Readers Comments 9-9-16
Time to pull the plug
In the course of the recently-completed “right to take” phase of the city of Claremont’s eminent domain lawsuit against Golden State Water, evidence was introduced which demonstrated that the city of La Verne’s water agency (the prospective operator of Claremont’s post-takeover municipal water agency) exceeded the 15 parts per billion “action level” for lead in drinking water on more than one occasion; that it had violated regulations regarding the handling and reporting of water quality samples; and that its reports contained errors which understated the lead test results.
Remarkably, our city leaders do not seem to care. It ought to be inconceivable that we would entrust the operation of Claremont’s water system to an agency with such a questionable commitment to public health, but no other alternative was ever even considered.
Having initiated a contested hearing where the judge must decide if it is necessary and in the public interest for Claremont to take over our water system, it should have been obvious to the city’s retained law firm that the competency and integrity of La Verne’s water system operations would be highly relevant; and yet, despite the fact that this firm has billed us several million dollars in fees, engaged in prolonged contract negotiations with La Verne and examined tens of thousands of documents during pretrial discovery, they somehow overlooked the history of La Verne’s lead testing.
Of course, it is also possible that the members of the Claremont council and staff were made aware of the lead problems and chose not to share this information with the public. In any event, whether the lack of disclosure was deliberate or not, the consequences are the same: Claremont no longer has a viable plan for the takeover of the water system.
Unfortunately, the failure to identify and deal with this issue has proven to be a costly mistake. The city has already spent approximately $4 million for our own legal and consulting fees, and will be required to reimburse Golden State Water a similar amount if the court rules against us. And in the unlikely event that the court rules in Claremont’s favor, we cannot afford to waste another dime on a venture that is certain to fail.
At this point, the only responsible thing to do is pull the plug on this ill-fated endeavor, cut our losses while we can still afford to pay for them, and commit ourselves to a heightened regard for the prudent stewardship of our city’s finances in the future.
League position on Prop 51, 55
The November 8 election will be here before we know it. There are 17 state propositions on that ballot. The League of Women Voters has studied and taken positions on these topics. The local LWV will present recommendations in an easy-to-remember format by combining ballot propositions of the same topic. First, we will cover propositions relating to education and children’s needs.
Vote yes on 51:?School Bonds: K-12 and Community College. All California schoolchildren deserve school facilities that are in good repair and are equipped to provide a 21st century education. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to borrow to build. But this is not a perfect world. Our facilities’ needs are massive and require a large infusion of funding. It has been eight years since the last statewide bond measure was passed.
Chronic underfunding from the state leaves most public school communities unable to adequately address their needs, increasing the danger of greater disparities among them. Many have passed local bonds but due to insufficient state matching funds, that money remains unspent—a situation this bond measure will help remedy.
Vote yes on 55: Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act. Prop 55 is key in maintaining economic recovery and growth in California by continuing the current income tax rates on the wealthiest two percent of Californians. Established by the voters in 2012, Prop 30 has moved California toward financial stability and adequate funding for education and other services like health care. Without Prop 55, we will be back to the days of pink slips for teachers, and overcrowded classrooms and community colleges.
The local LWV will be back soon to report on our recommendations for other propositions.
VP for Advocacy,
LWV of the Claremont Area