Moments Of…..

August 2, 2012

…. CLARITY

After meeting with the Wildomar City Clerk, on the first morning that nomination papers were available, and becoming aware of the minutia involved in making myself qualified for election on November 06, 2012, I had my first moment of clarity in which I realized that I was not prepared to commit myself to the electoral process, not to mention a full four year commitment to the citizens of Wildomar, were I successful in my quest for a seat on the city council dais.

Therefore, I have determined that I will not become an official candidate for the office of City Council of Wildomar.

As a result of my clarified thinking, I have chosen rather to attempt to return to a full-time status with my former employer, once again fully functioning in the litigation management area of expertise of the insurance defense-oriented arena of construction defect litigation. I am currently pursuing such a position, as we speak.

At the end of the day, it became an economic issue as I wish to return to my previous level of compensation before I “surrender” to a life of modest retirement. I always intended to work to at least the age of 70 years and, my stroke in May 2009 notwithstanding, I prefer to exert my personal efforts in that direction, rather than as a public servant.

In a further moment of clarity, despite my initial instinct for a dramatic moment by withholding disclosure of my decision to the last possible moment, it occurred to me that there may be a qualified citizen in Wildomar who has considered running for office and has deferred making a decision, believing that his or her campaign to unseat the inept incumbents would be diminished by a large number of candidates.

Therefore, in light of my announcement today, I would hope that that unknown person would reconsider, while there is yet time to do so.

Needless to say, Wildomar Magazine will continue to weigh in on issues and candidates, throughout the election process.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

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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.


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.


When Your Elected Officials Are Spayed & Neutered…

July 10, 2012

 

… THEY DELIBERATE OVER MEANINGLESS STUFF LIKE THIS

Today’s Press-Enterprise contains an article concerning Wednesday night’s City Council agenda, that deserves your attention:

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/wildomar/wildomar-headlines/20120709-wildomar-animal-shelter-impact-credits-not-enough.ece

The City of Wildomar is obligated to pay $331,000 per year for animal control services to Animal Friends of the Valleys, plus they waive more than $80,000 per year in licensing fee revenues to Animal Friends, despite knowing that the payment is based on the admittedly unfair and inequitable allocation  for an”animal count” versus a “population count.”

As result, the taxpayers of Wildomar are subsidizing the taxpayers of Murrieta and Temecula when it comes to animal control services.

And since the current City Council lacks the political testicalia necessary to change that circumstance, one is left to assume that there has been some heretofore-unknown reproductive surgical intervention performed on Wildomar’s elected officials.

Rather than listening to my voice of reason, that the City of Wildomar should secede from the Southwest Communities Financing Authority (JPA) that easily snookered City Manager Frank Oviedo and then-Mayor Bridgette Moore into foisting this economic disaster on people of Wildomar, City Staff is promoting a tepid request that the City of Wildomar be given more economic credit for hosting the shelter.

Unless the City Council is prepared to demand a $200,000 per year credit, an unlikely number to be requested, or granted, they should come to terms with Wildomar’s economic reality and direct staff to explore less expensive alternatives, including secession.

Fortunately for the people of Wildomar, since this is an election-year, I will be taking my plan of secession to the people, through the ballot box in November 2012.

We cannot afford to remain a part of Animal Friends, nor can we afford to re-elect leaders who have been politically spayed and neutered.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

As proposed in my previous article, a properly-scaled animal control operation for Wildomar would cost approximately $170,000 per year, and that number could be further offset by $80,000 per year in license revenues, for a net cost of $90,000 per year.

 “Re-Thinking Wildomar; Doing better with less.”


Murrieta; Temecula; Canyon Lake; Riverside County & Lake Elsinore…..

July 8, 2012

 

….CAN’T

But Wildomar can, and should, withdraw from the Southwest Communities Financing Authority (“JPA”), which governs the Animal Friends of Valleys (“AFV”).

That’s because each of the original signatories to the agreement would still be responsible for their percentage of the original $15,000,000 construction bond in order to do so.

Except for Wildomar, the “Johnny-come-lately,” who did not join the JPA, until after a December 08, 2010 City Council meeting with a unanimous vote authorizing staff to complete the inequitable membership agreement. Since the construction bond obligation had already been created prior to Wildomar’s joining, there would be no obligation of the part of the City of Wildomar to pay a percentage of that original bond upon secession.

In a recent discussion about the feasibility of seceding from the animal shelter JPA, the City Staffer to whom I was speaking, was unaware that the agreement between the City of Wildomar and the JPA could be unilaterally terminated by the City of Wildomar without incurring that significant budget busting $2,000,000  “exit” obligation.

Therefore, in order to substantiate that feasibility, I quote from the very agreement that is part of the agenda packet for that December 08, 2010 City Council meeting, as follows:

Section 4. Termination and amendments

(c) If Southwest Communities Facilities Authority has incurred no obligations each party may terminate this Agreement by giving not less than sixty (60) days written notice thereof to all of the parties.
(e)  This agreement cannot be terminated until all forms of indebtedness, and/or fiscal obligation incurred by Southwest Communities Facilities Authority, or adequate provision for such payment shall have been made.”

Currently, the only obligation to be repaid is the $57,000″loan” granted by the JPA to Wildomar , who could not afford to pay their full allocation this year.

Unless the JPA refinances the original bond, which it can apparently do with a 4/5 vote of the JPA board, Wildomar can secede from the agreement without incurring any additional obligation to pay approximately 20% of the new bond obligation (potentially, in excess of $2,000,000).

That is why there is an element of urgency to this issue of secession.

For an eye-popping reminder of the inherent “unfairness” to the City of Wildomar that it’s neighboring communities were willfully complicit in implementing (to their economic benefit), please click on the following excellent Michael J. Williams/Californian article on the comparative numbers:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/swcounty/region-shelter-coalition-to-look-at-cost-distribution/article_6b1f5c51-00bb-5f8f-8197-2dbcd9f4f489.html

At the recent JPA meeting, I stood up and publicly addressed the member representatives sitting at the dais, fearlessly telling them that their “failure to disclose” (or Wildomar City Staff’s failure to analyze) the inequities of the “population count” versus the “animal count,” would be, in hindsight, the political genesis of the secession movement.

For the record, incumbent City Councilmembers Bridgette Moore and Bob Cashman each voted “aye” on December 08, 2010 issue of joining AFP/JPA without any thoughtful or diligent consideration of any less expensive alternatives.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

At present, all it will take is the cost of postage to notify Murrieta, Temecula, Canyon Lake, Lake Elsinore, and Riverside County, that the City of Wildomar is going in another direction for its control services.

And, of course, some political “spine.”

“Re-Thinking Wildomar; Doing better with less”


Bitten By Their Own Numbers….

July 7, 2012

…. A CASE FOR SECESSION

Our suspicions are confirmed.

Eventually, in most arguments, someone on one side of an argument, or the other, will finally provide some inarguable data which inadvertently exposes a weakness or strength of an argument.

From within the bowels of the agenda packet for next Wednesday evening’s Wildomar City Council meeting, the actual numbers of dog and cat “intakes” reported by the Animal Friends of the Valley’s (“AFV”) in a report entitled, “Case Statistics May 01, 2012 to May 31, 2012.”

It’s hard to justify an 18% allocation to Wildomar when the actual numbers for May 2012  are 14.8%.

Please click on the city’s link, and scroll down to pages 145-150, to review the data for yourself:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/07-11-12-cap.pdf

By resorting to simple math  for the most important statistical categories, the  following:

1) Strays                                              145 cats & dogs
2) Abandoned/Owner  Turn-in               93 cats & dogs
3) Total for May 2012                          238 cats & dogs

Therefore, the daily average of stray cats and dogs amounts to less than five animals per day (4.8, to be exact). Picking up five stray animals per day, is not an overly-strenuous task for a qualified animal control officer. And, since 19 of the 238 animals were Dead On Arrival (“DOA”), there was no dog/cat” catching” involved, in some cases.

Based on those modest numbers, I remain convinced that the City of Wildomar can and should secede from the Southwest Communities Financing Authority (“JPA”), which oversees the operation of Animal Friends of the Valleys and begin to provide its own animal control services.

The current budget for Animal Friends is $331,000 for the year 2012-13, which includes relinquishing $80,000 in annual licensing fees to AFV, as well. According to my calculator, that makes the total budget for animal control services to be $411,000, by securing those services from Animal Friends.

In stark contrast, I believe that Wildomar could provide for its own properly-scaled Municipal Animal Control Service, at the following approximate cost:

1) Animal control officer                  $75,000 per year
2) Facility assistant                         $35,000 per year
3) Animal control vehicle                 $45,000 one-time
4) Kennel cages                              $15,000 one time
5) Facility lease                               $60,000 per year
6) less License fees                       <$80,000>

Based on the above, the City of Wildomar could have a properly-sized animal control function for a total gross cost of $170,000 per year, less $80,000 in license fee revenue, for total net cost of $90,000 per year, with a modest capital improvement expenditure of $60,000 to get started.

The cost savings would be an immediate benefit the City of Wildomar.

Wildomar remains in the unique position in the JPA of being able to secede without being responsible for an 18% share of the original $12,000,000 construction bond debt, since Wildomar joined the JPA after the bond indebtedness had been incurred.

However, if the JPA were to refinance their bond debt, and Wildomar were still a part of the JPA, Wildomar would then be on the hook for more than $2,000,000 in order to secede from the agreement.

That fact alone should make secession from the JPA a matter of urgency for Wildomar.

Wildomar cannot afford to remain a part of the  AFV/JPA.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com

And it would create two new jobs in the City of Wildomar, while potentially saving in excess of $300,000 per year.

If the current city Council can’t “pencil”  this out for themselves, after seeing these plausible numbers, then perhaps the letter “D” might stand for something else besides dogcatcher.

“Re-Thinking Wildomar; Doing better with less.”


How To Pass A New Parcel Tax Measure….

June 30, 2012

…. IN AN ANTI-TAX POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

If only the  Wildomar City Council had chosen to run a simple parcel tax in June 2011, thereby eliminating the opposition to the self-imposed stigma of a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District. Had they done so, it is likely that Measure D would have been successful. (But then, if my aunt had a mustache, she’d be my uncle).

Intending to be true to my words spoken before the Wildomar City Council last Wednesday evening, I will not oppose the upcoming $28 per year parcel tax, which is likely to be authorized at the July 2012 City Council meeting.

The underlying premise of my previous promotion and support for a simple parcel tax, was that it was the “easiest sell” as a replacement tax  for the tax maintenance assessment that was struck down by the Appeals Court. Unfortunately for the citizens of Wildomar, the City Council squandered their best opportunity to have an ongoing funding mechanism for parks.

Now they’re going to have to do something different to regain the political momentum for the upcoming election.

Quite naturally, I have a suggestion for them. (“Re-Thinking Wildomar; Doing Better With Less”)

Back in the 1980s, I was the top listing Realtor for all of the ERA Realty franchise’s of Central California, selling real estate in the beautiful community of Visalia, California.

My particular niche was to go after “expired listings,” by fearlessly and personally contacting frustrated homeowners, whose homes had been on the market for months without selling,  due to a recessionary economic environment.

I was able to re-list their homes with a promise to re-energize interest in their home in a variety of ways, primarily through a reduction in price.

In the same manner, the Wildomar City Council could re-energize political support for the upcoming parcel tax by reducing the amount requested, for the following reasons:

1) If the new measure is successful, there will be more parcels “taxed” than in the previous assessment.

According to Assistant City Manager, Gary Nordquist, this revealing admission; “The parcel tax would generate in the ballpark of $330,000, which is still greater than the approximately $225,000 needed to fund parks’ maintenance.”

The additional monies is simply from an increase in the number of parcels which will be taxed under the new measure.

Based on the above, the Wildomar City Council could, and should, reduce the requested amount by approximately 32%, asking owners to approve a parcel tax in the range of $19-$20 per year.

 2) The costs allocated to parks could, and should be, significantly reduced.

Again according to Nordquist, during his PowerPoint presentation at last week’s Special Council meeting, he used old and outdated budget numbers for park maintenance, such as $122,000 per year for Marna O’Brien, and and $35,000 each, for Windsong Park and Heritage Regency Park.

These numbers included the cost for a contract vendor to provide services as Community Services Director in the specific amount of $24,000.

However, with the creation of the Community Services Manager employee position, those previously-contracted services will be absorbed in the proposed $60,000-$70,000 salary for the new position,  of which parks oversight will be a smaller, allocable budget item for an exempt, salaried employee.

Overall, the parks budget could, and should,  be reduced by approximately another 12%.

As a result, the Wildomar City Council could, and should, reduce the amount requested in the new parcel tax to as little as $17.50 per parcel.

The immediate benefit of proposing a smaller parcel tax would be the positive public relations opportunities that will be provided to the pro-park proponents, who will have to be the city’s surrogates for the measure and should enable the proponents to gain a 66 2/3% majority vote on November 06, 2012.

Just like an old and tired real estate listing, if you put it back on the market, you have to do something different.

And nothing garners people’s attention better than a price reduction.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

I know that Nordquist can “sharpen his pencil,” if so directed by the City Council.

Greedy politicians and bureaucrats ultimately created the Tea Party movement.