I’m a capitalist, but … (October 4, 2015)

Rick Piercy claims to be a capitalist, but writes as though he doesn't really know what capitalism is (Apple Valley ownership of AVR is for the best, Daily Press, October 4, 2015).

Under capitalism, Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC) would not have to answer to any government organization for anything, unless it harmed or defrauded someone. The fact that it has to kow-tow to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to change anything is evidence that — where AVRWC is concerned at least — the economic system under discussion is not capitalism but fascism (private ownership, but government control).

Piercy later makes clear his dislike of the CPUC, but instead of demanding the abolition of the CPUC, he instead leaps to the astonishing conclusion that AVRWC should be subsumed by a government entity with a long track record of utterly terrible financial management and few apparent fiscal controls: the Town of Apple Valley.

Piercy compounds his error by acknowledging the CPUC’s role in keeping our water rates low, and then criticizing them for it, before recommending converting our water utility to a system where there would be no limit on rates, because the same entity that would be deciding on the propriety of rates and rate increases would be the same entity setting them: the Town of Apple Valley. Thus, Piercy proposes to replace what he falsely labels a corrupt practice with one where the corruption is built into (and thus inseparable from) the process. Some capitalist!

After libeling CPUC as being corrupt, Piercy makes the curious claim that AVRWC is owned by foreign investors, who have no regard for the well-being of our community or our country. That literally could not be farther from the truth. Our water quality is superlative. AVRWC’s infrastructure is good and getting better, largely thanks to those oft-maligned foreign investors (that’s where the investors part comes in — they invest in our community in anticipation that there will be a reward in the years to come … it’s called capitalism). AVRWC is on sound financial footing (unlike the TOAV, the County of San Bernardino, or the State of California, by the way), because it is an efficient, well-run operation. Why? Precisely because AVRWC and its parent corporations are committed to the well-being of community, and that commitment is shown every single day in the operation of AVRWC.

Perhaps most puzzling about Piercy’s position is his opposition to The Carlyle Group as the ultimate owner of our water utility. If that’s really what’s bothering him, then all he has to do is support the purchase of Park Water (including AVRWC) from The Carlyle Group by Liberty Utilities, a U.S. corporation that is in the business of being committed to the well-being of the communities it serves.

Finally, when Piercy writes that AVRWC is not our grandparents’ water company anymore, he is correct, but not in the way he imagines. Our water system under AVRWC is far, far better than it has been at any time in our past. We have AVRWC and its foreign investors to thank for that.

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