The ETA blog has been upgraded and new posts can be found here.
Importing the old content was not a viable option and the current blog will remain as an archive.
Pavement Report Update
The city released the final pavement management report and the city has been underfunding streets work.
During the summer of 2010, city staff denied access to the report and claimed that the report was not finalized.
A lawsuit was filed to gain access to the draft (according to staff) document and to the correspondence between the city and the consultant about the report.
The report was subsequently released and the final report was dated March 2010. The city was refusing to release the document and calling it a draft long after that.
The city did not release a draft document or any correspondence, which was what was requested. Proposition 59 was approved by the voters to make the deliberative process more transparent. Such access limits the city's capacity to manipulate and artificially delay the process. In this case, there doesn't appear to have been any deliberation, only delay and obfuscation.
The public records access issue is not closed simply because the final report was released. Indeed, the revelation that the report was done in March, before the Calaware request was made, only heightens the importance of the records denial being adequately explained and justified.
The issue remains in the Superior Court and the City continues to try to cloud the issue and delay a reconciliation with the law.
Here is an excerpt from a motion to strike City Attorney Glenn Sabine's response to the court:
1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
Petitioner and Plaintiff (“Cummins”) brings this motion to strike portions of Respondent and Defendant City of Encinitas’ (“City”) Answer to Cummins’ Verified Petition for Writ of Mandate and Declaratory Relief (“Petition”) to stop the City from jerking this Court and the parties around any further. For example, the City admits it is a municipal corporation but denies that it is subject to the California Public Records Act applicable by law to all cities in California (Government Code § 6250, et seq., “CPRA”). The City unqualifiedly denies that it received a demand for records then denies the authenticity of the responses from City employees to the CPRA demand.
In eleven instances, the City denies (usually on lack of information and belief) verified allegations as to matters which are presumably within its knowledge or matters of public records. Such sham answers should be stricken.
Get most of the exhibits in these posts:
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In New York, a 44-year-old firefighter retires with a $101,000 a year pension, for life. Near Chicago, a parks commissioner quits and begins collecting a $166,000 pension – a sum sweetened by $50,000 thanks to a one-time retirement year windfall of $270,000. And in California, a former city manager pulls down $500,000 in retirement checks every year....
Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney correctly predicted the need for a government bailout of banks three years ago, so people listened in September when she forecast who will be next to beg for a federal bailout: States like California, New Jersey and Ohio. State and local governments have effectively run up huge credit card bills, and soon won’t even be able to make the minimum payments on that debt. What happens then? Middle America, Whitney predicted in a report called “Tragedy of the Commons,” might revolt at the idea at bailing out coastal states for years of mismanagement and overspending.
A Ponzi scheme?
In truth, pension systems rely on what might be considered an accounting trick, not unlike the trick which keeps the Social Security system afloat for now. While state workers contribute payments to the system – typically about 5 percent of their salary -- and those payments are matched by government employers -- about 10 percent -- those payments scarcely cover the eventual payouts.
“You can never pay enough to pay for your retirement,” Tom said.
In fact, "defined benefit" pension plans make no direct connection between the worker's contributions and the benefits enjoyed later. Pension systems hope for large investment gains during a worker's career – in many states the calculations project an annual return of around 8 percent, a fantasy -- but really rely on the
Sacramento has published Encinitas pension payouts online, here.
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Gaspar's contributions were unusual for a council candidate. Her contribution base was dominated by contributions from outside the city. Her local contributions were dominated (84%) by real estate development interests.
To date, the ETA has not received submissions from any of the candidates to be published in response to our candidate guide.
The Encinitas Taxpayers Association held candidate interviews on September 12, 2010. We ranked each of the candidates based on their responses to our questions, their record, and using position statements found on their websites.
Council Member Barth and candidate Kranz actively participated in the policy discussions. Mayor Dalager refused to participate. He has taken positions in opposition to the ETA’s recent campaigns regarding deceptive tax increases and development rezoning. We ranked him based on his record.
Candidate Kristin Gaspar has no policy positions on her website. Before she filed as a candidate, she promised to answer our questions after she had filed. Now she has refused to participate in policy discussions under any terms. She earns low marks for being secretive about her perspectives on almost all issues. The ETA is wary of candidates who hide their positions from the voters.
The ETA provides a synopsis of the candidates’ positions so voters can develop their own rankings. ETA rankings are provided as a point of reference for citizens.
We will print any response from the council candidates in full. Candidate responses will be linked on the ETA home page and here in the ETA blog. You can sign up for ETA advisories to get an email notification that candidates have responded.