But it wasn’t business as usual, it wasn’t the same old story, in Claremont on Election Day a few weeks ago. Money may have spoken, but it certainly didn’t win.
Money did speak in Claremont in the months leading up to the election. It spoke loudly. Very loudly. But it didn’t stop Measure W, allowing the city to borrow up to $135 million in revenue bonds to purchase the local water system, from winning.
“Winning” is almost an understatement. Measure W was approved by 71 percent of those who voted. Seventy-one percent. Jerry Brown didn’t even win by this much. I didn’t see anyone or anything on this ballot that passed by so much.
In other words, “No on W” didn’t just lose. It was creamed. It was decimated.
This was despite all the efforts by Golden State Water Company, the current operator of our water system, to defeat the measure. As I write this, it isn’t known how much the water company spent on these efforts, but it was clearly a lot.
Yes, there was the usual barrage of advertisements and mailers. There were letters that came on prestigious letterheads, including Claremont McKenna College, and they were then reprinted as full-page ads in the COURIER. They were, of course, in addition to all the other “No on W” ads in these pages.
If anything, there was more of a barrage than usual. In addition, the letters and ads featured the same half-dozen or so people, who also wrote letters and commentaries appearing in these pages. All insisted that this was a tax (“Stop the water tax!”) even though it wasn’t, and opposers kept warning that the costs may go up by unknown amounts. All the while, it was increasingly obvious that this handful of “No on W” people were a front, with these advertisements and mailings, at least, paid for by Golden State.
What’s more, there were the automated phone calls. These were a first in Claremont elections, as I can remember. Then there were the jumbo yard signs that showed up in strategic spots a week or two before the election. And, in another first for Claremont elections and a move that looked nothing short of desperate, on the day before the election, I saw a flat-bed truck driving around Claremont with a huge “Stop the water tax” sign.
It was clear that the water company was desperate, using all sorts of deception (tax, professors) and playing on fears (unknown future costs). It was clear that Claremonters, who wanted control over water and not necessarily cheaper water, knew this and clearly saw what was going on. Golden State was trying to scare, fool and buy Claremont voters, but the overwhelming number—71percent—weren’t having any of it.
Furthermore, this blatant effort to scare, fool and buy them likely made voters angry. To top it all off, thes efforts were no doubt funded by Golden State’s customers’ money—that is, the voters’ money. So, the voters’ money was being used to scare, fool and buy off the voter. All the more reason to reject the “No on W” spiel. As if more reason was needed....