Time to put some seats to the heat – we have a chance to overturn this Cal Water gouge if we PUSH! back

Well, Chicken didn’t make it three days in the fridge. Our son came over for dinner so we threw our salty bird on the grill last night.

My husband used the meat thermometer to make sure - this bird was done to a perfect turn.

My husband used the meat thermometer to make sure – this bird was done to a perfect turn.

We used the indirect heat method – a pan of water surrounded by a sea of coals – and wow, it was worth the extra time. It only took about an extra half hour, and it was so moist, the meat was falling away from the bone, delicious. We saved a few pieces for dinner tonight. 

With a good meal under my belt, I decided to listen to the video from the Chico City Council meeting the other night – Mayor Mark Sorensen had agendized a presentation from Cal Water regarding their current rate hike proposal (CPUC Rate Case A.15-07-015). The item was added late to Tuesday’s agenda – it hadn’t been on the agenda I’d received the previous week, and it still wasn’t there earlier on Tuesday. 

I was happy to find out, my Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk was looking for it too – she e-mailed me Cal Water’s slide show as soon as it was available on the city website. It was just a propaganda blitz about all the infrastructural improvements they claim they will be making with this rate hike. Nothing about employee compensation or costs, nothing about two previous rate hikes over the last few years, one which earmarked almost $400,000 for employee pensions. 

No contact information for ratepayers wishing to send their thoughts on this rate hike to the California Public Utilities Commission.

I was sort of surprised when, after the presentation, Mayor Sorensen asked, essentially, how would Chico benefit from this rate hike? The Cal Water spokesman seemed a little taken aback by the question – he couldn’t come up with any benefit, as a matter of fact. He did explain that previous attempts to raise rates in Marysville, Oroville, and Willows had been deemed unreasonable and unaffordable by the CPUC, and this was Cal Water’s attempt to help those folks out. He said we needed to “subsidize” other users. 

Excuse me – is he looking at me and seeing Diamond Jane Brady? Where does he get off asking a town with a median income of $43,000/year in a state where the median is over $53,000/year, to subsidize anybody else? Here’s a guy who makes over $100,000 a year, plus benefits and pension, treating us as though, “hey folks, you could shake down a little more, I know you’re not hurting THAT bad…”

It’s not about helping Oroville or Marysville or Willows, it’s about footing the bill for some pretty sweet retirements.  Cal Water employees receive “Defined Benefits” packages.

From http://www.qdrodesk.com/plans/CALIFORNIA-WATER-SERVICE-CO-PENSION-PLAN-15764.shtml

CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE CO PENSION PLAN is a Defined Benefit Plan providing retirees with a predetermined monthly retirement benefit upon reaching a specific age. The retirement benefit paid to a retiree is typically calculated using a formula which often employs years of credited service under the plan and salary information. The retirement benefit is typically payable to the employee upon attainment of their normal retirement age for the remainder of his/her lifetime. Benefits under this type of plan are often referred to as accrued benefits. This type of plan does not maintain individual accounts for employees.It is important to remember that under this type of plan, the Alternate Payee is typically not awarded a lump sum cash payment from the Plan. It is usually a requirement of the Plan that the amount awarded to the Alternate Payee be expressed in terms of a monthly benefit payable for either the lifetime of the Participant or the Alternate Payee.

Investopedia explains the difference between a Defined Benefits Plan and a Defined Contributions Plan:

With a defined benefit plan, an employee knows the terms of the benefit that he or she will receive upon retirement. The company is responsible for investing in a fund in order to meet its obligations to the employee, so the company bears the investment risk. On the other hand, in a defined contribution plan, a 401(k), for example, the company probably makes contributions or matching contributions, but does not promise the future benefit to the employee. As such, the employee bears the investment risk.

I think it’s unreasonable that the privately employed, whose futures hang in the wind, are made to guarantee excessive benefits to others. 

So, today I put aside a little time to start working on my personal “informal” protest. I had wanted to make “formal” protest, but after reading over the requirements, and watching this horrific video:


I realized, that needs to be left to my city council and county board of supervisors. But, I’m going to send an informal letter of protest to the CPUC.   I want to encourage friends and neighbors to do same, so once I get done with my letter to the CPUC, I’ll start writing letters to both the local papers.

The video I posted above, I’ll be frank, is very discouraging. The first thing they tell you is that the process is so time-consuming and onerous (my words) that you should start by enlisting the support of your neighbors and people in your district. After I made a complaint about my experience trying to contact the Advisor’s office by phone, Maureen Kirk and I were contacted by a CPUC representative (I had cc’d Supervisor Kirk in my complaint). He told us we should have a lawyer do the paperwork, even just to become a party. He sent us the rules – they tell you a few times, if you make a mistake in format, they can throw it out. 

But Supervisor Kirk went ahead and filed for Party Status, a big enough pain in the ass, so I guess I can buck up and send a written letter and an e-mail to the CPUC Advisor’s office.  All I have now is a street address at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102, and an e-mail address – claudia.portillo@cpuc.ca.gov

I’ll keep you posted. 





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