Readers comments 11-22-13
GSW’s golden goose
Golden State Water and its parent American States Water Co. are reluctant to transfer ownership to the city of Claremont because present arrangements guarantee high profits for their shareholders and high compensation for their senior executives.
Quarter after quarter, year after year, their annual reports and press releases crow about improved net income: 16 percent higher than the previous year for the second quarter of 2012, and almost 20 percent higher for the third quarter. Bloomberg news cites a 33 percent climb in profits in the first quarter of 2013, “helped by higher tariffs.”
Net income for American States Water improved over 18 percent last year, to $54 million, while its earnings per share grew almost 27 percent. Claremont’s proposed price for the local water company is less than one year of the parent company’s profits. Golden State claims that supplying water is “what we’re all about,” but ASWC/GSWC is all about money.
Public records reveal that their CEO Robert Sprowls received $1,905,799 total compensation in 2012, and the hard-working Denise Kruger, who blew dust at a Claremont audience this week, made $588,092. This a golden goose that they do not want to take to market.
Local control is our future
Golden State water had their meeting on Tuesday night. I was surprised that the attendees’ tones were so anti-Golden State since GSW was the host. What is the relevance that CEO Bob Sprowls’ sons both graduated from Claremont High School and that most of the groomsmen at his son’s wedding were CHS grads?
We sat through lectures by Denise Kruger, Ben Lewis and Rodney Smith, with Mr. Lewis even sharing photos of GSW assets that “usually” aren’t shared, (for security reasons). He must not know about Google Earth.
Through all the prepared information that may or may not be verifiable, I feel GSW continues to lack credibility. GSW wants to meet with Claremont to purportedly “work and collaborate on the water rates.” We are locked into Region 3 and a regional rate structure, so how can one meeting between Claremont and GSW go anywhere? How can GSW treat Claremont differently than any other Region 3 city?
I feel lied to by GSW, especially with at least two of their responses or comments: 1) When someone asked about the compensation of the top three or five executives at GSW, Ms. Kruger answered, “I don’t know that off the top of my head.” For goodness sake, she and Mr. Sprowls were in the room! They certainly are two of the top five earners at GSW. I think they know how much money they make.
And 2) When we were told that the Q & A session needed to end and we had to leave the multi-purpose room because GSW could only reserve the room for so long from The Colleges, our conversations naturally moved outside. While outside, a Colleges employee said that “GSW had the room as long as they wanted.” GSW is a hard company to trust and history has shown how they operate.
At the end of the day, we pay more for water than any surrounding city. Over 75 percent of California is serviced by municipal systems. The July 2014 GSW rate request is coming. Local control should be our future.
Thank you, Claremont
Thank you, Claremont Unified School District voters, for electing me to the Board of Education. I will do all I can to justify your confidence.
The campaign was intensely challenging, sometimes stressful, sometimes exhilarating and ultimately enlightening. It was like riding a roller coaster for three months. It is a relief that the ride is over and what remains is a deep sense of civic responsibility and profound gratitude.
I have so many people to thank, but where to start? Several hundred people publicly endorsed me and/or displayed my campaign signs in their yards. That provided high visibility and a buzz for the campaign. Thank you for that public support.
Seventy-five donations were received. Our campaign was a relatively low-cost operation (about $6,000), but all campaigns require some money in order to compete. Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the cause and made the campaign possible. We ended up with a tiny surplus that will be donated to CEF and CLASP.
In the course of the campaign, we had many “meet and greet” events. I am grateful to the hosts who provided their homes and hospitality so the voters and I could get together and discuss district issues in comfortable settings. I think we had worthwhile two-way communication at all of these events.
Thank you to the volunteers who put in countless hours working in multiple ways and in crucial moments to win this election. I apologize for not naming everyone who helped, but I want to acknowledge the significant work of Kara Evans, Sara Garver, Bob Gerecke, Merrilyn O’Neill, Richard O’Neill, Lauren Roselle, Linda Saeta, Georgeann Spivack and Joe Tonan.
Special thanks to effective communicators who wrote letters to the editor, talked to friends and neighbors and walked precincts to encourage people to vote for me.
During our local political campaigns, well-intentioned advice flows in from various sources, and in varying degrees of helpfulness. The best advice I received came from Claremont leaders who know, from direct personal experience, what it takes to serve effectively on the school board of CUSD. Thank you, former board members.
Many people who assisted the campaign prefer to remain nameless, for a variety of reasons. Thank you to all who worked behind-the-scenes. You know who you are. In the three intense months of the campaign, a few exceptional business relationships developed. Personal thanks to Jake Fowler at US Bank, Mary Rose at the COURIER and Barbara Lorek at Chameleon Creative Group.
I also want to sincerely thank everyone I met along the campaign trail who told me that their kid or grandkid thought I was a good teacher. That made me feel great, and it kept me focused on what this is all about: helping our young people.
Finally, my most heartfelt thanks go to Ann Nemer, my patient, supportive, loving wife—and a brilliant and outstanding teacher—for everything she does, every day.
The campaign was demanding, but all of the candidates were honorable and friendly on the trail. All had something positive to offer. I hope Joe Salas and Paul Steffen will stay in touch with district developments and continue to be involved. I look forward to working constructively with Nancy Treser Osgood, Steven Llanusa, Hilary LaConte, Sam Mowbray, Jim Elsasser and all of CUSD.
Golden State’s miscalculation
At Tuesday’s Golden State Water meeting, Ben Lewis told us upfront that he wasn’t a system appraiser. He went on to prove this fact with his “back of the envelope” calculations.
We know that in 2011, Golden State sold the Chaparral System with 13,000 connections in the Scottsdale, Arizona area for $35 million. Just like our highest- in-the-area water rates, Golden State can’t explain or justify how they value the Claremont system. The $55 million that the city proposed for 12,000 connections doesn’t seem so low to me.
Let the voters decide
The citizens of Claremont are being squeezed in a vice by two forces. A greedy for-profit water company and, on the other side, a city staff and city council that does not realize the long range implications of taking over the water company. The only entity that will gain is the city attorney and her mega law firm that will charge millions of dollars in legal fees. This issue should be put before the voters to decide.
New perspectives on water
After sitting through the city’s November 6 town hall meeting regarding the problem with Golden State Water, then the November 19 meeting with Golden State Water representatives, it has became obvious that the citizens of Claremont have two major perspectives.
Some see the issue as an economic problem and some see it as a social problem. The first group wants to stop the continuing exorbitant escalation of their water rates. The second group wants to restructure the system so that a seemingly insatiable profit-driven corporation can’t continue to victimize consumers with impunity.
In both meetings, the data was well presented by staff and consultants and was accompanied by insightful and often passionate comments from the audience. Yes, it will cost the city and, by extension, the taxpayers and water consumers more money if the city acquires the system. Yes, Golden State will continue to request huge rate increases from the California Public Utilities Commission. Yes, the CPUC will continue to grant some of those increases and Golden State will magically still make strong profits and systematically increase management salaries and shareholder profits—even with the reduction.
The bottom line is that water consumers in Claremont are going to pay more whichever way we go. Acquisition of the water system by the city of Claremont, with all the anticipated related expenditures, is probably going to cost residents and the city more during the next 20 years than staying with GSW.
If we simply want to keep the status quo of steadily increasing rates we stay with Golden State, and maybe hedge our bets by buying some of American States Water stock.
If we are willing to pay more in order to try to rectify the injustice inherent in the present system of monopolistic and bureaucratic favoritism enjoyed by Golden State and its CPUC partner in exploitation, then we support the city in the acquisition of the water system.
Disappointment with AYSO policy
This weekend, many of your readers will be preparing their child for AYSO playoffs. It is very exciting for these kids! There is one group of seven boys who will be sitting at home feeling very let down, because they were not invited to playoffs.
I feel it is important to let our community know the policy that our local AYSO has decided to enforce this year to the detriment of our players. AYSO is an organization run by volunteers. Each year AYSO recruits volunteers to coach, referee and serve as team parents. This is well understood but, as we all know, some years we are able to volunteer and other years it is more challenging.
Each year, some teams are stacked with volunteers while others are left begging and scrambling to find volunteers. Many of us have been AYSO parents and realize this all too well.
This year, our team in Boys Under 10 (BU10) division had a shortage of referee volunteers. We were given a team where not one person volunteered on the initial application to be a referee. Our lack of volunteers wasn’t because our parents didn’t want to help out but because of various reasons such as language barriers (you have to pass a two- day class), a dad with a broken back and many other valid and personal issues.
In order for AYSO to allow players to go to the playoffs, teams need to get 11 referee points. Out of all 51 teams in our region, our team was the only team (in all boys and girls teams U10-U19) that didn’t have enough points. Many teams in our division had more than 25 points!! These teams were willing to help our team out and give us their points, because coaches wanted all teams to be able to go and they also understood our situation.
Our AYSO commissioner decided that even though only our team didn’t make the point quota, this was going to be the year that they enforce the policy. In years past, they have let all teams go regardless of points.
Since when do we punish our players for lack of parent volunteers? Our players have played their hearts out all season and couldn’t wait for their chance to play their friends at the end of the season. They do not understand this policy. They are just young boys wanting to play.
We have sent countless emails to AYSO pleading for our team. We have given them specifics on the make-up of our team and the reason for our lack of volunteers. We have recruited points from other teams to try to secure our position in playoffs. Even in doing all of this, AYSO has told our players this is not good enough and essentially said they will be using our team to prove their point on how parents need to volunteer.
AYSO was not clear about this policy at sign-ups and should have been. Parents should know that if you get put on a team without enough volunteers you will be faced with telling your player “We know you worked, but in the end AYSO doesn’t care because your mom or dad just didn’t do enough.”
I would like to see this policy exposed for what it is: a punishment to our players for AYSO’s inability to put together balanced teams. When you have teams that have almost 30 referee points and others that have to beg and plead and still fall short, clearly there is an issue with the system. If there is an issue with the system, why are we taking it out on the players? They are the ones who suffer.
Parents are happy to have their Saturdays back, but playoffs are really important to our kids that have played so hard all season. What a disappointment AYSO has turned out to be this year.
Quicksilver team parent
Senate should ratify disabilities treaty immediately
This month, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has for a second time taken up the United Nations Disability Treaty in support of equality for all people with disabilities around the world. This treaty is consistent with our nation’s interests and values, and the senate should ratify it immediately. It is helpful that our senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, support passage.
The Disability Treaty is an international framework for countries to embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. Non-controversial as that may be, the treaty actually fell victim to political posturing in the senate last December—failing to be ratified by five votes.
This treaty was inspired by US legislation, and it is frankly embarrassing that the US has failed to join 126 other countries in ratifying it. In fact, the UN Disability Treaty was modeled after The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which values independence and respect for disabled people by promoting reasonable accommodations—things as basic as wheelchair ramps.
This treaty would not in any way impede US sovereignty or change America’s domestic laws. Further, as with all treaties, it would hand no power to the United Nations or any other international body to change America’s laws. Rather, it would advance America’s high standards for the treatment of people with disabilities to other nations around the globe.
For the nearly 58 million Americans—including more than 5 million veterans—who have one or more disabilities, global accessibility standards will help improve safety in travel, study and work abroad. That’s to say nothing of the impact for 1 billion people who live with a disability worldwide.
The time is now for the senate to pass this common-sense global framework on behalf of equality for all people.
Do we have tyranny or liberty?
Our windows of freedom have been covered by “governmental mini-blinds” since September 12, 2001. During the Bush presidency, I understood and appreciated the immediate action our government took for the safety of our country and its citizens. Over time, however, and especially under the current administration, the “mini-blinds” have been tweaking shut and now I fear if we don’t act soon, the blinds will be totally shut and our freedoms will be lost forever. Our government is out of control!
The NSA is spying on the phone calls of our close allies, as well as the phone calls and emails of our citizens. The IRS is targeting organizations and persons who disagree with the ideologies of the current administration. Over 5 million citizens have lost their own private health care due to governmental regulations.
Our journalists are being threatened with imprisonment for reporting unflattering stories about the current administration or its policies.
The families of our soldiers killed in action are denied death benefits and our WWII veterans are denied access to their war memorial during the government shutdown, but an illegal alien rally is allowed to commence with government- sponsored security and support at an adjacent federal park next door.
Our government is covering up details to the families of the four American citizens who were massacred at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya as well as the botched “Fast & Furious” fiasco that killed our Border Patrol agent.
Our government continues to attempt to curb our Second Amendment rights to bear arms and currently there is a mysterious and yet unexplained nationwide shortage of ammunition with no attempt by manufacturers to increase supply.
Our job-killing government is growing its welfare rolls at an alarming rate and printing more money to enslave more welfare recipients to jeopardize the future of our children.
Our government is distrusted by its citizens and close allies, yet we are going to trust Iran to not further enrich their uranium. What is going on? Is this the path to freedom or tyranny?
Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
Our government has become too big, too powerful, too controlling, too untrustworthy, too expensive and, as a result, I believe it has stifled our economic and constitutional liberties. We the people need to wake-up, read-up, stand-up, speak-up and vote to protect our freedoms before it becomes too late.
Kris M. Meyer