At your meet-the-candidates event at Johnnie D’s on November 1, 2016, I asked you if the problems with municipal water systems as seen in Adelanto and with the Los Angeles DWP were any cause for concern. Your response was that you didn’t know what was going on in other locales — you knew what was going on in Apple Valley.
This was a pretty astonishing statement coming from someone in your position, but it is particularly astonishing coming from you because you once told Chuck Hansen in a council meeting that you didn’t see any community discord arising out of the push-back to the Town council’s rule-or-ruin attacks on our water company. I find it difficult to believe you missed all the letters to the editor, e-mails, angry denouncements during the public comments period at Town council meetings, newspaper articles, and reports from your own staff, considering that you personally held community meetings to generate citizen support on this issue at the same time the Town council was telling us that 1) support for seizing Liberty Utilities was overwhelming, and 2) you were going to do whatever you wanted regardless.
So I wanted to take a moment to make certain you are up to date with what is going on, both locally and elsewhere.
First, there is “Adelanto again balks on water rate hikes” in yesterday’s Daily Press. The issue here is that Adelanto city counselors have gotten themselves into a horrible situation with their water system (annual budget around $10 million) by making decisions for political reasons instead of for business reasons. This is exactly what the Apple Valley Town Council does — especially in the case of our water company — and no good ever comes of it. Even worse, these decisions are bad for residents in the long run. As in Flint, Michigan, this is clearly a case where “government-run” does not equate to “well run.”
Second, I direct your attention to “L.A.’s aging water pipes; a $1-billion dilemma” (Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2015). DWP has been serving the Los Angeles area with water and electricity for more than 100 years. Yet even with an annual budget in excess of $828 million, through waste, incompetence, and corruption it has gotten itself into a position where its water system is out of date, and the money simply isn’t there to perform the necessary repairs and replacements. Despite the size and experience of the DWP, it still cannot run its utilities properly … or avoid scandal, for that matter. For extra credit, you could check into the massive issues DWP is having getting its electrical bills correct.
Third, voters in Apple Valley gained the right to vote yea or nay on projects such as the Town’s proposed eminent domain action against Liberty Utilities, thanks to the passage of Measure V with 67.40% of the votes. Given the Town council’s repeated references to local control, I’m surprised you opposed this one. Be that as it may, you are now bound by it.
Last but not least, there is the adverse decision in Claremont’s eminent domain action against Golden State Water (November 10, 2016). This litigation had several aspects in common with those in the Town council’s proposed hostile takeover, even down to representation by the same legal firm that represents Apple Valley: BB&K. Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin found many of BB&K’s arguments to be unconvincing or off-the-mark, just as the California Public Utilities Commission has many times found BB&K’s arguments to be weak and unpersuasive.
If any of this is news to you, you need to fire Town staff immediately and get someone in there who can inform council members factually in a timely manner.
Additionally, feel free to contact me should you need accurate information.
— Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA