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%!

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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Like Nailing Jell-o to the Wall

Hey, I'm a nice guy. Really. That doesn't mean that I'm not going to call a spade a spade, or call out a lie when I hear it, but it does mean that I try to be super nice and polite around people who don't know me, especially total strangers.

But I will admit to being tested today. Got a call from school around lunch time. Turns out my son was going to go home with a friend after school was out. The friend's dad was going to take him and several other boys over to his mom's (the boy's grandma), where I could pick him up this evening.

So far, so good. Til I drove up to the house and saw the "Stay Sacramento - No on Measure D" sign in the front yard. Ick! But I swallowed and walked up to the door. The kid's grandma was nice, and the home was well appointed. She told the kids to get out of the pool, and my son went to change into his street clothes. Just making conversation, I asked why she had the sign in her yard. The way she bristled, you would have thought I'd thrown acid at her grandson. Her answer was extremely curt: "We would never support that!" As if that was torturing bunnies or something similar.

Well durn my hide, I just couldn't leave well enough alone. She asked if I was in favor of cityhood, and I was off and running. In less than a minute I told her how police services were at a third of recommended levels, how the hookers pretty much own Watt Avenue, how the gangs are fighting for control of the area around Howe Park. I told her how the sheriff was constrained by budgets that prevent doing anything about it. And I told her that my son, and her grandson, deserved better.

The whole time just stood there with a smug look that clearly communicated that I was wasting my time with facts - her mind was made up. But as I concluded my "mellow rant", something occurred to me. The thing we need to fight is not Stay Sacramento. Their intellectually and ethically bankrupt smoke and mirrors tricks aren't hurting our efforts. If anything it seems like every time we engage them in a debate, we gain a number of supporters. No, the real enemies are apathy and inertia.

When supporters get together lately, the conversation always seems to run towards "our signs vs their signs." But we need to remember that 90% of the homes in Arden Arcade still have NO signs. These are the people we need to reach. And that is why it's so vitally important that supporters are out walking the precincts, meeting people, and politely sharing the benefits of cityhood. We don't need more signs, although they are nice to see. But on November 2nd, no one is going to count the number of signs to declare the winners. They count votes, and many of those votes will have to come from the no-sign folks.

Inertia - the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest. Last week I stopped off at a local business to talk with the owner about a candidates event. As we spoke several people in the room were listening, and started asking me questions. Over the next half hour we discussed all the major talking points - schools, police, blight, section 8 housing, massage parlors and head shops - and when I left, two of them told me they had become supporters on the spot. No sales pitch, no close, no asking for the order. Both of them had said they knew the vote was coming up, but hadn't really started looking into the matter. One even said he works in Citrus Heights, and because of what he sees there, was leaning toward a yes vote, but had no reason beyond that. All of this goes to show that simple conversations will beat out all the signs, bumper stickers, and t-shirts that we can print. Not that those are bad things.

I'll close by repeating last week's challenge. Make this personal. In the next week go find two undecuded voters, and engage them in conversation. Be polite, but show your passion. Then, no matter the result, come back here and leave a comment about the experience.


Wow, there are so many meetings over the next 2-3 weeks that I'm having trouble keeping them straight. Thankfully I have a wife to help with that. We have a meeting somewhere this Thursday evening. I think it's the Wright Street Homewoners group. Check the cityhood web site, or Jane's Arden Arcadian, or even the Save Arden Arcade - Yes On D Facebook page. Links for all of them are on the right.


Jane and I have been discussing something I find incredibly interesting. I've also run it past a couple cops and they think our conclusion is right.

The Stay Sav web site shows a sign of theirs that has been vandalized. Of course, they accuse our side of doing it. I think that's ludicrous, because if we wanted to eliminate their message, we'd pull the thing out of the ground and toss in into a dumpster. Not that I would ever suggest anything like that, of course.

But this sign was vandalized, and left in place. If you go look at the sign, you will see that some of the wording is still visible. In Blue: "No Hood". And in Red: "Stay Sac" (not Sacramento). Now, if you were a blood (the ones who wear red), and you wanted to send a message to the crips (blue), wouldn't the idea of no hood for the blue, while the red will stay Sac, be a pretty overt way to do so?

Yet, the PhD's at Stay Sacramento think we vandalized their sign. Do they really have their heads that far into the sand, that they can't see the gang activity growing around them? Oh wait, I forgot. They pay for private cops to keep those types out of their neighborhoods. But apparently they think it's perfectly fine for them to take over your areas. And they call themselves a group of community-minded individuals. Go figure.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Somewhere between Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post covers and Mayberry, North Carolina, there is the somewhat-utopian vision of the "All American City." What most people don't know is that it exists - sort of - just across the river from us.

The city is Rancho Cordova, and they won the title of "All-American City" this year. This is after only seven years of incorporation. Obviously they must be doing something right.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of defending incorporation against the rants of idiots. We are here to accomplish something great, not to stay on continual defense against lunacy. So to change my prespective a bit, I had several meetings over the past 2 weeks with some of the folks who work at Rancho Cordova, from the upper ranks down to a clerk and a street cop. At the request of a couple of these folks, I am going to allow them to keep their anonymity. Stay Sac will probably blast me for refusing to name names. After all, they place such importance on backing up their facts. All I can say is that the meetings took place, and the results were unbelievably encouraging.

First, let me say that our effort here is on the radar in Rancho Cordova. They are watching us closely, already thinking of ways in which we can work together on various projects. Since LAFCo elected to change our boundaries, we will share a border at the American River. That has potential that they understand. I don't, yet. But we will have time to learn.

My goal for these meetings was to address a couple simple questions:

1. What was the biggest "aha" moment for you since incorporation? In other words, what made you stop and say "We can do THAT?"

2. How has incorporation made things better for this area in ways that you didn't expect before?

The answers were interesting, mainly because they had pretty much the same answer, across the board, to both questions. The answer that was repeated over and over was that they were surprised at how much power they had as a city to apply for, and get, federal and state money in the form of community development block grants, that could be used for helping other agencies in the community to succeed.

I was surprised because this is one of the primary planks in our platform. We have long expressed the desire to get some of this funding to improve our parks, schools, and libraries. But they either weren't aware that it was there, or in other cases, didn't realize just how big a difference it would make.

We have heard the same thing from Citrus Heights in the past. The city was able to help finish a construction project at San Juan High School, and put in a new pool at Mesa Verde. They turned Rusch Park around completely, and it is now a great place to take the family on a weekend afternoon. The stories in Rancho Cordova are similar. and just as exciting.

We have tons of opportunities for doing the same thing here. Our parks districts all have projects in the backroom that could come to life with some funding. Block grant money could help several of our schools with projects they have needed. For example, the school where my kids go has been working on a project to complete a track and athletic field on an unused area of the campus. Construction has started, but delays and overuns (the theme song for government work) has caused them to come up a bit short on money to finish the project.

Keep in mind, this is no mysterious "pot of gold" that we suddenly discovered. This is money funded by your tax dollars, which up to now, have been passed back to other areas, while we get passed over. Well, as the J. G. Wentworth commercials keep reminding us, "It's my money, and I need it now!" As a city we will be able to research these grants, do the paperwork song and dance, and get some of our tax money to come back home to serve us.


Since the theme today is helping our other local agencies and districts, I'd be remiss not to mention the policing service in our parks. Michael S will probably be able to provide some exact figures, but every year our various parks districts pay out a ton of money for private policing coverage, to handle what the sheriff's office just can't do (because of their financing issues). Just think what we could do in our parks if they suddenly had an extra hundred thousand or so each year to put into the parks, instead of paying this "protection money."


Don't forget - the next cityhood debate will be October 5, at 6:30.
Sierra Oaks Elementary School (Sponsered by Sierra Oaks Neighborhood Association
171 Mills Road
Sacramento, CA

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Sizzle... Steak Still Missing...

Stay Sacramento has a spiffy new look to their web site. Looks like it was put together by a second-year design student. Really, that's not a bad thing - the site looks about a kazillion percent better than before. Kudos to them for finally realizing that when you have nothing to sell, you dang well better make it look and smell pretty.

It's interesting how their pages are devoid of any real content. The "Problems with Cities" page has one article about budget problems in Half Moon Bay, and two bits of old news about Bell. Apparently no one at StaySac has realized yet that the city of Bell has a completely different form of government, and that what happened there can't, by law, happen here. Using Bell as an example of how bad things will be here is laughable.

The "Why no City" page trots out the old "higher taxes - duplicate government" song and dance that we've all learned to tune out. And of course, they just sing the chorus, because the verses don't have any words.

Here's my personal favorite:
"The Sales Tax Revenue In Arden Arcade Can Not Support Providing Municipal Services To Residents"

Now, let me run this through one more time. Two separate consulting groups were paid tens of thousands of dollars to conduct an independent study, 2-3 years apart, and both came to the same conclusion: Cityhood is financially viable. Not only possible, but should show a surplus every year (much like Citrus Heights, with a similar population and similar tax base). The more recent study was done using last year's data (for 2008), and this year's data (for 2009) hasn't been released yet. Yes, the recession was in full swing in 2008. But to claim the study is wrong, when there is simply no data available to support yout conjecture, is dangerously misguided.

And one more for a nightcap:

"Two local park districts have funded a cityhood incorporation study by diverting public funds intended for park programs:
 Fulton-El Camino Park and Recreation District — $20,000
 Arden-Manor Park Recreation -- $10,000"

Again, old news. But it occurs to me that I haven't addressed this one head-on yet.

The facts are correct. Both districts did make the contributions listed. "Diverted" is a misleading word, but since we know they don't feel the need to stick with the truth, we'll point out that that word means taking something away from where it shoud have gone, and sending it somewhere else.

The parks districts boards exist to serve their residents by providing the best park and rec services possible. Now imagine you were in their shoes. You've lived here a while. You remember what Rusch Park used to look like prior to incorporation. You wouldn't let your kids hang out there anywhere near sunset. But you also know Rusch Park now. It is a shining example of what a park can be, and it happened because the City of Citrus Heights used community development block grant money to make the improvements. The funds for this were non-existant before incorporation. No other way to look at it.

So now, as a parks district board member, you have the opportunity to make a small investment in your community, that has the potential to return tens of thousands of dollars in revenue that can grow and improve the parks in your district. Money that can fund senior services, kids programs, athletic leagues... the list goes on. I will go out on a limb here, and say that if you don't make that investment, the constituents of your district would be well within their rights to demand you step down from office.

So that's my take on the new site in a nutshell. Go read for yourself. The link is still on the right, but the logic is still on the dead wrong.


Speaking of new sites, the council candidates (Pat Cole, Matt Powers and Bob Stevens) have joined together to launch a cooperative site. The link is over there, with the rest. Check it out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties... Please Stand By...

Recently some folks have been telling me they can't post on the blog. I'd like to say I'll give this my highest priority, but frankly, I have a ton of paying work right now, most of which is due immediately, so no promises. But to make it easier, if you can't post, sendme your comments, and which edition they refer to, and I'll copy them here.

Meanwhile, my wife keeps reminding me how much the layout template I was using sucks eggs. Not one to get on her bad side, I chenged it. I always kinda dug the "library" look. What do you think? Keep this one, go back, or dom something completely different?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hmmm... Interestinger and Interestinger...

I wrote a great piece last night. One of my best. I was inspired by something a friend sent, and wanted to share it here, but somehow it vanished into the ether somewhere betwixt key and mouse. Oh well, I'll give it another shot. It will be a nice warm up for the 1000 word essay I still need to crank out tonight.

Mike Duveneck does a lot of debates. In fact, I was at one last night. And he has a subtle way of putting forth a condescending attitude toward his opponents, while always making sure to get his Doctor title out there enough so that no one misses it. The implication is that since he is a Ph.D, he has more credibility than us, so we ought to listen to him.

So what happens when someone with more credibility, like say, a Nobel Laureate, says his reasoning is a great big pile of dog droppings? Such was the inherent message from Elinor Ostrum, 2009 prize winner in Economics. Here are a couple key quotes worth hearing:

"Small and medium cities are more effective monitors of performance and cost."

"Incorporated areas can contract with larger producers [for services]. Neighborhoods cannot do that."

and regarding a study she did of police effectiveness:

"Not a single instance was found where a large centralized police department outperformed smaller departments serving similar neighborhoods."

I want to have a cup of tea with this lady. I want my children to study economics under her! Heck, I want to throw rose petals before her feet when she walks down the sidewalk!

So to sum up - A Nobel Laureate in Economics tells us that smaller cities are better, incorporated areas are better, and we should expect (the speech actually hints that we should accept nothing less) first-rate police services. I can't sum it up in a single quote, but there is a safe conclusion that can be drawn from several other statements she makes, which is simply that moving toward this ideal model of a small, incorporated city is a risk that must be undertaken.

Funny, but isn't that what we've been saying all along?

Oops... almost forgot that our side is the one that backs up the claims... here's the speech. If you are used to doctors doing Nobel speeches, this one is a breeze. For the rest of us, it's a bit wordy (at 28 minutes)... and dragging... but still worth the effort.


Another incorporation debate last night. This one for the Arden Park Homeowner's Association. Our side had council candidate Anthony Hernandez at bat, while Dr. Duveneck was joined at the hip with Tim Cahill, real estate inheritor and developer, who seems to own the land under about a zillion business properties along Fulton Avenue.

Anthony was pleasant and knew his facts, but needs to connect more emotionally with the crowd. But in his defense, it was a tough room to pull that off, since it's home turf for most of the other side. Duveneck was Duveneck. Cahill seemed like his main purpose for being their was to serve as Judas toward his fellow Fulton Avenue associates. Seems no one mentioned to him that Kuni was opening five new auto dealerships in the area, or that we have a net increase in new car dealers over the past few years, with the spots on Auburn Blvd, Arden, and the Maserati folks. All he cared about was how business was going to hell in a handbasket, and how anyone who does business in this community needs to have a psych eval... wonder if that includes the ones who rent his land?

Probably the most telling moment of the evening was when an audience member (someone I've never seen before - not one of the many supporters we see at every one of these) read a quote from the good doc, delivered back in '04 when he was running for county supervisor. Don't have the exact words, but the context was that cities were good. Local control was good. Responsive government was good. Anyone who would stand in the way of these things (say, Susan Peters?) was evil! When asked to defend those comments, Duveneck stated that those things were true six years ago, but since then the county has learned its lesson, and services have improved across the board. Of course, by services, he means the "artwork" down the median of Watt and the pillars 'n palms along the median and intersections of Fulton. Not that those aren't nice things, but really? Then again, it's somewhat refreshing to hear him speak from both sides of his mouth, while putting our side down as a bunch of wannabee politicians. Is he afraid we'll end up as good at it as him?


We're #1!

It's true! Arden Arcade leads the entire region! Well, by one measure, at least. Homicides. Three last month alone. So I close this time with an open question to Dr Duveneck: How many more of our citizens have to die while you tell us everything is ok? And to the residents of Arden Arcade: How much longer before you realize that no matter how many calls you make to 911, the red lights just aren't coming? Wake up folks, it's time for a change.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And a Good Time Was Had By All...

Wow. What a great time at the cityhood campaign kickoff celebration last night! Good times all around. Thanks to the organizers for... well, for everything. Thanks to the firefighters local 522 for rockin' the grill. Awesome dogs, guys (and ladies)! Thanks to the candidates to showed up to meet us common folk. Thanks to Stevie Scott and band for a great performance. And especially thanks to the dozens of volunteers who kept the trash emptied, kids playing safely, lawn signs and t-shirts moving out, and all of the other thankless tasks that made it all work.

For a political event, it really didn't seem all that political. This was community at its finest. People coming together from all races, belief systems, ages, and whatever else you can think of, simply to unite as Arden Arcadians. It rocked.

Shortly before everything closed down, I was chatting with Brian Rice from Sac Metro, when an alarm went off and three trucks, including the huge ladder rig, pulled out of the Butano station and temporarily deafened us all with the siren's blare. Someone, somewhere, was in danger of losing life or property, and our finest were on the way to stop the tragedy. That is community. That is what I don't want to see continually eroding, or swallowed up in the metropolis. That is what I want to keep. Not Stay Sacramento - Stay Arden Arcade. I'm not going to let you take that away.


You may notice the list of links on the right side of the page. People I meet out there in the real world keep asking where they can get the facts, and I finally decided to just post everything here and let the chips fall. If you are a candidate, and have a site I didn't post here, get it to me asap so you can be included. Then find a good search engine optimization consultant who can get you listed higher in Google. If you were in the first two pages, you would also be here.

I really went through a "long dark night of the soul" experience about adding the Stay Sacramento site to the list. But then I realized what several people have told me in the past few weeks. Nothing sells cityhood like reading their site and seeing how incredibly flimsy their rhetoric really is. I want this to be a place for open communication and debate, something their site just doesn't seem to appreciate.


Campaign signs are now available! Check the Cityhood web site for info on how to get one! They will be the fashion hit of the season!


This Tuesday (10/7) is an open debate at the Community Center in La Sierra Park. One of our council candidates, Anthony Hernandez, will be representing cityhood across the aisle from Dr. Mike Duveneck. This is an open event, but it is also a meeting of the local homeowner's association. If you're settled on the incorporation issue, which you should be after reading this blog, then don't go. But invite your friends, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else you know who is still on the fence.


More fun stuff coming this week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saturday in the Park(ing Lot)

Don't forget, this Saturday is the big pro-cityhood launch. 4 pm, Country Club Center in the old Gottschalk's parking lot area. Local firefighters who support incorporation will be there to bbq for you (who knows how to manage a fiery grill better than Sac Metro?). There will also be classic cars, kids stuff, and a concert by American Idol semi-finalist Stevie Scott. Ten bucks gets you in and fed. That's a better deal than you're going to find anywhere else. And we won't even try to hand you one of those butt-ugly Stay Sacramento signs. Although I've heard rumours that there may be some uhhh... other signs... and t-shirts... available there... just a rumour...


If you're in need of a good laugh, Stay Sacramento has posted a list of all the wonderful things the county has done for us, which proves we don't need incorporation. About a third have a bit of merit (like the new sidewalks at some underserved elementary schools). Another third are all of the good things that have been done for the wealthy and powerful folks like Lou Blanas who can get the ear of a supervisor whenever they want. The last third are ridiculous. I'm all for neighborhood beautification, but that thing along the median of Watt avenue? The one that looks like some birds and fish got caught in some medieval torture device? Come on, really? New cameras so we can go on the net and check traffic at key intersections like Auburn and Watt? Can we also get an update on whether there are any hookers open for business there? How about someone to investigate on the three homicides in our community last month? Or at the very least, what about someone to do something to prevent the constant tagging along Howe near Staples and Home Depot. My personal favorite is the creation of the community planning council - which they immediately point out has been suspended. How much benefit do we expect to get from a closed office?

I am getting so completely sick of the elitist attitudes I'm seeing from these folks. Not that we can do anything about it. Stay Sac doesn't bother to allow anyone else to post to their site, so their propaganda machine can't be threatened by pesky little things like truth. And yeah, I fully realize I'm starting to sound like the illegitimate child of Glenn Beck and Michael Moore. Deal with it. After all, I am the snarkmaster.

Stay Sac has also come up with a new slogan that they are attaching to every page - "Cityhood is a risk we can't afford." In that spirit, I am hereby adopting a new slogan for this blog - "Staying Sacramento, while logically impossible, is a certain guarantee - of failure." What do you think? Too wordy?

There is no magic pot of money at the end of the rainbow.

Recently I've mentioned some comments I've received here from Dr. Paul. If you havent seen those, feel free to browse around and check them out. Dr. Paul is an admitted skeptic, however he is asking the right questions. I can't say I agree with everything he says, particularly when he says we shouldn't be discussing the clear ethical breaches of the opposition, but I certainly respect his thoughts.

In that light, a couple days ago the doc asked me to post something here. It's a bit long for a comment, and more general then what might conveniently fit into the comment secion of any of my missives. So in that light, I'm going to run it here as a guest comment. No, it doesn't mean I'm having second thoughts, or that I'm anything less than 100% for incorporation. But it does mean I am willing to debate. I'm hoping this sparks some debate here. Feel free to respond with your thoughts, but remember the doc is a guest in my house.

A wise man once told me that it was only acceptable, but essential, to question authority. Because any real authority worth following is capable of standing up to the questions. So with that, here's Dr. Paul:

I’ve read that 40% of our tax dollars go elsewhere in the County. I’ve read that we will be ahead by $60 million at the end of ten years. The idea is that wonderful things can be done with all that money.

The LAFCO Report and the Executive Summary provide the best set of numbers. (It’s hard to read and it seems to me like there are some inconsistencies across the two final reports.)

A City needs to bring in more than it spends each year. On average and at the end of ten years, the New City will be bringing in about 9% more than what it needs while maintaining required reserves. According to the standards used, LAFCO says that the New City “may be” fiscally feasible. For them to come out straight up and say that the numbers work, we would have to be taking in 10% or more of what we are going to spend. So it may or it may not work, but they also said that the numbers “strongly indicate” that the New City is not infeasible.

They are assuming there will be no tax increases. And they did not see either a need or a possibility for any when saying that the New City may be feasible.

Their spending projections are just for operations and maintenance and do not include any capital improvements. Those will come from the County under other funding mechanisms, but we should not expect that the New City will go out on any development programs on its own.

The report also shows comparisons with the other new cities in the County. At current service levels, Folsom and Rancho are spending a lot more than is being spent in Arden Arcade on a per capita basis. Elk Grove and Citrus Heights also have expenditures greater than Arden Arcade. But the thing is, except for Citrus Heights, those cities also have a lot more money coming in for each resident.

(Folsom and Rancho are way ahead primarily because of property taxes. And even though they have the Sunrise Mall, we are actually ahead of Citrus Heights on sales tax revenue.)

What that seems to mean, is that when people talk about how good things are in the cities that have already formed in the County, they are not considering the fact that we won’t have as much money to spend.

The way I think about it, a 9% or 10% cushion is not that much when you are talking about a project of this size. I’ve built a couple of houses, and I know about budgets and overruns and unexpected stuff.

LAFCO says it’s doable, but it’s going to take careful management and there is not a lot of room for error. If it goes sideways, there’s not really much way the New City will be able to raise more funds (i.e., “raise taxes”), which means that there will need to be service cuts.

With that having been said, there is also a risk in sticking with the County. The County has to provide a broader range of services, and a lot of those are tied to State funding and State mandates. The New City “may be feasible” in maintaining our current and already diminished service levels, and it is less likely to be hit with some new funding problem created in the Capital.

This doesn’t mean that the New City will not be affected by what happens with the County. All kinds of quality of life issues depend on the County (starting with the Courts and the District Attorney), and if the County drowns, the New City will go with it. If they can’t afford to prosecute downtown, we are not going to get our crime and code enforcement benefits, and there will be costs.

I haven’t made up my mind on how to vote, but I am leaning towards a yes. After reading the LAFCO reports, I’m thinking that with the County we have a predictable and continuing expectation that things will get worse. With a New City, they may not. At least we can hold law enforcement spending steady, even if the challenges increase. Same thing goes for roads.

There are other things I see as potential problems with the New City. For that, I want to hear from the candidates. They are the ones who have stepped forward to say that they have studied the issues. I want to see the vision of those who plan to lead us.