Readers comments 7.21.12

Facts and figures on water

Dear Editor:

In John Moylan’s letter in the July 18 edition of the COURIER regarding a potential purchase of the water company, he arrives at an approximately $30 million value for the Claremont portion of the company. ($777 million market capitalization times the fraction of 10,000 customers in Claremont divided by 256,000 total customers).

It should be noted, however, that this calculation only reflects the share of total equity that is attributable to its Claremont customer base. It does not include a corresponding share of the parent company’s debt that would also be relevant in determining the total value of the water company serving Claremont.

In the company’s most recent 10-Q filing dated May 7, 2012, a total of $341 million of long-term debt is listed on the parent company’s balance sheet. Under the same methodology used to determine the value of the total equity attributable to its Claremont customer base, the Claremont share of long-term debt would be $13.3 million.

Adding the equity and debt portions together, the total enterprise value of the parent company attributable to its Claremont customer base becomes $43.3 million.

How this $43.3 million share of total enterprise value actually relates to the current fair market value of the water company’s assets serving Claremont is anybody’s guess – that is the purpose of the appraisal process.

Marc D. Selznick



Council urged to stay neutral on religious events

Dear Editor:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked the Claremont City Council to stop promoting religion at government-sponsored events, the third time this request has been made of the council in the last 6 weeks.

“It is extremely troubling that the council seems to be missing the message of our letters,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Governments should never be in the business of sponsoring religion.”

On June 1, Americans United warned the city council that its sponsorship of an event called “Sitting in the Park,”  which included a procession from the Sacred Heart historical site prefaced by “a special blessing” and a mass conducted by Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church—violated the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

After the city received the letter, the event’s organizers withdrew their request for official sponsorship.

On June 26, Americans United again wrote to the city, urging the rejection of a proposed written policy that would have allowed invocations and benedictions at city-sponsored events. AU said in its letter that the Constitution prohibits the inclusion of even non-denominational prayers at government-sponsored events other than legislative sessions.

Americans United’s latest letter, dated July 17, notes that even though the city has declined to adopt a written policy authorizing prayer at city-sponsored events, it appears that the council continues to sponsor events that feature prayers. Americans United received a complaint that prayer was included in the city’s July Fourth celebration, the letter says.

 “Whether or not such prayers are formally authorized by a written city policy, however, the Establishment Clause prohibits the city from including prayers at its events,” the letter explains.

The letter notes that if the council continues to sponsor or otherwise include prayers at city events, AU will be forced to consider other options, including a lawsuit. Such litigation is very expensive and time-consuming, the letter warns. The letter requests a response within 30 days.

Ayesha N. Khan

Legal Director 


Gregory M. Lipper

Senior Litigation Counsel 


Ian Smith

Staff Attorney

Americans United


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