Divide and conquer (February 23, 2016)

The dictionary defines divide and conquer as the policy of maintaining control over one’s subordinates or subjects by encouraging dissent between them. While the Town of Apple Valley may be clueless about the details of how to manage a water utility, it certainly has managed to divide our community. Whether smearing Apple Valley Water Company, smearing those who support Ranchos / Liberty Apple Valley, inventing accusations against concerned citizens, or supporting the worst of the worst water users with kind words and empty promises, the Town has gone above and beyond to make Apple Valley a better place to bicker.

A recent letter to the editor by David Christman put this discord on full display, first parroting the Town’s phony accusations regarding shills, then inventing a series of straw man arguments, then citing a nonexistent rate study by the Town, and then falsely depicting the CPUC’s role in regulating private utilities (Shills for Ranchos, Daily Press, February 23, 2016). The letter then concludes by implying that citizens should see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil regarding the Town council’s manifold improper actions: Discord problem solved!

Students of history will recognize this as the Big Lie tactic, which the dictionary defines as a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body. The Big Lie works because average persons would never say something utterly disconnected from reality; they even have difficulty imagining that anyone else would do so. Therefore, the normal reaction is that there must be some truth to the claims being made, no matter how outrageous or far-fetched.

Anyone who spends more than a couple of minutes looking at the way the Town has been doing business the last few years would not come to the conclusion that the Town is some altruistic entity that only wants what’s best for us. For anyone trying to decide who between the Town council and Liberty Apple Valley has residents’ best interests in mind, I suggest comparing track records. Liberty Apple Valley’s track record is virtually spotless, while the Town’s track record seems to involve numerous illegal — if not criminal — actions.

The bottom line is that the Town can’t even run itself properly. There’s no way the misfeasance and malfeasance currently on display will magically disappear should it seize our water utility.

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