Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It

For 15 years the city council has been using the Utility Users Tax (UUT) to supplement our cities ability to operate. It didn’t begin this way the 1st time the UUT was put into place as a way to enhance services and provide a bridge to increased tax revenues that would replace the UUT giving the city the ability to allow it to sunset and go away. Well since then some very big things took place making that a hard pill to swallow, here is what has made that impossible:

  • The recession happened – The ever so wise politicians decided that everyone deserved to be able to purchase a home even if they could not afford it. So they created things like State your own income, 4 year interest only loans and allowed people to sell torn up houses for 10 times what they were really worth. Was it any surprise the whole thing fell down around itself and left cities in a very poor place?
  • RDA Money Taken Away – Gov. Brown in all his wisdom decided to take away Redevelopment money away from California cities. This money helped them grow their city and promote why people should spend their tax dollars there verses other cities. This money also made it possible to afford to give developers sweet deals to bring development to local cities.
  • The City’s PERS contract enhancement in 2010 – As a way to entice employees to sign a new employment contract without a raise as a way to say you will have a sweeter retirement later on.
  • Poor investment performance at CALPERS – This has led to the increased PERS cost in the City of Rialto.
  • Retail has come but – The retail stores and shopping are finally coming but not in the numbers that we were told. The new Lewis Shopping Center will bring no more than the new Super Walmart in the south end. Also Mayor Robertson’s warehouses are bringing more problems and not more money. Still many of the warehouses pay tax to cities like Ontario with agreements that cripple small towns like ours.

So last council meeting our city council and mayor were supposed to look at the cities financial future with the community present. According to Mike Story and Robb Steel at the last Budget Finance Committee meeting that city council had the following issues with the Budget Finance Committee’s recommendation:

  • The Budget Advisory Committee didn’t formally recommend what the committee thought city council should do with the cities surplus. Should it remain at 50%?
  • City Council wants to know if the committee would bless spending the cities reserves?
  • City Council doesn’t feel right declaring a state of physical emergency when we have a budget reserve.
  • City Council wants to increase the amount on businesses to as much as 12% and lower it on residents to 6%.
  • City Council no longer believes that Seniors alone should be exempt from paying the tax only low income seniors.

The reason we titled this story “Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It” the popular saying by George Santayana because we find ourselves walking down a similar path. The last time the Utility Users Tax was placed on the ballot for renewal Deborah Robertson was the lone wolf standing in the way. She was throwing a fit and holding her vote hostage until she got what she wanted. This year she is the problem once again but this time it doesn’t seem like public safety is going to blink. You see we have the #1 fire department in the State if not the Country you are more likely to survive a cardiac arrest event here than anywhere else. Also here in Rialto our paramedic program provides an income for the city budget offsetting fire costs, in every other city in the region these services are paid out to minimum wage workers for a private ambulance agency.

Keeping to the topic of public safety lets not forget that it was former police chief Farrar who did the 1st study on the use of body cameras on police officers. That study led to such amazing results that Rialto was one of the 1st agencies in the USA to use body worn cameras department wide. As you can see from the image above officer use of force has dropped as well as citizens complaints of use of force. Also Rialto is one of the few agencies that still has an active Community Policing program and youth intervention programs that are producing results.

Sadly the writting on the wall with everything going on right now is that our city council is playing chicken with our public services and a massive looming debt. Many members of the Budget Advisory Committee see the Mayor and Councils actions as dangerous ways to run a cities finances. One member said that looking at $170 Million pension and health debt over the next 10 years, not moving the Utility User Tax to a vote and even discussing spending reserves is a dangerous course of action. Another member said that council is saying I know I’m get a pay cut next year but I am taking the expensive vacation anyway, this is no way to budget.

So where are things now? Well Council refuses to address the public again with this topic or even the new information on just how bad our budget looks like if we don’t act now. The Budget Advisory Committee on December 18th will hear just what council and the mayor are looking for in regards to spending reserves and playing with the reserve limits. The topic of making seniors pay for the UUT when they have not been required to in the past will also be discussed. The Budget Advisory Committee is a public meeting even though staff refuses to use the cameras in the room and stream the meetings on You Tube the meetings are public. They start at 6 pm and end at 8pm.

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Thousands Spent On Lavish Retirement Party For Mike Story

Update 11/30 2:15 p.m.

Mike Story called us after this article was published. After people that our staff brought up information that was never made available to us we felt the need to see it for ourselves and get information from trustworthy sources. We worked on trying to ascertain the information on this event and were unable to. We spoke to Mike Story in person on November 20th and he said he had nothing to do with the party. At this point we were ready to drop this story and move on as this is Mike Story’s last month of employment. At the Council meeting Tuesday November 28th not only did council do nothing to address the cities financial woes by tabling tab 2 of the meeting but proceeded to talk about Giant Cake, Olives and other nonsense. It was at that moment when we decided to force the truth out by going with what information we had already gathered. Guess what the story was 8 hours old and people were tripping over themselves to set the record straight. Below see the corrected information. 

The following information was sent at the request of Mike Story via Angela Perry:

It was these Business Owners/Developers, as well as community individuals that made donations for Mike’s Retirement.  NO CITY FUNDS WERE USED.  The remainder of the funds are being donated to the City for the Rialto Institute of Progress.  The other reception that you may be referring to, in your blog, was put on by “IHELPIE” a Senior Citizen organization and their volunteers, which was held November 29that the Senior Center after a taping of Senior Voices.  You are more than welcome to attend his upcoming Reception being held on December 14th at Patio West from 5:00 – 7:00 pm; which is also being paid for from the Donations from business owners and the community.

11/29 10:30 p.m.

With Rialto on the brink of Bankruptcy if voters don’t approve the extension of the Utility Users Tax you would think Rialto would be watching every cent right? NOPE, they are out spending money like they just won the lottery  They are spending money in poor ways but not on this party. As you can see from the video above the elite of Rialto had a secret high dollar lavish party at the Sierra Lakes Golf Club to honor outgoing City Administrator Mike Story.

Spending tax dollars like this is one of the reasons that Rialto taxpayers are in for a world of hurt soon. Mayor Robertson and her council have spent thousands on special events for the political elite in warehouses, shut down public parks for Jazz Events that end up costing taxpayers thousands due to low ticket sales and gifting of public buildings to private organizations that are close to the mayor. Earlier this year Rialto Departments were forced to cut budgets by 20% as a way to find more money to pay to defend lawsuits and the consequences of not fully paying our PERS obligations.

When Mike Story was pressed about this party he becomes very uncomfortable and says I had nothing to do with it. Now we have 3 out of 5 of our elected leaders laughing about Cake, Olives and funny stories. Mike Story a person who in hard financial times made hard choices to get Rialto through a storm other cites like Colton have still not pulled through has shown an extreme lack of leadership by allowing this party to go on Mike Stated that every expense that comes from the city he has to sign off on so he had nothing to do with the party and no tax money was spent on it. Early estimates put the cost of this one event near $20k dollars!!! What makes matters worse is there are still 2 more parties for the residents to pay for to celebrate Mike’s retirement There are 2 more parties but these parties are apparently being covered by businesses or outside sources. On top of that there is a celebration for outgoing Police Chief Deanda that means the taxpayers are going to pay for three retirement parties We were unable to identify where the money from the party for Randy Deanda is coming from.

Update

Scott Beard CLAIMS that not one single dime from this party came from tax payers pockets. While we await his proof (more than words) we will deliver whatever can or will produce.

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As 2017 Comes To An End 2018 Brings New Political Challengers

Both Rialto and Fontana are in for one heck of a ride when it comes to political campaigns in 2018. Next year more money will be sucked out of the economy and into the pockets of political hopefuls. Here is a breakdown of who is already setting up campaigns for 2018 to challenge some very unpopular people:

Rialto:

  • If Rialto City Council can get their act together the cities Utility Users Tax will be on the ballot as early as April 2018. If this tax is unsuccessful the city of Rialto will be looking at bankruptcy as early as 2019.
  • Ed Palmer is back and he is taking the gloves off. After loosing to Mayor Warehouse Robertson in 2016 he was on a short list to fill a vacant spot on West Valley Water Board. Now he is back to take on Ed Scott for a city council seat and word on the street is all of his knowledge of everyone’s secrets are on the table!!!
  • Joe Baca Jr. is up for re-election in 2018 but he has his sights set on jumping into the seat Josie Gonzales will vacate in 2020. He will tell Rialto residents he is here to work for them but his plans will be to jump ship halfway through his term showing Rialto residents where is true commitment lies.
  • Ed Scott will also be up for re-election and according to his own statements will be running a Mayor Campaign in Fontana. He has tons of experience running campaigns for people as you saw in 2016 when he ran a campaign for a made up person named Lindsay Fretter. Nobody ever saw this candidate and yet she put up signs and actually got votes!
  • Former candidate for City Clerk in Rialto Ana Gonzales will be throwing her hat into the ring for city council in 2018. She wanted to run for city council in 2016 but was told it was not her turn by her political affiliates to make way for a Carrizales/Trujillio council grab. Now she has apparently benn given the blessing of her camp and she is ready for yet another campaign.
  • Rialto will have a new Police Chief and a New City Administrator which means that Rialto’s future is unsure.

Fontana:

  • Fontana Mayor Warehouse Warren is up for re-election and she already has to announced challengers Fontana Mayor Pro Tem Jesse Sandoval and Former Rialto Police Chief Deanda. Warren squeaked out of two recall attempts one by the local Tea Party group and another by the Fontana Progressive Democrats. Neithier group showed any steal will to bring anything other than noise which left Warren to purchase the votes she needed to now control both Fontana City Council and School Board.
  • Newly elected School Board member and puppet for Warren and her desires will be up for re-election next year meaning in an already busy year with money flying everywhere he will look to the Inland Empire Business Association for more massive handouts. Group leader Phil Cothran will be very busy trying to keep his two friends happy, paid and elected.

Other notable campaign races of course is the California Governor race. Also will be a ballot measure to repeal the latest gas and registration tax and make any further attempts to raise gas and registration taxes must come in the form of a vote from the people.

 

 

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Rialto Budget Hinges On City Council & Mayor Doing Their Jobs

Years of bad choices, out of control litigation and overbearing pension costs have put Rialto in a very uneasy place when it comes to being able to pay its financial obligations. One of the most pressing matters in regards to the cities budget is the upcoming expiration of the cities Utility Users Tax that accounts for about a third of the cities budget. If the Utility Users Tax is not continued for another five years Rialto will find itself unable to meet its obligations and our reserves will be depleted in 2 years. (see image below)

You may ask yourself what is fueling this budget busting trend? Employee Pensions are killing our city the same way they killed cities like San Bernardino. Rialto has not fully paid their PERS obligations hoping that PERS investments will preform better than expected and bail us out. Well they have not done that and now the city finds itself $130 Million in debt to PERS. Rialto’s pension payment will increase by $1.5 Million each year for the next 10 years!!!!!

Rialto not only did not pay what they knew they had to pay but sources close to major bargaining units and City Hall itself say that payments were regularly late under the watch of former Finance Director George Harris. Mr. Harris no longer works for the city of Rialto and the circumstances surrounding his forced departure remain a mystery filled with rumors and speculation.

The chart above shows how expensive each residential unit is in Rialto Vrs the amount of money that is brought in by these units and where a lion share of the money comes from. As you can see the single largest amount of revenue is from the Utility Users Tax. The chart above also spells out that each residential unit costs the city $800 Thousand more than they bring into the city.

 

As you can see keeping the Utility Users Tax gives us the funds necessary to find better solutions to our pension obligations all the way to 2024! Nobody likes taxes and we all know that we live in the most heavily taxed state in the country but, many look at reduced police and fire services as a bad trade off for continuing to pay what we already have been paying.

What does need to change in the minds of many is the reckless disregard for the citizens money. Some on council and in City Hall have been putting this city under a financial obligation that we should have never been in. They have been unable to properly administer workmans comp and that has cost us millions, they have gone on personal which hunts after people that they think are plotting against them and are costing us millions and they have refused to control high ranking employees and have allowed them to put the city under a horrible financial obligation and have chased employees out in droves.

Tonight city Council and the Mayor will once again be asked to:

  • Declare a State of Financial Emergency.
  • Putt the Utility Users Tax on the ballot for April.
  • Keep the Utility Users Tax at it’s current rate and term.

They were unwilling to do this earlier this year with the same information meaning they didn’t seem to care if we found ourselves in financial ruin.

So the question is where do you want to see Rialto in the next 5 to 10 years?

 

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Rialto Top Officials Skip Out On Fallen Officer Remembrance Event’s

On Wednesday October 18th a Memorial and Remembrance Luncheon was held for fallen Rialto Police Officer Sergio Carrera Jr. who lost his life in the line of duty 10 years ago. Both the Graveside Memorial and Remembrance Luncheon were put on and put together with the hard work and support of Rialto Police Benefit Association without the police union this event would have never happened. Source tell us that if the Rialto Police Benefit Association had not stepped up nothing would have been done to honor this 10 year anniversary.

Those in attendance said that the event was a great way to remember a great officer who was taken away from his family and co-workers too soon. You may remember we called out the Mayor for not attending another event to honor Rialto’s fallen officers and Mayor Robertson got very upset with us and even Ed Scott barked at us for even suggesting that the Mayor and her council don’t support our fallen officers. Well actions speak louder than words and sources tell us that the council’s lack of actions speak louder than any words they may speak.

On October 19th sources close to the event reported that not one of the cities elected leaders even stopped by to say hello to the family or even give their condolences. Sources tell us that Captain Andy Karol from the command staff attended the Remembrance Luncheon on behalf of the Department. Also officers who stopped by the Luncheon that was in the city limits to remember their fellow fallen officer were scolded for doing so.

We reached out to those on Council and got a response from Councilman Andy Carrizales:

 “The Carrera family and our police officers were on my mind yet I was unable to attend due to being out of town”
When we asked Councilman Carrizales his thoughts on nobody from the city showing up to either event all he said was “wow”.

This is one of the many reasons local election advocates urge the community to look for sincere elected officials that will take these moments to show care and concern about their communities needs. As a son of a Military and Law Enforcement professional I can tell you that the pain of losing a loved one in the line of duty is a fear I am glad my family never had to endure.

 

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Tonight Rialto’s Budget Advisory Groups Looks To Make A Very Important Recommendation To City Council

One of the major issues hanging over Rialto’s future is the Utility Users Tax (UUT). Since 2003 the UUT has provided additional money to the cities finances and allowed Rialto to maintain growth and remain solvent unlike neighbors like San Bernardino and Colton.

The budget finance committee was formed via a action from city council. Each elected member of the council and mayor picked two people to represent the city as solutions were looked into on how to deal with budget problems that seemed to have been hidden from public view, a consequence of not controlling our elected officials and the old game of kicking the unpopular decisions down the road.

The budget finance committee has one 2 hour meeting to send a recommendation to city council on what the committee thinks needs to be done in regards to the UUT. The scary part is that there seems to be no consensus on where to go from here. Add to that our state legislators are burying the fine people of California in tax after tax nobody is in the mood for more taxes.

The only problem is are you ready for Rialto to become as unsafe as San Bernardino? Rialto is able to boast that you are more likely to survive a cardiac event if you live in Rialto than anywhere else in the Nation because of the technology existing in Rialto Ambulences. Rialto was the 1st department in California to go full body worn cameras.

Here is what Rialto has to look forward to according to data presented to the Budget Committee:

Public Works
Elimination – $1.5 Million
• Personnel – $880K • Approximately 11 positions
• Eliminate OT for Special Projects/Events
• Services & Supplies – $670K • Reduce frequency of street & sidewalk
maintenance
• Reduce weed abatement, graffiti & trash
clean-up
• Reduce park maintenance
• Reduce facilities maintenance to safety and
asset protection
• Reduce fleet maintenance to “run to fail”
approach.

Fire
Elimination – $3.6 Million
• Personnel – $3M • Approximately 23 positions
• One Ambulance, Fire Engine and Station
Unstaffed
• Reduce Administrative Staffing
• Services & Supplies – $600K
• Program Eliminations
• Arson Investigations, SWAT Medic, Explorer
Post
• Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survival and Fire
Containment rates will drop
approximately 40%.

Police
Elimination – $5.6 Million
• Personnel – $4.2M
• Approximately 36 positions
• 20 Sworn, 15 Non-Sworn, 10 Part-Time
• Elimination of Programs – $1.4M
• K-9, SWAT, SCAT, Traffic, SRO, Community
Liaison, all Task Force Positions
• Loss of Grants will increase cost of
reductions to City ($950K).
• Outsource Animal Control & Jail services
• Fleet “run as close to fail” approach
• Change from proactive to reactive
enforcement.

These are just the big three and still don’t represent cuts to smaller departments. So the purpose of this article is to ask you. Given this information would you support the UUT again?

Changes coming to Rialto Police Department Leadership

Information sent to us today indicates that changes to the top leadership rolls will be coming to Rialto Police Department.

As of October 1st former Police Chief Mark Kling will come on as a “Consultant” to help transition current Police Chief Deanda into “Retirement”. Police Chief Deanda should be well versed in the retirement process as he regularly tells the story of how he was needed so much in the city of Rialto that he was asked to return to work three times after filing for retirement.

In the communication from City Administrator Mike Story he laid out the struggles a quick departure like this will bring “As the city administrator, I must ensure there is a smooth transition of leadership and place leading up to and after chief Deanda retirement. Ideally, organisations have about 1 year to plan the transition of executive leadership. Chief Deanda will be retiring from public service and three short months on December 28th 2017 there for once Chief Deanda submitted and I accepted his notice of retirement, plans for executive leadership transitioning were set into motion. As an organization, filling the position of a retiring police chief is Paramount to community safety, department operations, and intergovernmental Affairs across departments so there are minimal service interruptions”.

Earlier today the Chief was witnessed briefing his command staff on the coming changes in his Department. Those pictured with the Chief at Mimi’s in North Fontana were Captain Andy Karol, Lt Robert Smith, Lt Dean Hardin and Paul Stella. Staff could overheard the chief talking about the memo from Mike Story and the impending changes.

Nobody will ever know the true story on why we have such a quick departure since past leadership has made sure a replacement was already on the ground before major changes took place. For example:

  • When Chief Kling left he had vetted and prepared Captain Tony Farrar for the promotion.
  • Fire Chief Matt Fratus knew he was not going to work forever so he hired Sean Grayson our current Fire Chief to eventually replace him.
  • When Police Chief Tony Farrar was on his way out he secured the promotion and placement of Chief Deanda.
  • Even City Administrator Mike Story announced months ago of his coming retirement at the end of this year.

So when something is outside the ordinary you have to ask yourself what is the real story? What we do know is that the city has found itself under more legal action brought by staff that claim they were fired, discriminated or retaliated against without merit and some of those cases have began to settle out of court. The latest claim was made know yesterday September 26th 2017 when a $125,000 claim was filed claiming misconduct by a former employee of MHM & Associates.

Answers that will need to be answered are:

  • How much is the city going to pay 2 police chief’s?
  • Will Deanda’s removal begin to bring the lawsuits to a close?
  • How do you attract a quality Police Chief in a Financially Strapped city like Rialto?

There are more questions than answers.

Today we got some of the answers from City Administrator Mike Story who said that Mark Kling will be working on a $15,000 dollar contract for three months to help during this transition. Mark Kling is one of the brighter spots in Rialto Police Department history as he led the Police Department out of the scandals of the past and the poor public trust of the police department. City Administrator Mike Story said that this money came out of the city administration budget already earmarked for consulting.

We will update as more information comes in.

Have a story you think people should know about? Email Rialtosnow@gmail.com

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