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%!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's Good for the Goose... Gets up my Dander...

Last time I wrote down some random thoughts about how the Stay Sacramento signs were skirting the intent of the laws regarding election campaigning, while staying true to the letter. Someone sent me an email response asking why no one has demanded the Stay Sacramento group release a list of its donors and the amounts given, as they over and over demanded from incorporation proponents. Well, the answer is simple, but thinking about it gave me some insight into what these folks actually stand for. I consider it an epiphany. But maybe I'm just sleep deprived.

The reason Stay Sacramento doesn't disclose its donor list is telling. They just don't feel they need to be held to the same rules as the rest of us. Look around the community. The signs were a good indication (read the previous post just below this one if you don't know what I'm talking about). But there are others.

The county Sheriff undergoes massive budget cuts that undermine the quality of police protection that we all get. Incorporation will go a long way toward addressing that. But a large majority of the Stay Sacramento group lives in the southern portion of the area, where the incomes are a bit higher. (Don't believe me? Go to their web site and Google a few names from their supporters list.) So they start hiring private security to patrol their area. Simple solution. Right about now is where you can almost envision Marie Antoinette suggesting that we should all do that, while we're eating our cake!

When the latest congress started started debating health care reform, one of the major complaints from people on the street was that they were deciding how the rest of us would live, but they would still have their own little insulated system, providing a level of care that none of us would ever imagine. Whenever one group is able to make decisions for others that they don't have to live with, there will be anger and resentment. So when Stay Sacramento starts telling us how we should refuse incorporation, when they are able to essentially provide themselves with the same services that incorporation would offer the entire community, I hope they are prepared for the backlash.

Again, the Stay Sacramento folks have earned what they have, and should enjoy the fruits of their labors in whatever way they wish. I don't begrudge them of that. But when I drive through the community and see their election campaign signs in some neighborhoods where the residents clearly don't enjoy the same options, I really have to wonder what motivates them. They are saying no to their best chance to improve their own quality of life in Arden Arcade. Those are the people I really feel sorry for.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's a Time of the Signs

You've seen them by now. Yard signs in the election-standard red, white and blue, proclaiming "No Cityhood" and "Stay Sacramento", along with the Stay Sacramento web site address. I'm not sure how many of these things are in yards around town, but they are in prominent locations, and getting a lot of attention.

I've spoken with several people about incorporation, and they seem to be universally surprised at how many people seem to be opposing incorporation. But after doing a few ride-arounds and taking some straw counts, there really aren't that many signs out, at least that I've found.

But after thinking about the sign issue for a while, I realized the reason they seem so prevalent is that there are no signs for the pro-cityhood view. If you hear one side of an argument over and over, without ever hearing from the other side, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing no one is supporting the opposite view.

After a bit of research I found out why there are no incorporation signs. County election laws limit the time frame for posting signs to 60 days prior to the election. So you won't be seeing any pro-cityhood signs until early September, at the earliest.

Which begs the question: Why is Stay Sacramento illegally posting signs all over town? The answer, as usual, involves Stay Sacramento following the letter, while relieving itself all over the spirit of the law. Their claim is that the signs are not for the election, but just a statement of beliefs, protected under the 1st Amendment. Since they don't mention the election specifically, or contain the word "Vote", they maintain the signs are not related to the election.

Well, my daddy always said that if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then start making the orange sauce. The facts are simple. The signs are expressing a clear opinion about an issue that will be on the ballot in the next general election. There is absolutely no other reason for these signs to exist other than to attempt to influence public opinion about the outcome of the upcoming election.

If this didn't tick me off so much, I'd probably be amused by the irony of Stay Sacramento's non-stop accusations of ethical violations against incorporation proponents, while they dance around the fine points of law to openly violate its intent. The campaign committee members I've spoken with are content to let this ride, waiting until the time is right to start putting out their stuff. But I don't think that's enough.

Please don't go overboard here. Don't go ripping signs out of yards or defacing property. We don't want to be reduced to their level. And don't hold the folks who posted the signs responsible; they probably just did what they were told. They have the right to their own opinions, whether or not the people who told them what to think did so ethically or legally.

If you want to do something, call the county election commissioner's office at (916) 875-6451. Tell them about the signs, and that you feel they violate election laws. Let them know the signs are expressing an opinion about an upcoming ballot measure, and that constitutes an illegal action.

Then come back here and let us know what your find out. It would be good to get some discussion going on this. Plus, I get so lonely when you kids never write!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We're all Bozos on this Bus!

One reader of this blog sent me a note asking me to address some things that were said in a Sacramento Bee editorial a few days ago. The article concerned the mis-steps that were made by the Cityhood Study Team, the Arden Arcade Incorporation Committee, and the Arden Arcade Campaign Committee (3 separate organizations) in handling required filings with the state and federal government. The thrust of the editorial was a simple question: How can we trust running the new city to the people who couldn’t follow the rules in bringing it to the ballot?

It’s a semi-valid question. Valid in the sense that when we complete the incorporation process, we need to have people we can trust filling the mayor and city council offices. The problem comes in assuming the committee members will be those people. You would think that the editors at the Bee would understand that, but maybe they have had to lay off their fact-checkers.

Over the years, the various committees have been composed of a diverse group of people. They included a retired grandma, a civil engineer for the state, an education professional, a financial planner, a freelance writer, a graphic designer, a retired deputy sheriff, a retired engineer, a pair of full time foster care providers, an attorney, an I.T. consultant, and various others. As the political wave rolled along, every time the tide seemed to be in our favor, certain people would come on board, obviously looking for personal gain. Then as soon as the tide turned against us, they were out the door in a flash. But that list includes most of the ones who were around for the long haul.

That hardly seems like a group you would expect to see running a city of about 80,000 people. But they never aspired to do so. As of now, the only ones on that list who have filed to run for office are the deputy and the writer. There may be more down the road, but I have no knowledge of it at this point.

The mistakes the various committees have been accused of are mostly on the mark. But no one on the committees had ever tried anything like this before. Very few had any experience in bureaucracy or government, or administering a non-profit organization. It’s not all that surprising that slip-ups happened along the way. But the folks that made the mistakes, me included, won’t be the ones running the city. The Bee editors have nothing to worry about there.

When the incorporation issue goes on the ballot this November, you will have the opportunity to elect the mayor and city council. For the most part, the people you elect will not be people who served on the incorporation committee (or the other bodies mentioned above). There are some overlaps, but most of these were people who came into the game later, with a desire to serve the new city, and worked for incorporation to reach that end. The majority of the committee members were interested in serving the community, but want to leave the running of the city to others.

The most important thing for you, as residents of our new city, is to become informed. Meet the candidates, and listen to their plans to make life better in Arden Arcade. Don’t accept canned answers or platitudes. Demand better. Then in November, make a wise choice for you and your neighbors. Cityhood will make this a better place, but how much better will depend on how well we do at electing our new government.

It should be apparent by now that I’m not running for anything. I don’t have the temperament or personality to handle a full time life in politics. I’m perfectly happy here on the sidelines, observing and complaining about what everyone else is doing. So unless the city decides to post an opening for official curmudgeon, I’m out of the picture. Mission Accomplished.


This morning I was fortunate to have an impromptu meeting with three of the people who are running for seats on the Arden Arcade City Council. I was actually surprised to find a couple of these folks had thrown their hat into the ring. All three of these are people I would be proud to have represent our new city. That isn’t an easy statement to make. Most of the folks I’ve heard express an interest in running just don’t work for me.

All of which makes this a good time to clarify something. This forum is to promote incorporation, and help our residents understand the positive benefits of becoming a city. It is not a place for endorsements of any candidates. Candidates are welcome to comment on the posts, hopefully to address the issues and let us all know what they want to see happen in our area. But I won’t endorse anyone here. That way I won't feel guilty when I drag them over the coals later.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Now THIS is Poetry!

Some of the most beautiful words I've ever read...

"Shall the order adopted June 25, 2010, by Sacramento County LAFCo, ordering the incorporation of the territory described and designated as “City of Arden Arcade” be confirmed subject to terms and conditions specified in the order, including payments to Sacramento County commencing FY 2012-2013 and terminating after $219,000,000 is paid, and for the City to levy and collect the same taxes, fees, charges, assessments and rates currently imposed by Sacramento County, as particularly described in the order?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?

The primary organization opposing the Arden Arcade incorporation is called Stay Sacramento. I’ve always found that a bit ironic, as Arden Arcade isn’t, and has never been, Sacramento. How can you stay what you have never been? We are part of Sacramento County, and will remain so, whether we incorporate or not. So I guess in that context, Stay Sacramento has already gotten what they want; we will always stay Sacramento (County). And no one on either side seems to have a problem with that.

When Stay Sacramento first came onto the scene a few years ago, they put up a list of reasons to not incorporate. The list was logically shot down in about five minutes, but they continue to keep pushing the same dead issues whenever there is an open microphone. And since incorporation is getting a lot more attention in the community and in the media these days, I thought it might be a good idea to clear the air on these specious issues one more time.

Following is the list of topics that Stay Sacramento offers as evidence of how bad incorporation will be, taken directly from their web site at, ironically listed under the heading “Facts”. Let’s see if we can find some real meat among the gristle here. You will have to go to their web site to hear their explanations on these. This is copyrighted material, and although I think this would fall under fair use, these folks have more money (and more lawyers) than me.

Another Layer of Government?

On the surface, this one makes sense. Creation of a new city would bring a new form of government. But is it another “layer”? Of course not. This is about who provides municipal services to our residents. The county has been doing all of these services for years. Incorporation would mean that the new city would be responsible for handing part of what the county has been doing, such as police, trash collection, code enforcement, etc. Incorporation supporters want this because the county has proven they are pretty much inept at providing these things efficiently and competitively.

When Citrus Heights incorporated about ten years ago, they put out an open bid for trash collection. The winning bidder came in at considerably less than what the residents had been paying the county for refuse collection. And who was the winner? Sacramento County! By incorporating, Citrus Heights residents saved a ton of money on their trash bill, with the same guys driving the same trucks down their street!

If you go to your primary care doctor, and he tells you that you need to see a specialist, do you complain about another layer of health care? No. You go see the specialist, because they are better equipped to handle your situation. This is no different. Experience has shown, over and over again, that small cities are better equipped to provide municipal services than large, bloated county governments. Why not take advantage of that opportunity?

Higher Taxes

You really can’t fault Stay Sacramento for trotting out this one. Californians hate new taxes. So any time anyone wants to defeat any ballot issue, they claim it will raise taxes. It’s too easy to NOT use, especially since there are some people who hear “new taxes” and get apoplectic. The problem is, like the other Stay Sacramento arguments, it just isn’t true.

Proposition 13 guaranteed that new taxes could only be approved by a vote of the people. That doesn’t change whether that taxing body is a city, county or state. If anything, it ensures that any new taxes would be determined locally, by Arden Arcade residents. There won’t be a situation where a tax proposal is on the ballot, and our residents vote it down, but it carries because of voters in the downtown, Natomas, or pocket areas. Arden Arcade will control its own destiny.

Cityhood Proponents Exclude Voters from Decision Making

Long before incorporation was a ballot issue, a group called the Cityhood Study Team spent months walking the neighborhoods of Arden Arcade, talking with businesses and residents and getting their thoughts and opinions about cityhood. By a statistically significant margin, people in the strip south of Fair Oaks to the American River were less interested in incorporating. So when the Study Team drew up the initial boundaries for the proposed city, they left that area out. The team did not exclude them; they excluded themselves. Stay Sacramento has twisted the facts to claim that the southern area was left out to deny them the chance to vote on incorporation.

This is where it gets interesting. LAFCo, the government body that makes the final decisions about any changes in political boundaries, decided that it was in the best interests of the community to put this group back into the proposed city boundaries. So, on the same web page where Stay Sacramento accuses the incorporation group of leaving out the area south of Fair Oaks Blvd., they now claim that the committee (not LAFCo) has included the area as a way of getting more tax revenue. In other words, they blame the incorporation committee (which didn’t exist at the time) for excluding this area, then they blame the committee for a LAFCo decision to include the same area. You can’t make this stuff up!

Outsiders were Paid to Collect Signatures

Yes, they were. The incorporation committee contracted with a professional signature-gathering organization to collect signatures for the petition that started the incorporation process. The committee didn’t rely on professionals alone. Unlike most political efforts, committee members were in the neighborhoods, talking with people and explaining what cityhood could mean for Arden Arcade. I know this, because I was one of the ones out gathering signatures. No apologies asked or offered on this one.

The next time you see a signature gatherer in front of Wal-Mart or Raley’s, ask them if they are with the petitioning organization, or are paid professionals. By law they are supposed to reveal this information. Now see just how often the person getting signatures isn’t a pro. I’m guessing the election will be over before you find a single one.

By now you’ve probably seen the Stay Sacramento signs littering the area. I have it on good authority that this group actually went to a professional printer, instead of printing the signs themselves! How can we possibly trust them if they are hiring professionals to help accomplish their mission? Sound ridiculous? Of course it does.

Better Government

Stay Sacramento’s claim here is that to improve government services, we need to demand better from the county instead of shifting those responsibilities to a more efficient organization. Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups have a saying: Insanity is repeating the same old action, and expecting a different result. So exactly how long does Stay Sacramento want the area to be ignored by the county before they see the insanity of their ideas? Sacramento County has been ignoring this area for ages, and anyone who has been here for more than a few years has seen the continual decline. The county (with the notable exception of the Sheriff’s Department) didn’t address the problems when things were good. How insane do we need to be to believe they will fix everything now if we just maintain the status quo?

Better government is accomplished by efficient management. The simplest way to accomplish this is through a smaller, more tightly organized government structure. Any other option is, well, insane.

Special Interest Money and other Funds

If there is a phrase guaranteed to invoke a knee-jerk reaction (even more than “new taxes”). It’s “special Interests”. Whoever special interests might be, they are definitely the opposition, acting in their own best interests to harm the rest of us. So who are the special interests? According to the Stay Sacramento web site, it’s difficult to say, since the incorporation committee is refusing to list their donors. But that’s just another lie.

I know, because I was the webmaster of the committee web site for several years, and I posted the list of donors a couple years ago. Granted, the list didn’t include amounts, because the committee didn’t want to make it look like they valued the corporation who gave $5000 higher than the retired couple who gave $25. The list also included a few (I think the number was 3) donors who had asked to remain anonymous. I don’t even know who the anonymous donors were, but I seem to recall their total contribution was less than $1000.

Since then the committee has posted a new donor list that shows every donor and the amounts given. There was a donation from a waste disposal company, and several from other cities and special districts. So there are the evil special interests we need to watch out for? Cities give for one simple reason. It’s called the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACoG). This organization is the voice of local municipalities at the state and federal level, and every added voice increases the ability of the council to serve its constituency. So when Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove donate to the Arden Arcade incorporation, it’s because they know they will get a return in the form of better representation for their residents and ours.

Special districts are similar. The parks districts that serve our area may be autonomous, but they certainly communicate with each other. It’s no big mystery that the boards of our local parks have heard how parks in Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova have been helped since incorporation. And since their primary responsibility is to serve the residents of their districts, it only made sense to work towards accomplishing the same results here, including financial contributions.

And then there is that icky trash company. Before the committee accepted that donation, it was clearly understood by all parties that this would not affect any possible future bids or contracts for trash services in the new city. The company’s response was extremely profound. By contributing to incorporation, they create a new opportunity to bid for a contract. That helps the industry in general. And then it is up to them to bid with services and pricing that will allow them to win the contract.

So What’s Really at Stake Here?

Stay Sacramento is a fairly small, if extremely vocal, coalition of local businesses and residents. Most of their members are located in the southern part of the proposed new city. I would never be so presumptuous as to claim why each of their people is against incorporation, but I have a hunch that seems to make sense for at least some of them.

The Stay Sacramento folks live just a bit higher up than most of us in Arden Arcade. I don’t begrudge them for that; they’ve earned what they have. But when they see things like the cuts in the Sheriff’s department, they are able to contract with private security to beef up the patrols in their area. These are people who can place a call to their county supervisor, and get an answer. Have you tried that lately? Think you get put on a long hold by the cable company?

When things are going well, you don’t want to disturb the status quo. A change in organization might mean starting at the bottom of the list politically. Of course that’s a fabrication, but it’s what many believe. And it’s hard to change beliefs.

So, we have a small group of people with little logic to support their stand. At least their leaders are schooled in rhetoric. They know that if you repeat something often enough, even if it’s a complete lie, people will eventually start to accept it. That technique worked for leaders from Robespierre to Hitler and Stalin. But I have faith that we are smarter. Do the research. Look at the fiscal viability studies, the endorsements from left and right, the history of what incorporation had done for the other cities in our area. Then make up your own mind. You’ll do the right thing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day?

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to...

With those words, the course of world history changed forever. But Thomas Jefferson didn't originate those ideas. The concept of independence was explained by John Locke, an English enlightenmenr thinker. Locke maintained that if a government did not serve the needs of the people, then it was not only the right, but the responsibility of the people to dissolve it.

Well, the revolution really didn't dissolve anything. King George III was still ruling Britain, but the former colonies had won freedom from the English government, allowing the founding fathers to begin the "Great Experiment" that is still thriving today.

Arden Arcade's quest for incorporation has many similarities to the American Revolution, which is why it seemed appropriate to launch this blog on the 4th of July. As with the country, this campaign began with the signing of a document. In this case it was the decision by LAFCo last month. After reviewing a comprehensive fiscal analysis and an environmental impact report, LAFCo ruled that the residents of our community were now entitled to vote on incorporation. The issue is slated to be on the ballot for the general election this November.

My goal for this blog is to accurately provide news and information about the progress of the campaign. No, I have no intention of being fair and unbiased. I was amember of the incorporation committee for two years, and although I left the group (due to personal issues), I am still convinced that incorporation is the single best solution to the growing problems in this community. If the handful of people who are opposed to cityhood want to express their opinions, they can find their own soapbox. Google will be happy to provide them with one.

I am hoping to update at least twice a week. One will be a report of the latest incorporation news, and the other will be an examination of the issues that our community is facing, and what is likely to happen with and without incorporation. I may find time to augment that schedule with a few extras is there is a need.

Keep in mind, although I am 100% in favor of incorporation, my opinions are completly my own. I want to everything I can do to help this community, and I'm not above knocking a few heads on either side if it's deserved. But no one is behind the curtain telling me what to say. If you want to try to influence me, please send me your ideas, in no less than 6000 words, handwritten on the backs of a series of fifty dollar bills. I might be able to be bought, but it won't be cheap.

In the meantime, stick around for the ride. It's going to be an interesting time around these parts. If there's some specific topic you would like me to address, send me a line at, and if I think enough folks will be interested, I'll try to work it in.

Peace out.