Readers comments 10-3-14

Two wrongs don’t make a right
Dear Editor:
Growing up in Claremont I was taught that two wrongs don’t make a right.  Golden State Water was wrong to increase our rates by double digits during the deepest recession of my lifetime. These increases led to protests and the formation of Claremont Outrage.
The plan to purchase the water company is also wrong because doing so cannot possibly solve the problem it attempts to address. The debt the city is asking the voters to authorize, $135 million, would require just over $104.12 per month, or $1217 per year, to be collected from every home and business in Claremont simply to pay principal and interest. All other costs such as charges for state water, electricity to run the pumps, maintenance and so on would be on top of this.
Further, the situation with water in California is “fluid” and the future is unknown. The state legislature just passed a law allowing the state to control groundwater. Will Claremont be required to use expensive state water instead of its own aquifer?
Currently, at the highest tiered rate and considering all of the surcharges, a Claremont resident pays just over a half a cent per gallon. The Mayo Clinic tells us that a healthy human needs about 8/10 gallons each day. Data reported to the state tell us that in 2013 the average use in Claremont was 344 gallons per person per day: more than 400 times the minimum required.  My family has reduced our water usage by 64 percent in the past four years, and our annual bills have gone down by a third.
As residents, we can reduce our reliance on expensive imported water; 50 percent of the water our community used in 2013 was imported. As a community, we can actively engage in the rate-setting process, and I am glad to see that the city has announced it will do so. There are several effective ways to truly reduce and stabilize rates. Taking over the water company is not one of them. It just compounds a previous wrong.
Please join me and make the only right decision and vote no on Measure W.
Mark Sterba

Do away with corporate greed
Dear Editor:
This letter is to ask fellow Claremonters to please join with hundreds of their neighbors to help Claremont take back our water system.  
Many unpaid volunteers have been working tirelessly to put forward the true issues. Our city has been very careful not to mislead voters and make outrageous promises. Golden State hired self-proclaimed “water experts” and others have the corporation’s deep pockets supporting them as they bombard voters with misinformation and unsubstantiated claims of ridiculously high costs and prices while threatening to sue the city and others who hope to get out information in favor of Measure W.
A strong voter turnout in favor of Measure W will help Claremont reclaim our water and do away with corporate greed, arrogance and intimidation.
Vote yes on Measure W!
Ethel Rogers

Tired of erroneous assertions
Dear Editor:
I really do wish that Measure W opponents would get around to conducting a “thoughtful engagement of issues based on facts,” as they told the rest of us to do.
Last week, we had a letter and a viewpoint filled with erroneous assertions about costs, administration and maintenance, pretty much toeing the Golden State line as set forth in Rodney Smith’s seriously biased letter.  And they’ve added a new red herring about Davis-Bacon wage laws. These apply to federally-funded projects and wouldn’t apply to maintenance anyway. We’d pay the same wages for work as do surrounding communities that own their own water systems and who still manage to have much lower water rates.
Please, please, please—will those who oppose Measure W spend a little time looking at the facts? You can see a detailed rebuttal of Mr. Smith’s assertions by economist Andrew Winnick on the Claremont FLOW website.
If you can find something actually untrue in the information available from the city or Claremont FLOW, we’d like to know so we can correct it. We are doing our best to be accurate. Please stop wishing the facts were other than they are. Bite the bullet and admit it—the facts are clearly saying “Buy the water system!” Vote “yes” on Measure W.
Susan Schenk

Water for the public
Dear Editor:
It is amazing to me that a professor of economics does not know the difference between a tax and a revenue bond. Rodney Smith’s letter, sponsored and paid for by Golden State, proposes a “no” vote on the water tax. There is no water tax on the ballot. Measure W is a revenue bond, which will be repaid by savings in water system costs and by the water users.
The letter, sent to all of Claremont’s registered voters, indicates that the water company is going to cost upwards of $200 million; however, a consultant for the city evaluated the company to be worth $55 million. How does a $55 million system all of a sudden escalate more than three -and-a-half times its value?
Golden State’s parent company, American States Water Company, asserts in its mission statement that it “is committed to maximizing shareholder value through a combination of capital appreciation and cash dividends.” In other words, their mission is to make money from us; service is mentioned second.
Throwing scare tactic aften scare tactic, Mr. Smith refers to the water main break in Los Angeles, suggesting that it will happen here and cost as much to repair. First of all, our system is smaller, less complex and (most likely) younger.  Second, Golden State has told us over and over again how well they (and they alone) have taken care of the system. Third, it doesn’t matter who owns the system, the users will pay for the repairs. Golden State will pass those costs on to us and add on their profit.
When we purchase the water system, there will be no broker selling us water from our aquifer, and we can develop ways to reclaim and reuse water without giving it back to Golden State and buying it again. Well water is one-fifth of the cost of imported water. When comparing our costs to La Verne, we have not yet figured in the savings from using well water. We receive 50 percent or more of our water from local sources, whereas, La Verne imports two-thirds of theirs. Also there will be no WRAM charges to make up for lost profits when we conserve.
There is no logical reason not to own our water system unless, of course, you own stock in Golden State and are afraid of losing a “gold” mine. I suggest that those who do sell their stock and invest in local revenue bonds that will be available soon. As it has been so well said before: Water for the public, not for profit.
Elizabeth Smith

Democratic Club urges ‘yes’ vote on Measure W
Dear Editor:
The following resolution was passed unanimously at the meeting of the Democratic Club of Claremont on September 29, 2014:
“Whereas it has become clear that local control of our water infrastructure will be of great benefit to the citizens of Claremont and can be accomplished without any economic harm, be it resolved that the Democratic Club of Claremont strongly urges that voters approve Measure W on the November 4 ballot.”
Gar Byrum
Democratic Club of Claremont

Trust in the city council
Dear Editor:
In last week’s COURIER, a reader wrote a “what-if” letter opposing Measure W by suggesting that if the city of Claremont controls the water district, it would be incapable of operating it in accord with “our best interests.”
The writer cites as examples of the city’s ineptness, the trial roundabout at Bonita and Indian Hill about 12 years ago and the recent “parking debacle” at the Mills entrance to the Wilderness Park.
I strongly disagree with the writer. In fact, these examples demonstrate why we should support Measure W. While the city makes mistakes, so do large corporations. But this council and past councils have been hypersensitive to our wants and needs. If they act against our best interests, they know we will show up at city hall in force, and they know we can vote them out of office.
As for the Village roundabout experiment, the city dismantled it when residents complained. As for parking at the main entrance to the Wilderness Park, this spring council members created temporary permit-parking zones to meet the immediate needs of neighbors, who were protesting spillover parking on their streets. Not only did the council quickly react to solve this short-term problem, they also voted for a master plan, currently underway, to develop long-term solutions that balance the needs of all of the park’s stakeholders.
Compare these prompt and effective responses to the lack of response of the California Public Utilities Commission when local residents have protested water rate increases. Compare them to the degree of responsiveness of Golden State Water, which supplies 225,000 customers in 75 communities across 10 California counties. Then there’s its parent company, American States Water, which supplies water in five other states as well. And finally, consider the likelihood of responsiveness to Claremonters’ needs if a huge multinational or foreign corporation should take over American States Water.
The issue is not just water rates. The issues are power, accountability and trust. We need the power to control our most vital resource well into the future. With built-in local accountability and a community as deeply engaged in civic affairs as Claremont, I trust the city council and staff to do the right thing.
Lissa Petersen

Claremont Girl Scouts advocate to save La Casita
Dear Editor:
Whether it’s a ring, a home, a photo or anything else, we all have things that mean something to us—something that feels like a part of us and something that we feel a part of. For me and all my fellow Girl Scouts, that is La Casita.
Over 65 years ago, a scout leader from Claremont decided there needed to be a place for Girl Scouts to connect with each other and the world. Along with select Claremont residents and many Claremont Girl Scout troops, she raised $6,000 to build the Claremont Girl Scout cabin.
We all have a goal, something we would pour our blood, sweat and tears into to make a reality. For these girls, that was the creation of La Casita. Over the course of many years, the loss of much sleep and the bonding of many amazing people, La Casita was created and has stood now for 68 years, and it must stand as a Claremont Girl Scout cabin for much longer.
Earlier this year, it was brought to my troop’s attention that La Casita may be sold to create a Girl Scout House in a place that does not have its own place.  La Casita has given our troop amazing opportunities. We are extremely thankful for the memories La Casita has given us the chance to look back upon, and we want that opportunity for all other present and future scouts.
I must say that we, as Claremont scouts, are capable of great things. For seven years, Troop 1094 has bonded, learned and grown together not only as friends but as sisters. We have raisedmoney and put a lot of hard work into various causes. We know that we can raise the necessary funds and contribute the work needed to build a Girl Scout cabin for another city. By doing so, we not only show respect to those who worked extremely hard all those years ago by saving their creation, but also by working just as hard to build something for someone else.
By taking away La Casita, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Council takes away a part of us. In conclusion, I, and the rest of Troop 1094, won’t rest until another cabin stands in a place where there is none and La Casita remains ours.
Ruby BerkeTroop 1094, Claremont

Dear Editor:
I have recently found out about the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles’ un-final decision to sell La Casita. I am writing to bring attention to how wrong a choice I think this would be.
First of, La Casita has a very pronounced history with Claremont and its Girl Scouts. Lee Pitzer and his wife Blanche donated so much of their very own money to build La Casita. Blanche was one of the first Girl Scout leaders in Claremont and to use the Pitzer’s own funds to build the place must mean that the Girl Scout cabin meant a lot to them.  Also, some of the Girls Scouts at that time, girls my age, actually helped build La Casita. It was and is a way for young women to connect and work together.
Second, there are so many memories from 1947, when it was built, up until now. My sister Scouts and I have enjoyed so many amazing experiences at La Casita. I still remember our first visit in kindergarten when we made Christmas cookies with another generation of awesome girls who love La Casita.
Last of all, think about the beautiful wildlife and their habitats that belong in the area. Every time my troop has come to La Casita, we have seen large amounts of deer, birds and rabbits. Taking away La Casita is taking away a safe environment for everything that lives there if the land is sold and developed.
The Pitzers worked very hard to accomplish the cabin and if it is not saved, many generations of Girl Scouts will not get to experience La Casita, and the environment might be wrecked. I hope these reasons will help Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles not to sell a lifetime of fun memories, La Casita. Sincerely,
Lucy ChinnTroop 1094, Claremont

Dear Editor:
La Casita is a beautiful place for the Girl Scout community. There is wildlife and habitats that, once taken away, could destroy the animal families in that area. If it is sold and destroyed [by development], something new will take its place and solidify the area and claim its stand and make the property wildlife-free.
There are the traditional Girl Scout stories of the past—“I had a great time,” and “It was so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to go back”—but we are also thinking of the future. There are so many more sleepovers and activities to do! A place to make memories and give it more history. This place of solitude for us girls can’t be taken away,“retired” or given up.
An argument could be made that us girls don’t use it much. Think of the years—coming close to 70—that has held troop after troop, sleepover after sleepover. We don’t use it? When my sister was a girl scout, she had sleepovers there. My grandma’s sister held her Girl Scout troop activities there. My troop just had an amazing sleepover there three weeks ago and we can’t wait to figure out our next activity there. There is history in that place. There is more for us to do. That is, if it’s still there.
We ask Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles don’t take away a place where fun, happiness and memories can thrive. We can fundraise and walk together to create what we need to buy a scout house for Girls Scouts in other areas who need a place like La Casita. Listen, learn, then react. Thank you.
Bella Hubbard
Troop 5364, Claremont

Dear Editor:
I am a Claremont Girl Scout. I have lots of history here. La Casita is one of those places. It was built in 1947 and the Claremont Girl Scouts helped with this. They raised the money by putting ads in the newspapers and by helping a lady sell her furniture. All together, they raised over $6,000. Claremont Girl Scouts our age dug the steps leading up to the building. Does the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles council think it would be right to “retire” and tear down something that has so much history to Girl Scouts and Claremont? No, it’s not!
What is the motive to sell La Casita?  To build a place in another city? Have a fundraiser. To build houses? There’s no room, since it’s right near the Wilderness  trails. When my troop went up there last weekend, I had an amazing time. It’s a perfect location for Girl Scouts to get a taste of the wilderness without going into the isolated mountains. We have created so many memories and I want other troops to have the same amazing experiences. Sincerely,
Emily Pocock
Troop 5364, Claremont

Dear Editor:
I was a Girl Scout from ages 5 through 12. I am now 21 and have very happy memories of my time as a Girl Scout. Growing up in Claremont, most of my Girl Scout memories took place at La Casita. I was extremely sad to hear that the property might be sold and that present and future Girl Scouts would not get to experience doing activities in and around this cozy, historical cabin and the beautiful nature that surrounds it.
When I was in third grade, I attended my first overnight camp at La Casita, a wonderful and memorable experience. I enjoyed meeting other Girl Scouts from Claremont and remember making fun crafts while learning about nature and exploring the area around the cabin.
La Casita also served as the place for our weekly troop meetings when we could no longer hold them at our school building. Finally, when working to earn my Bronze Award, two of my fellow troop members and I used the La Casita cabin to work with and help a troop of Brownies to earn a new Try-it.
I would love to see La Casita remain in the Girl Scout family for future generations of girls to enjoy. This historic cabin and the environment around it offer so much for girls of all ages to explore, learn and make memories. It would be a shame to see this wonderful place sold and used for purposes other than within the Girl Scout community. Thank you,
Samantha Rago
Girl Scout from 1998-2005

Dear Editor:
Hello. My name is Lily and I am in Troop 5364. Me and my fellow Girl Scouts have had many fond memories at La Casita and we hope the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles council will reconsider selling it. So many future Girl Scouts will have the time of their lives there—toasting s’mores, singing by the campfire, and having slumber parties and camping trips.
Seventy years ago, Girl Scouts spent so much time raising money to build it so all the Girl Scouts of Claremont could always have a scout house. I have been going there for as long as I can remember.  It’s a big part of my and Claremont’s history. Many girls before me had a memorable time there, as should many girls after me. I hope the Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles won’t take this away from us and will reconsider their decision that is affecting so many young Girl Scouts.
Lily Wolf
Troop 5364, Claremont


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