Wow, we might make it out of this drought after all, if not completely, then well, I think we are in the sunnier section of the woods anyway. But, the talking heads in the media are still fixated on the “water shortage.”
Let’s face it people – we don’t have a water shortage, we have too many developers, and too many developer-friendly politicians.
I’ve been in touch with other towns like Marysville, where their county supervisor is on board, writing letters and visiting state officials, trying to get the Cal Public Utilities Commission not only to reject this increase but investigate Cal Water’s financial records. In Butte County, our supervisors made a too-little, too-late attempt to jump on the bandwagon – yeah, right before an election, I know – writing a late letter to the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, after they’d already made a recommendation to the CPUC to cut Cal Water’s rate increase proposal roughly in half. I wanted to point that out, but they all acted so clueless – I just thanked them, I really didn’t know what else to say. I was dumbfounded by the incompetence. Their CAO, Paul Hahn, is one of the highest paid public servants in Butte County, and he can’t figure out where to contact the CPUC? Give me a break. Now Larry Wahl tells me, “we’ve done all we can.” That is really frustrating.
But, I have to say, at least they had the sense to posture on our behalf – the city of Chico won’t do anything. They want the increase – which would also translate into a 38 percent increase in Utility Tax.
Larry Wahl is acting like a quitter, there’s a lot more the supes can do about this. I just received a copy of a three year old decision by the CPUC, a rate case hearing regarding another private water company, Golden State Water Company. From the decision, it looks like they operate in the Sacramento area. In 2011, they were not only denied a rate increase, but ordered to “make refunds to customers, permanently reduce rate base, reduce the Arden-Cordova memorandum account, pay a fine, engage an independent auditor for three specific audits of internal control for procurement [buy water], and, in addition to the terms of the settlement, requires specific evidence and testimony in the next two general rate cases.”
Wow, I’m so jealous! The Sacramento people must have representatives with a set of testicles.
Tomorrow Larry Wahl will be coming down to Chico library to talk to whoever shows up, and since I have to be there to open the room the first thing I’m going to ask him is to write a letter, personally, to the CPUC. You can e-mail commission president Michael Peevey at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org Tell him how offended you were by that “hearing” we got last March – the man who showed up immediately admitted he was not a CPUC judge, but was stepping in for a judge who just didn’t want to make the trip! He ran the hearing horribly, cutting off the first speaker several times to remind him he had a time limit, before the time limit was up. It was immediately obvious, this wasn’t a “hearing,” but their way of corralling us in and getting our names on a sign-up sheet so they could say they legally vetted the increase before the public. We got screwed!
You might also want to quote the decision made against Golden State Water, and tell Mr. Peevey we want a similar investigation of Cal Water’s finances and a look into the projects they’ve used to get the increases – were they actually completed? In the case against Golden State Water, that was one of the problems – they’d taken all this money, promised infrastructural improvements, and never completed them.
In the case of Cal Water, you might also tell Mr. Peevey, we received notices stating that this increase in Chico included roughly $500,000/year in pension payments for management, another $400,000+ for field staff, $300,000-something for new office equipment – meanwhile, only $168,000 for infrastructural improvements over a 3 year period.
I can’t figure out how to post the document I was sent regarding the Golden State case, but if you want it, I can attach it to an e-mail and send it to you – just contact me here. I’ll work on getting a link or whatever. The link I got off the document requires a password! How’s that for sunshine!
It would also help if you would show up tomorrow at Chico library to ask Larry Wahl for help here, or write a letter to the Butte County Supes board: