Valley Voices: Figures, lies, and water (August 14, 2015)

There’s an old saying that figures do not lie, but liars figure.

It appears the Town of Apple Valley’s surveyors and attorneys know exactly how to get the figures from voters in order to justify the seizure of a private company at any cost. Cool propaganda that appeals only to the ratepayers’ wallets is not valid information on which to make an informed decision.

First, the Town’s recent survey questions were crafted between the pollster and the Town’s attorneys who are leading this charge. See page 27 of the report Questionnaire Development. Read the questions in the appendix (pages 30–37). The questions are negative to Ranchos on rates and ownership, and are positive to the Town. No question indicates that the Town cannot reduce rates (as it has admitted) and is intending to keep all rate increases and run the system the way it is. (See the Amended Initial Environmental Study.) Secondly, I read the detail of the survey-push poll and buried on pages 21 and 22 we find proof that less than 50 percent of the TOTAL group surveyed support the Town government forcing Ranchos Water to sell the water system. The high-priced, purchased, professional pollster excluded voters who simply oppose the Town purchasing and operating the water system (question 10) from the follow-up question about whether the Town should force Ranchos Water to sell (question 11). Only 70 percent of those surveyed were given question number 11, rendering the percentage favoring takeover only 41 percent. The pollster has massaged the figures to give an unrealistic portrayal of what voters actually said.

The survey also suggests that water rate increases will be voted on by the people should the Town own the water system. Wrong! The Town Council sets the rates. The voters have no say.

A public hearing allows one to address the issue in an open forum (three minutes), but not vote on it. See page 33, Section 5, Positive Arguments.

The Town government has already said they can’t lower rates and will need Ranchos’ existing rate increases to support their existing $50.5 million offer for the water system. That means the Town essentially supports raising water rates for its own purpose, but blames Ranchos for the increase.

The Town’s sole focus upon existing water rates is shortsighted at best.

What the Town fails to address is how it will maintain and/or upgrade and/ or expand the system as needed. It fails to address how it will acquire water to make up any overuse according to the Mojave Water Adjudication. Who will bear that additional cost? I think we all know the answer.

— Diana J. Carloni is a Victorville attorney.

Source: Daily Press