Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sierra Madre's UUT Might Not Be the Only Do-Over Tax Vote We Will See In 2014

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As you must certainly be aware by now, Sierra Madre's utility taxes, the highest in the State of California, must be extended by a vote of the people in April of 2014 or they will begin to sunset back to the 6% they were in 2008. An attempt to accomplish this was on the ballot in 2012, but was rejected by the citizens of Sierra Madre by over 60% of the vote.

Now you might think that by having already voted and rejected an extension of our double digit UUT we had seen the end of it. The voters had spoken and given their verdict. Meaning that the government, having been told what it must do by the ultimate authority, were left with no choice but to obey. After all, isn't the will of the people the final word in a democracy?

Apparently this isn't the case. Not at all happy about the prospect of losing a million or so dollars in pension and benefit enhancing utility tax revenue, the City of Sierra Madre decided to ignore the verdict of the voters and instead place another initiative on the ballot, one that asks pretty much the same question as last time. That being, should Sierra Madre's utility taxes stay at the very highest levels in California.

In other words, City Hall has called for a do-over vote, and it will take place in just a few short months.

And now there is word that this might not be our only do-over tax vote of 2014. The County of Los Angeles, still smarting over the defeat of Measure J in 2012, is also looking to hold a do-over vote of their own, and possibly as early as this coming November. Done in hopes of extending a half cent increase in county sales taxes into near perpetuity so that Metro can continue producing such widely reviled boondoggles as the 710 Tunnel. Among some other things.

Here is how the Los Angeles Times describes it (link):

L.A. County transit officials plan to put sales tax measure on ballot Transportation officials in Los Angeles County plan to offer a ballot measure next fall or in 2016 that would raise the county's sales tax by half a cent or extend the life of Measure R, the levy voters approved in 2008.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and multiple advocacy groups say more transportation money would help expand the region's fledgling rail network, improve complementary service on bus lines, and speed construction and repairs on rail lines and highways.

"We need to have a system that works for us," said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments. "We need to maintain it, to bring it up to par, to expand it." 

Metro staff officials say the ballot measure would either create a new tax that would raise the overall rate in Los Angeles County to 9.5% or extend Measure R's half-cent levy beyond its 2039 expiration date.

Similar proposals have found success in the past: Taxes approved in 1980 and 1990 paid for many of the county's carpool lanes and the first three modern rail lines. Measure R will partially fund a dozen rail projects, doubling the number of Metro train stations.

Last year, a proposal to extend Measure R failed by about 2 percentage points, in part because coastal Los Angeles County cities did not support it, a Times analysis showed. Some elected officials from those areas had complained that the city of Los Angeles received the lion's share of Measure R projects

It would seem that in our part of the world voter rejections of tax initiatives have to be done over and over again since no local government really feels the need to heed the decisions of the people. Instead they just keep putting the same tax measures on the ballot until they get a result that they like. No matter how many times they have to do it.

All of which adds a certain level of sad irony to the claim of former Soviet central planner (link) and now SCAG leading suit Hasan Ikhrata that "we need to have a system that works for us."

We do have a system that works for us, and it is called democracy.

Unfortunately, we also have local government officials who refuse to recognize that, and have come to believe they can just ignore voter decisions they don't agree with. Especially when it comes to squeezing all of the money they want out the taxpayers.

Sadly, this category includes 80% of Sierra Madre's current City Council.

The New York Times declares Patch dead

Judging by the striking lack of reader involvement, it appears that our very own Sierra Madre Patch is not being read very much these days. Not surprising when you consider that all they seem capable of posting lately is the ubiquitous Police Blotter, advice on things like how to cook things like rhubarb, and the Top 10 most popular names for cats.

All of which should be moot shortly because, after squandering something like $300 million dollars on their ill-conceived "hyperlocal news" scheme, AOL is about to finally face up to reality and pull the plug on Patch.

This from the New York Times (link):

AOL Chief’s White Whale Finally Slips His Grasp Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL, is finally winding down Patch, a network of local news sites that he helped invent and that AOL bought after he took over.

At a conference in Manhattan last week, Mr. Armstrong suggested that Patch’s future could include forming partnerships with other companies, an acknowledgment that AOL could not continue to go it alone in what has been a futile attempt to guide Patch to profitability. He called it, somewhat hilariously, “an asset with optionality.” There may be a few options for Patch, but none come close to the original vision for the site.

The hunt to own the lucrative local advertising market, Mr. Armstrong’s white whale, is over. But Patch did not go quietly — hundreds of people lost their jobs over the last six months — and neither will Mr. Armstrong.

“Patch has more digital traffic than a lot of traditional players have,” he said in a phone call on Friday, still defending his pet project. “The long-term vision was clear: If you get the consumer, can you get the revenue? And we have a whole bunch of Patches where the answer is yes. But we rolled it out on a national basis and we’ve had to adjust based on the investor commitments that we have made.”

Mr. Armstrong came close to betting the company and his future on Patch, but in the end, his survival instincts and shareholder pressure compelled him to let the white whale swim away.

Goodbye, Patch.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

59 comments:

  1. April 2012 - NO.
    November 2012 - NO.
    April 2014 - NO.
    November 2014 - NO.

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    Replies
    1. Don't forget Jan 2014 (water) NO.

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    2. the last vote lost by 60% so the Council and city manager are looking to sway 11% so the objective is to not only defeat by the same % but larger and send a clear message to the city - work within the budget and quit whining

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  2. 6:00 AM, you have my NO vote.

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  3. Shaken but not stirred, that way "all" the money falls directly out of the voters pockets.

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  4. It is kind of like the lottery for government. It doesn't cost them that much to put tax initiatives on the ballot, and if you get lucky the payoff can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. You can but a lot of political support with that kind of cash.

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    Replies
    1. You can't win it unless you're in it!

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  5. the UUT started with our city council, city manager and public works manager lying to us by creating a false public emergency and hiding the truth and purposely presenting a web of distortion, misinformation and blatant lies

    finally when exposed, the city leadership continued to lie and just expressed outrage that we question what they are saying, which continued to be lies and we discover that along with the lies, a major spending spree was being planned behind the scenes, such as a new $ 50k counter for city hall and a $ 7 million dollar new library, pet ego projects of Mosca and Buchanan and they were trying to build a new water infrastructure that would allow for large scale development which benefited their own employers and their primary supporters , the real estate crowd which included Josh Moran.

    it's the same old story over and over again, but like last time, I voted NO and will do so again and will do my best to tell my friends and neighbors what exactly the city did and is still doing

    we keep electing lawyers and inept people just because they are the only candidates and then treat us like blooming idiots

    I have zero trust and confidence in this Council - they haven't been leaders - they are still just doing the bidding of the ones that got us in this mess. Instead of being realistic and looking for budget cuts, they just opt for the lazy way of "we need more money"

    next election, don't vote for any lawyers or anybody affiliated with, endorsed or supported by John Buchanan, Doyle, Stockley, Torres and especially Moran or Walsh and toss in Harabedian (another lawyer)

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  6. No matter how much government gets, it's never enough. When will it be too much for people in Sierra Madre to say enough.
    Currently Police, Paramedics, and paid Fire personnel account for more than half the budget. Is 60% to much? Is 70% to much. At the current rate of increases, it won't be too long before their salaries and BENEFITS consume the entire budget.
    The question is How Much Are You Willing TO Pay????? and it what they demand worth what they are doing?

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    Replies
    1. What is your life worth in an emergency? What is your property worth in an emergency? Do you have the knowledge and training and resources to help yourself in a medical emergency? A car accident? A fire in your garage? Yes, how much are you willing to pay for emergency services available to all, including yourself?

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    2. Why do we have to pay the highest utility taxes in the state to get these things when other cities pay far less? Is it possible that there are instances where other cities receive better service for less money? These are the kinds of questions a real city govt would ask. Ours just wants more money.

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    3. I am willing to pay for emergency services. I am not willing to pay for a bloated city staff that refuses to do their jobs, hires consultants at every turn, and constantly whines about being overworked.

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    4. 9:22 that would be true if we had faith in the abilities of our PD and FD - I don't. If had my druthers, I'd rather call 911 and have the Arcadia FD respond, which they have a substation on the border of SM.

      and the SMPD? please there is no way I want them responding to any emergency.

      nobody is saying anything of having a city without any type of emergency services, we just want something other than a good ole boy network and a PD that is severely overstaffed, over budget and very very very unqualified.

      It's scary who we entrust in this city. Very scary.

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    5. The EMTs were just fine.

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    6. 9:25 plus our govt leaders are over their head or have an agenda

      we keep hearing lip service about how the city needs money but then we pay out of our noses for sub par public services such as the PD and FD which eat up the city budget and provide minimal quality

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    7. Many times the paramedics arrive just in enough time to "save" a person that must be put on life support and then the family must take their loved one off life support.

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    8. does the Arcadia FD have paramedics at it's Orange Grove substation?



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    9. Let's drive by and look. One thing they do have at the Orange Grove substtion is a sign..."don't abandon your baby..." which means to me they must have full-time paramedics or full-time paid fire fighters. I think why our fire station does not have this sign is that we have volunteer fire fighters and not a full 24/7 crew. However, I do know that our fire fighters are good people and very dedicated and they do get good training.

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  7. from day one, this is the same group supporting raising the UUT at the highest rate in the state that also supported SCAG and it's stated objective to increase the population of Sierra Madre by almost doubling our density - that includes John Buchanan, Doyle and today Josh Moran, no surprise all are tied to the building and utility industry

    I don't care that our water bond rating is in the toilet, that is where our leadership put us and we have the same toilet leadership today.

    Next election I'm voting NO on the UUT and None of the Above on the candidate ballot

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  8. Q: The City has to raise taxes because:
    a) It is sustainable
    b) It is vibrant
    c) It will make employees happy
    d) It is green
    e) No one really knows

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    Replies
    1. f) It's easier to spend a tax increase instead of cutting waste of taxpayer dollars.

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    2. g) It means I will get union support should I decide to run for Assembly.

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    3. h) it is diverse.

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  9. The citizens were promised that if we raised the UUT to help the city balance the budget, there would be a 'sunset clause' and it would hold. That was a promise made at the time the residents voted on increasing the UUT. A promise.

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    Replies
    1. I promise I won't give them a dollar more than what I voted "yes" for in 2008. That means a drop to 8% in 2015.

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    2. yeah but Walsh, Harabedian and Moran all think that you are wrong and very uncivil

      they know more than you and want you to understand this

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    3. Capoccia thinks you need to pay more taxes, too.

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    4. The Great Tax Fighter seems to have driven into a ditch.

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  10. 9:22. Unfortunately, the UUT monies do not just go to cover Emergency Services. The money goes into the General Fund and is spent on whatever they want to spend it on.

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    Replies
    1. true but city says otherwise, keeps on lying to us and we are supposed to trust them?

      nope, I'm voting NO

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    2. the money goes into the General Fund but the cost of police, fire and paramedic services exceeds the amount that is collected from the UUT. Also, now that we have a paramedic service we can't go back to the EMT classification. We would have to contract out -- which wouldn't be a bad idea. On the measure that suggests that the UUT will save the Library, I believe that is strictly political to get the avid library supporters to vote yes.

      I campaigned and voted no on the UUT last time because I wanted to wait and see what the situation what was this time around. I am voting yes.

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    3. I'm not. The city needs to show some real cost savings before I would ever think of voting for a 10% UUT. By real savings I do not mean sneaking a couple of million into pensions and benefits.

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  11. Culver City has a UUT of 11%. Jes sayin'...

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, but they don't charge utility taxes for waste and solid waste. That is what keeps us #1.

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    2. They may not apply UUT to trash, but they also have a "transient occupancy" tax of 14%. How many hotels have we?

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    3. does Culver City have a volunteer FD?

      imagine having a volunteer FD in a major metropolitan area? silly and very dumb dangerous

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    4. We are talking the utility tax elite here. Bell, Compton, Culver City and Sierra Madre.

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    5. KNB - We have the Hotel Squirrelly.

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  12. so that we don't repeat the cycle of electing lawyers and those affiliated with this mess, as soon as candidates announce their intent to run, their resume needs to be question publically

    I hear that we have another lawyer planning on running and a Planning Commissioner who speaks that he cares about the city etc but is a friend of Buchanan and Moran

    not what we need - we need to clear out the dregs of the Doyle era

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  13. The PC commissioner talked about has to Ken Goldstien. Never met an issue he wasn't. Voting in the middle of the road on. Bundler of money for the inept Chris Holden. His last act of leadership was voting to push thru. Homeless shelters and drug rehab facilities anywhere in town.
    Great leader ship Ken you will get my vote......not.

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  14. Got first campain mailer on tuesday . From somebody I have never heard of...googled her and she a teacher at PCC. Claims to have been in charge of 300 people and a budget of $20 million. This not what we need...
    Does she think she will be calling the shots if elected? She does not know the issues, let alone the solutions.
    Come on we can do better

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    Replies
    1. The reviews for her from pcc students was not good.

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    2. did your mailer also come with a form to register to vote absentee for this election?

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    3. Might be a good idea to meet her and talk to her before you decide.
      But then again, that's breaking the Sierra Madre tradition of voting only on superficialities and rumor.

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    4. You only get one postcard to make a first impression.

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    5. Yeah, I only choose candidates by slick postcards, the more the better. That's why I voted for Johnny Harabedian.

      After all, if a candidate spends $20,000+, they have to be good. And if she has a Pasadena-based campaign consultant, then she must walk on water.

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  15. city hall is playing its property owners and residents for a bunch of fools...

    1) the city employees are posting on the Sierra Madre Tattler Web Site as if they were residents,

    2) "every thing is great" ... lets increase the water - the sewer - the UUT rates and allow city hall to continue to put the city closer to "bankruptcy", by the water paying customers failure to sign and return the protest, the city will borrow another $20 MILLION DOLLARS OF LONG TERM DEBT!

    The property owners must not enable City Hall any longer.

    This is not a democratic or Republican issue, Use your brain and sigh and return the Protest to city Hall ASAP

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    Replies
    1. prove city employees are posting as residents , there is not a rule you have to be a resident to post

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    2. I have no idea who is posting what. Nor do I care all that much. Unless, of course, you post something really good. Then I am grateful. Only two rules I have is keep it clean and don't just post the same thing over and over again. Both make me irritable.

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  16. the protest is rigged, how can not returning it be a yes?

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    Replies
    1. Because it is rigged. Otherwise the city wouldn't have sent out protest ballots.

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    2. why are the Sierra Madre residents enabling the city hall to continue to waste the property owners monies and continue to borrow more long term debt!

      Its just like the town drunk story... just give me another drink and I promise I will stop!

      The residents need to take away the drinks and the city monies (raising of water & sewer rates)

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  17. We have a well run FD and are getting good service especially for the money. Only problem is when we have the big one we will not have a lot of employees here to help. We will have to rely on each other and CERT. Our mayor knows all about CERT, just ask her.

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  18. Today someone finished what was started on one Carter last week . A chain now goes across the road on the first fork.
    I am sure the timing was to do it on the Holidays when the City Hall is closed.
    One of the conditions of the development was it is not to be a gated or closed community . I think this could if left standing could be used a precedent for a private comunity

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  19. Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant article.

    ReplyDelete

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