effect of the abolishment of CRAs could be felt here in other ways as well. CRA money is used to pay certain aspects of staff salaries and related expenses, something that would otherwise come out of our already fully maxed out General Fund. Also the power of the City Council to manage (or mismanage, depending on your point of view) millions of dollars in downtown development money would simply go away.

The decision has been promised at around 10 a.m., and once it is delivered we will post all the results here.

Chris Sutton Defeats Monrovia/Gold Line Private Property Grab

Speaking of all things CRA, an eminent domain land grab in Monrovia was pretty much laid to waste yesterday in L.A. County Superior Court yesterday. In an email I received last evening, Gil Aguirre describes what went down:

Just received the court decision regarding the lawsuit filed against the Gold Line. Basically, the court found that the Gold Line must comply with competitive bidding laws, which it hasn't been doing and that the selection of Monrovia for a maintenance yard failed to meet the requirements of CEQA in that no real alternative locations were considered. This one is huge since it has been claimed that the Gold Line simply selected Monrovia and offered to pay the city far more than the property was worth. This decision seems to support the claim that such a decision was not in line with the law.

Chris Sutton is the attorney who won this decision. His client, George Brokate, owns the property the City of Monrovia and the Gold Line had designated for this maintenance yard. Threatening an eminent domain seizure of this land, Monrovia offered Brokate far less money for his property than what it is actually worth. Monrovia then intended to sell this property to the Gold Line at a much higher price, which gave this transaction the appearance of being a for-profit scheme designed to enrich the city's coffers.

For a related Tattler article on this situation ("Chris Sutton Forces Official To Resign In Gold Line Eminent Domain Case") click here. Also of interest is an SGV Tribune article dated 12/20 ("Gold Line construction authority to weigh eminent domain for Monrovia land") that can be viewed by clicking here.

The Gold Line and the City of Monrovia will have a lot to answer for today once this decision gets to the press.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

79 comments:

  1. land grabbing piratesDecember 29, 2011 at 5:59 AM

    Finally some of us are waiting for justice. Good for Mr. Sutton, 3 hip hip hoorays. Got my fingers crossed.

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  2. I am not sure what the City Council will do if they don't have any redevelopment money to play with. Certainly developers and those like them won't be quite as friendly. What good will any City Councils be to them if they can't pay at least some of their business expenses? Defi itely a real loss of power if the court does in CRAs.

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  3. Crawford your reporting is priceless. What a gift to have the issues relevant to our community discussed intelligently on the record. The body of truth that you are amassing is the single most valuable tool we have in our quest to maintain our way of life.

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  4. If you care about your property values, you had better thank people like John Crawford and the rest of the slow growth activists in this town for protecting them.
    Mr. Sutton WON Measure V for us, along with SMRRD (Sierra Madre Residents for Responsible Development).

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  5. Hopefully someone suggested that the court take a field trip to the Sacramento Mermaid Bar to see CRA funds at work.

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  6. how did this slip by that journalistic heavyweight Terry Miller? and right in his own back yard

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  7. Don't know if I can stand the tension waiting for a totally corrupt system to be called out for what it is and abolished. C'mon justice.

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  8. Chris Sutton has made it his professional goal to stop governmental lapses and abuses.
    We are lucky that he has helped Sierra Madre in the past, and we may need to get his help again to defend Measure V if the Buckingham ALF tries to go forward without a public vote.

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  9. Hey thank you slow growt!hers, my property values decreased by at least 250K in the last 4 years..with your kind of help who needs a recession?

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  10. Where do you live 8:58?
    Sierra Madre has held on to its property values, like the other cities in Southern California who have slow growth policies in place, and protect and enforce them.
    Unless of course you bought some crazy overpriced property to begin with.

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  11. Anon 8:58
    You my friend are sadly mistaken it is the unchecked development coupled with high risk loans that created the land value situation we are in. I live in Sierra Madre, and my property value is in good shape. In fact worth much much more than when I bought it. Where you live has alot to do with property values in case you were unaware. You should move out of the ghetto, Monrovia Commons.

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  12. I know people in the San Fernando Valley, nice areas below Ventura Blvd, that's property has decreased nearly 50%. Simi Valley same thing.
    Only areas with sane zoning laws and that curb over development have remained stable.
    Sierra Madre is one of them.

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  13. Well, I look forward to hearing good news after 10 a.m. today (i.e., that CRAs will be abolished and their funds returned to the state's coffers).

    Congratulations to Chris Sutton and his client for their victory over corruption in Monrovia's city government. It seems that our justice system has yet to be bought out by development interests and that is encouraging, to say the least.

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  14. Nothing kills property values faster than "Smart Growth."

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  15. There was some deep SGVCOG involvement in this Monrovia Gold Line mess. The Mayor on Monrovia MaryAnn Lutz being a Conway acolyte.

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  16. We have seen this acted out in our own town, so it shouldn't surprise anyone. Certain kinds of developers come into a town, set up a bunch of "community involvement" activities, take polls, surveys, get written comments, and then prepare them in appendices that will be slapped on to a pre-designed, previously designed, project that will bring them the most profit possible, no matter what the real cost to the community. That's it. They will snooker residents, buddy up to councils and city staff, with the "I'll sue you" messages a constant undercurrent, and then once they've done the deed, take the money and go live someplace that is better fortified against the likes of themselves.

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  17. Hopefully, the disasterous CRA will be abolished.
    It's interesting that so many scandals are coming out now, that it looks like it's over for the city hall crooks all over California.
    City after city is exposing massive scandal.
    Taxpayers are waking up to the fact that "Punky Brewster" although a "nice affable" guy is not really our friend. He/she is in with the criminals and the greedy with no conscience.

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  18. 8:58 You are blaming slow growth for your property value declining? Please don't blame others for your own ignorance. It's time for you to brush up on your economics my friend. First, if you bought a house within the last 4 years, why would you have ever expected property values to increase? Were you not aware that you were buying on the bubble? Second, slow growth protects property values. It does not force the economy into retreat.

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  19. 9:27, thanks for that reminder.

    Wouldn't it be great if now that the most in your face crimes, like in Bell, are being stopped, the sneakier ones are stopped too?

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  20. The uniquely California twist to all of this is that we're told we must accept the idea that high density development is good for the environment. Which is a lie so flagrant that you'd have to be a perfect idiot to believe it. And apparently there are quite a few of those about that do.

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  21. You sure got that right, 9:30 am.
    This is exactly what the SLOW GROWTH activists are responding to.
    This is what MaryAnn MacGillivray is sitting on the council being the lone slow growth fiscal responsible member there.
    We had better make sure she gets some like minded company come April. Even more important, we better pray she'll run for re-election.
    We need this leadership.

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  22. 9:34, they don't believe it. They know that it is a convenient lie behind which to conduct the machinations that will make them rich. As long as they can get the local residents to go along...it's all about the deception that will net them money and power.

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  23. Conway is amazing. How many audits/investigations will it take to shake him off?

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  24. Conway is the metaphor for most San Gabriel Valley local government. Corrupt, vastly cynical, and only concerned about himself.

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  25. 9:50 AM

    Yes, and Bart Doyle is our version of this here in Sierra Madre.
    A man who has brought nothing but disgrace and troubled times here.

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  26. 9:54 55, counting, waiting, black helicopters here online with wireless internet, yeaaay mother lode published a coming decison story one minute ago

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  27. yeah we won money can be seized, me and the chickens are dancing

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  28. OK Crawford, it's 11 after 10......

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  29. Mercury news, god I am crying,

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  30. And there you have it folks! The reason the City Council will use to push the UUT raise! Financial catastrophe without the additional CRA money!

    We can't win...

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  31. Oh yes we can 10:27. An enormous lie has been exposed and abolished. That matters.

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  32. 10:27 did you learn nothing with the water raise? they already have the increase in their budget and spent, just like the loan that was in the audit a year before you hear about the rusty pipes.

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  33. I have made a lot of criticisms of Jerry Brown over the years, but he accomplished a great thing with this. And I now believe he has the integrity to put that RDA money where it belongs, in schools and health care.

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  34. California Supreme Court allows redevelopment money grab
    By Howard Mintz hmintz@mercurynews.com
    Posted: 12/29/2011 10:04:38 AM PST
    Updated: 12/29/2011 10:04:39 AM PST

    The California Supreme Court on Thursday found that state lawmakers had a legal right to seize $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help solve the state's budget woes, at the same time reaching a result that may put the state's nearly 400 local redevelopment agencies out of business forever.

    California's high court concluded the Legislature had the authority to raid redevelopment funding earlier this year, rejecting arguments from redevelopment advocates that the budget gambit violated voter-approved Proposition 22, a 2010 measure designed to bar the state from seizing local funding to pay its bills.

    The justices, however, struck down a separate state law approved as part of the legislative package that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay afloat if they agree to relinquish a large share of their funding to the state. Most redevelopment agencies had planned to take advantage of that safety net to remain in operation, but the ruling is likely to slam the door shut on their ability to fund local projects.

    California Supreme Court allows redevelopment money grab
    By Howard Mintz hmintz@mercurynews.com
    Posted: 12/29/2011 10:04:38 AM PST
    Updated: 12/29/2011 10:04:39 AM PST

    The California Supreme Court on Thursday found that state lawmakers had a legal right to seize $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help solve the state's budget woes, at the same time reaching a result that may put the state's nearly 400 local redevelopment agencies out of business forever.

    California's high court concluded the Legislature had the authority to raid redevelopment funding earlier this year, rejecting arguments from redevelopment advocates that the budget gambit violated voter-approved Proposition 22, a 2010 measure designed to bar the state from seizing local funding to pay its bills.

    The justices, however, struck down a separate state law approved as part of the legislative package that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay afloat if they agree to relinquish a large share of their funding to the state. Most redevelopment agencies had planned to take advantage of that safety net to remain in operation, but the ruling is likely to slam the door shut on their ability to fund local projects.

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  35. Jerry just drove a wooden stake deep into Dracula's heart. So much evil has been done with CRA money in this town. There never would have been a DSP without CRA money to grease the skids. This is a great day in California history. Hallelujah!

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  36. It's a victory that fends off the craven.
    The California Supreme Court lived up to its responsibility.

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  37. They must be booin' the hoo over at the League of California Cities. Our city attorneys must be sad as well. Maybe they'll help us out by reducing their fees?

    Maybe not ...

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  38. First the Gold Line crooks in Monrovia get legally decked, and now the CRA, too? Have we died and gone to heaven?

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  39. I have two words for the city council and the city staff:
    COST CONTROL
    Don't try to make this great moral and economic righting of a wrong into something that means you need more money from the people you supposedly represent and serve.
    Get busy with eliminating non-essential city services.

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  40. 10:48, the win for honesty doesn't come often enough, but it sure is sweet when it does.

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  41. Josh Moran: "I know! Let's raise the UUT to 15%!

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  42. No let's get rid of the Josh Moran types on the city council.
    They support over development. Not in our best interests.

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  43. Watching the game play outDecember 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    From Housing California just now:

    Dear Housing California Members and Supporters,

    Today, the California Supreme Court effectively forced the elimination of all of the redevelopment agencies in the state. This means the loss of the approximately $1 billion that went to the creation and preservation of affordable housing.

    This is a terrible blow to many of our members but, in particular, a terrible loss to those people in California that are homeless or living in substandard conditions and hoping for a decent and affordable home.

    It will take a few days for us all to take in all of the implications of this decision. Know that Housing California will be working for you in the Capitol to ensure that affordable housing plays a key role in any new redevelopment proposal and that we will be looking for any new funding to support Californians that need a more-affordable place to live.

    In the coming weeks I will undoubtedly ask for your help to make sure that housing our most vulnerable continues to be a part of what our state values and our government provides

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  44. Government needs to be sized to what we want to pay. Not the other way around. And how are we going to know that without the full forensic audit that Kurt Zimmerman called for?

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  45. Many local heros, Chris Sutton, Kevin Dunn, Kurt Zimmerman, Don Watts, SMRRD, helped to stop the "legalized corruption" of the CRA, by the likes of Bart Doyle, John Buchannan, Joe Mosca, realtors, developers and too many others to mention, who saw public money, and eminent domain as a way to enrich themselves at our expense.
    They paid with their careers and were smeared by these disgustung people.
    We owe them alot.
    The hope is they will loose in the next election...

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  46. Housing California needs to remember that the redevelopment agencies spent it all on everything BUT affordable housing. That's why it got nuked. By the guy who started it all.

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  47. And from Housing California's sister association, Rock the Tanks

    Dear Bar Owners, Wine Tasting Room Owners, and other booze related civic organizations,

    The loss of the RDAs is going to make it a lot tougher to get the dream of the mermaid bar in every community into reality, but don't be discouraged. We'll keep at it. And we will fight so that there will be one affordable housing unit in every 500 overpriced condos built, so your stock of mermaids will have someplace to live.

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  48. Right you are 10:59.

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  49. The Wine Tasting Room will forever be our monument to the CRA and the idea that a permanent taxpayer slush fund should always be in place to dispense cash rewards to political supporters.

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  50. From the PSN:
    " Most redevelopment agencies had planned to take advantage of that safety net to remain in operation, but the ruling is likely to slam the door shut on their ability to fund local projects".

    Don't let the door slam you in the ass, Buchanan, Doyle, Stockley and pal dirts.

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  51. To stop the corruption, we have to stop the access to money.
    This is a good first step.

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  52. How do I get affordable wine to celebrate this victory?

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  53. 10:55 they must have missed the expose done by John Chiang on the misuse of funds by no cities building any affordable housing. Or what about the seniors near the gold line in Pasadena that were kicked out after the 5 years required to meet the criteria guideline for the initial funding in the units built there, that could then be sold could be sold at higher prices. Crocodile tears..

    60 years of oppression and the rape of our beautiful landscape, thousands of broken dreams and lives. Gee guess the council people will have to be just council people, no more amateur
    architects of evil gloom and destruction for the greater good of the least few.

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  54. Exactly 11:32. Without our money to spend the City Council is little more than a small group of people with opinions.

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  55. Wow. I just got my best Christmas present. And only a couple of days late, too.

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  56. "...no more amateur architects of evil gloom and destruction for the greater good of the least few."
    Eloquentus indeed.

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  57. In regard to 10:55's post.Yes..yes Now would be the time for the Forensic Audit called for by Kurt Zimmerman.The opportunity for shenanigan's were certainly enhanced during the reign of the CRA.It is to the credit of the homeowners that Sierra Madre was able to resist to a large part the the obscene over development which occurred within the San Gabriel valley over the last 40 years.Let the digging begin!

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  58. I would hope that Jerry Brown will now call for a complete audit of all 400 city controlled CRAs. Just to make certain that he is getting all their money. The schools are dying for it.

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  59. That sounds great 12:16, but I have a feeling that it will be a "from this point on" kind of thing.

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  60. Hey, League of California Cities. How's that Prop 22 thing working out for you?

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  61. 10:58

    Have the Dunns moved back to Sierra Madre for good? I saw Katina in town a few weeks ago. Sure would be great for Tattler's morale.

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  62. The vicious abuse the Dunns received at the hands of the development community during the time they were working so hard to protect this town from those same people makes their return here highly unlikely, 2:01.

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  63. "Are you retarded?"
    That from the founder of Metro Mitsubishi in Las Vegas in response to my comment on this in the LA Fishwrap.
    Man, I know I'm dumb but to bust out that remark and affix one's name and association with a high profile company like Mitsubishi makes me feel almost smart. Instead of convincing me the error of my belief that this is a good thing, they go straight to the "dumbass, smartass, are you retarded?" insults.
    Sound familiar?
    Wicked people these and I bet most of 'em slap a lotta backs at their local congregation on Sunday mornings.
    "The meek shall inherit nothing"-Frank Zappa

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  64. 2:23, that kind of comment from one of the foreclosure centers of the country, huh? That guy is in for a harsh karmic lesson.
    And yes it sounds all too familiar - as though there's a policy of avoidance and denial.
    On the other hand, I'm not sure good old Frank is the best we can do in terms of advice for living.

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  65. 2:23 somebody splained it to him better kiss kiss

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  66. 2:23 for some reason, they won't let my comments stay at the LA times or San Gab trib for too long, I must be on the word terrorist list. Still on the mercury news though..

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  67. Can those posters who continually bemoan the lack of money in the schools explain how more money spent actually improves instruction. As far as I'm concerned the teachers lobby is exactly like the builder lobby: always wanting more taxpayer money for a shoddy product.

    I'm prepared for some hate-speech: I'm a six figure public school teacher. Call me names, that should improve the test scores. Oh, I keep forgetting, the only reason test scores are low is because we only spend about $10,000 per year per student.

    By the way, good progress on the middle school!

    Just reduce the tax burden, so families can afford private schools.

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  68. I can hardly get a word in edgewise here! How exciting to see something actually go right.

    And for those of you who see this as a no-win situation because of the UUT increase proposal, hold on a minute.

    If the City cites the loss of the redevelopment agency as a basis for needing more money, they're admitting that they have been misusing the redevelopment money. It wasn't meant to be a slush-fund for the city's little pet projects! It was meant to be for redevelopment. We've all known all along that it was probably being misused. If they utter one little peep about it being the basis for needing more UUT cash, then whip them into a forensic audit in a New York minute. They will have brought it on themselves.

    And while we're on that subject, it would seem like a very good idea to promote a rigorous audit about now anyway--wouldn't you want to know what they've done with our money before we decide to give then any more? Seems like a good idea to me.

    Meanwhile, I'm now thinking of toasting to a New Year with no redevelopment agencies. That will reduce the opportunities for graft and lying--calling for more creative government misconduct. We'll have so much fun with these clowns.

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  69. The Ventura County Star had an interesting write up - and in it:

    Now, cities — which created most of the state's 400 or so redevelopment agencies — are scrambling to unravel the fallout. Staffing levels, certain loan repayments, future projects: All now have question marks. The agencies use certain property taxes to reduce blight.

    Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/dec/29/not-happy-campers-local-city-officials-react-to/#ixzz1hz2WbLuE
    - vcstar.com

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  70. This is just the start of the saga. This just in from Bill Fulton of CP&DR

    "Redevelopment Will Be Back"
    http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3081

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  71. Is this the same Bill Fulton that made such a mess of the GPUSC's technical report? Bill Fulton of Kersting Alley fame? He is quite a savant, that one.

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  72. Redevelopment will be back in one form or another because the blood suckers will just shift shape.

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  73. One and the same 7:35.

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  74. Great news. An audit would be interesting...

    From the LA Times:

    Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Zev Yaroslavsky said redevelopment over the years "evolved into a honey pot that was tapped to underwrite billions of dollars worth of commercial and other for-profit projects."

    The projects "had nothing to do with reversing blight, but everything to do with subsidizing private real estate ventures that otherwise made no economic sense," Yaroslavsky said.


    Gov. Jerry Brown, who first proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies to help solve the state's fiscal crisis, expressed satisfaction with the court's decision, noting that it "validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than a billion dollars of ongoing funding for schools and public safety."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-redevelopment-20111230,0,7617164.story

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  75. This is wonderful news!
    The State will be better off.
    Sierra Madre will be better off.
    Maybe we will stop hearing about all these scandals? I sure hope so. Seems everytime I pick up the paper another city has another financial scandal.
    Here's to fiscal responsibility starting now!

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  76. Dr. S. at 5:54!

    Great comment! We'll all drink to that.
    Cheers and Happy New Year!

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  77. http://walnuttattler.blogspot.com/2011/10/walnut-tattler.html
    John, Someone in Walnut is ripping off the "tattler" name and they even have you as a link to make it "legit" I guess.
    Your site takes an objective view of city corruption, funny how the Walnut site spends all its time smearing two candidates only (I am one of them). My guess is Walnut Councilboy Tom King is behind it (League of Cities & good friend of your buddy Ed Roski & Dave Perez).
    Keep up the good work!

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