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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Council needs to listen to the people

Letter to Glendale News Press

On the eve of July 4, 2013, a group of concerned citizens met at Glendale Central Library because Glendale City Council was planning to raise the electric rates of the people without their consent.

On Aug. 6, 2013, our City Council, without the expressed approval of the people, raised our electric rates 29.1% over the next five years, because our politicians since 2000 depleted approximately $250 million from Glendale Water & Power and decided to use that money for non-utility usage.

Today, practically nothing is left in our utility company. Why did we need another electric rate increase and another $60-million bond obligation? Why did we transfer the $250 million to the General Fund to pay for the bloated unfunded and unsustainable salaries and pensions of the city union workforce? The concerned people formed the Glendale Coalition for Better Government and in February reluctantly filed a lawsuit against the city of Glendale.
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Earlier this year, another group of concerned citizens formed the Tax Limitation Committee. These citizens are currently circulating a petition throughout the city to repeal the city’s 7% Utility Users Tax on water, electricity, natural gas, phone and cellphones. These citizens are upset because the utility tax is being transferred to the General Fund for non-utility usage.

When our elected officials do not want to listen to the people, but are beholden to the city unions as well as large developers, then a citizens’ revolt is a natural reaction.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION


Transcript of council speech.       
                             
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. On the eve of the 4th of July 2013, a group of concerned citizens met at Glendale Central Library, because Glendale City Council was planning to raise the electric rates of the people, without their consent. This action was in violation of Proposition 26 of the State Constitution. On August 6, 2013, our City Council without the express approval of the people raised our electric rates 29.1%, over the next five years, because our politicians since 2000 depleted approximately $250 million from Glendale Water and Power Company and decided to use that money for non utility usage. 

Little over a year ago a GWP meeting was held at the Glendale Police Station Headquarters.  Our new City Manager, Scott Ochoa, informed the people’s attorney, Professor Harry Zavos, that the utility company had about $150 million in 2005. 

Today, practically nothing is left in our utility company. Mr. Ochoa and Mayor Weaver, where did the people’s money go? Why did we need to have another electric rate increase last year plus another $60 million bond? Why? Did we transfer all that money to the General Fund to pay for the bloated salaries and pensions of our Union City workforce? 

Mayor Weaver, why did you have to tell Professor Zavos if he did not like the way GWP was being run he should sue the city? Mayor Weaver, why did you tell this speaker a couple of months ago if I did not like the way the city was being run … I should just leave? Mayor Weaver, in all due respect, did the people elect you king? I thought we had elected you as a council person accountable to the people.

Last week the GLENDALE COALITION FOR BETTER GOVERNMENT fought back and reluctantly filed a lawsuit against the City of Glendale for the illegal transfer of millions of dollars from Glendale Water and Power to the General Fund to be used for non GWP purposes.

Glendale Coalition for Better Government welcomes members of the community who are looking for integrity, accountability, responsiveness, and transparency in city government. The COALITION is an all volunteer, non partisan, non-profit organization.  Their website is www.GlendaleCaCoalition.Org. 

Earlier this year, another group of concerned citizens formed THE TAX LIMITATION COMMITTEE. These citizens are currently circulating a petition, throughout the city, to repeal the city’s 7% Utility Users Tax on water, electricity, gas, phone and cell phones. These citizens are upset, because the taxes that Glendale Water and Power say they need is being transferred to the city’s General Fund.  Last year alone, about $21 million was transferred from our utility company. Subsequently, to add insult to injury our City Council members claim Glendale Water and Power needs more money to run its utility company and continues to increase rates on water, electricity and new bond obligations.

When is enough….. enough? Why is GWP being used as a CASH COW in violation of the city Charter?

As struggling families and small merchants try to survive in this economy the question being asked is...Where is all that money going?

Prior to the American Revolution against the British in 1776, the cry heard throughout the 13 colonies was “taxation without representation”. Now, in the city of Glendale a different cry is being heard when citizens have to reluctantly revolt and sue their local government or seek a petition to repeal  miss -used taxes.

When our elected officials do not want to listen to the people, but are beholden to the unions as well as large developers, then a citizens’ revolt is a natural re-action.

A few merchants where one can sign the Petition to Repeal the City Utility Users Tax are:

Adams Square:
     Cristi Cleaners, Adams Kabob House
Kenneth Village:
     Jerry Armen Realtor, Georges Cucina’s Restaurant
Montrose/Glendale:
     Trotta Floor Covering, Dominos Pizza, Quiznoz, Twigs and Things
South Glendale:     Antique Car Wash, Braun Brakes
Chevy Chase
Canyon:     Boris Auto Repair, Mike Mohill

Statue serves as an important reminder

Letter to Glendale News Press

Recently there has been a great deal of controversy about the Korean comfort-women statue located at Glendale Central Park and its message about man’s inhumanity to man. Some people say Glendale should not get involved in international politics; some say otherwise.

I find it appalling that the people who have filed a lawsuit against the city have said that “many comfort women acted willingly as prostitutes and the military was not directly involved in any coercion.” These are the same tactics that the Turkish lobbyists use to deny the Armenian Genocide by claiming the Armenians were siding with the Russians during World War I.

Can one just imagine if one’s wife, sister or girlfriend offered their body to a military officer? The real question is why, if at all, these Korean women offered their virginity? Did they offer it for survival?

Recently, I read in the Los Angeles Times of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor, who died at age 111. Sommer lost her husband and family members to the Nazis of Germany. In her biography she said “practice the Chopin etudes,” a voice told her as her mother was carted away. “They will save you.” Because of her special talent at the piano, she entertained her Nazi guards in order to survive the gas chambers.
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Like Sommer, the comfort women did what they did in order to survive.

The Korean comfort-women statue is a small way to remember man’s inhumanity to man.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

PETITION TO REPEAL THE 7% CITY UTILITY USERS TAX



2/6/14   - Today, Glendale residents have an opportunity to repeal the UTILITY USERS TAX by 7% on their Glendale Water and Power (GWP) utility bill and natural gas bill and 6.5% on their Cable and telecommunications bill.  A petition is being circulated throughout our city in which the public has a chance to regain control of their local government from the politicians… enough is enough in taxes and in fees!
While struggling families and businesses are coping with today’s economy, our politicians lack the fiscal integrity to manage and implement fiscal control over the city’s expenditures.
From 2001 through 2012, Glendale’s population actually declined by 4.5%. During the same period, the city’s “budget” increased by a staggering 62%, rising from $438 million to over $700 million. Even with this unprecedented increase in the city’s budget, the City Council is currently proposing further increases in the city’s utility taxes as well as other taxes and fees.
Because our city leaders are either unable or unwilling to control spending and manage resources, the people must take direct action to ensure they do so.  Reducing city revenue will force our leaders to downsize the cost of government, rather than perpetually seeking new ways to tax the public. The UTILITY TAX reduction is ONLY 4% of the city’s budget. If our leaders cannot manage a 4% reduction in revenue then we, the people, must take the initiative.  
As usual, our politicians will use scare tactics against the uninformed public when claiming “they” need the money.

REDUCE ALL OF YOUR UTILITY USAGE FEES BY 6.5% TO 7% …If you would like to place this initiative on the ballot.    Sincerely     Mike Mohill    Glendale      818-383-5001
Looking for volunteers…..PLEASE SIGN THE UTILITY USERS TAX INITIATIVE AT:
 Kenneth Village:            JERRY ARMEN REALTOR 1412 W. Kenneth Rd.
                                             GEORGES CUCINA’S ITALIANA RESTAURANT 1418 W. Kenneth Rd.
FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL 1422 W. Kenneth Rd.
                                             OLD FASHION DELI & GROCERIES 1225 N. Pacific Ave/ Glenoaks Blvd.
                                             THE CLEANING STORE 1225 N. Pacific Ave/ Glenoaks Blvd.
Glendale/Burbank         PACKAGING AND SHIPPING EXPERTS 822 N. Allen Ave / Golden State Fwy #5  91201
Sparr Heights:                   DOMINOS PIZZA 3430 Ocean View Blvd. / Verdugo Rd.
Montrose/ Glendale:     TROTTA FLOOR COVERINGS 3221 N. Verdugo Rd. / La Crescenta Blvd.
                                                TWIGS & THINGS 2266 Honolulu Ave.
                                                QUIZNOS  3701 Ocean View Blvd. / Honolulu Ave.
Rancho/Riverside:         ACE LIQUOR & MARKET 1740 Victory Blvd. / Western Ave.  
South Glendale:                SUB/STOP 1340 E. Colorado Blvd. / Verdugo Rd.
                                             BRAUN BRAKE & AUTO REPAIR 1001 E. Broadway/ Adams.
                                             ANTIQUE CAR WASH 236 W. Glendale Ave/ Colorado Blvd.
                                             YEREVAN PRINTING 702 E. Colorado Blvd/Glendale Ave.
Adams Square:                ADAMS  KABOB HOUSE 1130 S. Adam St. / Chevy Chase.
                               CRYSTI CLEANERS 1124  S. Adam St/ Chevy Chase.
Chevy Chase Canyon:    BORIS AUTO REPAIR, INC. 2060 E. Chevy Chase Dr. / Glenoaks Blvd
Glendale Oakmont:        KEN LANDON  Please  call first  818-957-3750

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

City leaders need to show fiscal restraint


Letter to Glendale News Press

The public has an opportunity to repeal the 7% utility users tax, which is located on one’s Glendale Water and Power utility bill and natural gas bill. A petition is being circulated throughout our city in which the public has a chance to regain control of their local government from the politicians. Enough is enough in taxes and in fees!

While struggling families and businesses are coping with today’s economy, our politicians lack fiscal responsibility.

From 2001 through 2012, Glendale’s population declined. During the same period, the city’s budget increased by a staggering amount. The City Council is currently proposing further increases in the city’s utility taxes as well as other taxes.

Because our city leaders are either unable or unwilling to control spending and manage resources, the people must take direct action to ensure they do so. Reducing city revenue will force our leaders to be more competent rather than perpetually seeking new ways to tax the public.
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As usual, our politicians will use scare tactics against the uninformed public when claiming “they” need the money.

The collection of signatures neither supports nor opposes the utility users tax initiative. It simply places the initiative on the ballot and allows the voters to decide their future.

Mike Mohill
Glendale

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caltrans concerns were foreseeable

Letter to Glendale News Press

Our council members like to think of themselves as great visionaries. So why did the public have to read in the News-Press on Jan. 10 that Caltrans confirmed the consistent concerns of the public over planning for the approximately 21 apartment complexes with 3,800 apartments for south Glendale? Caltrans would not have been so critical of our council and planning department had the council spent less time on design and more time planning for the infrastructure of the city.

The individual buildings wouldn’t have a significant effect on the infrastructure of the city, but the cumulative effect of approximately 3,800 apartments will not only impinge on nearby neighborhood street parking and traffic, but will also create more havoc at the 134 Freeway exits at Pacific, Brand, Central and Glendale avenues.

Why didn’t our council members ask the developers for more impact fees? Whatever happened to prudent development, controlled growth and not greed? Rapid overdevelopment only creates jobs for our union employees. Instead, the taxpayers of Glendale, and not the out-of-town wealthy developers, will see their quality of life affected.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MORE DIVERSION OF GWP FUNDS


Speech before Glendale City Council
 

Mayor Weaver, as the longest serving member of our city council you have known for years of the crumbling and ageing of the Grayson Power Plant. Stand- in Councilman Quintero and recently re-elected council members Friedman and Najarian have also known about the ageing power plant long before the April election, beefore the recently approved 2013 budget made possible by millions of dollars in borrowed money in the form of municipal bonds, increased fees and taxes.

And long before transferring another $21 million from Glendale Water and Power to the General Fund into the pockets of our city union employees.  Transferred money is primarily being used to pay for our inflated unsustainable salaries, pensions and benefits of our city union workers.  

IN 2001 GWP ELECTRICAL FUND had over $198million and the WATER FUND had about $46million totaling about $244million. Today, these funds are virtually gone. Where did this money go?

Previous GWP Mgr, Glen Steiger, was fired under the pretext of double dipping his expenses. This was a misleading public statement by management. The truth was Mr. Steiger, the best employee that money could buy, was fired because he had a stake in the Commodity Market with GWP’s money. That is, the rate payers money.  Under his leadership, Mr. Steiger, lost over $120 million of GWP money trading futures in electricity and gas. No public announcement was made of his actual dishonesty. It was all swept under the rug just like the missing $244 million that was in the GWP back in 2001.

Today’s leadership of GWP is being run by two individuals who have no background in running a utility company. Mr. Steve Zurn who has a political science degree and no engineering background.  Then, Mr. Steve Lynn, no engineer, but a lawyer who previously worked under former City Attorney, Scott Howard. At community forums Mr. Lynn would answer questions like an attorney, not as an engineer. 

In 2013, at a GWP community meeting being held at our local Police Station our City Attorney, Mike Garcia, and the people’s attorney, Harry Zavos, debated City Charter changes A, B and C. People were angry that night when they asked our new City Manger, Scott Ochoa, where did the $244 million GWP money go? 

Council members continue to act surprised, but they have been cannibalizing GWP for years and passing so called balanced budgets from borrowed money, new and increased fees and taxes. Recently, at the 11th hour, our city manager and council members had the audacity to tell the public we needed to set aside $5million for emergency plant repairs without any competitive bidding.    

Before the April election, even the representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) came before the council while negotiating and reported the Grayson Plant needed repairs and they were against the large transfers of money from the GWP to the General Fund.

Because of diversion of funds from GWP and the miss-management of city resources, council now wants to increase our electrical rates approximately 30-70% over the next five years. Plus, another $60 million bond is in the planning stage to keep the utility afloat.  

In a recent staff report according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a penalty of up to a million dollars per day, per penalty will be assessed if our utility company does not fulfill its responsibility.     

Our city fathers would be turning over in their graves as they never envisioned the GWP becoming a “cash cow” for the city unions’ salaries and pensions.  As usual lawyers, Ara Najarian, will do his Dog and Pony Show and suggest council sell GWP to Southern California Edison for councils many management mistakes.
    
 Mike Mohill