TOAV fires back at Coupal (September 18, 2015)

Stanton suggests op-ed piece was ‘orchestrated’

APPLE VALLEY — Mayor Pro Tem Barb Stanton was critical this week of an op-ed commentary penned by Jon Coupal, who said Apple Valley residents need to know the full cost of the town’s attempts to take over Apple Valley Ranchos’ water system.

In an email to the Daily Press, Stanton wrote that Coupal’s commentary implied anything but looking out for the little guy, which Stanton said is a founding principle of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, of which Coupal is president.

I suggest that Coupal’s article was orchestrated, Stanton said, and (it) makes me wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

Coupal told the Daily Press on Thursday that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association hasn’t taken a position on the takeover, but that Apple Valley residents should be aware of the higher costs that have played a role in other cases of eminent domain takeovers.

We’re not suggesting that residents (should or should not) support the takeover, Coupal said.

In the unsolicited commentary published in the Daily Press last Sunday, Coupal compared Apple Valley’s possible water system acquisition to a similar situation in Big Bear several years back.

Big Bear (residents) learned the hard way not to trust everything politicians promised, Coupal wrote. There too, local politicians promised their residents rate reductions for their water. The opposite proved to be true. The cost of service did not go down; because salary, maintenance, and water costs almost always rise and those costs added to the cost of compensating the private property owned for their ‘taken’ property led to greater costs to the customer.

Coupal also noted he’s witnessed numerous government takeovers in the past and offered that they have all been bad news.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association couldn’t find a single instance in which an eminent domain takeover of a major water system delivered the promised financial benefits, Coupal said.

But Stanton didn’t buy into Coupal’s argument.

He mentions the Big Bear acquisition of their water company and the so-called displeasure of their citizens, Stanton said, and yet their council was re-elected, and I might say our current Assemblyman, Jay Olbernolte, went from the council in Big Bear to the (California State) Assembly — doesn’t seem that their citizens were displeased.

Meanwhile, Apple Valley Ranchos General Manager Tony Penna called the piece a thoughtful and objective perspective.

(The commentary) cites several examples of overpromising by politicians, Penna told the Daily Press via email, and affirms our position that the consequences of a takeover will be higher water rates, higher taxes or both. This long, costly and divisive issue should be stopped now before the town spends even more taxpayer money unnecessarily and diverts funds from other priorities and community services.

But town officials said they believe that Coupal has not paid close attention to the specific circumstances in Apple Valley. Town spokeswoman Kathie Martin pointed out that Coupal used very similar language last March in an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin commentary about Claremont’s plan to acquire the Golden State Water Company’s water system.

Coupal told the Daily Press the two commentaries are similar because the Apple Valley takeover plan is exactly the same as Claremont’s.

Stanton, however, suggested that Coupal’s argument is based on generalities rather than facts specifically related to Apple Valley’s acquisition efforts.

(Coupal should) go back to worrying about protecting Proposition 13, Stanton said, and let those that understand the facts in Apple Valley do their job. And I promise that I wouldn’t do his.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press


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