Nowhere City California

There are places in Southern California where, although the sun always shines, they haven’t seen a ray of light for over 50-years.  There’s a no man’s land of urban blight along Interstate 10, from East Los Angeles through the San Gabriel Valley, where cities you’ve never heard of and would never go to, are jumbled together like shipping containers on Terminal Island.  El Monte, California, is one of those places.

 

Advice dispensed on Interstate 10. We agree with it. Better don’t.

Photo credit: Rob Hann

 

How El Monte came to be is a story shared with many of its adjoining San Gabriel Valley cities.  Boom, bust, and rapid transformation from an agricultural area to working class artery of a burgeoning megalopolis, vomited out a multitude of enduring mistakes.  Many of them will never be rectified.

When El Monte was incorporated as a municipality in 1912, the prospects for the place must have seemed limitless.  Here was open and fertile land, ideally situated in a low valley between the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers.  Equally important, it was ideally situated just several miles from the budding City of Los Angeles.

Residents of early El Monte claimed anything could be grown there.  With a little hard work and persistence, money would flow to the rural municipality in exchange for feeding Los Angeles’ growing appetite.  Could the gods have ever smiled brighter upon an enchanted hamlet?

At first it appeared this blueprint for prosperity was working.  Denizen field workers experienced the fruits of a lively civic and agricultural district.  Alas, it wouldn’t last for long.

 

The iconic El Monte Drive-In Theatre… part of the sea of concrete discussed below.

 

The Decline and Fall of El Monte

With the onset of the Great Depression, and the influx of Dust Bowl migrant laborers who’d work for next to nothing, the heyday for El Monte came to a quick end.  Social and labor conflict, culminating with the El Monte Berry Strike of 1933, set the city’s decline and fall in stone.  Prosperity has yet to return.

Any redeeming qualities of El Monte’s rural character were literally buried around mid-century.  For some reason, no one quite knows for sure, the mania to splatter every square foot of the LA Basin with concrete – including its rivers – took hold of the local spirits.  El Monte was soon enveloped by a sea of urban sprawl.  What was once the outskirts and boonies, rapidly became a forgotten and decaying barrio.

 

A linocut by Álvaro Daniel Márquez remembering the 1933 El Monte Berry Strike

 

For a brief period in the late 1950s El Monte appeared to be mounting a comeback.  The weekend hosting of teenage rock n’ roll concerts by Art Laboe at El Monte Legion Stadium brought El Monte to the center of the universe.  The spirit of the times is immortalized in the metasong Memories of El Monte, written by a teenage Frank Zappa, and recorded by the Penguins.

 

A Frank Zappa composition, presumably from his early sentimental fool phase… rendered   in convincingly yearning 50s yammering voices by the Penguins.

 

But as the rock n’ roll era quickly passed, El Monte resumed its long-term decline.  On August 13, 1974, the wrecking ball was taken to El Monte Legion Stadium.  To this day, nothing good has since occurred in the area.

By the turn of the 21st century the per capita income for the city was at $10,316 and over a quarter of the population was living below the poverty line.  Roughly 70 percent of the population is Hispanic and 25 percent is Asian.  Many residents are lacking in proper documentation.

These days El Monte’s primary purpose in life is to provide ample right-of-way for a roughly 5 mile stretch of Interstate 10.  The city’s other notoriety stems from its weekend swap meet and the remarkable deals it offers.  There, between juicy bites of elote – grilled cob corn caked with chili powder – you can buy back the tools that were stolen from your truck earlier in the week at half the price you paid to buy them new.

Perhaps one consequence for residents of cities with high poverty and low citizenship is that they’re distracted.  Specifically, they’re more concerned with making ends meet and flying under the radar of the local fuzz than staying abreast of the dealings of their local government.  In El Monte, often referred to as Hell Monte by locals, the municipal government took the unique opportunity this scenario afforded them and used it to exploit the hell out of its city residents.

 

The legendary Legion Stadium, where rock’n’roll and wrestling once flourished. In the late 1950s and the 1960s it was the venue for Art Laboe’s shows. Top west coast performers and bands were regularly featured. It was finally razed in 1974.

Photo via flickr.com

 

The Great El Monte Public Pension Swindle

The gods were smiling down on then El Monte City Manager Harold O. Johanson on May 9, 2000.  For that was the day El Monte City Council unanimously adopted his supplemental pension plan proposal without public debate.  The outcome of Resolution No. 8017 resulted in a 50 percent boost to civilian retirement checks.  According to the Los Angeles Times:

 

“Johanson retired three years later, at 58.  Today, he is the top beneficiary of the program he championed, collecting a combined pension of more than $250,000 per year, state and city records show.  That puts him in the top one-hundredth of one percent of all public pension recipients in California.”

 

Johanson, however, isn’t unique to El Monte pensioners.  At least eight El Monte public pension recipients collect more than $200,000 per year.  Meet James Mussenden, for instance:

 

The retired city manager of El Monte collects more than $216,000 a year, plus cost-of-living increases and fully paid health insurance.

‘“It’s giving me an opportunity to do a number of things I didn’t get to do when I was younger, like travel to Europe, take some things off my bucket list,’ Mussenden, 66, said recently.  He even flew to Scotland to play the famed Old Course at St. Andrews, a mecca for golf enthusiasts.

Mussenden recognizes that few Americans have pensions anymore — least of all the El Monte taxpayers who are funding his retirement.  So while he enjoys his monthly retirement check, he’s discreet about it.

‘“The guys I play golf with, they get very angry about my pension because they don’t have anything like it,’ he said.”

Pictures of James Mussenden in the public domain are almost as rare as hen’s teeth, but we found two, including this one. Guess where? In a 2009 newspaper article that reported on the very moment of his retirement – it happened when he was arrested  for  soliciting in a prostitution sting in Ponoma. Oops!  He took the opportunity to resign with what was apparently one of the fattest civil servant pensions on the entire planet. There was talk that he might be charged at the time, but we don’t know if it ever happened (probably not).

No doubt, El Monte has pushed the limits of their pensions to levels that are absolutely criminal.  Here again, we refer to the Los Angeles Times for the particulars:

 

El Monte has a history of generous employee benefits — including a four-day work week for civil servants, who put in 10 hours a day and have Fridays off.  Liberal pension provisions are another part of that tradition.

Under state law, police are supposed to contribute 9 percent of their paychecks toward their pensions, and civilian workers 7 percent.  But El Monte covers the employee contribution as well as the employer share, a legacy of collective bargaining agreements dating to the early 1980s.

On top of that, retired El Monte employees receive annual cost of living increases at the high end of what CalPERS allows: up to 4 percent for police retirees and 5 percent for civilians, depending on inflation.  Most CalPERS pension recipients receive increases of 2 percent annually.”

 

Make of it what you will.  As far as we can tell the recipients of these pensions are swindlers and crooks.  Without their complete repudiation, El Monte will never break free from its long-term economic malaise.

Certainly, the retired parasites will one day kill the host.  Though, for city taxpayers, it will be a slow and painful death – one they shouldn’t have to endure.

Indeed, from a strictly moral sense, city taxpayers shouldn’t have to honor such downright corrupt promises that government employees made to each other.  The fact that they presently are, embodies everything that’s wrong with everything.

 

A ditch opened up in the Interstate 10 in Califormia a while ago…  an omen perhaps?

Photo via us-news.us

 

MN Gordon is President and Founder of Direct Expressions LLC, an independent publishing company. He is the Editorial Director and Publisher of the Economic Prism – an E-Newsletter that tries to bring clarity to the muddy waters of economic policy and discusses interesting investment opportunities.

 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

3 Responses to “The Great El Monte Public Pension Swindle”

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Gold Sector Update – What Stance is Appropriate?
      The Technical Picture - a Comparison of Antecedents We wanted to post an update to our late December post on the gold sector for some time now (see “Gold – Ready to Spring Another Surprise?” for the details). Perhaps it was a good thing that some time has passed, as the current juncture seems particularly interesting. We received quite a few mails from friends and readers recently, expressing concern about the inability of gold stocks to lead, or even confirm strength in gold of...
  • Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, Q1 2017 and Some Additional Reflections
      Looming Currency and Liquidity Problems The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Advisory Board was held on January 11, approximately one month ago. A download link to a PDF document containing the full transcript including charts an be found at the end of this post. As always, a broad range of topics was discussed; although some time has passed since the meeting, all these issues remain relevant. Our comments below are taking developments that have taken place since then into...
  • Trump and the Draining of the Swamp
      Swamp Critters BALTIMORE – The Dow is back above the 20,000-point mark. Federal debt, as officially tallied, is up to nearly $20 trillion. The two go together, egging each other on. The Dow is up 20 times since 1980. So is the U.S. national debt. Debt feeds the stock market and the swamp. What’s not up so much is real output, as measured by GDP. It’s up only 6.4 times over the same period. Debt and asset prices have been rising three times as fast as GDP for 36 years! Best...
  • Gold and Silver Divergence – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Gold and Silver Divergence – Precious Metals Supply and Demand Last week, the prices of the metals went up, with the gold price rising every day and the silver price stalling out after rising 42 cents on Tuesday. The gold-silver ratio went up a bit this week, an unusual occurrence when prices are rising. Everyone knows that the price of silver is supposed to outperform — the way Pavlov’s Dogs know that food comes after the bell. Speculators usually make it...
  • When Trumponomics Meets Abenomics
      Thirty Year Retread What will President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk about when they meet later today? Will they gab about what fishing holes the big belly bass are biting at? Will they share insider secrets on what watering holes are serving up the stiffest drinks? [ed. note: when we edited this article for Acting Man, the meeting was already underway]   Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian and militarist, meets America's...
  • The Great Wailing
      Regret and Suffering BALTIMORE – Victoribus spolia... So far, the most satisfying thing about the Trump win has been the howls and whines coming from the establishment. Each appointment – some good, some bad from our perspective – has brought forth such heavy lamentations.   Oh no! Alaric the Visigoth is here! Hide the women and children! And don't forget the vestal virgins, if you can find any...   You’d think Washington had been invaded by Goths, now...
  • Receive a One Percent Gift When Buying or Selling a Home
      How to Save Money When Buying or Make More When Selling a Home In your professional capacity and perhaps also in your private life, you may be closely involved with financial and commodity markets. Trading in stocks, bonds or futures is part of your daily routine.  Occasionally you probably have to deal with real estate as well though – if you e.g. want to purchase an apartment or a house, or if own a home you wish to sell.   The people who took this photograph probably want to...
  • Unleashing Wall Street
      To Unleash or Not to Unleash, That is the Question... LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA –  Corporate earnings have been going down for nearly three years. They are now about 10% below the level set in the late summer of 2014. Why should stocks be so expensive?   Example of something that one should better not unleash. The probability that a win-lose proposition will develop upon meeting it seems high. It wins, because it gets to eat... Image credit: Urs Hagen   Oh,...
  • Silver Futures Market Assistance – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Silver Is Pushed Up Again This week, the prices of the metals moved up on Monday. Then the gold price went sideways for the rest of the week, but the silver price jumped on Friday.   Taking off for real or not? Photo credit: NASA   Is this the rocket ship to $50? Will Trump’s stimulus plan push up the price of silver? Or just push silver speculators to push up the price, at their own expense, again? This will again be a brief Report this week, as we are busy...
  • Boondoggles for the Swamp Critters
      Monster or Mozart? BALTIMORE – Investors seem to be holding their breath, like a man hiding a cigarette from his wife. It’s just a feeling, and it’s not the first time we’ve had it... but it feels as though it wouldn’t take much to send them all running.   Actually, they're not going anywhere yet... but there is a lot of overconfidence by those who were very worried when prices were a lot better - click to enlarge.   Meanwhile... we’re coming to a deep...
  • The Art and Pseudoscience of Monetary Policy
      Definitely Maybe Everyone’s got a plan for sale these days.  In fact, there are so many plans out there we cannot keep up with them all.  Eat celery sticks and lose weight.  Think and grow rich.  Stocks for the long run.  Naturally, plans like these run a dime a dozen.   All social engineers who get to impose their harebrained schemes on the rest of the world through the coercive powers of the State, as well as all armchair planners regaling us with their allegedly...
  • California, Nestle and Decentralization
      Goodbye, Socialist Paradise Nestle USA has announced that it will move its headquarters from Glendale, California, to Rosslyn, Virginia, taking with it about 1200 jobs.  The once Golden State has lost some 1690 businesses since 2008 and a net outflow of a million of mostly middle-class people from the state from 2004 to 2013 due to its onerous tax rates, the oppressive regulatory burden, and the genuine kookiness which pervades among its ruling elites.*   There has been a...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com