UCAN Lower Rates For Energy Hogs
According to the Union-Tribune, under the proposal, an inland SDG&E customer using 500 kilowatt-hours would see their monthly bills go up $2.66 to about $75.41; a neighbor using twice as much power would see a decrease of $4 to about $230, but still would have a bill more than three times as expensive.
Read UCAN's Analysis
Palo Alto publishes all e-communications to the city council about upcoming agenda items on the web.
Palo Alto also uses a standard format that is easy to capture and republish for their council web casts. Check it out here.
Encinitas Taxpayers Association Monthly Update from the President
Vol 1, Issue 2
Inside this issue:
A Note from the President
ETA requests Grand Jury Investigation of Alleged Misdeeds at the Chamber
New Firefighter Contracts Approved
San Dieguito Water Rate Hike
A Note from the President
With a city council election, a continuing grand jury investigation into alleged financial improprieties at the chamber of commerce, and newly proposed water rate hikes, it looks as if 2010 is going to be a big year. We at ETA will be following those issues--and any others that come along--to ensure that Encinitas taxpayers are fully informed.
With that, I want to thank you for your continued support of the ETA and wish you a happy holiday season.
Encinitas Taxpayers Association
ETA Requests Grand Jury Investigation of Chamber of Commerce
As you may recall, in October the ETA board sent a letter to the city requesting that it conduct an independent investigation into allegations of financial improprieties at the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. (A copy of that letter can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ylqvnvj.) True to form, the council, with the exception of Councilwoman Barth, chose to completely ignore both our request and the lingering questions about how public funds were used or misused at the chamber between 2005 and 2009.
Because of the city's inaction, the ETA had no recourse but to ask the San Diego County Civil Grand Jury to get involved. Ours is actually the second request for a grand jury investigation. The first was made by a former chamber employee implicated in the controversy. The ETA, however, asked that the grand jury broaden its investigation to include all allegations of malfeasance, not just those related to the visitor center contract.
For those of you who don't know, since 2005 the city has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. The stated purpose of that money was to run the city's visitor information center. Earlier this year, the chamber--under new management and at the behest of the city council--conducted an internal investigation of its finances that exposed many alleged instances of poor accounting and mismanagement.
The ETA has no way of knowing how legitimate these charges may or may not be, which is why we've called for an outside investigation into the matter. Our hope is that the grand jury will resolve the matter once and for all.
New Firefighter Contract Approved
At the November 18 city council meeting, the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Encinitas Firefighters’ Association, which expires December 31, 2009, was extended for two years. It provides for no pay rate increases through 2011. This was done on the consent calendar, which means there was no debate and support was unanimous. Neither the agenda item nor the minutes mention any discussion of retirement benefits.
The rest of the city staff will receive a 3.5% salary raise this year. Those raises were granted over objections of ETA members as part of a 4 year contract (http://tinyurl.com/ycqr5hz).
San Dieguito Water Rate Hike
On December 21 the "North County Times" reported that the San Dieguito Water District, whose board is made up of Encinitas council members, is contemplating raising water rates by 13 percent (http://tinyurl.com/yzwuo3u). The council is citing infrastructure upgrades, not increased water costs, as the primary cause of the rate hike. The district's treatment plant, which it jointly owns with Santa Fe Irrigation District, needs substantial repairs, including seismic retrofitting.
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Feb. 24. If approved, the rate increases would go into effect later in the spring. The district serves Leucadia, Old Encinitas, Cardiff and parts of New Encinitas.
Like most organizations of this type, we run on a shoestring. While our expenses are few, we still need to cover the basics. Those funds come from concerned citizens such as you.
Even more important, each new member makes the ETA a more effective advocate for accountability in our city.
If you are not a member but would like to become one, please visit http://www.encinitastaxpayers.org/join.php and join today.
Locally, we've seen resistance and difficulties in finding funding for beneficial transit projects like the Del Mar Fairgrounds seasonal rail stop. Billions of tax dollars are instead being directed to high speed rail (HSR). Many voted for the multi-billion dollar HSR project based on green thinking (not to be confused with the monetary kind of green). It turns out that high speed rail might be a green-washed idea, highly supported by rail road construction companies and land speculators along the rail line.
Wheels Coming Off High Speed Rail
When California voters barely approved a $9.95 billion bond measure for High Speed Rail in 2008, they had no idea how soon they would learn the true meaning of the phrase “being railroaded.” As more about this project is revealed, the backlash from the public and political leadership is sure to grow.
For purposes of full disclosure, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association ran the unsuccessful campaign against Prop 1A (not to be confused with 2009’s Prop 1A, an attempt to raise $16 billion in new taxes). Our most potent weapon was a devastating study by the Reason Foundation which revealed that the proponents’ representations regarding costs, fare price and profitability were pure fantasy. But, from the start, we had an uphill battle convincing voters how poorly thought out this measure was. The California Legislature had already stacked the deck by providing such a biased title and summary for the measure that the issue of that deception is still the subject of litigation today. The deceptive ballot material, in addition to the campaign contributions from those who would profit from the project, was enough to ensure victory at the polls – albeit by a very small margin.
Over on SD Rostra Council Member Jerome Stocks has been tooting his horn over an award that had been given to the Sprinter. Stocks is Encinitas' representative at NCTD.
Today the NCTimes followed up on the award. The article indicates that the criteria for the award may not have been followed and there may be an element of fluff to the award. The Sprinter was years late and cost $130,000,000 more than projected.
From the article,
...it appears neither office's awards committee did any research on the Sprinter project outside of reviewing the information on its nomination form ---- originally sent in by a Sprinter project manager.
The Sprinter was also awarded the 2008 Grand Golden Fleece award by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.
The article contains several quotes that are gems. Read them at the North County Times.
Please support active journalism. Learn about a few of the NCTime's advertisers and click on a few of their advertisements.
On November 4, the Encinitas City Council voted to continue funding the Chamber of Commerce's visitor center. The council did not request or initiate an independent investigation. This is counter to the ETA's request.
In a circulated email from Council Member Barth, she wrote:
The video of Monday nights council meeting is now on the city's website. The final 3-2 vote was really a vote to "sweep the problem" under the rug. I voted against the motion because it didn't direct the subcommittee to look into alleged past misuse of funds and Jerome voted against it because he wanted to cancel the current contract.