‘It’s not personal, it’s just business’ (June 17, 2015)

It is not personal, just business. This memorable line from the most famous movie about organized crime in history is often repeated by Barb Stanton, in connection with the Town Council’s (TOAV) misguided and controversial plans to take over Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC). At first, I took it as a throw away comment and an attempt to dismiss the growing chorus of opposition. But now, after watching the video of the June 9, 2015, Town Council meeting, it is increasingly apparent to me that our own version of the Godfather is playing out right here in Apple Valley.

If you aren’t sure what I’m referring to, watch the video. It starts with a council member touting the $200K surplus budgeted in the Town’s General Fund, a surplus generated in part by a $1.8 million transfer from the Waste Water fund. Not sure what the General Fund does for Waste Water to the tune of almost $2 million or if that is even legal under Prop. 218. Anyway, a $200K surplus in one fund is good despite the overall $12 million deficit of revenues over expenses of the entire Town budget. But don’t worry, the Town’s financial wizard Marc Puckett says the budget is balanced. It gets better from there. Leane Lee, a white haired retired grandmother who dares to question the Town’s benevolent leaders, repeats earlier comments that the Town is failing to report the amount they intend to spend in the hostile takeover of Ranchos Water in their nearly 300-page budget document is subjected to multiple relentless attacks.

With this insolent questioning Mr. Puckett goes into harassment mode and accuses the grandmother of being on Ranchos’ payroll and while admitting the budget hides the takeover expenses in various funds and accounts complains that Ranchos Water isn’t as transparent as the Town. This is followed by a public verbal assault on the poor grandmother by none other than Mayor Pro Tem Stanton. How dare a taxpayer or anyone question the dear leaders of our Town while we pedal our propaganda in our house!

Now rest assured, I’ve met this grandmother and she could take down the whole Council, Mr. Puckett and the Town Attorney at once in a cage fight, and they know it. That is why they attack Ms. Lee, because her case against them is valid and it threatens to expose the fraud being played against the taxpayers of Apple Valley.

While the Town Council’s divisive hostile takeover attempt of Ranchos may not be personal, it is not just business. It is bad business and is leading to bad behaviors as the Town Council, staff and outside attorneys go all in. And as the Town Council decides to move forward behind closed doors, Ranchos Water is left to expect, as the Godfather would say, an offer they can’t refuse. But with Ms. Lee and many others in their corner and the citizens of Apple Valley learning the whole story, I’d say, bring it on.

— Anonymous

Webmaster notes

  1. I received this from a party who is upset about what is going on in the TOAV, but doesn’t want to get dragged into it. This was to be a letter to the editor, but instead it appears here.
  2. As for the fund surplus about which Councilman Nassif is so pleased, it is indeed being spent down, as made clear by reports from Marc Puckett, who agrees with Nassif!
  3. Some of the missing documents to which Ms. Lee made reference — and about which Mr. Puckett says are a figment of Ms. Lee’s imagination, can be found here , in a document release subsequent to Ms. Lee’s presentation. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no apology from the Town.