Record shows “Writing was on the Wall”
Water Rate Increase/Police Station : Official record shows “Writing was on the Wall”
9/23/10 – Minutes of the City Council meeting of June 24, 2008 (view pages 12 – 27 ) show that Banning’s Finance Director issued a clear warning to the Council that the City’s water utility will incur a 20 Million Dollar shortfall in years to come, should the Council decide to build the new police facility using water bond proceeds. The record clearly indicates that the entire Council ignored the warning : they unanimously voted to spend the money anyway.
DEBBIE FRANKLIN APPROVED THE SPENDING
Specifically, during this session , the record shows that Council member Debbie Franklin asked whether or not spending the money on the police station would create a fiscal problem for the Water Utility. The answer given by Finance Director Bonnie Johnson was a clear “YES”. Franklin correctly concluded : “ …we are in a tuff position tonight because we know ….we are short about $ 20 million but we are taking water money to build a police station”, (minutes Pg. 16). Franklin further stated that it was “a big disappointment to Council to find out that we don’t have the money that we need for the water department afterwards” ( pg.26 ).
Yet despite clearly realizing that the Water Utility did not have the money, Franklin proceeded to vote in favor of building the Police Station anyway – that same day ! Again, that was on June 24, 2008.
Today, Council member Franklin denies responsibility for her decision : she now falsely claims that the decision to built the police station was not hers and that “there was no way to change that decision without costing the city a great deal of money”.( see Franklin’s “letter to the editor” 8/20/10 )
However, the official record identifies Franklin’s claim as complete fabrication. Nowhere in the minutes can one find any discussion about the potential cost of NOT building the police station. This issue was never discussed by anyone, including Franklin. It was Franklin, who – according to the record – voted to spend the money on the police station, along with the rest of the Council. Franklin now is less than truthful about her role in this unprecedented disaster. There can be no doubt that she bears full responsibility for causing the current water rate crisis.
BOB BOTTS MADE THE MOTION TO SPEND
It was Bob Botts who made the motion to spend the water bond money on the police station in 2008
(minutes pg. 26 ). Today, Bob Botts raves about the police station as being one of his greatest accomplishments, citing it as an example of “PROGRESS”. ( see Botts ballot statement for Nov. 2nd election).
However, unlike Botts, the citizens of Banning have long come to realize that rather than “PROGRESS”, the police station is yet another example of the Council’s fiscal mismanagement, the likes of which the City of Banning has never experienced in its history.
The official record makes it clear that no later than the 2008 session, Botts learned of the 20 million dollar shortfall from the Finance Director.
During the same 2008 session, Banning resident Helen Barnes warned the Council :” If we take the $12 million dollars from the water (utility), who is to say next year or a year down the road we have to raise the water rates to our members of the community which they truly cannot afford ?” She went on to say that “ …this City Council and our staff should be able to come up with a better alternative than to take the money from the water utility.” (minutes, pg. 21) . As it turns out, Mrs. Barnes had it exactly right !
But Bob Botts brushed this off by saying “they (the finance director?) will find the money … (minutes pg. 26) . This indicates that Botts clearly knew that the money was not there. Needless to say, nobody ever “found” any money. Without any concern that the money was actually there, Botts moved for approval of the spending.
BARBARA HANNA SECONDS THE MOTION TO SPEND – AND MAKES UP A HUGE LIE
It appears that during the same 2008 session, “Tax and Spend” Council woman Barbara Hanna already tried to lay the groundwork for today’s rate increase when she stated : “It is a reality that our rates will go up over time but everyone’s will. This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone”, ( minutes , pg. 25).
Hanna clearly realized that the Council was spending money that was not there. She ignored all warnings of Finance Director Bonnie Johnson that there will be a $ 20 Million Dollar shortfall, (minutes pg. 15).
Hanna’s answer on how to pay for the police station : just increase water rates. Hanna seconded the motion to spend. Again, this was in 2008.
Caught in the crossfire two years later, Hanna now makes up an outrageous lie: she now claims that staff told her that the money was NOT needed for water purposes ! ( click here to listen to Hanna’s statement of 7/26/10 – just 2 months ago ).
Hanna must believe that nobody would ever take the time to verify her statement. However, The Banning Informer leaves no stone unturned : Once again, the official minutes of June 24, 2008 could not be more clear : they show that the Council was warned about the dangers of this spending!
Yet again, Barbara Hanna shows her true colors as a morally bankrupt career politician, who soon will be on her way out. The Banning Informer had caught her in a lie before : click here for the story .
JOHN MACHISIC – SPENDS WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED
Again on June 24, 2008, profoundly clueless Council member John Machisic rambled on about how great of a job the police was doing – it was yet another one of his his usual “blah-blah” speeches, (minutes, pg. 24).
During that fateful session Machisic is on record of not even asking a single question. Without concern over the consequences of what he was made aware of by the Finance Director, he voted in favor of the spending.
In 2008, all 5 City Council members ( Botts, Franklin, Salas, Hanna, Machisic) voted in favor of spending water bond proceeds on the police station. This caused an unmitigated fiscal disaster for the City. The citizens of Banning will have to pay the bill : big increases in water rates are coming soon.