Letter to the Editor/City Council from Earl Richey re: Considering Repeal of Water Rate Increase

Posted 5/1/12 – I was asked to post this letter “word for word.”  I have left the letter as it was received, with the exception of some formatting of the addressees, and removing the contact information of the recipients and the sender, and removal of the non-City (media) recipients.

April 25th, 2012

Honorable City Council Members
John P. Capoccia,  John Harabedian,  Chris Koerber, Josh Moran, Nancy Walsh

City Manager Elaine Aguilar

City Attorney Teresa Highsmith

City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger


1.         That the City Council Repeal the adopting of all (2011) water rate increases,


2.          That the City Council allow all registered voters the Right to Vote – Yes or No,

>          on the November 2012 ballot,

>>        regarding the (2011) City Council Passage ofthe Water Rate Increase(S)

3.          I further request that this letter be agenized, up for discussion, with the City of Sierra Madre Residents, at the next City Council Meeting

There is an old expression that even the dumbest dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked… many of us, raising the second or third generation of Sierra Madreians, feel that our City Council believe that we are dumber than that proverbial dumbest dog.

The tranquility and serenity of Sierra Madre has been disrupted by the appearance of the (2011) City Council and City Manager using a change in the water rate structure to apparently fund other expenses, which lead to the disclosure that City Council has repeatedly used our water reserves as a slush fund to fund other expenses.  This disruption clearly influenced the (April 2012) election, it lead to ballot do-overs, lawsuits and strife between neighbors and perhaps even strife within families.

The perception that the City Council had been less than transparent or at least openly honesty and candid coupled with the city council’s “Jerry Rigging” the “No Petition(S)” via eligible rules, only inflamed those of us who felt they were being kicked.  These perceptions can only be addressed by allowing the citizens of Sierra Madre to exert their influence and control via the “No petition(s)” over this city that we love and call home.

In addition to the

a.          $1.97 per water charge,

b.          the city council imposed a 9% Utility Tax;

c.          a 37% Water Increase Fee;

d.          and additional Tiered Fee pricing.

The Supreme Court may say we can live with or without “ObamaCare” but we all know we cannot live long without water.  That does not mean that the City Council can tax our ability to live with impunity. Water fees, charges and reserves should be used for water related expenditures only.

Let us use this as an opportunity to resolve the discord, restore trust in out elected officials and allow the voters to vote “Yes ” or “No” on each of those proposed charges, in November 2012.

Earl Richey
Sierra Madre

4 Comments on "Letter to the Editor/City Council from Earl Richey re: Considering Repeal of Water Rate Increase"

  1. anonymous | May 8, 2012 at 6:02 am |

    Champ, if you are right, then let’s see some facts, dates, proof. Surely (and don’t call me Shirley) you must have the bond account numbers, etc.
    Please post all the information here.
    Without the details, I’d be inclined to just label you as a complainer.
    So, if you are correct, give out the facts.
    I’ll be the first to wage a giant campaign to call out any lies by our city officials.
    Give me something to go on.
    What you are alleging is a very serious charge. Give me some data and I will take the information and raise holy hell with it.
    So….complainer or truth teller?
    Which are you?

  2. A lot of the trouble over the ongoing water rate increases stems from the fact that the city initially lied about their reasons for doing so. Then Mayor Joe Mosca proclaimed the reason the rates had to go up were because of aging infrastructure. The pipes needed to be fixed. It was only later that private citizens uncovered the truth, it was bond debt that was driving the rate hike. A city that would lie to it’s own citizens in order to get more of their money deserves what ut gets. The people of this town are very suspicious of the motives of City Hall. As well they should be.

    • Champ, I’m going to have to go along with the post by 5/8 @ 6:02am anonymous below when he says allegations of lying to the people by the City Council are serious charges. In this case, they are also mistaken. The water infrastructure IS aging, and the pipes DO need to be fixed, and there was no money to do it with rates that were raised in, I believe, 2003 having been put on hold pending the outcome of a court ruling on Prop. 218. So, these issues DID drive the water rate increase. And the suggestion that “It was only later that private citizens discovered the truth” is erroneous, as well. As I stated in my 9/14/2010 editorial, “I visited the City website, and in the FY 2009-2011 budget…there is a section on Debt, Section 7…This section clearly states the City’s bond debt and payment schedule…Also, in the 2007 Audit of the City’s finances, on pages 30 and 31, one can find information about the water bonds. In the 2008 Audit of the City’s Finances, on pages 29 and 30, one can find information about the water bonds. In the 2009 Audit of the City’s Finances, on pages 45 and 46, one can find information about the City’s Finances.”

      So you see, these bonds were out in public view the whole time (not to mention they were passed in 1998 and 2003, do you think they were passed without the public knowing anything about it?). No secrets. They weren’t mentioned, I assume, because having been around as many years as they had been, they were just part of the everyday cost of doing business for the water business, at least for the people who were paying attention. The fact that some people hadn’t been paying attention, and became aware of them several years after the fact, doesn’t mean anybody else was lying or misleading anyone. I’m not saying it couldn’t have been handled better, but I’m also not going to say Joe Mosca or the City was purposely lying to or misleading the people.

  3. anonymous | May 4, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    I understand that the public should be encouraged to contact their policymakers regarding local issues that are a concern.
    But one person writing a letter is just that. One persons opinion.
    Also, the public shouldn’t think that they can just demand that their “ax to grind” be on the agenda at the very next meeting.
    Can you imagine the chaos if this were the rule?
    Nobody likes to pay fees or taxes. But, if you are going to get all hot and bothered about it, then please do come forward with your ideas to have the City to be able to pay for the delivery of water and the repair and needed upgrades to our aging water systems without the added fees.
    People are so selfish that they think that they should just get everything for free or at some bargain-basement price. Wrong and childish.
    For years back in the days of the early 1990’s the City was actually charging less for water than it cost to deliver it and to maintain the water system.
    Now, that’s just dumb.
    All cities are facing the same shortages of money and they, too, are having to raise fees.
    By the way, money paid in the form of fees to pay for your water must be used in the water enterprise only.
    No City can use the sale of water as a tool to pay for any items that are not water related.
    But, instead of whining, come up with an alternative way to fund the water enterprise.
    Otherwise you’re just a freeloader.
    So….I suspect you have all the answers, so, please enlighten us.
    We’re waiting…..

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