The whole truth (June 7, 2015)

Councilman Art Bishop op-ed not only smears Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company, but fails to set the record straight, as he promises (AV councilman weighs in on water, Press Dispatch, June 7, 2015).

Water, claims Bishop, is a community asset. Bishop should tell us when this happened, because Ranchos supplied high-quality water to meet the town’s needs for decades before the Town suddenly realized water’s true status. Furthermore, the Town has in the past sold water rights to Ranchos. Certainly Bishop isn’t acknowledging that Town leaders mishandled a community asset?

Bishop also takes swipes at Ranchos for being a monopoly (it isn’t; it has been granted an area of service, just like the power and gas companies), and that we must buy our water from them (not true). The only local monopoly we have is the government of the Town of Apple Valley.

Bishop then obliquely smears Ranchos because some of its profits go to investors outside Apple Valley, without mentioning that CalPERS invests in Ranchos, to the benefit of Town employees. Bishop seems to want to end this transfer where Ranchos is concerned, but purchasing Ranchos will require a multimillion dollar loan, the debt service payments for which will almost certainly not stay in our area, if even in our country.

Bishop claims that private water ownership is the exception, not the rule. That’s kind of like America itself, isn’t it? Everyone else doing something differently doesn’t make it right, especially when the Town motto is A better way of life. If we do what everyone else does, we’re guaranteeing that we won’t be better.

Bishop is also critical of Ranchos’ rate increases, without mentioning 1) Town sewer rates have gone up the same amount over the last ten years, or 2) the Town has already said it will neither lower water rates nor forego further rate increases.

Bishop then attacks Ranchos for publicizing figures on how much the Town has spent so far on the takeover effort. (This is the same Art Bishop, mind you, who wrote With Town ownership of the Apple Valley water system, all records — including ratemaking details — are open to the public, bringing transparency and accountability.) He must know that those figures come from Town documents. These are the only figures we have, because the Town has gone to great lengths to hide the takeover costs by spreading them across departments. The proposed FY 2015-2016 budget, for example, has not one line item concerning the takeover.

Partial facts, with no context, can never set the record straight.

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