Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eastvale V. Wildomar?

Wildomar is facing more legal action. This time by fellow newbie city: Eastvale.

So why is Wildomar having to defend itself from a lawsuit filed by cousin city Eastvale?

Let's encapsulate several years worth of information into as little space as possible. 

Wildomar, Menifee, Jurupa Valley and Eastvale are the last four cities to incorporate in Riverside County, and all did so around the same time period. There are "start up" costs that each city must pay back to the county once they become cities, and each of the four cities was on their own pay schedule.

Eastvale found it in their budget to pay off the county earlier than the other cities in the group. Something I think is a wise course of action.

Why have a debt needlessly hanging over your head if you can pay it off?

Not long after the four cities incorporated, we were hit hard by "The Great Recession" and anticipated revenue targets were not met here, or up in the state capital. So Sacramento took away funds that were promised to the four new cities to try and plug their hemorrhaging budget. Funds that every other city in the state still get. They come from the Vehicle License Fees (VLF) which amount to about $50 per head. Wildomar's yearly share approaches $2,000,000.

Back to Eastvale. They were able to weather the recession better than most and paid off their debts despite the lack of the VLF funds. In the ensuing time, the four cities banded together and hired a lobbyist to see about having Sacramento return the funds to the cities.

Three years in a row the legislature has passed a bill that would do so, and three years in a row the governor has vetoed the bill. The last two years the bills were passed with 100% support from both chambers.

However, this year there was a competing bill working it's way through the legislature at the same time. SB 107 Redevelopment Dissolution Bill is a lengthy bill, but buried in it was some money for the four cities. Below is the pertinent portion.

Senate Bill No. 107
SEC. 28.

 (a) For the 2015–16 fiscal year, the sum of twenty-three million seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($23,750,000) is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Provision of these funds to the department shall be contingent on the County of Riverside agreeing to forgive amounts owed to it by the Cities of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee, and Wildomar for services rendered to the cities between the respective dates of their incorporation, and June 30, 2015. The county’s agreement to forgive these funds shall be forwarded to the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and to the Director of Finance no later than December 1, 2015. The county’s agreement shall be accompanied by a summary of the actual amount owed to the county by each of the cities for the period between the date of their incorporation and June 30, 2015. The agreement reflects a valid public purpose which benefits the cities, the county, and its citizens.

This bill was actually signed into law by the governor, mostly because it really gave huge sums of money to northern California cities —$500M to San Francisco alone, and though Wildomar wouldn't be getting the $1.9 Million annually, it would wipe out about $1,000,000 that we still owe the county.

"Why would Wildomar be named in a lawsuit by Eastvale over something we didn't cause, nor encourage?" you may be asking.

I truly don't get it either, and I have a feeling that you need to be a city attorney type to really get the nuances here. In short, since the legislation mentioned all four cities, if one of the cities isn't pleased with it, they can't simply ask the state or the county to make things fair (in their eyes). Like everything else in the modern world, things have to go through a court, and you have to name 100 John Does as possible defendants, and Wildomar is one of those.

I'm not sure what Eastvale thinks they can really accomplish here, even though I can see why they're steamed about getting dissed here... it's as if they're being punished for being diligent... as if they were the third little pig, that built their house of bricks —not straw or sticksand theirs was the only house to get blown in.
You can see that Jurupa Valley is far and away the big winner when it comes to SB 107.

The way I see it, Eastvale knows that with SB 107 they don't even get to sniff the pie, much less get the tiniest sliver of it.

Instead of being happy for the other three cities, and looking to a time when we get a new governor, that doesn't have a vendetta against Riverside County (check this blog if you're not sure about such an accusation) —when we can reasonably anticipate the return of the pilfered funds, they have embarked on a course of sour grapes.

Since they didn't get what they wanted (FTR: none of the four cities got what they wanted), it certainly appears as if they are willing to see that the other three cities get nothing too, if that's what it takes.

Their actions remind me of a petulant child

Let's make a bedtime story out of it, shall we?

Once upon a time there were four school chums. They weren't equal in size, power or self deluded ego, but they were all in the same grade, and at the same school.

Eastvale came from a family of means, and was able to get pretty much whatever he wanted. The other three friends did their best with what they had, but often had to rely on stretching existing funds just to make ends meet.

Li'l Willa Mar is a happy young city in SWRivCo.

So one day, Grampa Jerry Brown forgot to veto a bill that would make the four cities' lives a bit brighter. The bill promised them all an ice cream cone, in efforts to shut them up, after the governor stole a big chunk of their allowance. In typical Jerry Brown fashion, he only brought three cones with him and he had to solve the dilemma of "who gets the shaft?"

Grampa Jerry short changes RivCo again.

As it turned out, Eastvale had already had an ice cream cone that he'd bought with his own money, and the decision was made to give the other three, the cones. On the surface it all seemed fair enough, but Eastvale wasn't satisfied and he started demanding a share of the others' ice cream (about $5M's worth).

Refer back to the pie chart above. Based on Jurupa Valley's 90% take,
the Wildomar and Menifee scoops would  be closer to the size of a marble.

Though the others could see Eastvale's points, about being left out by Grampa Jerry, they didn't understand why Eastvale would be willing to jeopardize what the others got, just because he was left out... but he didn't care if his actions caused problems for the others or not... to be continued.

"If I don't get any, you don't get any either."

Long story short, the agreements that you've entered into, and are bound to, have nothing to do with others, nor the agreements they are part of... even if you feel like you've been wronged.

It makes far better sense for Eastvale to take their lumps, maintain their strong ties to the other cities and keep the fires burning for the bigger fight; restoration of the VLF funds. Instead of making it necessary for the other cities, especially Wildomar and Menifee which might as well be getting nothing too, to have to pay for a legal defense to this action.

The court date is set for Monday November 30th. Let's see where this version of Mr. Eastvale's Wild Ride takes us. Stay tuned.

If I have to go over the cliff, I'm taking Li'l Willa Mar with me.
Since this matter was discussed behind closed doors, there aren't any details available at this point. Details like: How much this is costing us in legal fees?   We'll learn more at the next council meeting.
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Lucy, you've got some 'splainin to do. Ricky Ricardo

Wildomar Rap's tip of the day: Be a good egg, even if such a thing can't be located anywhere in your DNA. 

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