Comparative transparency (October 5, 2015)

Rick Piercy’s recent op-ed piece touched on a subject about which I feel strongly: Transparency (Apple Valley ownership of AVR is for the best, Daily Press, October 4, 2015). Piercy is critical of The Carlyle Group for what he perceives as its lack of transparency. I wish that Piercy had explored the real problem we have: Lack of transparency in government, including local government.

The Carlyle Group, as a private corporation, has certain claims to privacy. Even so, the annual reports for Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC) are readily available online; AVRWC’s price structure is in the public record; and virtually every move AVRWC makes requires approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which posts its proceedings online.

Compare that to the Town of Apple Valley, which commissioned the Blue Ribbon Water Committee on which Piercy served.

For years, the Town has hidden the amounts it has been spending trying to destroy Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVRWC). After intense pressure from the community, Town representatives started given hints about the amounts being spent, but as it turned out, they were lying in order to downplay their many extravagant expenditures for which there was little or nothing to show in the way of benefits for residents. Then in August, the Town flipped its position and grossly inflated its claimed expenditures (while omitting others) to support its new narrative regarding the seizure of AVRWC.

During the introduction of the new, inflated transparency report, the Town promised new reports would come out each month. The expiration date on that promise turned out to be less than three weeks.

Add to this the ongoing problems with the Town claiming that the Golf Course is almost breaking even (while in fact losing hundreds of thousands each year), the Town lying about its credit cards from American Express, and a host of other lies too numerous to mention here, and you have a situation that would constitute the grounds for a RICO case for any mere citizen or business that employed such tactics.

Those who don’t trust The Carlyle Group have options available to limit contact and exposure, not to mention the fact that it seems almost certain now that Liberty Utilities will be taking over from The Carlyle Group in the near future. Those who don’t trust representatives of the Town have only one option: Move out of Apple Valley.

The bottom line is that it might be nice to have more transparency from The Carlyle Group, but it’s absolutely critical that we get actual non-Obama-style transparency from the Town. Given the Town’s recent track record, though, there is little hope in this regard, short of a raid by the FBI.

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