Here’s a fun image of the house of an anti-recaller who seems to want people to believe that Fullerton is not for sale. Whose abode is it?
Why none other than Mr. Jim Blake, Fullerton’s Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Representative for Life, who was recently busted by a local news watchdog for his high living on the water rate payer’s dime. Blake also got some unwanted publicity from Teri Sforza at the Register for racking up huge travel bills a water junketeer. Blake has every reason to support the Three Hollow Logs, just as I’m sure they appreciate his ethical backing.
So there you have it folks: the Culture of Corruption in high dudgeon as it misrepresents itself to what it fervently hopes is an unsuspecting public.
Well, the Fullerton Culture of Corruption is in the news again, and, naturally, not in a good way. The star of the show is Fullerton’s own Jim Blake. Here is a CBS undercover report on Metropolitan Water District board members wining and dining themselves on our dime – even as they keep jacking up the commodity cost of water to us, a cost to which our wise City Fathers then tack on an illegal 10% tax!
Jim Blake has been the choice of Fullerton’s establishment to represent our City on the MWD since the Third Day, when God gathered the waters.
Of course this is no news to us here at FFFF. We reported on Blake and Linda Ackerwoman running up huge “travel” tabs a long time ago, here and here. Blake has been reappointed by Bankhead and Jones over and over again. Why?
Well, Blake is supposedly calling it quits at MWD, but not before causing Fullerton more embarrassment.
Last week the Register’s Watchdog Teri Sforza did a piece on members of the opaque Metropolitan Water District Board who had racked up huge travel expenses soldiering onward for you and me in the great water wars.
Who’s well up on the list? Fullerton’s representative, Jim Blake, for one. Another is Fullerton resident wannabe Linda Ackerwoman who lives in Irvine but tried to carpetbag her way to fame and forune as our Assembly representative. This egregious pair racked up bills of $18,302 and $13,356 respectively, in 2009-2010. The biggest line item was lodging in for both.
It seems that Mrs. Ackerwoman got up on her offended hinders to defend the indefensible – with the usual blather about how hard she works for us, and the rigors of travel to engage herself in all these hyper-complicated issues. Of course the real truth is that if this job were so damn complicated she couldn’t do it in the first place. More truth: these trustees are hand-held and led along by their staff upon whom they are completely reliant. Which is no doubt why Madame Ackerwoman voted to jack up by 20% the rates requested by the aquacrats in the spring of 2009. See, the relationship is pretty symbiotic.
The fun Ackerwoman quote from the Sforza piece? Here it is: “the whole world of water is ballet.”
Wow! Thanks for that, Linda. Now go slip into your swimsuit!
And lest we forget Jim Blake, who has been on the Board since before water was even created, isn’t it time to switch to a more reliable, less expensive model?
Linda “19%” Ackerwoman has until February 28, 2010 to fess up to her phony Fullerton residency or lose her coveted seat on the Metropolitan Water District Board.
She still represents the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County on the MWD Board, but her phony “granny flat” at the Dolans is outside that district, which does include her real home (2 Mineral King) in Irvine.
According to MWDOC bylaws, she will lose her seat if she lives outside its service area for more than 6 months.
Of course, she could keep up the ruse and try to seize Fullerton’s own seat on the MWD Board, long held (20+ years) by old Buck Catlin crony Jim Blake.
Could the Ackermans’ launch a challenge to Blake? Where would Linda’s council backers Bankhead and Jones stand? Would Keller and Quirk fall for the “woman thing” or an ABB (Anyone But Blake) sentiment? The longer she remains registered in Fullerton, the more credible an anti-Blake coup becomes!
Far-fetched? Maybe. After all, Blake’s an old Ackerman klingon, too.
Reregister, now, Linda. Take your 19% and Roski money with you and stay on the MWD Board representing your real home in Irvine.
UPDATE: HERE’S AN INFORMATIVE POST WE RAN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO ABOUT HOW GOVT REVENUE RAISERS DO IT AND EVADE THE “TAXER” LABEL. THE OTHER GIMMICK IS ‘FEE” INCREASES. IT TELLS YOU ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ACKERWOMAN’S HOLLOW NO TAX PLEDGE.
Yesterday we published an e-mail from Joe Sipowicz about the lame-brain “no tax pledge” signed by Mrs. Linda Ackerman, presumably to shore up uncertainty about her conservative credentials. She needs to.
As Joe trenchantly pointed out, there are all sorts of ways to raise revenue without calling them taxes. Let’s cast our minds back a few months.
Back on April 14 of this year, never dreaming of ever becoming a candidate for political office, Linda Ackerman went along with the pro-government revenue crowd – voting to raise MWD water rates by an astounding 19.7%. That’s right folks. A 20% commodity increase for the water MWD provides to local water purveyors – like the City of Fullerton; and to the OC Water District for basin replenishment.
Here’s the excerpt from the April 14, 2009 MWD meeting minutes.
47859 Regarding the water rates and charges, Business and Finance Committee Chairman Grunfeld remarked on the unprecedented amount of time both Directors and staff spent on the rates and charges, keeping in mind their fiduciary duties and general responsibilities to the 19 million people that Metropolitan serves via their respective member agencies. Committee Chairman Grunfeld then moved, seconded by Director Santiago, that the Board adopt the CEQA determination and approve Option #2 set forth in the revised board letter signed by the General Manager on April 7, 2009, with an amendment to add Item (d) and:
a. Approve an 8.8 percent increase in water rates, plus a $69/AF Delta Supply Surcharge for a total average increase of 19.7 percent, effective September 1, 2009; b. Adopt Resolution 9087 to Impose the Readiness-to-Serve Charge;
Minutes -9- April 14, 2009
c. Adopt Resolution 9088 to Impose the Capacity Charge, said resolutions entitled:
Resolution 9087: RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIXING AND ADOPTING A READINESS-TO-SERVE CHARGE FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2010
Resolution 9088 RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIXING AND ADOPTING A CAPACITY CHARGE EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2010
d. Direct staff to work with the member agencies and the Board to evaluate the historical cost-of-service methodology utilized by Metropolitan, including a review of additional fixed charges, including property taxes, with the intent to ensure that all rates and charges recover the full cost of service when the Board establishes rates for the 2010/11 fiscal year .
Comments were made by Directors for and against the motion with emphasis on the treatment surcharge and decreasing reserves. The Chair called for a vote on the motion.
The following is a record of the vote on the motion:
Ayes: Anaheim (Dir. M. Edwards, 3,466 votes), Beverly Hills (Dir. Wunderlich, 2,033 votes), Central Basin Municipal Water District (Dirs. Apodaca and Hawkins, 11,185 votes), Eastern Municipal Water District (Dir. Record, 6,731 votes), Inland Empire Utilities Agency (Dir. Santiago, 8,440 votes), Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (Dir. Peterson, 1982 votes), Long Beach (Dir. Lowenthal, 3,984 votes), Los Angeles (Ayes: Dirs. Grunfeld and J. Murray. Absent: Dirs. Quiñonez and Sutley. 40,455 votes), Municipal Water District of Orange County (Ayes: Dirs. Ackerman, Dick, and Foley. Absent: Dir. Bakall. 34,917 votes), San Diego County Water Authority (Dirs. Barrett, Lewinger, Pocklington, and Steiner, 38,213 votes), San Fernando
Minutes -10- April 14, 2009
(Dir. Ballin, 150 votes), Santa Ana (Dir. Griset, 2,169 votes), Santa Monica (Dir. Abdo, 2,332 votes), West Basin Municipal Water District (Dirs. Gray and Little, 13,663 votes), Western Municipal Water District of Riverside County (Dir. Lopez, 8,456 votes). Total 178,176 votes.
Noes: Burbank (Dir. Brown, 1,803 votes), Calleguas Municipal Water District (Dir. Grandsen, 8,160 votes), Foothill Municipal Water District (Dir. J. Edwards, 1,272 votes), Fullerton (Dir. Blake, 1,457 votes), Glendale (Dir. Kavounas, 2,226 votes), San Marino (Dir Morris, 399 votes), Three Valleys Municipal Water District (Dir. De Jesus, 5,031 votes), Torrance (Dir. Wright, 2,186 votes), Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (Dir. Robinson, 7,257 votes). Total 29,791 votes. Not Participating: Pasadena (Dir. Brick, 2,037 votes). Total 2,037 votes. Absent: Compton (Dir. Arceneaux, 362 votes). Total 362 votes.
The Chair declared the recommended water rates and charges and resolutions to impose charges for fiscal year 2009/10 passed by 178,176 ayes, 29,791 noes, 2,037 not participating, and 362 absent.
Thanks, for that one Linda! Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Yesterday the MWD General Manager abandoned the proposed pension jump for employees that would have raised their retirement formula. Here’s the story. He conceded that the votes weren’t there. Which means, of course, that a vote was held, only not in public. Somehow that seems like it should be illegal – Brown Act-wise, but of course government bureaucracies are legally incapable of committing any sort of crime.
We’re disappointed because a public vote would have put our MWD Board Appointee-for-life, Jim Blake on the spot.
All of his public employee lovin’ instincts would have pointed Blake in the direction of approval; under normal circumstances his pension-spiking Council overlords (and ladies) Bankhead, Quirk-Silva, Keller, and Jones would no doubt have backed him up. Who cares if water rates go up, right?
But these are not normal times, what with militant Republicans agitating for tax revolt and special elections putting the spotlight on people like MWD Boardmember Linda Ackerman – who also gets to dodge the responsibility of the vote. Very convenient!
And the union members will never have the opportunity to know how their buddies would have voted.
With the light of public scrutiny shining on the usually opaque doings of the MWD, the whole thing has collapsed like a house of cards.
Teri Sforza has produced another fine Watchdog post over at the Register about the gravy train that already awaits MWD employees in retirement, including a list of over 40 of these watercrats who pull down over $100K a year in pension payements click here . The former top dog who retired in 1993 gets almost $225K per year and has received over $3.5 million since he stopped clocking in. Sweet. For him.
If that weren’t bad enough, now MWD wants to raise their pension formula even more. A few days ago we threw down the gauntlet to our City Council to be accountable for the upcoming vote by their chosen MWD representative, Jim Blake. Well, now we do it again. The vote is next week and we will be reporting back to the friends.
And remember. MWD cost increases are passed directly on to us. On top of that, in Fullerton 10% of gross water revenue (from your water bill) goes directly into the General Fund. And that’s a hidden tax increase, folks.
Here’s the MWD $100,000 club. If you know anyone on the list make sure he/she thanks the water rate payer for their largess:
UPDATE: The MWD Board will take up this matter at its meeting on Sept 15.
The Metropolitan Water District, one of the shadowiest and least transparent agencies in California is contemplating raising its employees pension benefits. The Register opines about ithere and makes reference to an original story by Teri Sforza here .
With bad news about how its own pension plan has been rocked by huge CalPERS investment losses, and with financially teetering state and municipal governments it seems like a poor time for the MWD to be grabbing for more tax-payer backed gravy to benefit a giant gaggle of water bureaucrats. Plus, the MWD just passed along a water commodity rate to its members that we are all paying for.
Fullerton is original member of the MWD and has been represented for a long time, some say way too long, by a fellow named Jim Blake – as we wrote about here .
UPDATE: The MWD is scheduled to take up this matter at its meeting on September 15.
Jim has been on the MWD Board for so long that almost nobody can remember when he went on back in the 80s (1980s, that is). The people who originally appointed him are all long gone. But Jim has well-managed his continual reappointment without anybody else getting a shot at the job. Well, now he’s got an issue that may just spell trouble for his lengthy tenure.
Blake has always been a big pro-staff drum-beater, and its hard to imagine that if, left to his own devises, he wouldn’t go for the pension jack. If he goes for it now, the people who appointed him may discover that it is they who are ultimately responsible for the actions of their appointees. Under ordinary circumstances this might not bother Fullerton’s own pension spiking gang too much. But 2010 is an election year, and we feel certain that this the pension increase will become an issue if it goes through. The city council needs to know that this continued fiscal recklessness will not be tolerated.
If county bureaucrat Hieu Nguyen thinks Dick Ackerman can help his Clerk-Recorder campaign, he’d better think again. There is one word for Ackerman-backed city and county candidates: LOSERS.
Is it just bad luck? Or does Dick choose weak candidates he can control after they’re elected? The problem for him is that they don’t get elected!
Look at the record of Dick’s choices, dating back over a quarter-century:
1982: Ackerman backs insurance agent Jim Williams for Fullerton City Council. Williams loses to Molly McClanahan.
1984: Dick endorses realtor Merrill Braucht for the open council seat. Braucht loses to Chris Norby.
1988: Dick supports Dan Baker for an open council seat. Baker loses to Don Bankhead.
1992: Ackerman goes 0-for-2 in ’92. His hand-picked candidates Jim Blake and Jack Beddell place 5th and 6th.
1994: Ackerman vocally opposes the recall of Buck Catlin, Bankhead and McClanahan. That trio had rubber-stamped an unpopular new utility tax foisted by City Manager Jim Armstrong. The recall easily passes, all three leave office and the tax is repealed.
1996: Dick endorses fellow legislator Mickey Conroy for Third District Supervisor. Conroy loses his cool—and the election–when he flips his opponent the bird during a debate. Brea School Board Member Todd Spitzer wins handily.
2002: Like 1992, Dick goes 0-2 in 2002. He actively supports Supervisor Cynthia Coad’s re-election and is featured prominently in her mailers. Coad loses to Norby. Later that year he backs accountant Chuck Munson for Fullerton City Council. Munson is buried by Shawn Nelson.
To be fair, there is one current Council Member who was elected and thrice re-elected with Dick Ackerman’s support: Dick Jones.
For 21 years, Jim Blake has represented Fullerton on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District. He was appointed back when Reagan was President at the urging of Councilman Buck Catlin, and is supposed to help oversee MWD’s $2 billion annual operations, bringing and distributing Colorado River water into Southern California.
Blake’s re-appointment every 4 years has been rubber stamped by the city council, without interviewing other potential candidates. Why? Can anyone possibly believe he is the only qualified person in Fullerton to hold this position?
This must stop now. Special district members who have been on their boards too long end up representing the bureaucracy – even if they didn’t have this inclination to begin with. And Jim Blake has always been of this mindset. He has endorsed nothing but liberals and RINOs for Fullerton City Council – just the sort of people that slavishly support bureaucrats and are likely to reappoint him!
We need a new face at the MWD. Someone who can approach water issues with a new and independent perspective. Our next representative on this powerful 37 member board must be interviewed and thoroughly vetted by the council. Applications must be solicited from throughout the city.
The job of MWD Director is a demanding one without pay, with many trips up to its L.A. headquarters. No appointment should be rubber stamped. There are a lot of knowledgeable, talented people out there who need the opportunity to step up.
New blood, new ideas and new voices – let’s hear from them!