Comments to the Town Council (March 9, 2017)

My name is Greg Raven and I live here in Apple Valley.

I am opposed to this ballot measure.

In 2011, the Bartle Wells Report commissioned by the Town estimated the value of our water system at $97 million. Scott Nassif later acknowledged that the water system had sold for more than $100 million. In 2012, the Town’s Blue Ribbon Water Committee recommended against purchasing the water company for many reasons, including that the price might be as high as $200 million.

In 2015, though, after tens of millions of dollars of improvements by The Carlyle Group, the Town valued the water system at a ridiculously low $45 million, a figure revised only after concerned citizen Al Rice pointed out a multi-million dollar error in your calculations. The Town’s offer was still only $50 million, which at the time was less than the value of the water rights held by Apple Valley Ranchos, and on top of that there were tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure that should have been considered.

Later, the Town upped its valuation to $86 million, and then in 2016, upped it again to $125 million.

Now we see that the Town wants $150 million to buy the water company — three times the original valuation — and yet little has changed except the Town’s need for money, no matter what the source, what the cost, what strings are attached, or what the law says.

In the meantime, we’ve also seen how poorly the Town manages things we taxpayers have already paid for, including the animal shelter, the roads, Cramer Family Park, Civic Center Park, the golf course, our storm drain system, the Hilltop House … the list goes on and on. I invite the Council members, the Town staff, and anyone else with an interest in these matters to check out Kerry Henard’s YouTube videos, which show just how poorly the Town manages our interests. I believe there are currently something like 135 of these videos, with another six dozen on the way.

So what is this really about? It can’t be about local control, because our water system is already locally controlled. It can’t be about transparency because Liberty Utilities is far and away more transparent than the Town of Apple Valley. It can’t be about water rates, because our water rates are comparable with other cities in this area, and Barb Stanton has said that rates won’t go down for 30 years after the Town seizes the water system.

Whatever the answer is, I am here once again to implore you not to go one step farther on this insane hostile takeover of our water utility. Get a second legal opinion. Demand an audit of the finance department. Pay attention to the adverse decision in the City of Claremont’s eminent-domain case that dealt with these same issues … and even used the same legal team. Get out of your echo chamber and listen — really listen — to what concerned citizens are telling you about the disasters you are bringing down on our community.

Time and again, citizens have asked you to stop the madness and return us to our better way of life, and time and again you have spurned and ignored us.

Please: Stop promoting your own narrow interests, and start representing the citizens of Apple Valley.

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

Files related to Claremont