Proposed questions for the Apple Valley Candidate Forum (September 20, 2016)

Open to anyone: The golf course has lost something like $7 million dollars since the Town bought it. How much more money if any would you be willing to let the Town lose before divesting itself of the golf course?

For the incumbents: At various times, the Town has said that it would be spending $45 million, $50 million, $83 million, $86 million, or $125 million on the purchase of Ranchos/Liberty Utilities. Is there any point at which the purchase price becomes so great that the Town will call off its acquisition efforts, or is the acquisition considered a cost-no-object project?

For the incumbents: Both the Town and the County have granted Liberty Utilities the exclusive right to be the water retailer in its service area. Instead of fighting Liberty Utilities over the use of recycled water, which it says it welcomes, why not sell recycled water to Liberty Utilities as a wholesaler, let them be the retailer, and save the taxpayers the expensive the legal wrangling?

For the incumbents: The Town’s total funds reports show that the reserves have been falling for many years now. Why doesn’t the town sell the golf course to the highest bidder, sell the golf course water rights to Liberty Utilities, and sell the sewer system to Liberty Utilities to help pay its bills and build its reserves back up?

Open to anyone: Many if not most of the roads in Apple Valley are in poor condition, and the situation is not getting any better. What if anything would you do to get the Town Council to focus on providing this basic necessity to its residents?

For the incumbents: In 2011, a female employee sued the Town claiming various forms of sexual harassment. Now, that same employee runs the municipal animal shelter, and taxpayers compensate her $187,081 or more per year. There are also rumors that another female employee had grounds for a sexual-harassment complaint, which were avoided by naming her to be an assistant town manager. Should taxpayers be worried about what seems to be a pattern of abuse of female town employees, and that the pay-offs are coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets?

Open to anyone: Three of the incumbents live virtually within a stone’s throw of each other. Given the coming realities of districting, shouldn’t the Town start working now toward resolving these issues, instead of waiting until the last minute?

Open to anyone: Recently, scores of videos have surfaced showing everything from utter lack of maintenance to flagrant disregard for the law at Town facilities. What if anything would you do to demonstrate to residents that the staff are worth the $10 million in annual salaries in the face of what appears to be callous disregard and complete lack of concern on the part of Town management?

Open to anyone: It seems as though an overwhelming majority of council votes are unanimous, which makes it seem as if issues are decided well before the residents have the opportunity to offer any meaningful input. What if anything would you do to assure residents that there is not some type of collusion taking place between the council and the staff?

Open to anyone: Recent reports from Town staff to the council in open meetings are often met with no substantive questions — let alone disagreement — from the council members. What if anything would you do to demonstrate to residents that you are not simply rubber-stamping staff reports and recommendations?

Open to anyone: The pension situation in California is fast approaching critical levels, with pensioners not only receiving far more than those in the private sector, but also with those sky-high pensions being guaranteed by taxpayers who may not even have adequate pensions themselves. What if anything would you do to reign in the Town’s pension liabilities before it’s too late?

Open to anyone: When the Town announced its intention of acquiring Ranchos/Liberty Utilities, it embarked on a program of defamation against the company and its employees. When residents stood up to oppose the Town’s plans, the Town turned its personal attacks on them. What if anything would you do to restore civility to Town Hall, to help foster a more collegial atmosphere in the town?

Open to anyone: Some actions by current council members have given rise to suspicions in the community that the primary interests of some of the members of the council are to make money for themselves and their friends. What if anything would you do to put an end to any existing cronyism in Town Hall, and banish even the appearance of favoritism?

Open to anyone: The way our local government is supposed to work, the council members work for the public, and the Town staff works for the council members. Yet we commonly see council members fraternizing with staff over drinks and dinner, which can only lead to a breakdown in this important hierarchy. What if anything would you do to preserve the appropriate hierarchy in Town Hall?

Open to anyone: Despite endless promises of transparency, a great number of important Town documents are hidden from view. Even the latest Transparency Report that was presented as showing every penny that had been spent, is missing several key expenditures. What if anything would you do to provide true transparency to the residents of Apple Valley?

Open to anyone: For years, concerned citizens have caught numerous errors coming out of the Town’s financial department. None of these errors has been caught by staff or council members. Now comes the news that the assistant manager for finance most responsible for these errors has a checkered past. What if anything would you do to ensure that the Town’s books are straightforward, accurate, and up-to-date?

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