Apple Valley’s sixth council member (July 9, 2015)

Citizens of Apple Valley should consider themselves very, very lucky. Why? They pay five council members, but actually get the services of six: Larry Cusack, Barb Stanton, Scott Nassif, Curt Emick, Art Bishop, and Scott Nassif. That’s right, there are two Scott Nassifs.

One Scott Nassif is a business owner with a heart of gold, who started with a single auto parts store and a desire to put people over profits. His sacrifices were manifold and comprehensive, so much so that he was able to open only three more auto parts stores with the pittance he retained for himself. This Scott Nassif clearly understands business documents and finances, because otherwise he would not have been able to eke out even a meager amount for heart and hearth while giving — all the while giving, giving, giving, and never, ever taking — to help his fellow man.

The other Scott Nassif is the kind of hard-nosed realist you need in Town government. This Scott Nassif doesn’t have time for paperwork and facts, because he’s too busy making Big Decisions. His no-nonsense approach has allowed him (and a fellow council member) to build magnificent hilltop houses overlooking the rest of us in Apple Valley even though they receive only $24,000 per year.

Unfortunately, it was the second Scott Nassif who wrote to the Daily Press about the Town’s hostile attacks on Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company, so some of the facts got a little dinged up (It’s about rate stabilization, Daily Press, July 9, 2015).

The other Nassif gets off to a rocky start.

First, he claims that the CPUC guarantees Ranchos a profit, when that is not the case, as has been pointed out in writing to the Town council on more than one occasion.

Then the other Nassif goes off the rails for a moment by repeating what has been said so many times before: The Town is not going to lower water rates. Of course, the Town has for months been attacking Ranchos’ water rates, giving any reasonable person the impression that the Town would lower them given the chance. Apparently, Nassif hasn’t gotten the memo from Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett, who at a public meeting on July 7th defamed a local citizen as a liar for saying that the Town won’t be lowering water rates. Watch your step, other Nassif!

But then the other Nassif gets back on track when discussing what water will cost after the Town seizes control. Nassif, like Puckett, doesn’t know what the Town is going to be paying for Ranchos, doesn’t know what the Town is going to be receiving for that payment, doesn’t know how to run a water utility, doesn’t know who is going to run the system for the Town, and doesn’t know how much it’s going to cost the Town to run the system, but if there is one thing he DOES know, it’s that the Town is going to be able to be more efficient at delivering water than Ranchos, who have been doing it for only the last 65 years.

The other Nassif also sets those idiots at the California Public Utilities Commission straight, which he has to do because the CPUC is there to protect ratepayers like us, and the Town has to get them out of the way so the Town can set rates without outside interference from a bunch of do-gooders at the state level.

To be fair, the other Nassif does provide an opening for criticism when he writes that with Ranchos out of the way, we won’t be paying for out-of-state executive salaries. No doubt there will be cynics who interpret this as, The Town wants to use that money to pay our own executive salaries. These Cassandras will probably point to the Town’s recent Environmental Impact Report, which envisions the Town handing off the operation of the water utility to an private company (think PERC Water) or to an outside agency (think Victorville, or the Los Angeles DWP), each of which will be paid profits on top of expenses. Thank goodness we have people like the other Nassif who are unafraid to propose that we simply spend ourselves into prosperity.

The other Nassif also reminds us that the Town has been transparent, and it’s not that stupid old transparent transparency, but rather the brand new Obama-era transparency, where costs for the years-long takeover efforts are hidden throughout the already impenetrable Town budget, and funneled through the Town’s attorney to keep them from prying eyes, while the Town’s attorney goes to court to block turning over documents requested by a citizen. For all we know, it’s the other Nassif who personally redacts the few documents that are released to the public … in the spirit of transparency, of course.

So when the other Nassif writes that residents of Apple Valley would only be paying for the actual cost of providing water to your home or business, what that means is that after the takeover, costs, expenses, ups, and extras are going to be coming out of the woodwork — on top of the massive debt service payments — to be lumped into the category actual cost of providing water. But you can trust the other Nassif because he never lies and he’s always right: It won’t be more expensive, and anyway, as the biggest user of water, the Town will almost certainly pick up the slack for any who can’t afford the new rates, right? Right?

Lucky as we are in Apple Valley to have two Scott Nassifs working for us for one paltry paycheck, we’d be even luckier if the other Scott Nassif had a hint of self-awareness. It wouldn’t take more than a smidge for him to realize that the only reason Ranchos has to defend itself, is because he and his Town government initiated the attacks in the first place. One can only imagine how Ranchos feels to be paying hundreds of thousands in taxes, only to be attacked by the local beneficiary of those taxes. Talk about getting beat up with your own money!

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