He might have one of the most autocorrect sensitive names of any area government official around, but that isn't really his fault. We'll just have to deal with it. That said, Gabriel Engeland is also the first Sierra Madre city employed official to actually try and make his case on The Tattler. In the comments section, no less. Something that has not been done here before. You can only wonder why it never occurred to anyone in the past.
The topic remains this city's rather massive debt problems, both the water bond and CalPERS variety. Whether you agree with him or not isn't so much the point right now. What is important here is the lines of communication are now open, and your questions will receive answers. If this is an indication of how the business of government is going to be conducted going forward in Sierra Madre, it really is quite a change. There have been a select few elected officials who have been open and sharing with this city's more sensitive secrets, but never someone actually employed at City Hall.
This will take some getting used to. Not on just the transparency tip, either. The notion that this city does have "sensitive secrets," and somehow they must be kept from the hard working people of Sierra Madre, has always been a problem here. It is why I started this blog. Maybe that is changing as well. We'll have to see.
There were two topics covered in the City Manager's comments yesterday. The first one is transparency. I had criticized the timing of the Village View "Special Edition" release of his water bond and CalPERS debt revelations. The day before the 4th of July holiday being a time when people might not be as focused as they could be. He responded that he had presented this all previously to the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, and the Rotary.
OK, so he's new here. They're all pretty much the same people.
Gabriel Engeland also stated that this topic had been discussed at a City Council meeting. And apparently it was. The meeting date was May 9, and the item was identified in the agenda by the ADD inducing title of "FISCAL YEAR 2017/2018 BUDGET OVERVIEW" (link). I promise you that had it been called something like, "Sierra Madre Has Lots Of Debt, And We Will Explain Why That Is Tonight On City Council Live," I would have watched. Maybe you would have, too.
Besides, Sierra Madre's debt issues hardly end in 2018. The water bond payments alone extend out well into the 2030s. Many of us will never live to see the day. Myself included.
But that wasn't the best part of yesterday's conversation. What follows was.
Here is what I asked:
Here is the reply I received.
So there you go. I don't agree with some of it, but all in all a pretty eye opening response, and a very good attempt at getting information out there. As an example, did you ever think you'd see the day when a City Manager in this town would actually state that those heavily debt-laden and quite controversial 2003 "Water Enterprise" Bonds really were not handled all that very well?
I mean, what would Bart Doyle think?