CITY OF RIVERSIDE: TO Z OR NOT TO Z : WHAT WAS THE QUESTION AGAIN? THE ILLUSION OF FINANCIAL SOLVENCY OR SIMPLY THE MARK OF ZORRO?

Posted: February 12, 2018 in City of Riverside
Tags: , , , , ,

John Russo, Zorro, champion of the underdog and defender of the common man; or low-down outlaw and notorious gang leader?

As we at TMC wax nostalgic over the passing of the largest tax increase in the history of the City of Riverside just over a year ago, we pass along these gems, proving once again: the more things change, the more they stay the same in the ole’ River City…

Exhibit A, Councilman Mike Soubirous, 11/30/2017, a year after the passage of Measure Z:

As a 2013 candidate for Council I was against the GFT (Measure A). Mostly out of principle because I thought that the City should not have to rely upon the GFT to make ends meet. At the time, being an outsider (not on the Council) not knowing our City’s true financial status, I believed that if we needed that transfer that much we must be in bad shape financially. After the former City management team left and newly hired City Manager John Russo and his staff came on board, it was discovered that the City was about $11.5 million in the hole (or $11-1/2 million less than what Council had been told we had). In order to balance the budget Council immediately implemented 4% across-the-board cuts to all departments/services (June, 2016). We also discovered additional bond debt that was kept somewhat quiet.  We were headed down the path toward bankruptcy had we not taken the immediate budget cutting action!

The residents/voters saw the Council initiated reforms and pledges to pay down debts, raise our dwindling reserves (from 15% to 20% – actually at the time down to 13%) while balancing key infrastructure and public safety needs. So the residents voted to approve Measure Z. Since May, 2015,the City Council and Executive Management team has promoted an openness, transparency track and have been improving the City’s economic development/building & safety/planning business model (more business friendly) customer service oriented position. Things are headed in the right direction! Problem is, the economy is not growing very fast (tax revenue) and is staying somewhat flat. Flat is better than trending down, but means we will probably have to impose ANOTHER 4% across-the-board cuts this June (2018) to again balance the budget. This is good for taxpayers as our City is becoming financially leaner and leaner. Doing more with way less. But not so good for those who want City services right now or five minutes ago. So by cutting back on the GFT at this point would mean imposing more than the upcoming anticipated 4% across-the-board cuts to all departments and services. Most who voted for the Measure Z (1 cent per dollar sales tax) did so to keep or advance City owned tree trimming, road paving, hiring of more police and some infrastructure projects in place or actually (finally) catching-up.

                      

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE OR CLINK ON LINK TO VIEW SOURCE 

Exhibit B, City Manager John Russo and sidekick Natasha Fatale Marianna Marysheva, 4/23/16, seven months or so before the vote on Measure Z:

The city’s new administration has spent several months working to institute the kind of fiscal discipline required to generate healthy and sustainable budgets well into the future. This process has been difficult at times for everyone involved. A $1 million surplus projected for fiscal year 2015-16 – built on the type of budgeting we should no longer allow – has morphed into a shortfall of about $8 million. This shortfall, if not corrected with sustainable ongoing measures, will result in a $10-12 million budget hole in fiscal year 2016-17.

Unfortunately, some perennial critics of the city have confused the cure (early diagnosis of future budget challenges) with the disease (a negative imbalance between ongoing expenses and ongoing revenue). These folks have been frightening some Riversiders by proclaiming loudly that the city faces imminent bankruptcy.

Let us state unequivocally that the city of Riverside is not going bankrupt; in fact, the city could have continued on its prior path for many years without suffering financial doom. But we believe that our standard should be higher than the very “low bar” of “just don’t go bankrupt.” We are committed to a rational budget in which ongoing revenue meets ongoing expenses, and long-term capital needs, like road repair and tree trimming, are properly covered.

As Riverside moves through weeks of introducing, refining and, ultimately, approving a budget for fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18, there will be some bumps in the road. Residents and business owners may hear things that make them uncomfortable, and perhaps even a bit nervous about Riverside’s financial health. But as we work through this difficult process, please keep in mind that Riverside is in good financial condition overall, and that this process is only going to make that even stronger.

                   

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE OR CLINK ON LINK TO VIEW SOURCE

So who are we to believe regarding the financial condition of the City of Riverside in 2016?  Staff prior to the passage of the Measure Z ballot measure, a $50+ million new annual sales tax; or an elected official afterwards?  Well neither, of course!  Butttttttttt, neither were technically (fingers crossed) lying either…the key word being “imminent” when it came to the timing of bankruptcy.

Staff and the Council knew back in early 2016 (and looooong before that for some of them) that the City had been hiding its true liabilities off-balance-sheet for years.  Trouble was, the cows were soon to be returning to the barn, where they was no hay. We’ll even give you TMC’s version of proof of this knowledge: former Finance Director Brent Mason was scapegoated fired within months of Assistant City Manager Marysheva arrived on the scene.  Given the tremendous leeway the City has traditionally afforded other overpaid, hack executive employees caught with their pants down hands in the cookie jar, so they could either “retire” or “seek better opportunities,” while staying on the City payroll for much greater time periods, we must conclude Mr. Mason did something fairly egregious to merit his ignoble departure.  Marysheva described it at the time as, “The city has a history of unbalanced budgets, but those imbalances have been disguised,” while ex-City Councilman Paul Davis described it more in layman terms: “cooking the books”.

But the real truth would have to wait until 2017 because Harold Hill John Russo had a tremendous idea at the time and just the right strategy to pull it off.  And that hustle plan was the Wells Fargo Wagon Measure Z good folks.  And along the way he would seduce one spinster librarian loner Councilman and perhaps fool the whole town into believing his shipoopi.  But that fine story is for another day…but with a twist we’ll bet you didn’t see coming!  Then you may have been caught with your pants down in River City.

Instead of hustlers and charlatans, put your faith in Thirty Miles of Corruption, who last time we checked received no income or favors from any local government source: we predicted years ago that the City would run out of money by 2016 …  and as they like to say at the Goeske Center, “B-I-N-G-O!” (another pyrrhic victory…hooray!)

Long-time readers will remember how we and our band of, “perennial critics,” trudged over to council chambers week after week after week to warn of impending financial collapse, and our dear “leaders” (gulp) only response was to call us crazy or deranged.  As the old adage goes: if you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger.  And so who’s crazy now?  With gargantuan unpaid pension liabilities, fully-leveraged assets with bonds that need to be paid, and skyrocketing taxes, fees and rates … yep, there’s still going to be plenty of trouble; right here in the ole’ River City.  More to come.

Brent Mason, Recycled Trash Sent to San Bernardino

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S REGIONAL COUNTIES MOST, “NEGATIVE,” “RAUNCHY,” “LOW CLASS,” “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “REPREHENSIBLE,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “FILTHY,” “VILE,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “DEFAMATORY,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “OBNOXIOUS,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” “FIT TO BE VIEWED FROM THE REAR” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! YES WE ADMIT WE OUR ALL OF THAT AND MORE, WHICH IN CURRENT TERMS IS KNOWN AS “UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT.” TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED. I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU. RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. … AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! CONTACT US: thirtymilescorruption@hotmail.com

Comments
  1. C says:

    Isn’t this budget deficit was what Vivian, Jason and a few others were professing for so long at council meetings and elsewhere? Here we go again.

    • Thanks C, besides Vivian and Jason; Dvonne & Raychele were also instrumental in exposing discrepancies in budget, bond, pension scams and properties. In fact Vivian Moreno will be attending today’s City Council to retrieve her just deserves.

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