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VIEWPOINT: Don’t let CAWA pull wool over your eyes

by Sue Schenk

So what about this MOU? The 20 “commitments” and a critique can be found at www.claremont flow.org, but the short answer is that many of them Golden State Water already does, other points are already required by law, everything requires that GSW profit margins be maintained, and good water quality isn’t promised if rates are reduced.

The real kicker is at the end where it says the whole agreement can be revoked at any time! So we could abandon efforts to buy the water system and then a bit later GSW could simply go back to their old ways. Who profits from this MOU?

Realizing that this MOU won’t fool many people, GSW through Claremont Affordable Water Advocates (CAWA)  is trying to confuse us by using paid signature-gatherers to put competing measures on the ballot. The only petitions circulating are ones that would help GSW and not Claremont.

One petition is calling for a vote on $135 million in bonds. The appraised value of the water system is only $55 million, but even if we had to pay as much as $80 million, current water rates would cover the whole cost. The debt repayment would just replace paying GSW, not cost more.

If the price is over $80 million, then rates would go up for a while to cover additional bonds but as the bonds are paid, costs go down and we would own the system. GSW costs never go down. You can see graphs showing repayment projections on the Claremont FLOW website. City staff set $135 million as the worst-case scenario and so the bond measure is for $55 million. But no one knows what the actual cost will be so we may not have to use all or even part of that. Contrary to misleading CAWA advertising, revenue bonds are not taxes and they would be repaid solely by the water bills.

Another petition, long and confusingly written, asks voters to approve a change to the Municipal Code so anything to do with water that would require a revenue bond would have to come to a general vote of the electorate. 

Do you really want to have to wait for an election to be scheduled and votes counted before repairs to the system could be carried out if we own it? This change would make running the system impossible, which of course is GSW’s intent. Do you want to have to decide whether or not to approve everything or would you prefer to leave it to the people we elected to approve revenue bonds, the city council? We elected people we believe have our best interests at heart and are willing to spend a lot of time and effort working for our good. They always have public discussion before they make decisions so it isn’t as if we have no voice now—we do, and they listen.

Expect more distractions and untruths, and smoke and mirrors, because Claremont makes GSW a lot of money and they don’t want to lose it. But we deserve better and we can get it if we have local control of the water system. Don’t sign any petitions and don’t believe all that CAWA says. The choice is simple—should we be the masters of our fate or should Golden State Water?

Rumor has it that GSW has given their PR firm about a million dollars, some of which is funneling through CAWA, to oppose Claremont’s water bond measure. Claremont FLOW volunteers are relying on contributions from fellow residents to fund getting the word out. Donations can be sent to Claremont FLOW, 2058 N. Mills Ave. #637, Claremont, CA 91711.

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