Tuesday, February 27, 2018

• Close to 100 People Attend Anti-LEAPS Meeting

This is dealing with a very comprehensive topic, that of LEAPS, which is an acronym for Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage. If you're new to the topic, it's a biggin
A packed house for the LEAPS meeting at the VFW.
I'll be the first one to tell you that I didn't know much more than the average person before the meeting. Now I know a little bit more than the average person when it comes to LEAPS, it's that complicated.

What isn't complicated is the premise. 

A premise that is quite old by this point in 2018, and one that I'd thought was killed off ten years ago. I remember laughing over the absurdity of it before Wildomar even became a city.

In short, the scheme envisions building a 5,000 acre feet reservoir in Decker Canyon. 
I looked all over the internet for an actual photo of the area, but came up empty. This is from google images of the area. The red circle is [part of] Decker Canyon. The yellow star is where I took a photo of Decker Canyon from South Main Divide (below), and the blue star is where I took a photo from Decker Canyon Road (also below). The red street marker on Grand is where the pump station was said to be going in (photo below), currently an empty field just south of Santa Rosa Drive.
The idea is to then pump water from Lake Elsinore up to it at night, then let it flow back to the lake during peak hours (presumably between 2:00pm and 8:00pm) when electricity rates are highest.
This photo was taken off of Decker Canyon Road, from the approximate location indicated by the blue star in the graphic above. The arrow is pointing to the location of the yellow star in the previously mentioned graphic.
This photo was taken from South Main Divide, indicated by the yellow star in the graphic above. The arrow is pointing to the location of the blue star (see graphic up above). It's hard to judge by this photo, but the arrow is several hundred feet lower than the spot where the picture was taken.
It was declared that this project would NOT generate any [net] energy at all. 

In fact, the figures given by the speaker, John Pecora, stated that LEAPS would only recover 85% of the energy expended while getting the water to the upper reservoir when it's released for its midday journey back to the lake.
John Pecora spoke to those in attendance. He had a no nonsense approach, but still came off as a friendly person even after he'd tell a person with an off topic question, "We're not going to talk about that right now, we can talk about that in discussion". Which started after 8pm, once the meeting had concluded. 

He reiterated, more than once, that he wasn't there to talk about how the project functions, the merits of the project, or whether he likes the project or not. He was there to help with how to file paper work about how the project will be affecting them, and in seeking compensation.
In other words, if they spend 100 units getting the water up, they only get back 85 units as it comes back down.
Sounds like one of those "offers you can't refuse".
How is that a good thing?

It's certainly not about the environment, conservation, ecology, or green energy. 

It's about money. 

Pump the water up at night, at a net loss of electricity, and then collect higher fees from the rate payers as it trickles back down in the peak times. 

Pretty clever... pretty cagey... pretty slimy in the real world.

Oh, and if this wasn't enough on it's own, anyone remember ENRON? 

Yeah, according to what was said at the meeting, one of the key players in this is a former ENRON guy. He's the LEAPS project manager, David Kates.
 This is a 3-d map of the Falls Fire dated 2013. I'm using it to give you a different perspective of the area. Also that it's been home to many fires over the years. The red area is where Decker Canyon is located, and the proposed location of a 5,000 acre feet reservoir.
As I said at the top of the blog, this is a weighty subject, and if you want more details, I'll post links at the bottom of the page for you to explore. Including one to a facebook page where you can get details from people that better know the topic.
This empty field, at Grand and Santa Rosa Drive in Lakeland Village, is the location that John Pecora indicated would be the future location of the pumping station/powerhouse.
I'll paraphrase key notes I took during the meeting, there were many:
Nevada Hydro is seeking to use a 2006 environmental report/document for the current application.
 Next phase is NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) which requires the applicant to work in harmony with the environment and the community.
 There are about 40 to 45 pump storage projects licensed in the USA. Only 12 of those are 500 Mega Watts or greater, like the LEAPS. Of those 12, only one is built by an existing lake — Michigan. The amount of water that project uses is insignificant to the level of the water in Lake Michigan.
FYI, according to Google, when asking how much water is in Lake Michigan, the answer came back as:
1,180 mi² 


When I asked the same question about Lake Elsinore, the answer was a bit smaller:
43.44 mi²

Basic math tells us that you could fit [at least] 27 Lake Elsinores into 1 Lake Michigan.
 Everyone one of those projects were built in areas where no people lived. Not one was built in a populated area.
A pump storage project the size of LEAPS has never been licensed to this point. 
My apologies for the blurry photo. Apparently my Samsung doesn't do so well in low light conditions. This was shared at the meeting denoting the 12 500MW, or greater, pump storage projects in the USA.
In order to build this project, they will be using a chemical called Rotenone to kill and remove all the fish. Probably remain without fish for at least a year.

• During construction of the reservoir and damn, truckloads of dirt will be hauled from from Santa Rosa Drive, up Ortega Highway, south on South Main Divide and dumped at Decker Canyon, from 6:00am to 3:00pm, at a clip of every six minutes. A total of 2.5 million cubic feet of dirt will be moved. 

• The approximate surface of the reservoir is said to be about 100-200 acres. Lake Elsinore is about 3,500 acres. In brief, the lake is shallow, and the reservoir will be deep.
• There will be a daily "tidal action" at the lake, which will expose a "muddy expanse of shoreline" for a period of time while the water is released down the hill.
• They have to maintain the lake at between 1240-1245 elevation. If they can't provide a contract showing they can get the necessary water, they cannot get a permit.
•  Contrary to rumors that the electricity will be heading to San Diego, the electricity will just be going to the grid.
• The entire project will be underground.
Form letters don't work as well as personal letters/emails, and phone calls, that outline how the project will adversely affect you.
The lake will be closed between one and two years during construction.
• The project will be crossing an active earthquake fault.
"Read the NEPA documents, on almost every page, there is a reference to harmonious with humans. Now everybody hates the EPA, everybody hates NEPA, but you have to remember, most of the [pump storage] projects that are licensed by FERC are in rural areas, there aren't a whole lot of people around. 

This (LEAPS) is different, this is in the middle of a heavily populated area with property owners around the lake." 

—John Pecora, February 26, 2018
Brief Tangent Time:
Many have heard me rail about the misnomer of this area being called "rural" and though it most certainly was at one point, that ship has sailed long ago.

From what I got from the meeting, John Pecora lives in a relatively remote area, but still can recognize that we are in a "highly populated area", which runs completely against the quaint notion that we are somehow rural at the same time.


Last comment

I was impressed with Mr. Pecora. He was articulate, knew his subject inside and out, had a good disposition, seemed to have a good sense of humor, was patient and delivered his points with a positive attitude. It was obvious that the local officials, that attended the meeting, respected what he had to say. 

It sure would be nice if [most of] the local activists in Wildomar had even a tenth of this man's class. Imagine what they could accomplish... but I digress.
These are contacts of the key figures, and John Pecora encouraged those impacted to
try calling them and be ready to explain your damages and what compensation you want.


Other facts
• The city of Lake Elsinore, the County of Riverside, EVMWD, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, US Representative Ken Clavert, among others, have all gone on the record being against this project. 
• The project is suing EVMWD.
Until I went up there to take some photos of Decker Canyon, I'd never used South Main Divide... not even when it was called Killen Trail. Always too busy just trying to get to work, or get back home. Wow, such great views to the east, of the lake, as much as the ones to the west, Decker Canyon.
After the hour long meeting, I went up to Lake Elsinore city councilmember Steve Manos and asked his take on the meeting, if the info seemed legit.

The information, seems to me, to be pretty solid. It was good information and I think that people should put in their requests for compensation [to Nevada Hydro] if it happens, but for us (the City of Lake Elsinore) we're not asking for compensation, we just don't want it (the project). 

—Steve Manos, Lake Elsinore City Council Member
This is the first page you see when you visit the LEAPS Hydro webpage. The gall to claim they will be providing "clean, reliable power" when it'll produce a net loss of 15% when the scores are tallied up. A link to this page is provided below.
If you'd like to join the Stop LEAPS Facebook page, here is the link.

Link to the Official Response (288 pages) by LEAPS Hydro, dated December 17, 2017

Link to LEAPS Hydro (the picture above)


•                •                •

Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best; we must do what is required.
– Winston Churchill 

Yet again, Wildomar Rap has exceeded the requirements.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

• Planning Commission Meeting February 2018

Two items of note came from the February 21st Planning Commission meeting. 

Item 2.1 Smith Ranch Self-Storage
This should have been a slam dunk, but got hung up a bit discussing how a perimeter wall, with a two foot pathway, would be maintained. 
From the presentation.
In the end, the applicant agreed to have a maintenance plan in place, that would be approved by the city planners, before permits were to be issued.

The other hang up came as to when it would be built and how much time would it take
This project is planned to built in three phases

This is to be a family run business with their corporate headquarters transferred from Temecula to Wildomar upon completion of Phase I, which was estimated to take between 9 and 12 months after groundbreaking.

It was explained that Phase II would begin after Phase I was 70%-90% occupied. Then, depending on the economy, Phase II would begin, which would take between 5 and 6 months to complete. In turn, Phase III would follow the pattern of Phase II.

In the end, it was approved 3-0 with Commissioners Ballard and Strong absent.

Item 2.2 Boyajian Consistency Change of Zone
This item got a lot of attention, but there is no point in going into any real details at this point since it was stated up front:
"There are no immediate plans to develop this site".
A look at the General Plan map and the Zoning map.
The area in question is designated by the blue star within the odd diamond shape.
This was just a formality for the current owner to get the zone changed to meet the General Plan (from what I heard after the meeting, it's so that it'll make it easier for them to sell the land). 

For those that read Wildomar Rap regularly, we went through this last Summer with the Camelia Townhouse fiasco. When many irate homeowners from the adjacent development (Grizzly Ridge), coupled with a known contingent of Wildomar cranks, tried to block that development.

There were many local residents from the North Ranch community that spoke against this. North Ranch is a new development, visible from Clinton Keith Road, off of Stable Lanes Road. 
This For Lease sign is clearly visible in the Google Maps November 2016 edition.
You can see the southern edge of North Ranch in the distance.
The concerns were all the usual NIMBY things: 
  • quality of life
  • increased traffic 
  • homelessness
  • fire hazards 
  • lose of privacy 
  • lower property values, etc.
Funny thing about this is that North Ranch is a brand new area. Being that I live in Windsong Valley, I was so happy to see it get built. Now I have a short cut to Barons.

Seriously though, each person that moved there should have been fully apprised of what was in store for that corner. It's been on the GP as Commercial Retail for as long as Wildomar has been a city. 
This is what the same corner looked like in 2007. Notice, there are no houses in the background, because North Ranch was years off into the future.
The RR designation (zoning for Rural Residential) was something that the county slapped onto most parcels that weren't already developed, or in development at the time. If you want to blame Riverside County for being sloppy and lazy, I doubt you'll get too many defending them... unless there are some Bob Buster holdovers still out there.

I feel for the residents, a bit, but you can't expect to move into a place that has a General Plan —that includes Commercial Retail, then get angry because the landowners want to develop their lands. This is still the USA, though I've heard that some people want California to secede. 

I imagine that many of the same people that spoke at the Planning Commission meeting will attend the March 14th City Council meeting to repeat their grievances. 

Let's hope that in the meantime, all those concerned will brush up on the General Plan and what its intent is. Also how the Zoning Map is not about what goes there as much as how it goes there (set backs, parking spaces, landscaping, etc).


UPDATE

It was drawn to my attention that the image of the For Lease sign on the corner wasn't of the parcel in question. Since the comments from the public speakers were discussing commercial retail off of Stable Lanes, I used that image and the basic NIMBY points remain valid.

I did come up with two other Google Images to give people a more accurate view of the area. 
The yellow star is the location of item 2.2. The reddish star denotes the corner of Stable Lanes and Clinton Keith that are in the google images I used above.
A 2014 image of the back of the field in question with a for sale sign prominently displayed, which is directly across from the Stater Brothers shopping center, on Hidden Springs Road.
•                •                •

"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."

– Goethe

Sounds like Goethe has read Wildomar Rap more than once.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

• Wildomar Loses One of the Good Ones

Sad news hits the Wildomar community. 

Kirk Schrader, long time fixture as groundskeeper at the cemetery, has died.

He'd worked at the cemetery since 1998.

I happened to know him long before knowing he worked in Wildomar. We played baseball on the same beer league baseball team from 2003 to 2007. 
October 2013 at Windsong Park, the day before The Great Day of Service.
He always had that ZZ Top beard as long as I knew him, and that was the nickname that most of the guys on the team called him, ZZ Top.

He wasn't a very tall man, but he was no shrinking violet to be sure. A fearless leader when put into that roll, and an outstanding shortstop too. A person with a good outlook on life, that didn't seem to get bogged down by a lot of nonsense.

Years after we played our last game together I happened to meet him the day before the 2013 Great Day of Service (photo above), at Windsong park. 

Since that happy reunion, I'd see him a couple of times a year at park events, and it was always great to relive past glories.
As it happens, this was from the first edition of Wildomar Rap that covered a local event.
Link to that long forgotten blog.
I've not heard of any funeral plans at this point.
He'll be missed. Condolences to his family and friends.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

• Illegal Dumping

I was just out flying Wildomar Rap Drone-1 today at the new, still unnamed, park site behind Ronald Reagan Elementary School when I came upon some slackjaw's idea of a joke... a toxic dumping ground.
By the weathering on the labels, it appears that these have been here for more than a couple of days.
After discovering it I weighed my options. 
I could either...
•   Forget about it and go on my merry way. 
(which obviously many people have already trodden that path)
•   Go to the city's old website and file a claim, watching it disappear down that black hole. Where information goes in but is never seen again.
•   Wait until the next city council meeting and include it in a slide show of things I don't like in the city, but Wildomar Connections already has that beat covered. 
  or
  •   Use this blog as a way to get the info out.
Not sure what this is —maybe oil, maybe paint, maybe nuclear waste? 
I probably should have taken a closer look at the label... next time.
I'm guessing that if this is important, someone that lives in this area will follow up. 

Hey councilmember Dustin Nigg, I believe this is in District 2 (but I'm only about 50% certain of that). It could be District 5 (Marsha Swanson).
This map isn't too easy to read, but it appears that the boundary goes right down La Estrella.
This oil was about 100 yards away from the school and not more than 200+ yards away from the neighborhood to the south. 

Illegal dumping was recently brought up by a concerned Wildomartini at the last city council meeting too.

I've done my duty as a member of the community by reporting this the best way I know how. Now let's see when it gets cleaned up.
If you're familiar with the area that Ronald Reagan School is in, this was taken at the end of La Estrella.
I hope that when the new city website goes online (which is supposed to be March 1st) that it includes an EASY to use code enforcement page. Something that will allow photos to be uploaded. 
Looks like someone was having a raging party and kicked over the furniture. You can see how close the nearby neighborhood is to this low class dumping ground. The houses are just through the brush at the upper right part of the photo.

Now for some pretty pictures, and a video, that I captured with the drone
Looking in a northeasterly direction from about 150 feet up. Most of this is destined to either be part of the new park or a development that is in the pipeline.
Looking in a southwesterly direction from about 20 feet up. In the middle of the shot, the red spot is a guy on a tractor. In the immediate foreground to the left is a pile of tires.

•                •                •

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
– H.L. Mencken

Yeah, well, but... Wildomar Rap doesn't mind the spitting or the hoisting, but the slitting part is out of the question... for now anyway.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

• Golden Spoon Gets Robbed In Broad Daylight

At about 4:00pm on Thursday February 15th, Golden Spoon (in the Albertson's shopping center) was robbed at knife point.

There is security footage that shows two workers chatting behind the counter. At the 1:40 mark of the video (below), the perp entered the store wearing a bright red football jersey with the number 11 on it. A Kansas City Chiefs, Alex Smith, Jersey to be exact.
Even during a heist, a player has to represent.
The robber placed an order and at the 1:50 point in the video the other employee left the establishment at the 2:30 mark. A mere 15 seconds later he pulled a knife on the employee while the cash drawer was opened to record the sale.
Chief fan has just overtaken Raider fan in off field stupidity.
The thief made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, as he left his frozen treat behind and what looks like a ten dollar bill in the cashier's hand.

In short, if you recognize this idiot Chiefs fan, that is obviously begging to take a spin through California's justice system, please call the Wildomar/Lake Elsinore Police Department non-emergency Number: (951) 245-3300

UPDATE

Details From Sheriff's Press Release:

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, about 4:00 p.m., officers from the Wildomar Police Department responded to the Golden Spoon Yogurt Store on Clinton Keith Road in Wildomar, regarding a robbery. Officers arrived on scene and learned a suspect ordered a yogurt dessert and appeared to offer the clerk payment for the order. When the clerk opened the cash register, the suspect brandished a knife and demanded the money. The clerk fearing for their safety, surrendered an undisclosed amount of money and the suspect fled the business. Responding officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the suspect. Detectives conducted follow-up investigation, and with evidence collected from the scene, assistance from other businesses, and the public’s help on Social Media suspect leads were developed.  
On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, detectives continued to follow up on leads and interviewed Patrick Eduardo Kitts, 21 years old and a resident of San Diego. Kitts, who was in custody in a San Diego County Jail for an unrelated charge was arrested for the robbery. Kitts remained in custody in San Diego County and robbery charges will be filed in Riverside County.

Anyone with additional information is urged to call Investigator Kelleher of the Lake Elsinore Station at (951) 245-3300.

• City Council Meeting February 2018

Between items 3.1 and 3.3 this meeting was full of detailed information. 

So much so that I'm just going to highlight the portions that caught my attention, but first let's start off with the recognition of two Eagle Scouts that came at the front of the meeting.

Noah Thompson's project dealt with the snack bar at Marna O'Brien park. He installed removable screens, that are now part of the health code, for the service windows. 
Back row: Tim Walker, Dustin Nigg and Marsha Swanson. Front Row: Bridgette Moore, Mayor Ben Benoit, Eagle Scout Noah Thompson, Katelyn Wilkinson a representative for Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez  and Glenn Miller a representative for State Senator Jeff Stone.
Nate Coddington's project was also at Marna O'Brien park. He replaced the wooden backstops on the baseball diamonds.
Back row: Tim Walker, Dustin Nigg and Marsha Swanson. Front Row: Bridgette Moore, Mayor Ben Benoit, Amber Diaz (Nate's mom), Eagle Scout Nate Coddington, Katelyn Wilkinson a representative for Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez  and Glenn Miller a representative for State Senator Jeff Stone.
PUBLIC COMMENTS (on non agenda items)
• Dave Crook (sp?) discussed speeding issues in the Lemon/Almond/Waite area.
• Brad Darymple brought up illegal dumping and off roading in the part of the city that borders Menifee.
• Ken Mayes (with donated time) had a slide show (literally) of things in town that he doesn't like. His list included home school inspections, fire hydrants, CSA 103 (an "assessment on 1084 homes located in the oldest part of Windsong Valley") which has "disappeared from the tax bill", the city fence code, the City Manager's pay, staff reports (in the online agenda packets) needing to include all the visual displays that will be at the meeting.
Wildomar Rap opinion time:
I'll have to try the slide show routine sometime too —looked fun. But in all seriousness, it was very effective to get the point across, about several issues, to all five city council members, and key staff members, at once.

Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that Kenny Mayes will be giving 6 minute slide shows at all the meetings from this point on. Might as well just cut out the middle man and make room for it on the agenda as a recurring item.

His final issue (about expanding the agenda packet to include all video display items) was brought up by Mayor Ben Benoit at the end of the meeting under "Future Agenda Items" where he asked staff to start including such items in the (digital) packets.
• Monty Goddard thanked city staff for the maintenance done at Windsong Park.

CONSENT CALENDAR
Before this part came up there was a change in the agenda and City Manager Gary Nordquist discussed the reason(s) why the new city website didn't launch before the end of January. 

"We encountered some delays," was the gist of the explanation. Mark your calendars for March 1st, which is the new target date for the switch over.

1.6
Monty Goddard spoke to this. This added a 12th holiday/floating vacation day, in perpetuity, to city employees (made possibly by the city getting the VLF funds returned from the governor). 

He noted that agenda item 3.3 also aims to reward city staff with a one time bonus of one vacation day for every year they "endured those dark fiscal days" (a quote from the agenda packet).
Wildomar Rap opinion time:
The Wildomar city staff has done a great job, especially considering those "dark fiscal days" and all, and a reward is in order now that there is the money to do so. 

However, let's keep in mind that public employees (whose salaries are public knowledge) aren't underpaid, even in our quaint little city. 

The fact that they didn't find themselves in the unemployment line, like many non public employees during those times, could have been considered a bonus in its own right.

I can see them getting either A or B, but both A and B?

I'm thinking that the extra holiday/floating vacation day was a pretty good attaboy on its own... but there I go again, always having had to earn money in the private sector, so I probably don't get it.
1.9
Ken Mayes attacked the credibility of ALS1 (who will be putting on the 3rd annual ALS1 5k on May 19th at Marna O'Brien Park — see flyer below). 

Hey Erin and Ken (the key local figures behind the 5K fundraiser), if there is paperwork that needs to be finalized, I suggest that you put that on your "do it yesterday" list. Otherwise, some wiseguy is going to look to shut down your event. 
I hear that there could be a beer garden there too... 
few things are as satisfying as a couple of frosty 
Saturday morning pops to get the weekend rolling along! ☺
As much as we hate it, red tape is there to protect the public from conmen looking to take advantage of the good nature of the public. That means everyone has to jump through the same legal hoops, even the good guys, to put on a fundraising event; especially one that is backed by the city.


Tangent Time

No doubt that is why the Original Christmas Tree Lane event (that was an annual event at the Lake Elsinore Outlet Center) is gone now. It was hosted by two local retirees that had no idea about the complex web of requirements the state has for such charitable endeavors. 


Some "concerned citizen" suggested that the State AG look into the event... and that was the end of that, along with about $10K per year that got distributed to local youth orgs with the proceeds... but I digress.

3.1 Western Community Energy Community Choice Aggregation Program
This dealt with an energy scheme (in the British sense of the word) that would have the city join a JPA (Joint Powers Authority) to get their power from a newly formed CCA (Community Choice Aggregation), called Western Community Energy (WCE).

There was a slide show presentation that lasted about 10 minutes touting the benefits of joining WRCOG's brainchild.
A slide that tried to explain the CCA, and how the energy gets from them to you.
This only got more mind-boggling as the 25 minute presentation went on. Below is part of a slide that showed the proposed savings.
A lot of effort to save 2% to 4% if you ask me.
I won't sneeze at saving a couple of percentage points, but the large sums of savings (seen above) really won't be amounting to anything. 

My wife and I don't use a lot of power, but we'll still be celebrating our windfall of (up to) $40 a year in style.

Those numbers (~4% Savings in 10 years = $49+ million) come from adding up all the small savings of the rate payers, then acting as if there will be a large pool of money at the end of the rainbow.

Here are some of the takeaway facts.
•  Both cities and individual rate payers can opt in or out of the CCA at anytime. 
(I didn't hear anyone mention penalties for doing so, but makes me wonder if there are any. Usually if there are no penalties, that is specifically gone over).
•  The power would still be delivered to homes and businesses with the existing power grid, which is controlled by SCE in our area. 
•  The existing tiered rates would still be applied by Edison for delivering the energy, even though the rate payer would be buying from someone else. 
•  Start up costs range between $4M and $7M depending on number of cities joining, which will be covered by WRCOG.
•  If adopted, and things go as planned, they would start "serving load" by October of 2018.

Councilmember Nigg asked some basic questions to get the answers on the record. 
Customers can opt out whenever they want, is that correct?
• Cost savings [mentioned in the presentation] are typical?
• The start up costs are covered by WRCOG?

To which "correct" was given as a response each time. The short exchange is in the 1:45 minute video below.

Wildomar Rap opinion time:
The "tiered rate" issue really got Councilmember Tim Walker exercised. His home is all electric and his bills are far higher than the average (from what I gathered). 

His point was, which seemed reasonable, is that if he uses more energy, he's already paying the additional costs for the additional supply, including the additional taxes that would come with it. 

He wasn't too happy about, what amounts to a penalty, in the tiered rate system. Especially if he were to be buying his energy from a different company, but still getting stung by SCE on the delivery side.

The video below is a snippet of Councilmember Walker asking about tiered rates, and then talking about wind cars and oil being a "renewable" energy source.

Let's create a scenario here.... Ah, how's this one:
You've been buying your chocolate milk from a venerable local dairy, but they charge you extra if you want more than 10 gallons delivered to you - tiered pricing. (Yes, it's preposterous, but stick with me...)

A different dairy approaches you (WRCOG or WEC - whichever it is) and tells you they'll sell you chocolate milk for about 2% to 4% less than the first dairy... but the first dairy (SCE) is still going to deliver it to you.

In the end, you're still using the tiered-price delivery services of the first dairy (SCE), and you're paying them like before too.

So, in conclusion, if you have high personal demands for chocolate milk (power) then it looks like you might want to buy your own chocolate cow (solar power at your home) and be done with either of the above options.
Another fun part of this agenda item was when Ken Mayes did his public comment routine and equated this JPA with the Animal Shelter "fiasco" of the past and made it clear that he wanted no part of the 2%-4% savings that would come from it, "I for one, will opt out, TONIGHT, from purchasing electricity from this JPA."

Good on ya Kenny, SCE will be glad to take your extra dollar a month.

This was just a "discuss and provide direction" item, and no action was taken, though it sounded as if SCE would be putting together a presentation of their own on the matter.

Since there seems to be savings to the rate payers, and an easy way to opt out if things change, I can't image the point of not exploring this further.

The thing I want to know is, if this is better than peaches and cream like it's described, then why aren't all the local cities beating a path to their door? Why the deliberation? Why does it sound like WRCOG would be sanguine if they could "amass five to six cities" when their organization has eighteen?

If you'd like to take a look at the 20+ slides, use this LINK and look for item 3.1 and click on it.

3.3 FY 2017-18 Mid-Year Budget Report
This item took an hour, in addition to updating where the budget stands, there was also lengthy discussion about what to do with the newly returned VLF funds (about $2.4 Million annually).

It was asked of the various departments for a wish list of sorts. The price tag came back at $6.9M worth of items.
Don't feel bad, this was difficult to read (due to small font size) at the meeting too.
All things on the list are either obviously worthy, or an argument can be made for them. It's just a matter of money.

Things ranging from additional police (a no brainer) to wobblers like a new kitchen for the fire house ($60,000), and head-scratchers like a $60,000 video package to be able to start live streaming the city meetings (all approved).

There was a lot of discussion, so I'm going to include the video of the entire item. It begins with City Manager Gary Nordquist discussing the various spending options proposed and other aspects of the item (about 28 minutes worth). 

From there went the public comments, council discussion, input from Fire Chief Todd Philips and Police Chief Daniel Anne, more discussion and then the vote.

At one point Councilmember Nigg balked at the idea of spending $60k on remodeling the firehouse kitchen.
"I just can't see the justification there. I've read through the staff report. I would [want to] line it out and apply it (the $60K) to [other things]. I just can't justify taking $60 grand for a kitchen when we have roads that don't work that well." 
Chief Todd Philips came to the podium to elaborate on the needs of Station 61. For those interested in more details there, check out the video and jump to the 33 minute mark where the councilmember starts the topic.
The list of recommendations was unanimously approved by the council. With the addition of $4000 per year for TIP (Trauma Intervention Program). The entire agenda item is covered in the video below.
My favorite quote came from Councilmember Marsha Swanson. It was in reference to the additional $2.4M to the budget:
I think that Gary [Nordquist] has lead us well.  He's kept us in line all this time, and just because we feel like we've got some money —that's just a feeling we have, we don't have any money. We're not even back to where we were, so I think we need to start off slow. We're going to look at this throughout the year. If there're some ways we can add some other things, I'm all for adding a motor officer... I just think we need to stay within his recommendations, that we need this reserve cushion. None of us knows what's going to happen tomorrow, or what we might need [...] and if we don't have reserves, and we aren't fiscally conservative we're not going to get anywhere. We've got time, let's just take baby steps to start with and go with the recommendations.  


I wanted to ask about the $60,000 for video stuff. 

I know this guy that does video, and thinks that number is about 10 to 20 times too high. 
I obviously went into the wrong business. I should have aimed to be a government contractor.
Thing is I didn't fill out a speaker card, and there wasn't a solicitation of the audience if anyone else would like to speak before that part of the meeting was closed, so I'll just opine here instead.
Wildomar Rap opinion time:
We've NEVER had live video of the meetings, and I don't get the point of going from Zero to Cadillac (maybe I should say 'Tesla' so the younger generation will get the reference) all at once. 

I've heard that it's got a lot of bells and whistles. That'll be good news to the 11 people that will be utilizing it on a regular basis.

At $18,000 a year to operate, it had better whistle!

Seriously, do the math ($18,000 ÷ 12 months is $1500 per month). 

After the overpriced equipment is purchased, the city is planning on paying $1500 a month to operate it (though the graphic above says $3,000 a month). 

Even if the city meetings take up 15 hours a month, which they probably only take up about 5 total, that is $100 an hour. 

Am I still in Wildomar? Are they trying to live stream city meetings or are they building a Hollywood set?

Without being too much of a joker, if you went down to Costco you could buy an eight camera HD security set up for under $400. 
Sure, it would cost money to have it installed and set up (apparently $20K is the going rate cities pay for such things), but with that kind of thing there's no reason why one of the city interns couldn't be taught how to turn it on, then switch from camera one (on the dais) to camera two (the podium) to camera three (the video display) and back. 

Such a set up might be underwhelming for bigger cities, but spending $60K for such a thing in Wildomar just reminds us, that no matter how noble the players, tax money is spent differently than how we spend our own money. Either that, or I'm just a cheap bastard that can get a lot of mileage out of lesser items.
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It was learned that two signature events in town will not be happening this year. First, the Rotary BBQ failed to get enough backing to make a go of it. It was scheduled to be at Marna O'Brien park on April 21st. In it's place will be a Astronomy Night event.

The other annual event that won't happen this year is the Bicycle Safety Event. Each year the attendance has gotten smaller and smaller. It's a shame. Those that did attend, really enjoyed it.

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"These days, government employees are better off in almost every area: pay, benefits, time off, and security, on top of working fewer hours. They can thrive even in a down economy."
– Mort Zuckerman 

Wildomar Rap wasn't shrewd enough to consider a gubment paycheck when younger, and now the gravy train is full up.

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