The Sun Lakes “reclaimed water” fraud
The Sun Lakes “reclaimed water” fraud – or how Mayor Botts and rest of the Banning City Council stole your tax dollars
3/20/10 – For years the Banning City Council has been promising Sun Lakes residents to provide them with much needed reclaimed water for their golf course. The proposal only made sense : Sun Lakes wastes huge amounts of precious drinking water to keep its golf course green. This is not only ecologically irresponsible but also extremely expensive. Particularly in these hard economic times many residents have to struggle to come up with the money necessary to pay for Sun Lakes’ association fees which due to the use of drinking water continue to go up – not down.
Let’s take a look back : The promised reclaimed water project was to be financed by a 37 million dollar water bond in late 2005. But after the bond was floated and the money was received, the project was no longer talked about. Now , more than 4 years later, Mayor Botts is forced to admit that most of the money is gone : the City Council squandered it on a new police station and other projects.
CITY COUNCIL SPENT WATER BOND PROCEEDS ON “TAJ MAHAL” POLICE STATION
Earlier this year, the City of Banning completed its new $ 14,000,000 police station on Ramsey Street. The station is a no-expense-spared “Taj Mahal” that the City never could afford. Only the finest in materials, equipment and furniture were used during its construction ; at the same time, the City attempted to cut costs by laying off City employees and City Hall remains closed on Fridays due to lack of funds.
In order to finance this unprecedented spending spree on the police station, water bond funds were stolen from the public. As this article will demonstrate, the City Council did so in clear violation of the California Constitution.
BOTTS FEELING THE HEAT
Sun Lakes residents are now asking : where is our reclaimed water facility ? In what appears to be an act of desperation, Botts, in a recent Record Gazette editorial (view) had to admit that none of the water bond money has gone towards the promised reclaimed water project.
But Botts seems to think that’s just wonderful : he derives justification for diverting the funds by claiming this was “legally and properly noticed, completed, with notice to the bondholders. At that time, public hearings were held by the city council on this method of financing and what the money was to be used for. “ Simply put, Botts is trying to imply the money was raised and then diverted in accordance with the law. Nothing ,however, could be further from the truth.
IT IS VERY CLEAR : BOTTS AND THE CITY COUNCIL CABAL BROKE THE LAW
What Botts is not telling you is that Proposition 218 requires a vote by the people for any diversion of funds from a water bond to any purpose other than water related expenditures. Prop 218 was put in place (1996) for a reason : it was implemented in order for the people to control taxation and to ensure that water related utility fees and indebtedness were not used for things that have no relation to water. People were sick and tired of being charged higher and higher utility rates ( sound familiar ?) without the money going to the utility operations themselves.
With that said, what Prop 218 was aiming to stop is exactly the kind of abuse that has been occurring in Banning. The City Council used the water bond proceeds to build their “Taj Mahal”, the $ 14 million dollar police station. For all intents and purposes, the money used for the Police station was stolen from the taxpayer. So forget Botts’ lame excuses : “public hearings” and “proper notice “ . They do not justify theft – they never have and they never will. Bob Botts and the rest of the City Council : you broke the law !
VIOLATION OF PROP 218 AT THE TIME OF BOND PLACEMENT (BORROWING)
While the water bond was placed under a previous City Council in 2005 , there are still two City Council members remaining in office today that are responsible for violating Prop. 218 at the time of borrowing. Those two responsible City Council members are :
Barbara Hanna and John Machisic. Both voted for borrowing the $ 37 million in 2005 even though they knew some – if not all- of the money was not going towards water related projects.
The intent to spend the money elsewhere is clearly documented in the 2005 bond prospectus issued by the City’s agency to the bond investors. In there it states clearly that the money would not go to the Sun Lakes reclaimed water project as promised, but to a police station, a swimming pool and to the upgrading of air conditioning at City Hall ( view page 7 ). It was, however, practically impossible for the public to become aware of the foregoing : the disclosure was buried in over 1,000 pages of legal documents.
There was never a legal opinion issued nor requested that would have validated this bond measure under the aspect of Prop 218. In absence of such legal opinion Council members Hanna and Machisic must be held 100 % accountable for their actions on this bond which , again, amount to nothing less than theft on the taxpayer.
VIOLATION OF PROP 218 AT THE TIME OF SPENDING
Regardless of any violation of Prop 218 at the time of borrowing, the law was again violated when the City Council voted to spend the water bond money and/or did not move to stop the spending while it occurred. This happened under the watch of the current City Council.
With this in mind, all 5 City Council members are fully responsible for spending the money. By spending the purpose bound water bond money on a police station all 5 City Council members have conspired in a theft from the people of Banning .
The 5 conspirators are :
Shame on each and every one of them !
PROPOSITION 218 IS THE CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
It may not be obvious to a casual observer that Prop 218 is an integral part of the California Constitution : it is the highest law of the land. Having violated the Constitution creates a devastating problem for the City Council Cabal : not only are they to be looked at as thieves but they have virtually turned into traitors to the people they represent. At that point they also violated their Oath of Office ,by which they have sworn to uphold and obey the Constitution ,( view oath text ).
But to these 5 ruthless thugs an Oath of Office apparently means nothing : none of these 5 City Council members have publicly acknowledged that they have broken the law. None have resigned. None have even apologized to the public. To the contrary, Botts in his editorial seems to be turning treason and theft into some sort of personal accomplishment for himself and the Council.
What good are five City Council members thugs that have no respect for the highest law of the land ? Bob Botts and the rest of them : count your days on the City Council ! do you really think the people of Banning are that stupid as to re-elect anyone that violated their constitutional rights ?
NOTE : The issue of Prop. 218 violation was discussed on “Pass Politics”, KCAA 1050 AM, on January 6, 2010 – click here to listen