Readers comments 1.26.13
Excuse the lawyers
I am overwhelmed by the 2 goliaths: The city and the for-profit water company. I am not sure either party is coming forth with the true agenda and exhuming what the citizens really need.
I am especially concerned about the millions of dollars of legal fees that will be incurred.
In the past, the city attorney has used the mega-law firm that they are associated with, claiming that there is not the potential for conflict of interest. I have had to swallow a lot of bull manure in my life, but this is real hard to swallow.
If we lose, we will also have to pay the water company legal fees. Will the mega- law firm pay for that? I doubt it. I think it is time to form a blue-ribbon committee of people from the community and selected city staff, leaving out the city attorney, initially.
This committee would determine what the citizens really need and then negotiate with the water company to see if a compromise could be achieved without taking on this tremendous burden.
I was a victim of the mega-law firm’s ruthless and nasty processes in eminent domain. I gather some solace in knowing the water company will also have ruthless and nasty legal policies.
It is time to bring in fresh ideas and think out of the box. This community has a wealth of talent to complete this project.
The gun lobby
Kudos to Gar Byrum and Merrill Ring for their thoughtful comments on the issue of gun control (COURIER, January 23).
It is difficult to quarrel with their arguments: that neither the Second Amendment nor the history of legislation involving firearms in this country present any significant argument against the common-sense gun control recommended by the President and incorporated in Senator Feinstein’s bill.
We hear a lot from supporters of the NRA about guns and self- or family-protection. But if gun ownership were any guarantee of protection or safety, the United States would be the safest country in the world as Americans own 310,000,000 guns. But, alas, we are the least safe of advanced countries.
It is time to ignore the NRA which is, after all, now essentially a lobby for the gun manufacturers.
Local control is the answer
For over a year, we have heard about Golden State Water Company (GSWC) and the high rates they charge for water in Claremont.
In 2011, this for-profit water company applied to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a rate increase, seeking 25.54 percent more from Claremont ratepayers, for 2013 and beyond.
In GSWC’s 2011 rate request application, the water company stated that reduced water usage was a primary reason for the rate increase. GSWC has figured out a way to increase our water bill, when we actually use less water. On top of that, we see that the parent company (AWR) posted 2012 third-quarter profits of $15.1 million.
Not once in this recession have they cut back expenses, posted a loss or shown any sign of an economic slowdown. Indeed, they have increased staff 31 percent, posted record results (increasing operating income by 55 percent in 4 years), all with a 21 percent decrease in the amount of water delivered. They delivered less water and made more money doing it.
The California PUC has a Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA). The DRA has 137 state employees who are charged with obtaining the “lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels.”
Just last week, the DRA released their 2012 Annual Report touting that they saved the average customer $6 a month over what water companies were proposing to charge ratepayers.
Really, DRA? You pat yourself on the back for saving ratepayers $6 monthly, when the water bills in Claremont have virtually doubled since May 2011 after GSWC went from a 2-month to a 1-month billing cycle.
In August 2012, we were told that the DRA negotiated a proposed settlement agreement with GSWC, whereby Claremont ratepayers would only—and I use the word “only” to highlight the absurdity—see a 15.1 percent increase in 2013. All we have been looking for in this David vs. Goliath fight is a fair and reasonable price for water. Look at our surrounding cities and you’ll see they are paying half, or even less, for their water. On average, our water rates have increased 11 percent per year for the last 7 years. Who is looking out for the Claremont ratepayer?
The DRA’s Annual Report goes on to explain how they forced one for-profit company to accept a rate of return of 9.99 percent versus 10.02 percent.
No one in Claremont should be tricked into thinking that a fair settlement was reached with the California PUC—it wasn’t.
Until we have local control of the water company/provider, we are forced to rely on 137 DRA employees. To date, the DRA has failed ratepayers, earning them a letter grade of “F.” The DRA failures are something that should have been included in their Annual Report. The report can be viewed at www.dra.ca.gov.
Claremont Against Outrageous Water Rates