A Courier Viewpoint for July 18, 2014
by Randy Scott, Claremont Outrage
Seemingly out of the blue, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has come to Claremont’s rescue. But please understand that Claremont ratepayers and Claremont taxpayers are the same people.
The HJTA are concerned about Claremont taxpayers being fleeced by the city of Claremont in regard to the city acquiring Claremont’s water system, yet they have no concern about Claremont ratepayers being reamed by Golden State Water and the Public Utilities Commission through 1) Ongoing rampant rate increases, 2) Regionalization of water rates and, 3) Ever-increasing monthly fees like WRAM charges, a fee to ratepayers for not using water.
In 1996, HJTA qualified Proposition 218 for the ballot. Prop 218 was approved by the voters in November 1996, which provided taxpayers the right to vote on all local taxes and required taxpayer approval of assessments and property-related fees.
In May 2006, Jon Coupal and Jack Cohen of HJTA wrote a position paper entitled, “Water Rates Under Prop.” In this paper, they stated that “the drafters and sponsors of Proposition 218 desire to set the record straight as to what they believe the proper (and only) interpretation of Prop 218 is with respect to Proposition 218’s applicability to water rates…. the express language of Prop 218 subjects water rates to the procedural and substantive requirements of the new law.”
It is interesting that Mr. Coupal and the HJTA are concerned about taxpayers when it comes to municipal utilities, but not when they are subject to the crony capitalism model of Golden State and the CPUC, which essentially is a private monopoly artificially regulated (perhaps even facilitated) by a government body outside of the free market system.
We’ve said it before: the CPUC is appointed and not elected. The CPUC has not been responsive to GSW ratepayers, as evidenced by the 700 people that turned out to the Taylor Hall hearing in December 2011.
Through city acquisition, taxpayers will be protected in that future water rate increases will be subject to the limitations of Proposition 218 that the HJTA fought so hard to successfully impose. Claremont has elected officials, not appointed.
Why would Mr. Coupal and the HJTA now undermine an effort to rein in future rate increases under the Prop 218 process versus subjecting taxpayers to the lack of protection that exists under the CPUC process?
Sadly, it appears that Mr. Coupal and the HJTA have been co-opted by crony capitalists and their slick PR firm, Randle Communications, and cannot to be trusted in this debate.
We want Sacramento—the CPUC, HJTA and Randle Communications—out of the equation. Local and responsible control by elected, not appointed, officials.