This is OUR Community - It's time to step up and claim it!

Thanks to a Federal Grant of $21 million dollars, and Major Funding by Organized Labor, I've been to avoid projected layoffs and raise the snarkiness factor by an additional 22%!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh...

OK, I use quite a bit of photography and videos in my line of work. I tend to err on the side of caution, but I've always been under the impression that videotaping someone without their permission and then publicly releasing that video was against the law. Anyone out there who can quote me chapter and verse on that?

It becomes somewhat important after the twit with the rolling billboard eyesore videotaped me when I confronted him about his illegal sign. Like the Stay Sac signs that Duveneck publicly apologized for, the billboard has no FPPC number or "Paid for by..." language. I told the guy to get it off the streets, and it ends up on YouTube. Fascinating how politics works.

Yes, I was ticked. And although I'm not upset about the video (I think it's really quite amusing), I am upset when I think about the incident. This guy added his name to the list of those putting my kids at risk for personal interest. And this one doesn't even live here - just a stinking mercenary.

Go ahead and check out the vid. In context it's really quite funny.

Apparently I'm now known as the Measure D Vigilante.

If you have to fight back the bile to view their Facebook page, here are the comments:

Daniel Clark Orey: right wing teaparty fascist nutcases... we cannot afford to have these people in charge of our local govenrment! (sic) vote no on D!

In the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny, What A Maroon! I'd hardly call myself right wing. Fascist? I thought those were the ones who lied to get their way. Like, oh let's see... Stay Sac? And for the record, his one coherent statement was that no one wants me in charge of their government. Not that I ever aspired to that. But people who make statements like this probably can't read those complicated sample ballots. Two syllable words and all...

Jane Merlo: Some people are so petty..

Wonder if she meant me or the guy who commented before? But yeah, some people are like that. Annoys the spit out of those who want to make life better for their families. Such is life.

Kara Kindstrom Parsons: He just makes himself look like an idiot... just like his blog does.

Like I said, I wasn't at my best that day. But I really do think that in fairness, I do a MUCH better job of making myself look like an idiot here. But we all know opinions are like rear ends. Everyone's got one, and most of 'em stink.

Lisa Anne Hurt Forsythe: ‎"Sign vigilante"....LOL!! That guy needs a hobby...

Sorry, I already have a hobby. It's trying my best to make sure I never hear the question "Daddy, why does that lady want you to take her on a date?"

So here is the proposition. I say we have some fun with this, and get the ball back in the alley at the same time. If we can get confirmation that this video thing was illegal, and get a suit going, I'll donate whatever is left over after expenses to the fund to get incorporation started up again. I figure if we have standing legally, then the sign twit is culpable for taping me without permission, and Stay Sac is even more so for posting it. And there is nothing I'd like better than letting the community know that Stay Sac provided major funding for the next cityhood movement!

Of course they have better lawyers, so this is probably just a pipe dream. But after all, a man without a vision will perish.


In case there is still any confusion, the re-org meeting I had suggested for this Friday isn't going to happen. Mike Grace's meeting last week got us to start a dialogue, and that was what we needed at this point. We'll see where things go from here. I'll do my best to announce any upcoming events here as well.


For those who live close to Fulton Avenue. the planning commission met tonight and heard public comment from several who supported and opposed the proposed special planning area along the avenue (essentially the Fulton Ave Business Association). It was deja vu all over again. After a presentation from commission staff assuring everyone that everything was going to be fine, and just drink the kool aid, Melinda Eppler took the podium and told us all how wonderful life will be once the county and residents abandon their rights to speak on new businesses and just let them handle it all. Fortunately a few people showed up with brains engaged, and asked the tough questions that really matter.

The one point that keeps bugging me? Why would any upstanding, legitimate business be unwilling to stand before the commission, like we did tonight, and present the case for their venture? If a potential business owner feels the need to circumvent this process, then we really need to take a close look at what they have in mind.

I was especially proud of my 7 year old daughter, who asked me last week if she could speak, and overcame her fear to address the commissioners like a champ. Unfortunately the mics were a bit high, and I think most of what she said went unheard, but she made the point that kids are involved in these things too. Hopefully the commission understood that too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Episode IV: A New Hope?

Well, we had our hats handed to us. A crushing 3-1 defeat for the forces of good. Batman was beaten down by the Joker, and is now hanging by a thin line over a pot of boiling oil. And yet, somehow Batman always managed to come back. Now we will see if the analogy holds true in this instance.

The campaign is over. The election is over. Incorporation may be over - only time will tell. All I know right now is that I never got involved in this to win a campaign or an election. I'm here because I want a better life for my family. I want my kids to be safe on the streets and in the parks. I'm here because I don't want my neighborhood to change its name to "Happy Endings, California." None of that has changed, so I am still here and planning to fight for my community.

The big question right now is who is with me? Are there still a couple hundred people out there who are willing to stand up for their community? A hundred? A few dozen? Three? I'm hoping there are enough of us left to put together an action plan for how we can best continue this fight.

Let's remember who the enemy is here. We didn't get into this to beat down Stay Sacramento. Granted, Duveneck, Cahill, Blanas and Alcalay placed your children's safety at risk to further their own political agendas. They are slime, and should be treated as such. But the enemy in this war is not Stay Sac, and it's also not the gangs and hookers.

The enemy is Sacramento County, who continues to cut Sheriff's budgets to the point of making patrols nearly non-existent in our area. Who refuses to enforce building and safety codes, despite the penalties from those violations being able to fund the cost of enforcement. Who continues to dump affordable housing in our midst at a rate 5 times as high as anywhere else in the county, setting us up as Del Paso Heights East. Against Supervisors Peters and Yee, who openly abused their positions as LAFCo commissioners in order to stack the deck in favor of the county and Sac City. This is the fight we have to win. Then getting rid of the hookers and the Cahills and the drug shops will be an easy battle.

I'm calling for a new community forum, to sit down together and see where we can go from here. My plans are to host this event on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. We'll do it around 2 in the afternoon so those who want to shop that morning will be able to do so, and hopefully grab a short nap. We should be done in time to warm up leftovers for dinner. Between now and then I'll be securing a location, and getting the word out to whoever wants to come.

I will also be brainstorming. I've already come up with some ideas that could have me certified as clinically insane. But it may take an insane idea to move us forward from here. But spend a little time when you can and jot down ideas for how we can improve the community. Do we still need to pursue incorporation? Is that even an option? How can we, as a non-city, work on the same set of goals that got us started in the first place?

I know this has been a long struggle, and I can't blame anyone for suffering burnout and just wanting it to all go away. But the gangs aren't going away. The whores aren't going away. The head shops and thrift stores aren't going away. So even though I'm tired and busy licking my wounds, I'm not going away either.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And here we are...

Well folks, this is it. No more trying to expose the truth behind the lies. No more reason in the face of fear (and fear mongering). Later today we wake up and do our civic duty. Then we trust the people of this community to do the right thing and wait for the results.

Regrets? Yeah, a couple. This was never supposed to be about politics. This was a movement for the civic good that was co-opted by a handful of wealthy special interests to cache their own political capital. They made it political. And if this fails, every time there is a child harmed in a drive-by, or a small business person robbed, or a family threatened in the park, I will consider Duveneck, Alcalay, Blanas and Cahill personally responsible. As should you. They are the ones who put your family at risk to protect their little empires.

On the other hand, we have already beat the odds more times than I can count. No thinking person would have predicted we would ever get this far, but here we are at the finish line. Whether we cross in first place remains to be seen, but we made it here, and we're still standing. That is a testament to the power of people who are willing to sacrifice so their neighbors can have a better life. And that is the kind of special interest I can believe in.

Since Stay Sac seems convinced that we all have to have a motive for personal gain in this, I'm thinking it might make a good book.

If you are still not sure how to vote today, please consider your family, your neighborhood, your schools, and the businesses where you shop. A yes vote on D will not only make your life better, it will for them as well.

And after you make a stand for your community, drop by the incorporation office around 8 or so and watch the results with us. We probably won't know the final outcome, but we may have a good idea where things stand. Either way you will get to hang out with some wonderful people and celebrate our community. And that is the reason we're here.


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Better Half

Last week my lovely bride was scheduled to speak at a forum at her old high school. As it turned out, the format was changed at the last minute, and she was bumped. No big deal, but we both felt her speech was too valuable to just let drop. So here it is, as she was going to deliver it that night.


When the American Revolution took place not all citizens were in favor of independence. Only about a third were patriots. Another third were loyalists, and those remaining were neutral. Sounds a lot like today.

The patriots were those that saw what we could become, and were unwilling to settle for mediocrity. The loyalist had equally strong beliefs. They either had vested interests with Britain, or they were just afraid of change. Our opponents are loyalists. They are loyal to the old order. For some they have become complacent and comfortable. As long as it does not affect them, change is a bother. Some have a financial interest in the county or the city of Sacramento, and put their personal interests over community.

Others fear change. I understand that. But change happens. It’s happening all around us now. The gangs fighting to control Howe Avenue weren’t there five years ago. The prostitutes walking Watt Avenue weren’t there two years ago. The massage parlors and head shops popping up all over have barely had time for the paint on the windows to dry. Change is happening, and we can’t stop it.

But we can direct it. We can turn the corner, and take this community back to what it once was. That is what measure D is trying to do. Some of you out there have made up your mind. You are loyal. I can respect that. The ones that I want to talk to are those that are neutral or undecided.

When we became a nation it was not an opportune time. We had to take on the most powerful nation in the world. The odds of failure, and the penalty for failure, where extremely high; but the potential, the vision, the opportunity were also high. I can almost hear the loyalists crying about how this was a risk they couldn’t afford.

Knowing what we know now, would any of us, loyalists included, want to go back? Last Friday night I was speaking with the owner of a new local business. He lives in Elk Grove and also has two businesses there. We talked about how far Elk Grove has come. And he doesn’t want to go back. As this incorporation has come to be, we’ve spoken with numerous people in Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights. They don’t want to go back. California has over 480 cities who have taken this step, and in 150 years, only one has wanted to go back. And that was a town of about 2000 people embroiled in a municipal scandal. Fear of change can keep us from moving forward, but having taken the step, we will not want to go back either.

Does anyone here want to still be part of Great Britain? Of course not! We can look back and see the results. Do not be afraid of change. Arden arcade can become great. It may have some hurdles to overcome, America had hurdles. We may make mistakes as we stretch our wings, America made mistakes. But would you trade all that we have become for stagnation and mediocrity? Trade our identity as the greatest nation on Earth to be part of a minor colony? Change happens, we can let it happen or we can direct it, and create a city that one day will be voted best place to raise a family.

I moved to this area 47 years ago. Since then I have lived in several places, but never left Arden Arcade. Right now I am fortunate to live in the same house where my family moved way back when. In my subdivision there are several families who were here when we first moved in. We all love this area, our home.

We are proud.
I am proud.
I am proud to have graduated from Encina High School.
I am proud to be an Arden Arcadian.
And I am proud to vote Yes on Measure D.
Because this is my city… my home…

What will Measure D do?

Measure D will let us send the hookers, drug dealers and gangs packing.

Stay Sacramento says that’s a risk we just can’t afford.

Measure D will let us control the types of businesses we allow into our area, and get rid of the massage parlors and head shops.

Stay Sacramento says that’s a risk we just can’t afford.

Measure D will allow us to be served by a local, responsive government, made up of area residents who care deeply about our future.

Stay Sacramento says that’s a risk we just can’t afford.

Measure D will allow us to fund our services, including more police protection and better code enforcement, while maintaining a revenue surplus, without ever raising taxes one single dime, and also leaving more money with the cash-strapped county.

Stay Sacramento says that’s a risk we just can’t afford.

The politicians, lobbyists, and special interests behind Stay Sacramento say we should keep everything as it is. It will all be fine if we just don’t rock and boat and try to change things. Just keep our heads buried in the sand and everything will go away.

Well, do you know what I say?

I say that is a risk we just can’t afford!

Vote yes on Measure D!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Party Politics as (Un)usual?

Robert Lewis had another article in the Bee yesterday about the latest developments in the incorporation effort. It was an attempt at a fact-checking piece trying to sort out both sides and see who is telling the truth. Actually, it came up somewhat short on that. It presented both sides fairly evenly, but allowed the garbage arguments of the opposition to remain unchallenged. Wonder if Mrs. Pruitt put the kabosh on that angle?

Anyhow, I write that because while reading the article I posted a comment. Later I went back to see what else was there, and was amazed by one comment I read. Someone using the handle Oreyd (why do the opposition folks all feel the need to use made up names anyway?) write the following: "I am terrified by the hidden right wing extremist agenda of many of the people running the Pro-city hood campaign."

I've long been a believe that at this level, party doesn't matter. I've actually decided, as an independent, to vote for 3 repubs, 1 indy, 2 demos, and 1 who I actually don't know the party for. (Now watch the candidates go nuts trying to figure out who I mean!) I selected those based on a number of reasons. Experience (not only political), ideas, trustworthiness, and strength of personality all counted for a lot. But party never factored in.

The cityhood process was started six years ago by Bill Davis, local Democrat activist, with the help and support of a handful of others, all democrats (I'm only going to use the names of folks still actively involved in the cityhood movement). Some time later Laura Lavallee came on board as the first Republican (that I'm aware of). Joel Archer, also GOP, came on shortly after. I think I was next one to join in, as a politics-hating rabid radical-centrist (socially liberal, ethically conservative, and fiscally do-what-makes-sense). Other Repubs and Demos came and went over time, in fairly balanced numbers. The incorporation movement is, and has pretty much always been, a "dorsal fin" effort (since birds don't have a middle wing I changed the analogy a bit.)

Right now we have council candidates from different parties working together on the campaign. They have learned how to work together, as have most of the other candidates, because they all have decided to put the future good of the community ahead of personal interest or party politics. Why else would 22 people decide to spend their time, and in many cases, personal money, to get a part time job that pays a maximum of $7200 per year (mandated by state law)?
Speaking of money, let's follow that trail a bit further. Aside from candidates, many members of the incorporation committee, past and present, have invested tons of their own time and money to make this happen. I can speak personally that I'm out at least a couple thousand, just in donations of free time to the committee, and not counting actual expenses for gas, office supplies, copying, etc. And I'm far from the only one.

On the other hand, let's revisit the opposition's economic interests. Tim Cahill owns commercial real estate leased to a massage parlor - the kind with a locked door and video camera monitoring everyone who comes near. I don't know that anyone has done the research, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were another choice property or two among his holdings.

Lou Blanas, former Sheriff, is a stakeholder in the new card room casino that opened up on Auburn Blvd., along the Marconi Curve. If you look at the map of Arden Arcade and find the little notch chocked out of the northwest corner, that's the spot. Not in Arden Arcade, but if we incorporate, we would surround the wedge. Not that anyone is concerned about that - at least as long as the place is clean - but Sheriff Lou seems to be worried about it.

And then there is the big question. Why would the plumber's union donate $50,000 to the no on D effort? It's not as simple as left vs right or labor vs management. After all, we have the endorsement and a donation or two from the firefighter's and policemen's unions. But when we incorporate the firefighters know we're going to keep them on board for as long as humanly possible. And the city council will probably strike a mutually beneficial deal with the Sheriff's Department for police services. But, Sac City and County are locked into contracts to use union labor exclusively for the kinds of stuff that plumbers and pipefitters do. Arden Arcade may choose to go the same route, but isn't necessarily obligated to. So the option exists to go elsewhere and cut the union out of the money pile.

Couldn't the plumber's union have been convinced that the new city would deal with them fairly? Maybe. But remember, the incorporation effort has been run by concerned citizens of the community (you know, like the No on D crowd claims to be), while the opposition is comprised of professional politicians, lobbyists, and other wealthy players (like they claim we are). They have the home field advantage when it comes to seducing money from big labor and similar organizations. I would love it if I could have been in the room for those negotiations, just to learn how the pros do it.

Maybe I'll check with Mark Lyon and see if he has video tapes of it.

More from Ray

Great meeting at Sierra Oaks Vista last night. The giant billboard trailer was there again. Turns out it's a for hire thing, and the owner doesn't even livew in the area. Should we really have expected better?

If you can, please try to make one of the last few meetings. The election is a week away, and the time to let someone else do the heavy lifting is past. We all need to commit to taking a few steps here - talking to neighbors, dropping by local businesses, or whatever it takes. Within the bounds of propriety of course. We aren't the other side.

The closer we get to the election, the more I'm tied up with my day job and stru ggling to find time to do anything else. There is so much I want to be writing here, but just can't find the time. Luckily Ray is on a different schedule, and is able to help fill in the gaps. Take it away Ray!


Myth – Property taxes shown on the independent report requested by LAFCO will be much lower than projected.

The Stay Sacramento – No on Cityhood campaign has constantly claimed that taxes will be raised because property values in the area are declining. As an accountant, I decided to look at this “the sky is falling” view to see if it could hold up. On the other side, the LAFCO report does show that the property tax revenues are decreasing slightly over the next 10 years which did not make any sense to me either. Therefore, I decided to look at the issues using some real life assumptions. I would invite any and all realtors to add their input to this information, so that a professional will be able to add credence to my assumptions.

First, however, I need to give you two examples of how the property taxes work should you be unfamiliar with this issue.

It is good to remember that Proposition 13 limits property tax increases to a maximum of 2% per year, and also put into law that all tax increases must be approved by 2/3rd’s of the voters. Rhetorical question - Are you planning to vote for a tax increase any time soon?

Here are the two examples.

In my personal life, my mom’s house at the height of the real estate boom was worth approximately $580,000 to $605,000. Now the house may be put up for sale and the realtor shows that it could be sold for somewhere between $400,000 and $450,000, a decrease of about 30%, right in line with average property decreases throughout the state. Yet, if the house is not sold, the property taxes will continue to increase by 2% for the foreseeable future. How could that be? Well, since the property was purchased many years ago, when you look at the tax bill, the property taxes are based on a value, also known as the tax roll value, of about $100,000. Therefore, if the property is sold, the property taxes will go up about 4 times.

My wife and I bought our home in the Mission Oaks area in December 2002 for approximately $300,000. (It was a great location, near Mira Loma HS for our youngest daughter, close to markets and restaurants, and easy access to the freeway to get downtown and the airport.) Two years later, the home was valued at between 0$400,000 and $425,000, about a 25% increase! We were ecstatic!! Well, then real estate values declined, and when we refinanced our home earlier this year, the value of the home was back at about $300,000. Wow, what a let down. L Nine years and we were back where we started. Well I looked at our recent property tax bill and sure enough, the value on the property tax rolls still show the value at the original value, and the property taxes that will be due this year will be basically the same as it was last year.

I also called the Sacramento County Assessor’s office and discovered that their office had automatically lowered the values of most homes purchased in Sacramento County during 2004 and 2005 to reflect the downturn, and these revised values were reflected in the LAFCO report that was completed for the year 2008-2009.

There were people that did purchase homes at the height of the market that may not yet have had their values reduced to the current market values. According to the Assessor’s office, they are eligible to make a Prop 8 claim, in which the assessor will review the tax roll values again. I will address this issue in my analysis.

Finally, the assessor’s office told me that property taxes on foreclosed properties become the responsibility of the financial institution that forecloses. A lien is placed on the property for all delinquent property taxes and must be cleared before the property can be resold. Therefore, any implication that there is a loss of property taxes in this situation in invalid. There would only be a delay to the city in collecting these taxes for any property that falls into that category.

Because of the complexity of the analysis, I used an Excel spreadsheet, which I forward to anyone that requests it. However, I am unable to attach it to this article so I hope you will trust me in my conclusions without actually seeing the data.

My first assumption is that I will use the property tax revenue figure shown in the second year column from the LAFCO report. The report shows that this is the first revenues will be received in this category, and since property tax collections are always paid for the prior year, they represent the taxes collected for the first year the city is in existence.

Second, property values will stay flat over the next 10 years. (See my discussion “Three reasons why Sacramento County wants the City of Arden Arcade to be successful” on the Arden Arcade Facebook page in which I believe that property values will in fact increase over the next ten years. However, it is an argument that I have asked a realtor to address.)

Third, 10% of the properties in the area purchased at the peak of the market have not been reduced to their current tax roll values. I will use a downward adjustment of 20%.

Fourth, 20% of the properties in the area, are similar to my property, the property taxes will not increase over the next 10 years.

Fifth, 20% of the properties in the area, have only experienced a small increase in the property values and will only experience a 1% yearly increase.

Sixth, the remainder of the properties fall into the category of my mom’s house, and will continue to experience a full 2% tax increase under Prop 13 over the remaining 10 years.

Scenario 1:
Here are the numbers. Under the LAFCO budget, total Property Tax revenues for the entire 10 year period total $53,280,000. According to the revised analysis, the total revenues show a total of $56,084,000, or an increase of $2,804,000. The analysis does show that the first year the LAFCO budget is higher by $137,000, but all other years show that the revised analysis that I prepared has larger revenues.

OK, Ray, aren’t you being overly optimistic? Well, let me change my third assumption above, and instead of only 10% of the properties being lowered, let’s use 20%.

Scenario 2:
Again, here are the numbers. Under the LAFCO budget, total Property Tax revenues again total $53,280,000. According to the revised analysis, the total revenues show a total of $54,588,000, or an increase of $1,308,000. This analysis does show that the first three years the LAFCO budget are higher by $273,960, $150,470, and $26,750 respectively, but again all other years show that the revised analysis that I prepared has larger revenues. And I want you all to remember that the LAFCO budget also shows a 5% contingency for each year which is a minimum of $1,113,000 the first year and increases from there. This contingency dwarf’s any property tax shortage in my analysis.

Scenario 3:
But let’s add one more assumption. Starting with all the assumptions in Scenario 2, doesn’t it make sense that homes will be selling during the 10 year period? I will make a simple assumption that there will be a small 2% sale activity only for years 4, 6, 8 and 10. Also instead of using my mom’s example, of a 4 fold increase in the tax value, I will only use a figure of twice the amount currently being collected, i.e. a tax roll basis of $100,000 before the home is sold, and a tax roll basis of $200,000 afterward.

Again, here are the numbers. Under the LAFCO budget, total Property Tax revenues again total $53,280,000. According to the revised analysis, the total revenues show a total of $59,255,000, or an increase of $5,975,000. That’s almost $6 million above the current $35 million operational budget surplus that is shown on the LAFCO report. This analysis does again show that the first year the LAFCO budget are higher by $273,960, but again all other years show that the revised analysis that I prepared has larger revenues.

And remember, I started with an assumption that property values will not go up over the next ten years. Do you think that is reasonable?

As always, I want everyone to do their own research, and I think you will end up seeing how a ‘Yes’ on Measure D is the only way to get away from Sacramento County with its the huge inefficiencies and budget deficits. And, because of this, the county will never be able to focus on the needs of our area.

Ray, the Accountant

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Just Not The Same Without You!

It's been a busy week. Monday through Thursday were filled with incorporation activities, loaded with facts, lies, and more than a couple surprises. Monday night there was an open forum debate between yes and no speakers... except the No side decided not to show up. This was after repeated calls and emails from the organizers to book a speaker. Can't help but wonder what they were afraid of.

Whatever it was, they hadn't overcome it by Tuesday night, when about 300 people packed into El Camino High School to hear a two-part session, a debate between yes and no speakers, followed by short presentations from the city council candidates. But wait, once again the no group neglected to send a speaker. No worries, as Nick Burnette, a professor at Sac State and area resident, came form the audience to represent the No side.

Professor Burnette isn't like the other Stay Sacramento speakers we've heard. He actually has some credibility. After I listen to him speak I don't feel like I need a shower. And while I will completely give him the benefit of the doubt, it sure did sound like he has spent some time studying the Göbbels... I mean Blanas/Cahill... propaganda machine. As credible as he may have been , he still spewed out the same old lies, innuendos and fear-mongering we've heard so many times through this whole process. Hard to tell if he really believes this stuff, or just drank the Kool-Aid. It's a shame, cause he really does seem like a decent guy.

I didn't make it to Wednesday's meeting at Rio Americano, but from what I heard, it was a repeat of Monday night, with the opposition side conspicuously AWOL. Go figure. At least some more people for to hear the truth, although the truth is easier to accept when you have the chance to hear both sides and reason it out for yourself.

Last night was Mira Loma's turn. Under-attended, and from the looks of things, most of the audience had already made up their minds. Applause for both sides was enthusiastic, although louder for the Yes crowd. This time the organizers were prepared, and asked Mr. Burnette to come speak again. This time he had the opportunity to prepare a bit, but didn't change his tune to reflect any more truth. More's the pity. Unlike the usual Stay Sacramento PR flaks, I really don't have the desire to urinate on this guy's shoes.

At last night's event I submitted a question that was actually used (I can't tell you how many times my questions end up in the trash). The question was a bit loaded, I'll confess, but I believe it was a relevant one to ask. With the donor list now public, how does Stay Sacramento justify their claim to be a "concerned grassroots group of local residents and business owners, up against a well-funded organized campaign of special interests"? Prof. Burnette was caught a bit off guard, as he isn't a rep for the group. But from out of nowhere, someone jumped up and started shouting: "I brought that money to the table because I live in this area and I..." The moderator shut him down, so we never got to hear him finish.

Since Professor Burnette isn't an official representative of Stay Sacramento, my score card shows four forfeits in a row for them. Now I don't understand much about politics, but a thinking person gets some questions running through his mind at times like this. Why is "Stay Sacramento" suddenly becoming "Stay Away"? Did we offend them, so now they're snubbing us? Does this mean they won't take us to the prom? Are we no longer BFFs?

My politically-uneducated mind immediately came up with the response that now that their donor list has been made public, they have some major truthfulness issues to deal with, and it's easier just to slink back into their pile of decaying leaves and wait it out. But as logical as this sounds, there has to be more to it. So I spent some time picking the brains of a couple of my more astute acquaintances, and this is what I learned.

Stay Sacramento isn't showing up, because they think the battle is over. All along they have been preying on seniors in our community, telling them that cityhood would increase taxes and fees, and lower property values on the homes they've been paying off for the past 30 years. And some folks have been gobbling it up. As our people have been out walking precincts and speaking with people, it's amazing how many people put out a Stay Sac sign based on nothing more than the tax threat. Fortunately once they hear the truth, many of them are coming around. But there are many throughout the area who bought the lie and got scared too much to listen anymore.

Now, the thing about seniors is that they tend to vote absentee in overwhelming numbers. So Stay Sac capitalized on that by doing their fear-mongering in advance, counting on the absentee ballots to win their battle, knowing once the donor list came out, those ballots would be secured away downtown somewhere. Wouldn't surprise me if Susan Peters even offered therm a storage facility in her underground bunker.

Does this mean the war is over? No chance. The folks we have on phone banks and knocking on doors, both for Measure D and the individual candidates, are making a difference. The tide is turning, people. And it's turning in our favor. We are winning this thing, one mind and one heart at a time. To quote the good book: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

If you really believe in this, now is the time for action. Talk to your neighbors. The Measure D campaign is doing phone bank calls every night until the election. Drop by the Fulton Ave office and bring your mobile phone. Head out this weekend and knock on some doors. It's not nearly as scary as you might think. Get the facts out in any (ethical and legal) way possible. One person at a time. On sign at a time. One vote at a time. When this is over and we have a new city to be proud of, you will be able to look back and say that you made a difference. You made this happen!

My goal for the next week is to approach small businesses with the Stay Sac signs on their lots and ask the managers if they authorized the signs. There is a Kragen at Marconi and Eastern that suddenly gained about 7-8 signs overnight. I'll be dropping by today to see if I need to start shopping at Auto Zone. I suspect that if 5-6 of you did the same, those signs might just disappear.


I just can't close this note without saying something I've been thinking for a week or so now. Last year, Bob Stevens, Joel Archer and I had lunch with Sheriff McGinness. At that lunch he made the statement that incorporation would be the best possible thing that could happen for Arden Arcade. Now he has publicly come out against it. Any idea why he would change his tune?

Hmmm... come to think of it, there must be 21 million good reasons.

Now, I don't blame him one bit for looking out for his people, and doing what it takes to keep them on the job. But the object lesson we should take away is that, like it or not, this is politics. Treat everything you hear as such, and dig between the rhetoric to get the facts. Paul M and Ray the Accountant did.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More from Ray The Accountant

I just love it when others take up the slack in places where my talents just aren't there. Like you, I've heard the comments about doubling police coverage on our streets after incorporation. I've also heard about the new grant money that will put 50 deputies back on the streets (for the next three years). But I've had to trust that others know what they are talking about on this. Ray, being an accountant, heard the same promises, but was able to sift through the LAFCo numbers and county budgets, and demonstrate what makes sense and what doesn't in these claims.

I will make one slight correction to Ray's piece, just to keep the facts straight. Matt Powers, council candidate, did not retire from the Sheriff's Department. He was a Deputy Chief with the Sac City P.D. He also teaches police procedure to new cops at A.R.

I like it when Ray talks. Like me, he doesn't have a dog in this race. Just a guy who wants to make life better for himself and his family. When someone can write about finance and keep my interest, it's a great read. Enjoy


OMG! I heard it on the radio again today! In a radio debate heard on KTKZ the morning of 10/20/10, Joel Archer said that if we vote yes on Arden Arcade cityhood, the new city could double the number of Sheriff’s patrolling our streets. Is he crazy? The Sheriff’s department has been cut by the county. And then, Dr. Duveneck said during the same broadcast that the area would lose the CHP, and that would cost the new city another $2 million plus to replace them. How in the world can we afford that without new taxes? It doesn’t make sense.

As an accountant, I hate to take statements that appear to be too-good-to-be-true as serious. And, yet, I have talked to Joel Archer many times. He is a very positive person, who deals with financial issues as a career and is not one to mislead people. So I had to prove to myself how he could make such a statement.

I have also met Matt Powers and Bob Stevens for some insight into this contention about doubling the Sheriff’s patrols. Both of them have retired after long careers in the Sheriff’s department. In an effort at full disclosure all three are also running for city council.

So let’s look at the first piece of evidence needed to justify the claim above. As you might have guessed, I started with the independent financial analysis authorized by LAFCO that was completed using the 2008-2009 tax year. The actual dates of that tax year were 7/1/2008 through 6/30/2009.
On page 15, of this 81 page report, which you may also read at your leisure, is the Scenario 2 analysis, which shows the budget that was prepared on which we will be voting. The 7th line under costs in the middle of the page shows a minimum amount of $15,100,000 per year for Police services, which was the share of Arden Arcade’s portion of the Sheriff’s budget for the same period 2008-2009. I am not in a position to challenge the budget number as either high or low. However, if you would let me continue, I will prove Joel’s assertion, which has also been made by some of the other candidate’s as well; an assertion that will hold true no matter what the actual amount may be.

Now I need to introduce the second piece of the puzzle. Thanks to Matt Powers for this information. On the Sacramento Sheriff’s website is the 2010-2011 Sheriff’s budget that was presented to the county supervisors this year. On page 14 of 28, the field staffing numbers are shown. These numbers represent the actual deputies in the field for the years 2008 to 2009. It is important to note that the report shows a total number of officers in 2008 as 537. The 2009 totals due to the budget cuts lowered this number by 244, to only 293.

Now here is the point for the need of both sets of information. The Sheriff’s budget and number of officers in 2008 was the amount used in the LAFCO report, since the budget year of the Sheriff’s department coincides with the 2008-2009 county budget year. It was in 2009, the year following the LAFCO report that the Sheriff’s and staff were cut.

We have all heard that the Sheriff’s department received a temporary 3 year grant that will put 50 officers back on the street. So instead of losing 244 officers we are losing 194. I'm glad we can add more officers, but it only goes a small way to getting back to the real staffing needs of the department.

Per the report we are still missing over 115 detectives, the Community Problem Orientation Police (POP) and the Street Narcotics Detectives, plus the separate officers from SWAT and Canine. Finally, these numbers do not include additional in office staff that were also laid off in 2009. (Also see the last 7 or 8 pages for the dangerous levels of service that the whole county is getting as a result.)

Bob Stevens stated in a meeting at El Camino High School on Tuesday night that the 2008 levels represented .77 Sheriff’s deputies per 1000 citizens in the county and that the 2009 levels, with the addition of the new officers, represented .44 deputies per 1000. Without the 50 officer increase, there would only be .38 deputies per thousand. So when Joel and others say we can double the officers for the city without new taxes, it is because the LAFCO budget was originally based on a higher number of deputies and office staff than we currently have in the Sheriff’s department. And the main point is not whether it is twice or 75% more, it is the fact that there will be more Sheriff’s on the street and probably some of the additional staffing cuts will return as well. That is why the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association is urging a “Yes” vote on Measure D.

Finally, in answer to the CHP question, it is important to remember that the focus of the CHP is traffic, both freeways and streets. They are a regional service provided by the state to the counties, and will continue to provide backup assistance when needed. When the area is incorporated, the contracted deputies or other police services will have the primary responsibility for crime and traffic. The CHP will never show up at your door if you report a crime, but they may still pull you over for a traffic stop in the new city limits if they are needed. Other cities in the area work hand in hand with the CHP on traffic issues regularly. The new city does not lose CHP services; they will only take a smaller role in our policing needs since we will have greater policing services. The independent report authorized by LAFCO also took this information into account at the time so there will be no additional costs.

So, once again, I urge all readers to ask questions, and find out the facts. Please don’t rely on claims that sound good, but do not have an independent source or two to back it up.

Ray, the accountant, who will be voting “Yes” on Measure D, to provide Arden Arcade with the ability to have a “safer, cleaner neighborhoods with no new taxes”. I hope you will join me.

P.S. These observations are solely based on my own research. I am not running for any office and will have no financial benefit whatsoever from the new city, except maybe a stabilized or improved property value in the future due to the area's revival.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Guest Comment

We have another guest editorial today, but first some background.

Dr. Paul Mattiuzzi has another blog on the Arden Arcade incorporation, and all of the issue surrounding it. If you haven't read it, you should. Paul and I are working for the same cause from slightly different perspectives. Where I want to make you angry, knowing that will lead to you wanting to learn more about the issues, Paul wants to make you educated, knowing that knowledge of what is going on will make you angry. Or something akin to that. Either way, he is an excellent writer and presents some great facts you should be aware of. The link to the site os over there on the right.

Ray the Accountant is a reader of both blogs. Paul and I have both addressed the issue of the money trail, and the large donation from organized labor that provided the lion's share of the opposition funding, and Ray had some degree of disagreement with Paul's assessments. He wrote the following and asked it to be posted on Paul's blog, then asked it to go here as well. Since I agree the issues raised are key to this election and the decision we will all be making, I'm posting Ray's piece here with no further editorial comment from me.


I was recently made aware of your blog site on the Arden arcade cityhood measure that will be on the ballot November 2nd. I read with interest your postings, and those of your readers. I am an accountant and tax preparer who has lived in Arden Arcade, near Eastern and Whitney for about 7 years. I have been following this proposal for about two years, and, like you, the more I learned about the financials of both the county and the proposed city, I have come to the conclusion that the best chance that this community has to move forward against its crime and other problems is to become a new city. There were times that your early blog posts looked at the measure with a somewhat cynical view. However, I always found them to be fair and informative.

I do, however, respectively take issue with one thing that you said about the union contribution of the $50,000 to the Stay Sacramento campaign by the Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 447. It appeared from that blog, that you didn't feel that it mattered that the union had made the contribution, because the Yes on Measure D campaign had received large contributions from other businesses also. So I went to the Sacramento Elections office, and personally campaign contributions for the report of 9/30/2010.

It is true the ‘Yes’ campaign received contributions from some companies outside the area. And in general, the support for both sides has come mainly from individuals. But the “large” contributions to the Yes on Measure D campaign have in no way approached the amount given by the union. And in my canvassing of the area to answer questions about Measure D, I did not find any plumbers or pipefitters that lived in the area, let alone supported the Stay Sacramento group although there are probably some. In fact, those contractors that I did talk to supported cityhood, because they've had to deal with the county and it’s delay is when pulling permits for the jobs that they need to do in the area.

But my disagreement with your statement is not with the amount of the contributions, but rather the intent of the contribution. On the Yes for Measure D. website, your blog site, and Ed Dickey's blog site ( there is a free flow of questions and responses, which further the discussion on the cityhood measure and help people in the community make an informed choice.

However, on the Stay Sacramento website, this free flow of information does not exist. The statements and arguments presented on that website are those of the authors, who apparently feel that they do not have to answer for the views that they provide there.

Their three recent mailers claim that “there are dozens of reasons to oppose cityhood”. However, the most recent one jumps to reason number 19, and, except for #7 & #13, which again have limited information, I haven't figured out what reasons 1 through 18 are quite yet. (The Stay Sacramento doesn’t seem to enumerate them either.) And all three mailers allude to terrible things that will happen in this area becomes a city, then gives no backup or additional sources for those points of view.

Personally, I find it very condescending when people try to tell me how to think. Therefore the information that they provide begins to lack credibility, and all their arguments become specious.

For those who do not realize this, all voters should choose members for the city Council, whether they are voting yes or no. Because if the cityhood measure passes, those council members will be representing us throughout this community.

It is a very important to know what the vision of those running for city Council, so I wanted you and your readers to be very aware of some upcoming candidate forums. Here's the information that has been listed on the websites of Jay Boatwright and Mary Ose.

CANDIDATE FORUMS – Live appearances by the people running for the City Council
Tuesday, October 19th, 6:30 pm - El Camino High School
Wednesday, October 20th, 6:30 pm - Rio Americano High School
Other forums are tentatively scheduled for October 21st and 25th.

There was also a televised forum that was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and will be replayed on the following days.

6 pm Wed October 20 (fourth re-airing)
5 pm Sun October 24 (fifth re-airing)
9 pm Wed October 27 (final re-airing)

On Comcast it is on channel 14.

On ATT U-verse it is a little harder to find but here are the directions. Go to channel 99 (you should have it if you have their 100 package or above). Find the section that says "Sacramento Metropolitan TV". Say OK to that and then go to Channel 14. While the station information says that you can find the meetings at, as of today the meeting was not shown, but I was able to confirm the dates and times above through the League of Women Voters. Long search but should be valid results.

I would hope the Surewest and the other satellite services would have a local government channel to see these, but I do not have specific channel information for them.

Dr. Mattiuzzi, I hope you will be able to post this e-mail in its entirety or in part to your blog site so that more people will be able to make an informed and well thought through decision on election day. It is a very important vote for the future of this entire community.

Ray, the Accountant.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's for Their Own Protection...

On November 2, a very important issue will be put to the vote here in California. Proposition 19 will make it legal for someone to cultivate and possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Up to now I've stayed completely neutral on the subject. I see potential medical benefits here, but I also see some grave problems, so I thought it best just to stay out of it.

But now something new has come to light that has caused me to make a public stand against Prop 19. Today I received 2 mail pieces from the Stay Sacramento folks. These things are so completely filled to the brim with half-truths and outright lies that if 19 passes, these folks might get even further out of touch with reality and have to be taken off the streets.

So far I've seen three of these pieces. All three claim to list one of the "dozens of reasons" to oppose cityhood. The two pieces I have at my home show numbers 7 and 13. But of the "dozens" of reasons they claim, where are the rest? Their web site, where real estate is practically free and they should be able to list tons of supporting evidence, doesn't even allude to the "dozens" claim. I'm dying to know what the others are! Come on folks, give me the evidence!

But for now I guess I'm stuck with the two reasons they decided to give me. So let's examine them, shall we?

#7 - A whole new layer of government will cost more.

Well, ok, this is true. A new layer of government WILL in fact cost more. While they're at it, why not say that if Iceland drops a nuclear bomb on Country Club Plaza, that will mean trouble for the new city? Both have the same chance of happening.

OK, all together now, one more time... there is NO NEW LAYER OF GOVERNMENT! This is replacing the county's broke, broken, failed system with a smaller, responsive and responsible organization that is designed for the express purpose of providing municipal services. It's a way to lower the costs of providing services by smart and innovative management. And it's happened across the board in the last three incorporations in Sacramento County.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the legal profession, let me introduce you to something lawyers use every day. It's called boilerplate text. It's the standard party-of-the-first-part stuff that ends up in every legal document, mostly as a cover-your-assets move to make sure the attorneys are never to blame for anything. The cityhood studies, both the environment impact report and the fiscal analysis, contain tons of this stuff. You can always spot it by comparison to other similar documents, looking for things that are common to them all. Here's an example:

"...the new city could experience shortfalls or inadequate fund balances during its initial years of operation."

Why is that statement in the fiscal analysis? Is it because the analysts felt the new city's financial situation might be unstable? If so it would be very interesting, since that text, or something very close to it, appears in every fiscal analysis tied to a pending incorporation over the past ten years. The statement is there so in case there is some unforeseen problem, like that Icelandic nuke, no one can go back to the analyst and claim they didn't account for that. It's a catch-all to protect the firm, and a straw man bugaboo that has no practical meaning, yet the mailer is touting it as if it was the most damning evidence possible. Know why?

It IS the most damning evidence they have! They have so little real material to work with that they are reduced to trying to extract some hidden meaning out of innocuous phrases such as this. Other than that, all they can do is complain that employees in the new city might be given a living wage and decent benefit package. Lord knows we can't have that! There's no money left after all the city and county bureaucrats gets their insurance and pensions!

Reason #13 - As business goes down, your taxes may go up.

OK, let's get it on the record one more time that our economy is in the dumpster. That we can all agree on. But will a bad economy result in new taxes? Maybe, back in the dark ages before Prop 13. Or in whatever dark and stinky place Stay Sac has their collective head buried. But the facts are clear that new taxes cannot be instituted without a 2/3 vote of the people. And it works the same way for cities as it does in the county. Nothing changes. Nada. And no matter how many times they claim it, it will not become true. Ever.

On the other hand, the county is trying hard to address their gazillion dollar deficit. Several of the proposed ideas to balance out the bottom line include putting a tax increase before the voters. Now Prop 13 still works the same way, but think this through. Who is more likely to vote yes on a tax increase? Arden Arcade residents, or people in Downtown, Midtown, or the Pocket? I'd say the quickest possible way to see your taxes go up is to vote no on D and stay right where we are.

This mailer claims that we are banking on $20 million in sales tax revenues for a landlocked "community" with no potential for growth. Before we blast this one, note the cutesy use of quotation marks around the word Community. This was a shrewd move. By calling to question whether the area really is a community, they continue to bring their divisiveness to the table, revealing what they have already admitted on a TV spot last week - what they really want (Sierra Oaks, Arden Park, Arden Oaks, et al) is to keep their little fiefdoms, continue to assert their political capital, and forget about the rest of you. This is about their power and money. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

Anyway, a quick word about the "landlocked" issue. We are a mostly developed community, and we don't have any significant growth potential for new development. In that respect we are the same as Citrus Heights, but very different from Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. Both of those areas had tons of room to expand and grow. Both took advantage of that opportunity to begin development. Both took a bath when the economy turned sour a few years ago. But built-out Citrus Heights just continued to keep putting money into its reserve fund, including a deposit last year when things were pretty much in the toilet across the entire country. I've decided I'm not going to lose much sleep over being a landlocked community.

If the economy does continue to sink deeper into the tank, the outlook will not be rosy for anyone. But with the county's current economic woes, sung to the tune of "Brother, can you spare a hundred and twenty million?", can we actually be any worse than under their administration? After all, the most recent study was completed using current numbers, when we were already knee deep in this recession. And the ten year projections were done per the rules, assuming that the current economic state continues throughout. So if the economy continues to be miserable, the facts show we can make it. It might not be pleasant, but we can do it. Any any eventual upturn in the general outlook for the nation means that things can only get better for Arden Arcade.

So if Stay Sac is so confident that the two analyses done by professionals, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars each, one in good times, the other in the current miserable economy, are completely out of touch with reality, they must have some real high-level, unimpeachable experts to back up their case, right? Well, maybe not so much. While the community supporters behind Prop D cite sources such as the Howard Jarvis group and the Taxpayer's Advocate, Stay Sac relies on the expert testimony of Kristin Elser, "Arden Arcade parent activist". Wow, I'm sold. A parent activist. How could anyone ever speak against that?

I don't know Ms. Elser, or her history as a "parent activist", whatever that means. LinkedIn shows her as an insurance analyst for USAA, which is a respectable profession, and as far as I know, a decent company. And I don't want to speak a word against her or her activist work. But really - is this the highest level of the food chain Stay Sacramento can reach to find expert opinion? Granted, they've managed to discredit their own psychologist, real estate developer, political consultant, former sheriff, and a handful of others. Is there no one left in the stable with an opinion we can respect?

Or are we saving that for some sort of October surprise? Given the length and breadth of the lies we've been told in these two pieces, we know there are no ethical restraints on what they tell us. We also know that thanks to all the special interests they claim to be protecting you from, they are sufficiently well-funded to spring some sort of last minute hit piece.

If you get one or more of these in the mail, please read with a critical mind. What are they really saying? Who are they relying on to make their case? Are their fear-mongering claims really harmful, or just more empty rhetoric? Do your own research. Get real solid facts, and make up your own mind. We need intelligent voters, not drones. And if you have questions, get answers that make sense. Don't accept anything at face value, and don't be afraid to demand truth, not political mumbo-jumbo.

Here are a few good places to start. On Monday night at 6:30, there will be a cityhood panel discussion and forum with experts on many aspects of cityhood. It will be help at the community center in Howe Park, and Howe and Cottage. Representatives from Stay Sacramento have been invited to attend and speak, but as of now they have declined.

Tuesday night at the same time, there will be a forum at El Camino High School. Not much other info on this one, but it should be worth attending.

Next Sunday, the 24th, at 4pm, there will be a coffee meeting at Country Waffles on El Camino just east of Fulton. Candidates will discuss the need for police protection, how we can build a thriving business community, and the legal process for annexation. Questions will be welcome.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Through the Glass, Stupidly...

The future is going to get better. Maybe not this week, maybe not even this year, but this recession will end. That's one thing that fascnates me about the LAFCo fiscal analysis. It was done using the crappy numbers we're experiencing now, and by LAFCo policy, assumes those numbers will more or less hold true for the next decade. And even with those bad numbers, the study shows we may be financially feasible. Actually, we missed the highest ranking, likely to be financially feasible, by less than one percentage point. Go figure.

Now, I have admitted in the past that although I'm pretty good at math, as soon as you put a dollar sign into the equation, I become a babbling idiot. Seriously. I was in pre-calc my sophomore year of high school. But I thank God for online banking, since my balance is always a few clicks away and I never have to balance the checkbook.

But even I can finally get some simple things straight, given enough time. That's why Stay Sacramento's treatment of the analysis numbers has me squinting. Something isn't adding up.

Stay Sac keeps pointing to the bad economy as a reason it's the wrong time for incorporation. First off, let's agree we can dismiss this as a crock argument, since they were saying the same thing four years ago when the numbers were good. But this is what I'm figuring out: if we can be viable with the current numbers, in one of the worst economies we've seen since the Great Depression, shouldn't we all be jumping up and down for joy? Doesn't that mean that when things get better, which of course they will at some point, then our situation will be even more viable? As Howard Jones sang about three decades ago, Things can only get better! They did then, and they will now!

So what about the aspects of the future that we can change? One thing I've noticed from the Stay Sacramento donor filing is how many real estate brokers and agents were on their donor list. Many of them are Michael "Don't bother me, I'm being investigated again" Lyon's minions, so maybe that's understandable. They have their own Kool-Aid issues to deal with. But what about the rest?

Back in a past life (around the time of that Howard Jones song, actually), I tried my hand at selling real estate. Like I do with most new experiences, I started out by studying how the industry works. But now, three decades and a couple thousand miles away, things don't quite add up.

When an area incorporates, history shows us that crime goes down. Code enforcement is improved nd the neighborhoods start to look cleaner and more well-maintained. Schools improve. Parks start offering more services. Drug dealers and other "bad elements" tend to move toward more friendly bases. Check the facts. Every one of these happened in all three recent Sac County incorporations.

Combine all of those things, and the net result is an area where people want to live. Demand for available homes goes up (granted, this will be more impacting after we climb out of this recession, but that's going to happen, right?), and that will drive up prices. Home values will recover to where they have been historically, after some time, and eventually drive even higher because of the new lease on life for the area.

Now this is the part I don't understand. When I sold real estate, our commission checks were based on a percentage of the sale price. When the price went up, so did our pay. If things work the same way out here in Cali, then all of the real estate agents and brokers who are supporting cityhood opposition are stealing money out of their own pockets! They are backing a group of rich lobbyists and special interests that has a stated plan to stop incorporation, which is the single worst thing that can happen to their personal bottom line!

It amazes me that the cult of personality and fear-mongering can be so strong that people will act against their own best interests. The same holds true for the houses in the north area, proudly displaying the red white and blue signs, not even realizing their support will lead to keeping their own home values down, unemployment up, and the hookers and gangs continuing to encroach into their neighborhoods.

It's time to wake up. Don't buy the lies. Do your own research and watch what happens. I've seen it too many times to doubt any more.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guest Commentary

This came in today's email, with a request to run it here. Since everything stated in the article is accurate, I'm going to run it pretty much as-is. The author didn't indicate whether or not they wanted to be credited for it, so until I hear otherwise, it's anonymous.

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel Part-1

As Stay Sacramento continues to tell us that they are a “grassroots” effort and their leaders publicly assert that their donations are from the community, the recently released contributors list tells a different story. This list of donations and expenditures exposes the truth behind the opponents of cityhood and their baseless accusations.

First up, Carmichael resident Jeffery M. Raimundo donated $500. One might say that a citizen living 2 miles outside the proposed city has some interest in Arden-Arcade. However, Stay Sacramento's expenditures say otherwise. Mr. Raimundo's “I” Street consulting firm of Townsend, Raimundo, Besler & Usher received three payments totaling $17,910. Wow, that is an impressive 3482% return on Mr. Raimundo's investment! That's right folks, at the same time that Stay Sacramento was accusing cityhood as a payoff to special interests, they were selling our community's future to a downtown consultant for a bargain basement price. The fact that Townsend, Raimundo, Besler & Usher ran Kevin Johnson's '08 campaign for mayor is probably just a coincidence...?

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel Part-2

We now know that Stay Sacramento's leaders are selling off our community's future to the lowest downtown bidder. It is certainly no surprise “K” Street vampires have put in their bids. In total, nine lobbyists, lobbying firms and their clients have bought a piece if Stay Sacramento's dream. The president of Governmental Advocates Inc donated $500 just one week after his client, the director of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association donated $200. These two caring citizens are betting that $700 that Arden-Arcade will be better with more trailer parks and less cops. At least it will be profitable for them.

The president of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators pitched in $200. Apparently Arden-Arcade needs more liquor stores to spur economic growth. Or maybe he/she needs them to spur their own economy It almost seems that Stay Sacramento believes a city without more booze and trailer parks is a “risk we can't afford”. Must be a coincidence too.

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel Part-3

As we look further into Stay Sacramento's financial disclosure we see another group fighting to keep their share of the status quo. 9 property tycoons, developers, mortgage peddlers and real estate agents have provided nearly 10% of Stay Sacramento's funding since the campaign began. Folks like the senior VP at CB Richard Ellis, the president of Placer Sierra Bancshares (a Land Park resident) and the Fulcrum Property heir have joined Stay Sacramento's leaders in putting out the “For Sale” sign in Arden-Arcade. Is it just another series coincidences that developers and lenders want to keep swapping cheap properties as the realtors siphon off commissions at every turn? And that those cheap properties could make great locations for shiny new trailer parks and liquor stores? One wonders what the going commission is for selling our future down the drain....

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel Part-4

For months we have heard a steady drumbeat message from Stay Sacramento, “...We are a grassroots effort with little funds to defeat the Arden-Arcade cityhood proposal. We are up against a well-funded campaign of special outside interests...”

This is, and always has been, a fabrication. The details of Stay Sacramento's finances are a blueprint for business as usual politics. A private club of real estate agents and “K” lobbyists fighting for trailer parks and alcohol as they pay off the Mayor's consultants. Not what any of us think of in a “...grassroots effort with little money...up against a well-funded campaign of special outside interests...”

And then there is the $50,000 elephant in the room...

It is true that a single union donor provided 2/3 of Stay Sacramento's “K” Street payola. It is true that we've been double-crossed and downright duped. A massive union contribution? Real estate agents and lobbyists carving up out community's future? Big time, downtown pay offs? Must be yet another coincidence.

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel – In Conclusion

A coincidence that over 40% of Stay Sacramento's expenses were payoffs to Kevin Johnson's campaign consultant.

A coincidence that a group of “K”Street lobbyists payed Stay Sacramento to push for more liquor stores and trailer parks in Arden-Arcade.

A coincidence that a private club of real estate agents, lenders and developers have ordered Stay Sacramento to put our community up for auction.

A coincidence that most of Stay Sacramento “grassroots” funds came from one enormous union donation.

A coincidence that one union, the property changers and the lobbyists provided 75% of all Stay Sacramento's campaign money.

The fact is that the leaders and owners of Stay Sacramento really want it to Stay Business As Usual is NO COINCIDENCE!

The “Grassroots” Highlight Reel – Afterword

On Oct. 5 Tim Cahill spoke on behalf of Stay Sacramento at the Sierra Oaks Neighborhood Association. When asked by an audience member where Stay Sacramento's money was coming from he responded by saying it was from community donations & that cityhood opponents were a small group of residents. The list of donations and pay offs clearly shows that to be a lie. So why isn't this on the front page? Why hasn't the Bee jumped in to tell the real story? This is front page news, right?

The July 7 donation of $250 by one Abby Pruitt is the answer. Name sound familiar? It should, Ms. Pruitt is the wife of Gary Pruitt, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board for McClatchy Co and McClatchy owns the Sacramento Bee. Yes the Bee. The same Bee who demanded disclosure of cityhood supporters financial records without even asking about the opposition's money. The same Bee that regularly slams the county's “uncity”, but denounced cityhood. The same Bee that just added 29 more local workers to the unemployment line, while Mr. Pruitt continued to give himself huge bonuses.

No wonder that the Bee's editorial board continues to print misleading, anti-cityhood stories while stating that annexation is the “ approach..”, they don't want to be next in the unemployment line. Mr Pruitt has a proven record of job destruction and profiteering during his tenure at McClatchy Co. In the last 30 months, the Bee has eliminated more than 300 jobs, while Mr. Pruitt has refused to cut his own pay or even turn down his raises and bonuses. The worst of what we've seen from any Wall Street Executive. Funny that the Pruitts live in Arden Oaks paying for private policing with their neighbor Tim Cahill.

Stay Sacramento is a “grassroots” effort by “K” Street lobbyists and real estate agents to sell our community to liquor stores and trailer parks, sending the proceeds to downtown to Mayor Johnson's campaign, backed by one enormous union donation and covered up by a heartless Wall Street-style profiteer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Still not Convinced?

Still not completely sure that Stay Sacramento is a group of elitists who are only out for their own good, at the expense of the betterment of the community? Take a look at their donor list from a geographical view.

View Stay Sacramento Supporters List in a larger map

I want you to note a couple things. First, obviously the majority of their donors come from the southern end of town (especially south of Fair Oaks). No real surprise there. But also notice how many donors are completely outside of the area. These are the ones who trying to protect their money, either through relationships with the power brokers down south, or by being remembered when Arden Arcade gets annexed by Sacramento and new work is up for grabs.

Stay Sacramento is an elitist organization that wants to put your families at risk in order to secure their own fiefdoms. Don't buy the lies. Do your own research and get the facts. The numbers are out there.

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Do you have an extra $50,000 sitting around? Yeah, me neither. But apparently the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 422 does. California law requires that all political organization that collect contributions file form 460 to indicate the sources of their funding. Stay Sacramento's 460 was filed this week, and the information it contains is telling.

Stay Sacramento's total monetary contributions for the covered period were $79,422. Of that amount, $50,000 came from the single union donation. That means that 62% of the funding for this "grassroots effort with little funds to defeat the Arden-Arcade cityhood proposal*" who are "up against a well-funded campaign of special outside interests who are trying to buy their way into fat contracts with a new city*" comes from a labor union. Now I'm sure that this union isn't coughing up 50 large out of altruistic motivations.
(*quoted from the Stay Sacramento web site, October 9, 2010)

So how about the other 29 grand? Well, a few thousand of that comes from lobbyists, including lobyists representing the mobile home, pharmaceutical and liquor industries. These are the folks who are fighting special interests?! Folks, these are the special interests! Lord knows we don't have enough mobile home parks and liquor stores here.

I think my personal favorite is the $500 from Jeffrey Raimundo, principal in the consulting firm of Townsend, Raimundo, Besler & Usher. Mr. Raimundo does not live in the proposed city limits, but apparently feels that what happens here can affect him. I'm sure that the checks totalling $17,910 that his firm, who also represented Kevin Johnson's '08 mayoral campaign, received from Stay Sacramento were just a coincidence.

So who else is involved in thie grassroots effort? Well, let's see... there's former Sheriff Lou Blanas, who also happens to be an owner in the new casino/card room up on Auburn Blvd. at the Marconi curve. If you look at a map of the proposed city boundaries, you'll see a little chunk notched into the northwest corner. That's where the card room resides, outside of Sac city and Arden Arcade. But if we do incorporate, that area will fall within our sphere of influence, meaning we will have some degree of say in what goes on there.

And let's not forget Tim Cahill, who inherited and married into a ton of real estate along Fulton Avenue, including at least one property rented by a massage parlor. Mr Cahill assured everyone at the recent Sierrs Oaks homeowner's meeting that this facilty was thoroughly checked out and supervised by the county before opening. So I'm sure it's just accidental that the place has a locked door, white blinds covering all the windows, and a video camera over the door. After all, a legitimate business can't be too sure these days.

The more we learn about Stay Sacramento, the more we see evidence of what we've always known - these people will do anything, including lying to your face - to stop incorporation. Why? I think the answer comes from the television piece I was in for News 10 earlier this week. In it, Doug Elmets, another rich Stay Sac supporter, stated the truth so plainly it was funny. Sierra Oaks, Arden Oaks, and Arden Park want to remain their own little elitist enclaves. They don't want to be associated with the likes you you and me. But there aren't enough of them to make Measure D fail. So they will make up lies and distort facts just to keep from being considered part of the community.

Keep in mind that for the past several years Stay Sacramento has been telling us they are the little guys, trying to fight the power of special interests that funded the incorporation campaign. Who were these special interests? They were the local parks districts, who knew they could improve services in their own facilities by partnering with the new city. They were other cities in Sacramento County, who knew we represented a real chance to make sure our "regional voice" wasn't centered between H and I streets downtown. And they were hundreds of people just like you and me, the special interests who wanted life to be better for our kids. Who wanted to see the hookers and gangs that have moved into the area sent packing. Who want to feel safe when they walk down our streets.

That's my special interest, and I hope it's yours too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

With the recent economic problems that we are all seeing, I have to wonder if the Bee had to lay off all of its fact checkers. This morning's edition has an editorial coming out against incorporation. But, there are so many distortions and outright untruths in this editorial that it's probably a good thing there is no byline at the top.

Arden Arcade's numbers are solid. The most recent study was done with the latest available numbers, well after we had entered the current recession. Future predictions are based on maintaining the status quo, which means staying in a recession for the next ten years. Do we really think this downturn is going to last that long?

Whether or not "now" is the right time is a moot question. The city can say they have no plans for annexation, but they have taken the first legal step toward doing so by including us in their general plan. While incorporation is on the table they can't move forward, so there is no harm in making the claim that they don't wan't us - other than another outright lie. But any time after the election, if cityhood fails, they can declare we are within their sphere of influence. That is their next step, and will effectively prohibit us from any chance to incorporate. Then it's just a matter of time until they make annexation formal. And of course, it will be simple enough to say they came to realize how much better things will be for us under their watchful care. Just like North Sacramento (now known as Del Paso Heights). But if we decide the timing is wrong, there will not be another chance. As Elvis once crooned, it's now or never.

Most cityhood supporters, myself included, have no aspirations for public office. All I want is a place to raise my kids where they will be safe, and where they will want to live when they grow up and start families. The 100,000 residents of Arden Arcade can't fix the messed up federal or state systems, but they can make life better here and now, for themselves and their families.

Candidates, I offer this modest proposal. In the spirit of fairness, and how the opposition is acting toward us, I suggest that all future campaign literature should include the quote, straight out of this piece: "Urban areas like Arden Arcade ought to be in a city, and residents should have more local control."


After posting this earlier today I've started to receive notes asking me to urge readers to cancel their Bee subscriptions. Frankly, I think the Bee is quite used to this, and knows it only makes a blip on the radar for a short time, and once the heat is off, things go back to normal. But they do listen to complaints from subscribers. Give 'em a call, let them know you think their editorial is a steaming pile. Better yet, go to the online version and post a comment. Pick one thing from the garbage heap that you can address with clarity, and set them straight on it. Be courteous and polite, but let them know they can't get away with this. If we could get a thousand comments on their site, people will notice.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Follow the Leader

A quote from this morning's Sacramento Bee:

"A once tattered and neglected corner of The Uncity, that huge swath of unincorporated Sacramento County, Citrus Heights has transformed itself in just 13 years since it incorporated. Everything got better: streets, lighting, garbage service, law enforcement and that indefinable quality called civic engagement.

Credit goes to a smart cohesive group of City Council members. Unlike other new cities in the county, Citrus Heights was largely built out when it incorporated. With no revenue-generating growth spurt, the city had to live within its means. While other local governments overspent during the good times and now are facing layoffs and furloughs, Citrus Heights has no debt and a healthy reserve of $36 million.

It has made prudent investments, established its own Police Department, and built a new civic center and city hall, all with cash."

Read more:

So what can we learn from this? First, it is possible. Citrus Heights had its own coalition of naysayers, spouting the same bad rhetoric we're seeing in Arden Arcade right now. They ignored the critics, and went ahead and created a city to be proud of. Don't believe it? Go to the city's web site and look up their resident satisfaction survey.

Second, the council counts. This blurb was taken from an article endorsing certain candidates for the Citrus Heights city council. The praise for what the city has done was incidental to the need for quality people on the council leading the way. Just as ignoring the fear-mongers is important here, as it was there, taking the time to get to know the council candidates and vote wisely will be crucual to our success.

Luckily, we have a group of people who are dedicated and intelligent on the ballot. I wouldn't vote for all of them, even if I could. But, I really don't think there is any group of seven that could be formed that would be a bad choice. But the better we are at picking our council members, the more the city will thrive in its early days and lay a solid foundation for our future.


When I started this blog, I made a promise to kick both sides in the knees (well, with the written word, anyway) when they screwed up. Until now, I haven't had a bad word to say about the incorporation group or the candidates. I really hate to do this, because the offender was a good friend long before we both got involved with incorporation, but I can't be quiet about this one.

Joel, you have done amazing things throughout this campaign. When no one (including most of the committee) thought it would be possible, you managed to lead the way, raising money every time it was needed, steering through the governmental red tape, and being the leading advocate for Arden Arcade. Hear that? Arden Arcade. Not Arden. But suddenly the Arcade part is missing from your web site and literature? I'm not sure what the motivation is here, maybe it's as simle as making things fit better. But, we are Arden, and we are also Arcade. And yes, many of us dislike the name. But until we become a city and chamge it, it's who we are. And excluding half of our population is not a wise move.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stand - in the Place Where You Live

Think about direction, wonder why you have it now...

No, I don't have a flipping clue what Michael Stipe meant by that. But despite that, I have been thinking a lot about direction lately. And I'm convinced that as a community, we're heading in the right one.

Tonight incorporation came home for me. The cute blond and I hosted a community share for our own subdivision. It was a small target, and we weren't sure what to expect. But we had about thirty people come out and share ideas, get answers to questions (including some tough ones), and be a community. Some had already committed, and others were still skeptical. But I think everyone left with more information than they had when they arrived, and we din't have to bring home too many cookies.

If you found this blog from the meeting tonight, or from last night's candidate forum at the Association of Realtors building, welcome. Please consider this your forum. Amid all my rants and raves, your thoughts are welcome.

Tonight was special for me, since the focus was on my home turf. It was exciting to see the community discussing issues importance to us on a micro-local level. But the real telling moment came when my 7 year old daughter came up to me and said she was having a wonderful evening just playing in the park. If you know Santa Anita Park, you know it's not a place where you usually see children playing after dark. But in that moment, there was a glimpse of something very, very right. If we can come together as a community and make this incorporation work, we will have the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get to work, and make this a place where we don't have to worry if our kids go to the park to play, and stay a little longer than we expected. I'm an emotional guy to begin with, but this gave me real, honest-to-goodness goosebumps.


Let's see now... there are a couple more meetings coming up that I know of, and probably more that I don't know about. October 6th will be Politics in a Smoke-Filled Room, at Tobacco Road. Two of our council candidates, Bob Stevens and Matt Powers, both retired law enforcement, will meet with anyone who wants to drop by, have a cigar, and talk about the issues. The focus will be on police protection and public safety, but I'm sure other topics will come up.

Thursday, October 14th, will be the Santa Anita Community Forum at Howe Park (in the community center). We are hoping to make this a full debate, but as of yet the opposition hasn't responded with a speaker. If you are reading this and want to speak against cityhood, let Jane know and we'll see what we can do.

I had an interview with a reporter from the Bee today. Looks like a pretty big story is coming up, but I don't know much beyond that. I'll confess that these days, I rarely have time to read the paper, even though I do get it. So if you run across the article, drop me an email and let me know?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Safe Do you Feel?

Cityhood opponents keep claiming the incorporation effort is using scare tactics to sway voters. Funny, but I never realized Sheriff John McGinness and the news staff at KCRA were working for the cityhood effort.

County May Lose as Many as 1000 Jobs

Sheriff's Department is "Reactive"

So let's work this through one more time. Cityhood opponents say everything is fine. Crime is not on the rise (Arden Park Homeowner's Association debate, August 2010). The Sheriff is handling things extremely well (same debate). Violent crime is actually on the decline (Mission Oaks North Homeowner's Association debate, earlier this summer). So why do all the crime statistics, and the words stright out of the Sheriff's mouth, all say otherwise?

Here is one thought. The leaders of Stay Sacramento tend to be clustered in the Arden Park area. And frankly, it's at least partially a money thing. Their level of protection is just fine, because they all pay extra to hire private (off duty cops) police protection. So they can pull into their gated drives at night, park in their garages, set the alarms on their houses, and feel pretty darn secure when they go to sleep at night. And God bless them for it! I'm serious. They have earned it, and they are entitled to it, and I'd be the last one to ever suggest they shouldn't have it.

But that does not mean they have the right to say that YOU can't be secure. They are perfectly happy to tell you that because they feel fine, you don't get to increase the police protection in your community. Because things are fine in their subdivisions, you don't get to improve code enforcement and put some restrictions on the massage parlors and head shops exploding around town. Because they can toss the kids in the Range Rover and drive them to school, they don't care that the hookers are propositioning dads when they drop off their kids ar Arcade Middle School.

This weekend I was able to get out and do just a little bit of canvassing, talking to people in the area. I love meeting people and getting to hear their questions. It turns out the Stay Sac folks have been canvassing as well. According to what several people told me, this was the pitch:

Canvasser: Do you want more taxes?

Resident: No, of course not!

Canvasser: Then put this sign in your yard, otherwise we will become a city and your taxes won't go up.

So again I feel I have to go through this...


OK, better now. A bit, I guess.

If you take the time to study the facts and decide you are opposed to cityhood, then by all means, put up a sign. Convince your neighbors. Shout it from the rooftops. Run ads on radio and television.

I can say that with complete confidence, because I have spoken with dozens of people who were opposed to incorporation, then when they got the facts and digested them, they became supporters. I have yet to speak with a single person who could profer a logical argument against incorporation, except for the ones who would lose some of the political capital they have accrued over the years (Duveneck, Blanas, Cahill, et al). And I'm very sorry, but the response "Well, I just don't see that." doesn't count.

On the other hand, if you've seen the gang tagging around Howe Park, or the hookers working Watt Avenue on this side of the freeway, or the newest massage parlor along Fulton (who owns that property, anyway?), then spend a little time getting facts, not fear mongering from the ones who are worried about their own apple carts. Then when you see the truth, get out there and talk to your neighbors. Support the living snot out of this. Your kids are depending on you.