As the Fullerton City Council prepares to hike water rates as “pass-through increases” I thought it would be good to share the sweet deal MWD employees get on April 1, 2012 (no, its not a joke) and see just what is being passed through to us.
Come April 1st the employees of MWD get a $6,000 bonus as part of their contract.
9.3 Effective the first day of the pay period that includes April 1, 2012, each employee in the bargaining unit shall receive a one-time only payment of $6,000 which shall not be considered part of the employee‘s regular pay.
If that wasn’t bad enough, July 1, 2013 MWD employees will get a 0.25% raise. And if you think 0.25% isn’t much of a raise, consider what else gets slipped in. How about creating “higher steps” for employees who have hit the salary ceiling and giving them raises as well?
9.4 Effective the first day of the pay period that includes July 1, 2013, there shall be an across-the-board salary increase of 0.25%. In addition, all bargaining unit classifications shall be moved two (2) salary grades higher (approximately 2.75% for each grade), and placed at the equivalent salary step in the new grade (e.g. an employee at step 11 on June 30, 2013 would be placed at step 9 of his new salary grade).
All bargaining unit employees will be place on the same evaluation date, and will receive a performance evaluation for the period ending July 1, 2013. Employees will be eligible for a merit increase pursuant to ARTICLE 65—MERIT INCREASES.
These generous employee benefits are being passed along to Fullerton water customers in the form of “pass-through” rate increases. When the City Council pushes for a rate hike this year, be sure to speak up in opposition. The City Council will be happy to pass the buck so long as we sit quietly and let them.
Amid Fullerton’s water rate debacle the City’s representative on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced Tuesday that he is stepping down. After representing the City of Fullerton for 24 years on the MWD Board of Directors, Jim Blake says he is done.
It is rumored that Fullerton’s retired city manager Chris Meyer is looking to be appointed as Blake’s replacement but that will require a majority vote by the Fullerton City Council. Since City Council Members Bankhead and Jones appointed Meyer as City Manager in 2002, there is little doubt that they wouldn’t give him the MWD nod as well.
However, with Fullerton’s water rates under scrutiny and an illegal tax being batted about City Hall for justification, you have to wonder how much of the water mess can be attributed to Meyer- not to mention the rest of the City’s countless woes.
An appointment of Meyer to the MWD Board might bring further outcry to City Hall, something the new Mayor might wish to avoid. Since August the Council members have been cussed at, cursed at, sworn up and down, and yelled at. They are now being held accountable for their general lack of leadership by a campaign to recall three members, Mayor Pro Tem Pat McKinley, and members Don Bankhead and F. Dick Jones.
Many believe that the appointment should be filled by a current council member so that they can be held responsible by Fullerton voters for their actions on the Board. Currently, Blake is answerable only to the Fullerton City Council.
If the appointment is to be held by a non-council member, then the process should be open to ALL candidates equally like any other council appointment to a commission or committee.
Whoever is appointed will be tasked with a massive budgetary shortfall that rivals Sacramento’s. The appointee will be asked for double-digit rate hikes and even more spending. They need to know the water industry and even more about public policy and long-term investment solutions. They need to know Fullerton and not just through the myopic eyes of service clubs.
Fullerton deserves an accountable and credible representative on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Earlier this month Terri Sforza wrote about a possible merger between Metropolitan Water District and the Orange County Water District. For years the Orange County Register has pointed out the redundant and ridiculous overlaps in these two agencies and how it makes sense for taxpayers, or rate payers depending on your view of payments to government bureaucracies.
How much money would be saved by such a merger seems to be open to debate but Sforza thinks at least $1-million right from the start. Putting the $1-million in perspective, Sforza notes that it is just a drop in the $300-million revenue bucket for the agencies.
Currently, the Orange County Water District is a “member agency” of the MWDOC. These multiple layers of bureaucracy removes the people, water users and voters, further from the decision-making table. Perhaps a merger will bring Fullerton voters and water users closer to the table of managements’ fiduciary responsibility to the people they serve.
As it stands, Fullerton voters get one single vote from Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead who represents Fullerton voters on the OCWD Board of Directors. That is one vote out of ten cast on each issue before the Board.
No one knows what a merger will mean for Fullerton. All we can do is wonder if a bigger water agency equates to a better water agency for those who foot the bill. If history has taught us anything it is that bigger government is not better government.
REMINDER: The Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee’s last meeting is tonight at 6:30PM at Fullerton City Hall. Don’t be shy, we’re in this together. Speak now or pay later!
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is spending $571,400 to fund their internal Ethics Office according to the approved 2011 budget.
According to the District’s website, the Ethics Office “helps maintain an ethical culture at Metropolitan by enforcement of ethics-related rules and laws; education for directors, officers and employees; and enhancement by promotion of the District’s six core values.” Are MWD employees so unethical that they need this office? Maybe, but they don’t seem to be doing a very good job of educating employees and board members. I vaguely recall an attempt 2 years ago to get a 25% retroactive pension spike.
That’s $571,400 to “help maintain an ethical culture”.
The funds pay for one Ph.D. and two others identified as an educator and an administrative liaison. With failed overhead like this, it is no wonder the MWD Operations & Maintenance budget projects an 18.4% increase in salary and benefit costs as well as a 23% increase in construction related costs and a 23% increase in Water System Operations!
It’s also no wonder why Fullerton’s water rates are anticipated to nearly double.
This Monday, May 23rd, the City will be holding a public meeting with an ad-hoc water rate committee in the City Council chambers at City Hall (303 W. Commonwealth) at 6:30PM. I encourage ALL Fullerton water users to attend. You will be given an opportunity to voice your concerns and let committee members know where you stand.
If you would like a copy of the Fullerton Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee Briefing, please email me at [email protected] and I will email it to you.
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.
We have thoroughly and comprehensively debunked the campaign blather about Linda Ackerman being some sort of businesswoman. She’s not, of course. That’s just a lie, and almost as bad as her claim to be living in Fullerton. The sum and substance of her business experience seems to be calling up lobbyists to raise moolah for her husband Dick’s campaigns.
She doesn’t mention that in her resume, of course, because that wouldn’t look too good. Intead she shares the fact that she is on the board of a collection agency. And her campaign propaganda never fails to mention that she sits on the board of the Metropolitan Water District, an appointment no doubt orchestrated by her husband.
But let us reflect upon the MWD, a giant government entity that acts like a public utility but that in reality is an association of governments. We have already shared how Loophole Linda voted for a massive water rate hike last spring (oh no, not a tax, heaven forfend!). A recent editorial by the San Diego Union Tribune raises questions about the complete lack of leadership at the MWD – leadership the Ackerwoman is pitching as hard as she can. The SDUT notes that during the run -up to the now abandoned pension spike the MWD authorized a $100,000 contract with an operation called Marathon Communications to push the contract through; and a $300,000 contract with Agreement Dynamics to craft an agreement that would fly.
Think of it: $400,000 spent on consultants to create a deal and PR-ram it through. All at the expense of everybody at the end of the shower nozzle. And all wasted. Who agreed to all this? Good question. If the Board didn’t, then why didn’t they? If they did…
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?
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.