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Readers comments 10.17.12

The evolution of a water bill

Dear Editor:

The explanation of our water bills published in the COURIER on Wednesday, October 10 induced me to run through my Excel budget files since 1994. Here are the interesting results I discovered.

From 1994 through 1997, I paid an average of $600 per year for water. In 1998, the bill jumped to $800 per year and then remained between $800 and $850 per year until 2006.

In 2007, the bill rose to almost $1000 followed by $1500, $1400, $1250, $1550 and $1750 anticipated this year.

I believe that the jump in 1998 was due to the “energy crisis” that Texas entrepreneurs were putting California through. I believe that the amazing jumps beginning in 2007 mark the takeover of water delivery by Golden State Water and its parent corporation American States Water Company.

The essence of our situation is that we have lost any semblance of local control over our water utility, and the Public Utilities Commission that should be protecting us from corporate greed is looking in the other direction.

When GSW “defends” their rate hikes, they always announce that they have to replace infrastructure. We would all love to hear how much of our aging infrastructure they have actually dealt with so far.

Interestingly, in our neighborhood along Mountain Avenue, we have been through an “algae bloom” during the last 2 years (May through July), which they seem incapable of dealing with, while our water tastes like it came from a pond and the shower smells like a sewer.

As for the data above, I have lived in the same house with pretty much the same landscape watering needs for 35 years. When I first came to live in Claremont in 1961, our water bills were approximately $5 per month. Claremont water came almost entirely from Mt. Baldy, and you could tell when we started using Colorado River water in the fall of many years because it would leave a salty deposit on the sidewalk.

Since the 1960s, we have lost control of our own water because of the enormous amount of development (that has made a few people very rich) all over the Inland Empire. Now we have lost further control because of a corporate buyout. It is hard to believe, in the present political economy, that anything will be done about this.

Tad Beckman

Claremont

 

Candidate speaks out

Dear Editor:

It is my duty to bring to your attention important issues that concern you and that directly affect us as Californians. Sacramento has not been doing its job of serving you and watching out for your best interests—this must stop.

I am running for State Senate not as a career politician, but as a concerned citizen who wants to cross the aisle to get things done. I’ve been visiting with residents in Claremont who have expressed that Sacramento has not addressed that our broken education system will only hurt our future and that excessive spending will bankrupt us.

Current legislators do not have the right priorities and lack the vision necessary to turn around California’s economy. Sacramento needs to wake up and realize money comes from hardworking taxpayers who believe that substantial fiscal reform is the only path to economic stability.

My priorities are jobs and education, because California was once the Golden State where opportunities were plentiful. Putting us on the right track is why I am asking for your vote in November. The legislature has not focused on the values I promise I will bring to you—bipartisanship, service to community, commitment to education and fiscal responsibility.

Gil Gonzales

Pasadena

 

In defense of Proposition 30

Dear Editor:

In his viewpoint article of October 10, former school board candidate Jeff Hammill criticizes Proposition 30, but offers no viable alternative in support of public schools. His basic plan appears to be: Step 1—Let educational programs deteriorate. Step 2—Hope someone figures out what to do next.

Mr. Hammill begins his opinion piece by declaring that our school board members are victims of the “Stockholm Syndrome,” which renders them incapable of opposition to their captor, the state government. This psychological analysis does not address the imminent disaster of “trigger cuts” facing all California school districts if Prop 30 does not pass. 

Does Mr. Hammill believe that our school board should simply ignore the prospect of a massive budget cut, and take no action to prevent it? 

Mr. Hammill faults Prop 30 for being “based on certain economic assumptions,” as if any budgeting process can proceed without assumptions. Does he have a plan that is not based on assumptions?

He goes on to complain that Prop 30 “does not guarantee the funds taken in will go to education.” Does this indicate that Mr. Hammill would prefer inflexible earmarks as a means of determining state budgets? Responsible supporters of public school funding consider Prop 30 the best way for school districts as well as the state to avoid further budgetary damage.

 Mr. Hammill’s first suggestion for sound funding is that “we stop supporting politicians of both parties who simply tell us they want to spend or ‘invest’ more in education.” Well, okay, then what? Spend less? What should be cut? Spend differently? In what way?  No specifics are provided.

Next, Mr. Hammill criticizes Prop 98 guarantees that have protected public education funding to some extent since 1988.  This seems to contradict his earlier implication that earmarks are good.  It is not clear that Mr. Hammill has any consistent plan, other than to cut public school funding.

In his final point, Mr. Hammill complains that school districts in California do not have enough local control. Once again, he offers no solutions. He also fails to acknowledge that 1978’s Proposition 13 is the root cause of Sacramento’s control. That would imply that tax cuts don’t always fix everything.

Dave Nemer

Claremont

 

Campaign season

Dear Editor:

The 2012 election is drawing to a close. We have less than a month to go and I can’t wait for it to end.

I have been a political junky since I was 7 years old but, sad to say, this campaign has not been one that I will remember with fondness. It has become too much like the Super Bowl, more hype than substance. I realize that politicians are known for stretching the truth, but this election makes me feel like I am living in some alternative universe where the truth has become lies and lies have become the truth. And in the process our Republic and our Democracy has not been served. Where is the indignation, the outrage for all of the lies and flip-flops?

The debates are watched with great anticipation but what does the media and the public talk about? They talk about how many times one candidate smiled or laughed. Style has triumphed over substance.

There have not been any speeches made that will be remembered or ideas presented that have caught our eye or our imagination. We have had promises and plans with no details, and this has occurred during a time when many of our fellow citizens are concerned about their futures and those of their children.

Money has been spent like never before. Former Governor Romney has offered a tax cut for everyone and he has asked us to take the plan on faith. His plan is perfect for Halloween, plenty of sweets for everyone but we’ll have to pay the price and need the dentist afterwards.

What is most distressing is the level of discourse, or the lack of it. We have one political party that has cynically and unashamedly gone after the white vote and, in the process, has proceeded to attack women. They have chosen to have a class war, deriding the so-called 47 percent. They have sought to divide us into the job creators and the takers. What utter nonsense!

People who work, who earn their money, are not takers. Soldiers and retirees have put in their time and paid their dues, they are not users.

It is my hope that we survive this election, and go forward into the future. We need to look at what is best for the nation, not what is best for a political party. All in all, when this election has had its say, we need to iron out our differences and find common ground for the good of all.

What the American people want is a leader with a vision and a plan for the future that includes all of us.

Gar Byrum

Claremont

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