It makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes (September 27, 2015)

The level of hypocrisy among our leaders in Apple Valley is truly astonishing. Just when you think maybe you’d seen the worst, one of the council members or Town managers puts previous hypocrisies in the shade with some new outrageous misrepresentation. And what’s really amazing is that it happens time after time after time.

The latest example of this hypocrisy can be seen in Apple Valley Mayor Pro Tem Barb Stanton’s indignant reaction to a thoughtful, cautious, and sensible op-ed piece in the Daily Press by Jon Coupal of the famous Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. While not taking a position for or against the Town’s proposed hostile takeover of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC), Coupal urged residents of Apple Valley to educate themselves about the full costs involved in the takeover.

This recommendation for a balanced approach apparently unbalanced Stanton, who e-mailed the paper to denounce Coupal, suggesting dark forces were at work. Stanton wondered what is going on behind the scenes. Stanton also pointed out that the city of Big Bear took over its water system, and everyone was re-elected.

Coupal’s piece appeared on September 13th, and the paper reported Stanton’s furor in September 18th. On September 22nd, the Apple Valley Town staff was supposed to deliver to the Council the second of a series of monthly transparency reports about the financing of the proposed seizure.

Here’s the first funny part: It didn’t: No report; no announcement. Mind you, this report had been ordered by the Council, so staff was tasked with providing it. When she wrote to blast Coupal, Stanton must have known that staff was not going to provide the report, despite the fact that it had been put forth as a way for residents of Apple Valley to educate themselves about the full costs involved in the takeover. Note, for example, the fact that there is no mention of Stanton parading out the Town’s transparency efforts. What did she know and when did she know it? It makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

Here’s the second funny part: Big Bear took control of its water system in 1989. David Mueller has pointed out that residents didn’t find out they were going to get higher tax rates and higher water rates until years after those who made the decision were long gone. Stanton’s e-mail makes it clear she is less concerned that residents have access to the facts about what the Council is doing than about her own re-election. It makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

Here’s the third funny part: Stanton’s ran her first campaign for Council member saying that she opposed the purchase of the Apple Valley Country Club (AVCC) by the Town. Once she got into office, though, she voted for the purchase. The reason? According to her web site:

I recognize that it was the cornerstone of my campaign not to purchase the golf course in Apple Valley. After being elected our town attorney explained that we must consummate the purchase due to prior action from the former council. He went on to say that the more than $7 million that had been spent thus far could be construed as a gift of the peoples money if we did not complete the purchase transaction and we would be open to lawsuits. I had no choice but to do what was best for the town at this point. I still believe that we have no business in business. [Errors in the original.]!golf-course/c23ad

Despite claiming to hold herself to the highest standards, being ethical and transparent, while representing you, Stanton’s emphasis seems to be getting re-elected: It doesn’t matter if she abandons the principles to which she says she holds herself; It doesn’t matter that she’s not representing her constituents; It doesn’t even matter that her successors may find themselves in a bind due to her actions, as she was caught due to the actions of her predecessors. For all intents and purposes, Stanton seems to care as little about those issues as she does about that whole we have no business in business thing. As far as I’m concerned, that is the definition of lack of accountability in an elected official.

It makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.