Survey….

July 31, 2012

 

…SAYS

Reminiscent of the late Richard Dawson’s “Family Feud,” game show, the representatives of the Lew Edwards Group made their presentation of the “City of Wildomar Park Issues Survey,” which was conducted from July 17, 2012 through July 22, 2012. In a telephone poll, 300 Wildomar residents were surveyed for their responses to the following primary question:

“If the election were held today, would you vote yes in favor of it or no to oppose this measure?”

The “measure” in question is a $28 per year parcel tax for Wildomar’s parks.

For context, please click on the following link:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/wildomar-says-yes-to-28-parks-tax-survey-shows

According to the survey, the following responses:

1) Definitely yes-56%.
2) Probably yes-17%.
3) Undecided, leaning yes-4%.

According to the polling consultants, the 56% and the 17% and the 4% undecided, leaning yes, amounts to a total yes vote of 77%.

4) Definitely no-18%.
5) Probably no-4%.
6) Undecided, leaning no-1%.

According to the polling consultants, the above amounts to a total of 23% no vote.

After the meeting was over, I spoke to Dave Mason, one of the polling consultants, and reminded him that the 56% “definitely yes” was the same final tally in last year’s failed Measure D ballot measure, as well as the prior successful park assessment vote in 2006.

I asked him what percentage of the probable and undecided, but leaning yes votes are likely to become actual yes votes on election day. He stated that, in his opinion, 75% of that 21% would end up voting yes on a ballot measure for parks.

Doing the math, 75% of 21% equals 15.7%, which added to 56% for the “definitely yes,” equals a total of 71.7%.

By their own admission contained within the “Methodology” section of the report, the margin of error is somewhere between ± 5.7% up to ± 6.2%. Using a median number of 6%, despite their glowing optimism, this survey, if accurate, could still only predict a yes vote tally of 65.7%, which is a full 1% less than the 66.7% yes vote required for passage of the measure.

Despite the results of the survey, this is not a slamdunk for passage, by any realistic measurement.

In any event, the die is cast, as the City Council voted 5-0 to move forward with a parcel tax of $28 per year to be on the November 2012 ballot.

Since I gave them my word that I would not oppose a $28 per year parcel tax, I will not work against the parcel tax (although I have offered multiple suggestions for the reallocation of limited funds, without having to waste more money on a tax measure).

The political climate for a tax measure on this particular ballot may not have the positive outcome that Councilmember Bridgette Moore gleefully expressed with her “Yes!Yes!!”, when given a chance to respond to the presentation.

Without a doubt, this survey, and a park tax measure enhances her tear-stained “I’m trying,” campaign platform, which is the reason for this new measure being on the November 2012 ballot in the first place.

She may find herself re-elected to the Wildomar City Council, only to bear the political consequences of being a two-time loser, when it comes to parks. If that turns out to be the case, she and her colleagues may find themselves in the position of having to eventually embrace my thoughtful recommendation that City Hall be moved from its current location to Marna O’Brien Park as a reasonable means to reallocate limited funding and keep the park open.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

 Instead of “doing  better with less,” Wildomar may find itself in the awkward position of having to “do less with Moore.”


Lack Of Planning On Your Part Does Not Constitute An Emergency…

July 28, 2012

 

… ON OUR PARTS

Paraphrasing a commonly used proverb (which is appropriate,  as our City Council is a doltish  paraphrase of what  informed elected officials should be), City councilmember Marsha Swanson’s recent, ill-timed suggestion to explore some form of park tax measure for the November 2012 ballot, has degenerated into a political/civic embarrassment for Wildomar.

The agenda packet for the Tuesday, July 31, 2012 Special Meeting, which has been specifically set to discuss the results of the recent $23,000 telephone poll, does not contain a copy of the report of the results of the survey, leaving Wildomar residents without any information upon which to base their public comments at the upcoming meeting.

According to city staff, the polling professionals of the Lew Edwards Group will be working over the weekend to finalize the report.

Please click on the following link to the vacuum of the City Council agenda packet, to confirm:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/07-31-12-cap.pdf

Since the November 06, 2012 election was not a surprise to anyone but Swanson, the impromptu City Council direction to their staff to initiate this last-minute ” scramble” is a clear demonstration of City Council ineptitude.

Comment can be be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.


Waiting And Watching The Math…

July 23, 2012

 

“IF A MAN “NO VOTER” ANSWERS, DON’T HANG UP.”

Hopefully, this Northern California-based (where they love their taxes) polling firm, will retain their professional integrity throughout their part of the process.

If there is a significant variance from the historic, well-established 56% “yes” ceiling, they will have some “splaining to do, Lucy.” (To quote the late Desi Arnaz).

In response to the Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch’s article on the subject, I have some thoughts on the process being implemented by the City of Wildomar.

But then, when don’t I?

Please click on the following context:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/wildomar-parks-what-are-you-telling-the-pollsters

1) Since the pollsters are only seeking 300 opinions, the likelihood of your receiving a personal opportunity to weigh in on the issue is very remote. (.009375%, to be exact, so don’t be holding your breath).

2) Despite the City Staff’s inaccurate pronouncement that a minimalist 300 person opinion poll has a plus or minus 5% error factor, the actual error factor is +/ -6% percent.

Please click on the following link to confirm for yourself:

http://www.publicagenda.org/pages/best-estimates-guide-sample-size-and-margin-error

Whether or not the error factor is 5% or 6%, the decision to go forward with the parcel tax in November 2012 is based primarily on the need of incumbent city councilmember Bridgette Moore to be able to campaign on the “I’m trying” slate, which is only an attempt to deflect attention away from her ineptitude on your behalf.

Mayor Benoit said it best when he recently reminded his council colleagues that the last two park votes received the same 56% approval from the voters.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

 


It’s Been That Kind Of A…..

July 21, 2012

 

…BUSY WEEK

Every now and again, the demand for my time and attention can exceed my calendar. Since my profession is the investigation of casualty claims, one cannot control the number of and degree of intensity of new claims assignment to investigate. As a result, creative efforts such as Wildomar Magazine must, of necessity, take a backseat.

One of our company’s primary clients is the well-known parcel delivery service (the one with the ubiquitous dark-colored trucks). Whenever one of their vehicles is involved in a collision with another vehicle, if it occurs in the Southern California area, I will receive a telephone call (often in the early morning hours) and I am required to immediately go to the scene and initiate a liability-focused investigation. These accidents can range from “freeway-stopping fatalies'” (two in the last month), to more mundane, slow speed residential uncontrolled intersection accidents. However, until we arrive on scene, we are never certain as to the nature and the seriousness of the occurrence.

On the other hand, for the past 20 years, I have been primarily involved in the resolution of complex litigation, such as found in construction defect lawsuits. On Wednesday of this week, I took what I thought would be a simple overnight flight to Reno Nevada to attend a Mandatory Settlement Conference for a single residence, “mold-based” litigation. Settlement conferences are generally scheduled within 30 days of trial, so the pressure to settle the matter is on all parties.

As such, I scheduled my return flight for just after noon on Thursday, anticipating a rapid resolution of the matter, given the serious limitations of insurance coverage available for this particular lawsuit. It’s one thing to win a big lawsuit. It’s quite another to get paid, especially if there is limited coverage to find a settlement.

However, the judge presiding over the MSC was a recent appointee to the bench and had a self-admitted string of successes in resolving complex litigation is, and this matter would be no exception. As a result, despite my reasonable request to make a brief presentation to His Honor, which included the entirety of my authorized economic contribution to the negotiations, His Honor insisted that every last carrier representative be present in His Court throughout the process.

At the very least, I was able to enjoy the late afternoon shrieking of the plaintiff’s spouse, emanating from the judge’s chambers, when she realized that her million-dollar claim was going to be settled for about 25% of that amount.

And that her attorney would take 40% of that.

Finally, after achieving the resolution on our terms, the matter was put “on the record” at approximately 5:00 PM.

After that, a quick taxi ride to the Reno-Tahoe Airport

Needless to say, rather than being home by 5:00 PM, I found myself getting on an airplane at 7:30 PM, with the scheduled arrival in Ontario at 11:30 PM.

Unfortunately, I had previously agreed to attend another MSC at the Orange County Court at 8:45 AM the next morning.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

I considered leaving the Courthouse after I made my pitch, contemplating that His Honor would not recognize my absence.

However, the thought of having a bench warrant served on me at the airport was a sufficient deterrent to my going AWOL. It’s that “duty-thing” that is ingrained in all military veterans… and insurance professionals. (I am both).


The End Of Dumb Questions In…

July 15, 2012

 

…WILDOMAR

An old adage says, “There is no such thing as a dumb question…. unless you already know the answer.”

With the suspension of the Brown Act mandate by the State of California, the current Wildomar City council will no longer have to fear the uncomfortable public humiliation of asking  a “dumb” question while engaged in public debate.

Please click on the following link context:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/state-allows-cities-to-become-less-transparent

Currently, under the Brown Act constraint, no City Council member can discuss any agendized item with more than one other city councilmember. However, if they discuss it with two other council members, either directly or serially, they would have conducted secretive deliberation with a council majority (three members of a five person board), more commonly known as a  “backroom deal.”

Needless to say, this probably goes on, intentionally or inadvertently, in Wildomar.

In contrast, the Board of Trustees of the Wildomar Cemetery District consisted of a three-person board, so Brown Act constraints prevented any preliminary discussion between two trustees, since that would constitute a board majority. As a result, the only place to have a conversation about anything was during a public meeting. Some of our board meetings became rather heated, which was good for our democracy.

As result, public deliberation in future Wildomar City Council meetings will likely have a much “smoother” presentation and appearance, as the casual, friendly conversation between the affable and friendly council colleagues, will be conducted in private, prior to council meetings, in order to make sure that any uncomfortable “questions” will be “asked and answered” before the city Council meetings occur.

“Practice makes perfect.”

The antidote to this “warm and fuzzy” arrangement, is to elect future councilmembers who can remain outside the social spiderweb that will entrap and destroy the “common good” of the community of Wildomar, through the lack of openness and transparency.

Naturally, of course, I will be offering my status as a “pariah” and social attributes as the “ultimate outsider”  to the citizens of Wildomar in the November 2012 election.

Currently, most likely due to the effect of Wildomar Magazine, only one of the five current City councilmembers even speaks to me in public.

Not that it matters to me, since I have been snubbed by the best.

Back in the day when I attended Lake Elsinore City Council meetings on a regular basis, seeking information for the mocking pages of Elsinore Magazine, I would be having a private conversation with another individual, when former-Mayor Pam Brinley would deliberately step between the two of us, sharply spinning on one heel, fully exposing her well-nourished backside to yours truly. 

No one in public office in Wildomar has ever matched Brinley for her exquisite “snubbery.”

The only one to come close was former-Mayor Scott Farnam, who physically assaulted yours truly (he was annoyed by a WM article) at a private residence, during the December 2009 Christmas Party for staff and elected officials. (Visit the January 2010 WM archives for the details).

At the time, I would’ve preferred a simple snub.

Who knew that “Outsider Status,” would be the ultimate antidote for backroom deals in Wildomar?

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.


A Hollow Argument From….

July 14, 2012

 

… THE CITY OF WILDOMAR

Despite the theoretical “exposure” to a potentially massive refund totaling $358,000, according to the Californian article this morning, the actual exposure to Wildomar is less than $10,000.

Please click on the following link for context:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/wildomar/wildomar-ag-s-office-sheds-little-light-on-park-tax/article_c52ed511-8b95-5fa5-ad50-bec1f113bb04.html

And this, to confirm that Riverside County paid 50 claims for refunds, totaling $5709:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/wildomar/wildomar-park-tax-refund-issue-remains-unsettled/article_d008df21-5266-56d0-aec3-02cc9cabac6c.html

Given the economic downturn, and the disruption to the property ownership in Wildomar, many of the residents who paid for the court-overturned park assessment no longer have an interest in the $56 refund they are due from the City of Wildomar. In addition, many of the other residents who are entitled to a $56 refund, have graciously “waived” the reimbursement right, further reducing the exposure to the City.

On the other hand, during the Public Comment portion of the recent Special Meeting of the Wildomar City Council, a well-spoken, senior gentleman addressed the City Council and objected to the proposed request for additional taxes, ” when the City of Wildomar still owed him $56,” a logical and simple idea from a considerate citizen. (My guess is that he will be a “no” vote, if the parcel tax measure is added to the November 2012 ballot, despite whatever the poll says).

What makes the city’s response to their refund dilemma so “hollow,”  is that they ignored the economic impact of an adverse ruling, as the litigation worked its way through the Courts.

The City of Wildomar should have established a Park Assessment reserve, by cutting back on what they were spending on the parks, in anticipation of that eventual adverse ruling. Had they done so, they would not find themselves in their current embarrassing predicament.

According to the state Attorney General, the adolescent members of the Wildomar City Council are going to have to meet with the adult leadership in Riverside to find a resolution.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen@gmail.com.

While the City of Wildomar may be “saving” some money with their hollow argument and defiant  approach to refunds, they are frittering away any confidence that their citizens may have in their elected leaders.


The “Next” Logical Progression…

July 13, 2012

 

…IS SECESSION

Michael J. Williams, the  Californian’s ace reporter (because he pays such exquisite attention to what officials are saying), reports on last Wednesday evening’s Wildomar City Council meeting, accurately capturing the City Council mood and manner in today’s article on the subject of the animal shelter dilemma, as follows:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/wildomar/wildomar-city-to-press-case-on-animal-shelter-costs/article_6a8a2438-799d-5ff8-9bac-a137b876fdb0.html

Permit me to recap some of the comments for you, with my commentary added (in blue):

1) Councilman Tim Walker termed the situation “a great fiasco” during the Wednesday’s council meeting. “I’m for having the shelter here, but it has to be equitable,” he said.

I am pleased that councilmember Walker finally understands the implications of his thoughtless vote on December 08, 2010, when this supposed “conservative” meekly surrendered his vote in favor of the “great fiasco.”

Click on the following link to City Council minutes for the December 08, 2010 meeting, and scroll down to page number 10, to confirm the unanimous vote:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/12-08-10-cm.pdf

 2) Councilmembers directed their administrators to analyze what it’s costing the city… “Once we get the right numbers, I am willing to pursue other options, if it has to come down to that,” Walker said. “It needs to be fair. What it is now is not fair.”

I remain hopeful that once Councilmember Walker gets his “right” numbers, he will be willing to consider secession from the JPA in order for Wildomar to form its own municipal animal control service, which will save more than $200,000 annually, and to undo his previous vote.

3) City officials agreed it was a logical progression for the city to participate in the authority, considering the new building was within city limits.

 If that were truly the justification to participate in the authority, than “every” church-going city councilmember should attend Cornerstone Community Church.

That being said, if “logic” and “progress” are to be employed, the City Council members must finally arrive at my conclusion, which is the secession from the Animal Friends JPA.

4) In a meeting last month, however, they (“the other JPA authority members”) rejected a request by Wildomar officials to revise its that service formula…

To be fair to the founding members of the JPA, they were, and are, entitled to agree to any allocation formula they desired and their “rejection” of an “after-the-fact” request by Wildomar to alter the terms of the agreements, is ultimately reasonable and appropriate.

As a result, the only “logically progressive” action left to Wildomar is to secede from the agreement, which will do no more than restore the JPA to its original configuration, causing no harm to the JPA or the shelter.

Since the underlying bond language is based upon the original agreement, which includes the “animal count” allocation, any single member of the JPA has a bulletproof veto over any change, except for the unilateral right of each member, including Wildomar, to secede from the agreement, with a modest 60 day notice to the other members and re-payment of any outstanding obligations.

(Since Wildomar was not a member of the JPA when the original construction bond was established, Wildomar currently has NO obligation to repay a portion of that bond indebtedness, once they secede. Any future re-finance of the bond, however, if Wildomar remains a member, would create a $2,000,000 + repayment obligation for Wildomar).

In conclusion, it appears that the economic distress being felt by the Wildomar City Council is a “logical progression” from their non-deliberative, unanimous vote of December 08, 2010, when they “failed” to direct their administrators to analyze what it would cost the city to join in the JPA, in the first place. (Since Walker and Benoit were newly-sworn city Council members, this “fiasco” has to be laid at the feet of Council incumbents, Bridgette Moore, Marsha Swanson and Bob Cashman).

At the very least, it would behoove the City Council to direct their administrators to research the feasibility of Wildomar developing their own municipal animal control service, which could be, if properly scaled to fit Wildomar only, accomplished for about $170,000 annually, compared to the $411,000 in annual cost to be a part of the JPA.

If you do the math, that’s a difference of $241,000 per year.

In the meantime, we can only hope for the next “logical progression.”

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2010@gmail.com.

Now that councilmembers Walker and Benoit have almost two years of political seasoning under their belts, and as they appear to be noticing the  adverse financial implications of their previous vote, they should take the lead in undoing the City Council’s error.