Schenk’s facts, Smith’s fiction

Having Sue Schenk’s enlightening viewpoint and Rodney Smith’s expensive letter in the same issue of the COURIER? Serendipity. Ms. Schenk’s facts provide needed reality from Mr. Smith’s letter, which begins with the heading: “Measure W–the Water Tax.” As defined by state legislation, a revenue bond is not a tax; calling it that, however often, does not make it so. 

The first paragraph of Mr. Smith’s letter says his studies show Measure W would add “more than $1000 per year” to a current water bill. As Ms. Schenk points out (Fact #2), until the final price is established, no one knows what the cost will be—inconvenient, perhaps, but clear. Under any reasonable assumptions, we won’t pay $100 per month more for water.

The second paragraph of the letter says, “City studies...concluded that Measure W would not save any money for at least 17 years.” Knowing when the break-even point will occur depends on knowing the final price; no one yet knows the final price. See, again, Ms. Schenk’s Fact #2. There was an “if” clause that Mr. Smith omitted.

In paragraph three, Mr. Smith claims the group behind Measure W “admitted it would actually cost you money.”  There is compounded misleading here.  No one yet knows what it will cost; there is no way to “admit” anything else. If the $55 million appraised value prevails, current water revenue would provide more than enough money. Again, Mr. Smith omitted a qualification and tries to mislead as many as he can.

There are other inaccuracies: numbers are inflated, savings are overlooked and, despite Mr. Smith’s claim, it is not the “water company” that Measure W addresses; it is only the Claremont water system. Until the last two paragraphs, it is difficult to find a sentence in the letter that is not misleading or less than precise. The potential of future city councils to increase the water surcharge is noted; that Golden State and the CPUC do that now is not mentioned. With local control, we elect the decision-makers and can be heard.

The people who use water in Claremont do, should and will pay the costs of supplying that water. Yes, we pay for maintenance—we do now, we will later.  What we needn’t pay are high rates of return to investors, high salaries to executives, profit added to expenditures and  (annoying to me personally) the cost of propaganda, directed to me, paid for by me, unwelcome, misleading.

Mr. Smith features his past association with Claremont McKenna College.  FLOW membership and its endorsers list are awash in professorships, PhDs and other unmentioned accreditations. Years ago, I also was a professor at CMC but I don’t feel it is pertinent. Does Mr. Smith want us to blame CMC for his misstatements or overlook his misrepresentations because CMC once hired him? I certainly don’t.

Access to water should be a right. Voting yes on Measure W will help to make it so.

Sally Seven