A town divided against itself (October 28, 2015)

Mayor Cusack,

At the Tuesday town council meeting, Apple Valley resident Chuck Hanson asked you, Now that you have divided this town [over the water issue], how do you plan to get us together?

You responded, I think our town is not divided … Our town is very well together.

Although I applaud your cheery view of Apple Valley, it seems as though the Town staff have not kept you apprised of the deep chasm among citizens created by the Town’s jihad against Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company.

As has been recounted in the letters section of the Daily Press and elsewhere, Ranchos workers have been accosted in public places as a direct result of the Town’s years-long and incredibly expensive program of demonizing Ranchos. Some Ranchos employees dare not wear their work uniform in public during off hours for fear of hostile reactions from residents. The Town’s expenditures of hundreds of thousands of dollars to put residents on a war footing against Ranchos has, unfortunately, had some effect. Equally unfortunate, though, is that Town staff are not telling you this.

Neither, apparently, do Town staff tell you about Facebook postings by the Town, designed to whip up sentiment against Ranchos using base demagoguery, misinformation, and outright lies. If the Town staff had shown you some of the hateful responses from residents with whom this approach strikes a chord, you could not possibly say with a straight face that our town is not divided.

Therefore, Mr. Hanson’s question remains unanswered. Let me restate it.

Since 2006, the Town has been attacking Ranchos in various ways. These attacks have accelerated dramatically since late 2014. Bus stop ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, videos, a separate website, a hyper-expensive public relations firm, the Town managers, the Town attorney, and other resources have been bent toward the goal of destroying Ranchos as a viable entity, along with anyone perceived to oppose the Town’s efforts.

  1. If for whatever reason the Town is not successful in their hostile takeover of Ranchos, Ranchos will remain as the operator of the town’s water utility. What also will remain are the lingering animosities generated by the Town in their efforts to gin up support for the failed seizure. So in that event, what — if anything — does the Town propose to do to to heal the rifts it both created out of thin air, and propagated at fantastic cost to taxpayers?
  2. If the Town is successful in condemning Ranchos and piling hundreds of millions of debt on the ratepayers for something we already have, what steps will the Town be taking to reach out to those who feel the Town has once again betrayed the very principles upon which our country was founded?

The answer to this question is all the more important in the wake of Tuesday’s town council meeting, at which more than one of the council members betrayed an appalling ignorance of basic, easily-understandable, and easily-available information regarding Ranchos and water usage. You on the council have put yourselves in a position to bury our town in levels of debt that would make a Greek politician blanch, to buy something we already have. If Town staff are not getting you timely and accurate information, which from all appearances they are not, you cannot possibly make a wise decision about this or any other issue our town faces.

At the risk of repeating myself, I urge you to fire the existing Town managers, Town attorney, and Town public affairs officer, and then fill those positions with persons who are honest and capable, and whose goal it is to serve the residents. Then, you as a member of the council must closely monitor them to ensure that they are faithfully serving you so you can properly serve us.

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