Letters From Our Supporters
............................................from the Claremont-Courier.com
for the week of 8/15/2014.......................................................
Yesterday's Claremont Courier contained some great points and questions, by Claremont residents, about GSW and CAWA in the Readers Comments section and you can see them below. In addition the first in a series of neighborhood water gatherings is happening on Tuesday night . . . the RSVP and other information follows the 3 letters to the editor.
For the city, might that mean holding meetings, asking for public input, answering questions, explaining the results of the feasibility study, the purpose of the bond measure and where and why uncertainty crops up in figuring costs, posting information online and in print form? Oh, wait. The city has done all this.
For groups, might that mean publishing who your members are and how you are funded? Claremont FLOW has done this (www.claremontflow.org) but CAWA hasn't. I’d really like to know who, beyond the four individuals who signed the recent letter published in the COURIER, are numbered among the supposed “hundreds” of CAWA supporters. A little transparency, please?
City bows to CAWA pressure?
Here in the pages of the COURIER, we have heard from and read about a group of Claremont residents who oppose the city’s plan to purchase the water system from Golden State. This group calls itself CAWA. Please do not, however, confuse them with another group of Claremont residents—Claremont FLOW (Friends of Locally Owned Water). Claremont FLOW supports the city’s purchase of the water system. (Yes, I know, too many acronyms.)
CAWA’s real reasons for opposing the city’s purchase seem to be known mostly to themselves, because they have certainly not been well articulated or explained publicly—other than references to an amorphous “lack of transparency” and confusion over the dollar amounts. Yet, while the folks of CAWA ostensibly dislike our sky-high monthly water bills, they paradoxically look to Golden State for their salvation.
CAWA’s latest message in the August 8 COURIER trumpets “their” success in getting the city’s agreement. But here’s the dirty little secret (well, actually, it’s not much of a secret to those who’ve been following this): CAWA’s agreement with Golden State was rejected by the city.
What the city just agreed to a couple of weeks ago was a proposal directly from Golden State, with no CAWA involvement.
If you want to secure our water future not only for us but for future generations, if you can see the value of long-term investments, then you will support the city’s goal of purchasing our water system from Golden State. It just makes sense. Vote YES on November 4.
Golden State cuts its losses
Opinions about the city’s recent MOU with Golden?State Water clearly differ, but what I see is Golden State recognizing it had made some bad choices, deciding to cut its losses, and trying to find a way to turn the change in course to its advantage.
Consider that releasing paid signature gatherers loose on the community was backfiring, and that trying to make the city look less than transparent was highlighting GSW’s opaqueness. Additionally, the MOU released to mislead and confound the concerned public was being recognized as a collection of empty, misdirected or pointless promises. Carefully laid plans were having unintended, troublesome consequences.
If the door-to-door couples were causing more harm than good, why not frame abandonment of that campaign as a good-will gesture, getting something in return? If sending expensive mailers to Claremont households was reminding residents of the depth of Golden State’s pockets, and that it was Claremont residents who filled those pockets and paid to propagandize themselves, find a distraction. Call off lawsuits showing little promise of gain, get quicker access to city reports that might provide ammunition for a different lawsuit, and claim to be the hero. If even a few buy it, GSW could be ahead.
Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I doubt GSW would have dropped the lawsuits and stopped their petition campaign if they thought they were gaining ground. I think they underestimate our insight. Claremont residents understand the benefits of owning their own water system: water for the public, not for profit.
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Claremont FLOW to host informational coffee gatherings
August 15, 2014
Claremont FLOW will host a series of informational coffees to help residents gain information on the city’s proposed acquisition of Claremont’s water system.
The first meeting will take place Tuesday, August 19 at 7 p.m. at the home of Susan Schenk, 845 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Guests are asked to RSVP to by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 621-6381.
A second meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 30 at 4 p.m. at the home of Mary Kay Ogden, 1504 Webster Ave. RSVP by email to email@example.com or call 621-0816.
General information about Claremont FLOW can be found at the organization’s website,www.claremontflow.org.
............................................from the Claremont-Courier.com
for the week of 8/8/2014.......................................................
Let’s vote on water
The recent letter, “Something to hide,”
mischaracterizes the issues with Golden
State Water (GSW).
Donna Lowe asserts our councilmembers
“demonstrate a lack of confidence
and respect for residents.” The truth is opposite
of this viewpoint. Councilmembers
are aware their actions regarding this contentious
issue will define their tenure on
the council. Other councilmembers, in
years past, approached this issue but did
not demonstrate the same level of commitment
in solving this problem.
One could say that the previous councilmembers
did not have the confidence
required to address this issue in the manner
that our current council does. One reason
the current council is addressing this
issue so tenaciously is the voice of the residents.
Claremont residents have been
quite vocal in calling for action on the
water issue. The actions of our current
council demonstrate deep confidence, and
are a sign of respect for the concerns of
the large number of residents calling for
action on this issue.
Ms. Lowe argues “instead of facts, we
get promises,” which is a perfect summary
of the Memorandum of Understanding
she, GSW and CAWA, supports. Ms.
Lowe begs, “Give residents details and let
them vote,” which summarizes why I support
the water system acquisition.
I don’t get a vote with GSW or the Public
Utilities Commission. If the city acquires
the water system, I do get a vote.
All residents will. And if we don’t like the
actions of our leaders on the council, we
can replace them. Until then, we have no
A win for the city
Kudos to the city council! After declining the unhelpful and unenforceable
CAWA/Golden State Water MOU, they got Golden State to sign an agreement giving
us a lot more than it gives them!
What did we get?
1. Existing lawsuits related to CEQA, the Public Records Act and the Brown Act
have been dropped, saving us huge amounts of time and money.
2. No new CEQA suits can be filed,crucial because you cannot complete eminent
domain if a CEQA lawsuit is open.
3. GSW agreed not to contest funding by revenue bonds. This has stalled eminent
domain proceedings elsewhere.
4. GSW stopped signature gathering for a competing initiative.
What did GSW get?
1. The bond wording will say “up to $135 million” instead of “up to $55 million.”
The total possible was always $135 million (the $80 million that would not
raise rates plus the $55 million that was for “just in case”), but GSW hopes we will be
fooled into thinking something has changed. If you supported the previous
wording, there is no reason not to supportthis wording. The final cost will depend on the court,not on what the measure says.
2. The city will release parts of the feasibility study used to determine the appraised
value of $55 million for the water system, and the $80 million figure at
which paying bond debt would be the same as paying GSW. GSW hopes they
can contest these numbers, of course. So we got rid of some serious obstacles—
Claremont 1, GSW 0!
Susan Schenk, Claremont
More (sur)charges from
Golden State Water Company is at it
again with their July bill. They have
added an “Intervenor Compensation
Surcharge” ($.84 for us) with no explanation.
I thought I could get an immediate,
simple explanation on the GSW
website but, silly me, I received prompt
emails but no answers until the third
person, who sent the following:
“Beginning June 1, 2014, as required
by Section 792.5 of the Public
Utilities Code, an increase (N) in
purchased power of $0.0329/kWh,
an increase in purchased water of
$0.0714/Ccf, and an increase in
Pump Tax of $0.02989/Ccf, relative
to the Purchased Power, Purchased
Water, and Pump Tax costs adopted
by Decision No. 13-05-011, and an
associated revenue increase of 2.24
percent, are being tracked in a reserve
This section reads like it might be reimbursement
for additional expenses,
right? But I thought the increases listed
are covered in the WRAM/MCBA surcharges.
In addition, there is also a tiny note
on the back of the bill that says “Effective
June 1, 2014, your bill includes an
increase to offset the rise in supply expenses,”
and another, “As of July 1,
2014 your bill reflects a temporary increase
to recover the billing system
maintenance costs.” Where are these
shown on the bill?
So, when in doubt about facts,
Google it! Eureka! I discovered that the
California Public Utilities Commission
has something called the Intervenor
Compensation Program. This program
provides grants to individuals and
groups that participate in CPUC hearings.
Upon further digging, I find that
this is what our surcharge is—I think. It
goes to The Utility Reform Network
(TURN), a group that represents utility
ratepayers. Apparently, TURN was involved
in Claremont’s rate increases
disputes at the CPUC hearings. Maybe
they tried to help our side.
GSW is allowed to pass on this grant
cost, but it would be nice if they informed
us and their employees. By the
way, the surcharge is based on meter
size. We have a one-inch meter, thus
$.84. The chart is online.
I did not really want to spend three
hours researching another surcharge.
Now, if GSW would just tell me why I
have two sets of charges on the July
Sharon Wiley Hightower