Comments to the Town Council and their attorneys (October 16, 2018)

My name is Greg Raven and I live here in Apple Valley.

The last time we met here was back in 2015, when the Town staff, Town attorneys, Town outside consultants, and dozens of concerned citizens spent hundreds of hours trying to make sense of the Environmental Impact Report of the Apple Valley Ranchos Water System Acquisition Project.

You assured us back then that this process was necessary. In fact, the Town Council delayed voting to proceed with acquisition until after the receipt of the final version of that Report.

Unfortunately, the Town, its attorneys, and its consultants failed to heed input from concerned citizens, so you then had to defend this indefensible document in court. Only then did we learn that all the aggravation, wasted time, and squandered money arising out of this process were unnecessary.

So, here we are again, getting an update on the indispensable and indefensible Report and the ongoing jihad against our water company.

Meanwhile, all the so-called experts at Town Hall who you promised were going to guide us smoothly through the acquisition are gone, except for the attorneys, of course.

At the same time, there are hundreds of videos documenting that virtually every public works project is being performed in a careless, desultory, perfunctory, slapdash, sloppy, and slovenly manner. Of particular interest are the Town’s sub-par handling of the wells at the golf course and the Horsemen’s Center, and the massive waste of our water at these and other Town properties. All the while, the Town’s newsletters assure us that you guys are doing a great job.

And let’s not forget the Town’s wasteful spending on the doggie Taj Mahal, the purchase and operation of the golf course, the erection of this very Conference Center, and many other examples.

Since the start of this acquisition process, we citizens have witnessed an obliteration of the concept and practice of government transparency. The last official estimates of the financing of this project, flawed as they were, date back to April 2017. Since then, the only thing that hasn’t changed is your official estimate.

One of the major changes is that the Town now wants to convert everyone at the water company into a government employee and add another manager in Town Hall. This will cause water payroll and pension costs to skyrocket. The Town has also announced that maintenance and upgrades to the system will be financed by additional bonds atop the 150 million (or so) dollars that will be required for the actual purchase. This means that the current plan is to borrow hundreds of millions to buy something we already have, increase the costs of operation, borrow more money to keep the system operational, and lower the price of water. You’d have to be insane or worse to believe this plan will work.

To all outward appearances, the Town is broke: Parks have closed, staffing reduced, and compensation has been cut. And there seem to be no reserves, as the Town was forced to take out a three-year loan to pay its current bills.

I know you’re not open to suggestions, but here are mine: First, stop this process immediately and issue an apology to the water company for your hubris. Second, take a tiny fraction of the money you were going to spend on acquisition and do a forensic audit so we’ll know where our money went.

We need to understand how our better way of life became a debtor way of life.

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