Some ‘transparency’ (October 16, 2017)

Back in August 2015, Assistant Town Manager of Finance & Administration Marc Puckett produced the first of what he claimed would be monthly reports on the amounts the Town was spending in its hostile takeover of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (now Liberty Utilities). Mayor Pro Tem Stanton (who campaigned on a promise of transparency) and Councilman Emick applauded the commitment to monthly reports.

Thirty days later, that commitment had evaporated, and it would be January 2016 before we saw another transparency report.

Then the Town announced that the “monthly” transparency reports would henceforth be quarterly, but it took until September 2016 for the Town to issue the third and final transparency report, breaking yet another promise.

It is worth noting that none of the three transparency reports was in fact transparent. Nor were they complete or accurate, and in more than one case included information known to be false by the Town Council and staff.

Now the rumor is that the Town is scrapping these reports altogether, replacing them with a single figure representing total expenditures. While we do not yet know how the Town arrives at this figure, it is somehow half a million less than the figure published more than a year ago. That figure, Mr. Puckett emphasized at the time, accounted for “every penny” the Town had spent to date.

Harry Browne once said, “For those looking for security, be forewarned that there’s nothing more insecure than a political promise.”

I hope the residents of Apple Valley keep this in mind when contemplating the Town’s promises about what it is going to cost to seize the water company, and about how they are going to lower our water delivery costs should the Town’s frail eminent domain case somehow prevail in court.

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

Published: Daily Press, October 19, 2017