Last month Fullerton requested feedback via Nextdoor and elsewhere from citizens regarding the raising of our water rates because our city is incompetent and decided not to repair infrastructure over the last several decades and now the bill is coming due by way of broken and rotting pipes.
So what we paid for already we need to pay for again and this time they pinky swear they mean to fix things. For realsies.
Those of you familiar with this blog should know about the “7 Walls of Local Government” which is quite possibly one of the best series of posts on local government ever committed to words in the modern era. If you’re unfamiliar go give it a read and then come back.
The 7 Walls, to many people, is simply theoretical so I wanted to offer this Fullerton water rate issue as an example of the walls in practice.
So here we have a form of Local Government Wall #3 –The Performance.
With the current rate hike under consideration the city claimed that they wanted feedback and in order for your “protest” to be counted you needed to sign a letter and email or send it in to the city. One person per household or parcel so hopefully you weren’t a renter or had more than one opinion in your domicile.
Just emails wouldn’t count, social media posts wouldn’t count and ACTUALLY SPEAKING AGAINST the increase at council wouldn’t count. To quote the city’s own FAQ:
“However, oral comments at the Public Hearing will not qualify as a formal protest of the proposed rate action unless accompanied by a written protest setting forth the required information.”
Gee, it’s almost like they wanted to limit it as much as possible all while claiming to be doing far beyond the bare minimum that’s legally required by law.
But they totally cared about your opinions or so they’d like you to believe and even told council.
Being one to not trust bureaucrats I challenged them on the premise and requested what they did with the “protests” they received up to and during the council meeting in question.
Here is the response:
They “were received, recorded and read by Public Works” and council only got a “response letter”.
That “response letter” was prepared early in order to be included in the agenda packet for the city council meeting on 04 June 2019 and was released to the public at approximately 6:15pm on 30 May 2019.
What this means is that council never received your protest prior to voting and thus those making the decision to raise your rates never heard what you had to say before voting.
Better yet – staff RESPONDED TO your “protest” possibly before you even made it. Any protest that came in after 30 May 2019 and before the item closed on Tuesday was just totally ignored.
But wait! There’s more!
The water Department had a table at the 04 June meeting with two staffers answering questions and offering slips of paper to those who wanted to “support” or “protest” the water rates. Slips that were meaningless because the department had already give council the only data they planned on giving them before the vote.
Your protest doesn’t matter, your reasons don’t matter, and city staff completely control your access to government and the decisions it renders.
That’s some next level condescending right there.
I’m not even sure the way they handled these public protests is legal. Telling people their “protest” didn’t count in public comments certainly seems to violate the Brown Act.
If nothing else it shows how anti-transparent and arrogant our city is when it comes to addressing the concerns of the people who even bother to take the time to interact with our government.
Keep in mind these are the same exact people who stole tens of millions from the water fund in an illegal tax kick back scheme to pay salaries and pensions.
Had that money gone to fix crumbling pipes, we wouldn’t be in this mess, but why prevent a crisis when you can instead exploit it to raise taxes and fees… to pay pensions and salaries.
Once again a wall of government has been slammed in the faces of we the people, we the taxpayers, we the citizens who these jackholes are supposed to work for and represent.