Response to Frank Robinson (March 12, 2015)

Frank Robinson tries to pretend that the Apple Valley Town Council is listening to the community while doing what demagogues do best (Acquiring Ranchos Water Company is the right move for Apple Valley, Valley Voices, March 8th, Victorville Daily Press).

He’s not listening when it comes to Measure N — which the Council seems bent on skirting at every opportunity — or maintaining control of Outer Hwy 18, or even golf courses, parks, tennis courts, bike lanes, maintaining community standards, gas prices, medical costs, electrical costs, skyrocketing outlays for police protection, building a super Walmart, or bigoted signage at the Town boundaries.

No, this is about seizing control of a privately-held business in a hostile takeover, no matter what Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC) or citizens such as myself have to say about it.

Robinson cynically claims that Apple Valley must control its water future, but his version of this is to big-foot AVRWC in court to force it to sell, against its wishes. Apparently, our water future has nothing to do with our population, existing Town policies, the Town’s golf course, or the Town’s extravagant landscaping of medians.

As with other utterances by representatives of the Town, Robinson immediately gets off on the wrong foot by repeating a lie. Water rate increases are far from out of control, as Robinson claims, because each rate increase must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, which Robinson mentions belatedly, and then only in the context of uttering another lie about guaranteed profits.

Robinson also decries AVRWC referencing a 2011 Blue Ribbon Water Committee recommendation against a government takeover of AVRWC, forgetting to point out that previously Town representatives had cited the Committee’s report as justification for the takeover.

Robinson then claims that Apple Valley is a business-friendly community, without explaining why we have so many vacant storefronts, and not a single motel worthy of the name.

I wish for once someone representing the Town would simply admit why they have such a monomaniacal drive to seize AVRWC. If you remember, the Town wasn’t going to buy the Apple Valley Country Club unless it came with the water rights, but then went ahead and bought it anyway, spending millions on a white elephant that to this day doesn’t support itself, and which represents the biggest waste of water in the entire Town.

Ah, but Robinson promises no more rate increases, unlike with the Town’s combined sewer and trash bill, which has increased 156 percent since 2005! How can he promise this? By eliminating profit, which means that any future repairs or upgrades come right out of the tax base. Thanks for nothing, Frank.

With all the lies, omissions, and mischaracterizations coming from representatives of the Town Council, it’s foolish to give any credence to Robinson’s claims about what water rates will be under Town control, let alone how much the Town has spent on this insane quest. In addition to past expenditures and assured future expenses (litigation, the purchase itself, and debt service), the Town is now hiring an outside PR firm. Who else besides me would like to know how many billions of gallons of water the Town will have to sell at zero profit to amortize these expenditures? The only bright spot will be if the new PR firm turns out not to be as cavalier with the facts as Town representatives have consistently shown themselves to be.

For now, the only fact we can verify is that the Town will say or do anything — including promoting mob rule — in its rabid zeal to obliterate AVR.

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