After the meeting – Rialto and American Water

Let me start this post with WOW. I have never seen such a ground swelling of the community come out on an issue only to be ignored by the politions in Rialto.

Picture Below I found in a stack of papers left by the residents in the KTRO room:

Dosen’t that say it all, must be nice to be an upper class council person without worries!

First let me say Rialto property owners need to stop this with their paper now or pay for the next 30 years. This deal and this vote is partially the voters fault, you have not voted for years allowing city council and assembly and congress to have a feeling that they don’t speak for us the can do whatever they please. Those select few of you who do vote, vote with a disregard for the people you’re putting in power.

But ultimately those placed in power must be reminded who they ACUALLY work for, its US. The current council and most local elected leaders ignore us and do whatever they wish or please.

Residents compared the council to those who wish to work for American Water since the are guaranteeing a 30% profit to American Water.

30 million will be payed to the general fund that is owed from the utility and this money is going to be used to fund a Target project that Lewis properties have pulled out of multiple times due to the lack of money, when did it become ok for cities to shoulder the brunt of the cost of doing business.

If the city really wanted big retail they would have not imposed a 7 year moratorium on building around the new 210 freeway.

council allowed utilities commission Member June Hayes to accuse Mr Ceasr Acoata of being a card-carrying communist, union labor reps that had conflict of interest issues and didn’t live in the city speak, union workers and developers from the Pharrase group and Lewis homes speak & turned on the heat on the KTRO room to over heat residents and make them so uncomfortable they ended up leaving.

Mr Jim Stienberg of the Sun reported 50 public comments went out yet 80 people singed up. That means the city staff silenced 30 speakers and voted for this even though many speakers were at the las meeting this was on the agenda and were wondering why they were back on the same issue.

The thing is that council never cared what the community thought they just wanted to find as many little ways to stifle this community.

Speakers were not able to hear responses from council members even though most were seeking awnser to better gauge the minds of our (leaders). This council has too often been to busy or to important to talk to the little people this was normal for them.

The final vote was 4-1 in favor the one no vote came from Joe Baca Jr. Not really surprising he can afford any political damage right now because it would hurt is run for assembly and beyond, but whatever his motives I thank him for standing in the divide.

Here are the issues I see with this deal and the community. First off only 200 people are reported to have attended the 2 information meetings that were held on Tuesday & Saturday. Tuesdays meeting was reported to be very dysfunctional and that you couldn’t ask questions. Saturday was better but no one from council was there to awnser questions at either meeting. I was unable to attend these meetings because I work 4 jobs just to get by and have very little free time.

Atmosphere went as follows:

  • Standing room only in chambers.
  • 3 overflow rooms. KTRO building, fire station basement & library.
  • Spanish-speaking residents standing outside watching on a monitor with no translator.
  • Jerry Acosta was passing out bottled water saying “don’t worry this water is free” which brought people to laugh in the KTRO building. Mr Acosta also asked the council to take heed in this decision and think of the poor and unemployed that will be devistaed by these rates. He also spoke in spanish to give some familiar words to spanish speakers outside.
  • The union reps asking the city to employee their union workers at the cost of hard-working tax paying families were: Lori Stonemaker-AFL-CIO labor union, Joe Whicher Sheet Metal Workers Union & William Perez from the construction workers union.
  • The young-looking union workers that spoke up were Juan & Robert asking you to pay more for water so they can have a broken promise of a job.
  • Joe Juladian is a business owner and he told counsel he will be forced to pass these rates onto to customers, they didn’t seem to care.
  • Pastor Gloria Henderson Quoted Ecclesiastes to the council referring to the topic of their is a time for everything and everything has its appointed time, this isn’t the time to levy such large fee increases on a poor and struggling public.
  • Lyn Hurts owner of Dans Lawnmower Shop told council that they are doing this because they wont be around for 30 years. She is right i will be 80 before this contract is up.
  • Sam Wienstien seen here in an interview with our reporter http://youtu.be/PYBW0mkWWxg he was speak out to the lawsuit Mr Ron Pharris served a woman with outside council during the meeting, forcing her to leave for fear for her life.
  • Donald Lee stated that American Water is a German owned company.
  • Robert Tinker a resident since 1958 said he has seen a lot of council members and mayors in his day and if they vote for this he will see some more go real soon.

American Water CEO Jeffry Sterba – who was appointed to the job in August 2010 – has made clear that he wants to expand the company’s “contract operations business” only if it generates more profits for American Water than in the past.  In a recent interview with a trade journal, Sterba stated:

“The contract operations model as it’s generally deployed seems to be geared around trying to shift risks to the service provider in ways which I don’t think are necessarily taken into account appropriately in the pricing. . . . To the extent that we can create a different model that better aligns with what we think we bring to the table, and allows us to be compensated for that, then we will be interested in expanding in that sector.”

According to the magazine interview, Sterba’s strategy for new municipal contract operations involves long-term contracts with a provision for “price re-determination” over the lifetime of the agreement.  In the March 2011 interview, Sterba also described a contract deal the company had in the works with an unnamed “medium-sized” city:

Below are the slides RUA (Rialto Utilities Association) presented:

To get out of the contract now if the property owners vote to reject the councils vote it costs ua 1 million, If the property owners fail to act then we will be stuck with a 177 million dollar mortgage at a high interest rate. If we cancel in the first year were on the hook for the whole 177 Million plus an additional 2 million, the early termination penalty decreases by 3% every year.
We as property owners must act and renters must contact their land lords and tell them that higher water and waste water rates will force you to look for a cheaper living situation.
Below is the article the sun ran.
RIALTO – City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of a controversial 30-year contract with New Jersey-based American Water Works Co. Inc., which would mean a 114.8 percent increase in water and wastewater rates by 2016.About 400 residents crammed into City Hall and three overflow sites – the library, the public access television station and the main fire station.The resident turnout was larger than when the issue came before the council last June, which was defeated on 2 to 2 vote.Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott said prior to his vote, “We have been at this for three years now. We have to do something to bring this city forward,” Scott said.Joe Baca Jr. opposed the American Water contract in June and did again Tuesday nigh for the same reason – that city residents should not pay for a company’s profits and that the rate increases are too steep.

“We need to take charge of our destiny,” said Deborah Robertson, who voted against the measure last summer.

Robertson said that the support of the labor unions for the agreement were a big part in her “yes” vote Tueday night.

Mayor Grace Vargas was out on medical leave starting just before last summer’s water rate vote and has recently returned to her post.

“You people in Rialto elected me for reason,” Vargas said before the vote. She predicted that eventually residents would thank the council for its decision to sign the 30-year contract. The council’s decision can be overturned if the majority of Rialto property owners file a written protest to the decision.In his motion to approve the contract and related rate increases, Council member Ed Palmer said he wanted to take the decision to the property owners and let them have the final say.

“It would be wrong for us to vote this down,” he said.

While most of those at the meeting Tuesday appeared to oppose the measure this time around, several spoke in favor of the agreement, which would lead to financing to pay for $41 million in water infrastructure projects and provide funding to move ahead with develop;ment projects at the municipal airport, a super Wal-Mart south of downtown and retaurants north of downtown.

Upland developer Randall Lewis, whose company is a partner in a planned mixed use development on land now occupied by the municipal airport, said the debate taking place here is occurring across the state and the nation.

“It is a tough decision,” Lewis said, adding that the city staff recommendation to go with a long-term agreement with American Water is the correct one to modernize Rialto’s infrastructure system.

June Hayes, a 16-year member of the city’s Utility Commission, said initially she was against a contract with America Water, but after much research , feels a contract with them is the correct path.

“I speak for the little guy,” she said. With a doctorate degree, Hayes said she lives close to the poverty level, but still is in favor of the rate increases to pay for what needs to be done for the water system.

The agreement also drew strong support from organized labor because it will create some 450 jobs for the building trades.

Joe Whitcher, a business representative for Sheet Metal Workers Local 105.

Whitcher said that the way the contract is structured, labor union rates will be paid and there will be no loopholes allowing some workers to be paid at non-union rates.

But most of the more than 50-residents to address city council on this issue over several hours Tuesday night were opposed to the 30-year contract and its related rate increases, Anne Lopez, said she is putting three children through college, and with the increase won’t be able to live in Rialto anymore.

“I would love to live in Rialto…it is charming, quaint and not to large. But many people will not be able to afford to live here if the rates go trhough.””

Said Frank Gonzalez, “These rates are “unreasonable and unwarranted.” As for the 30-year contract, “it is totally out of the realm.What about a `Plan B’? There isn’t one. Why?”

Hattie Inge, who said she has lived in Riatlo for 39.5 years, asked why is the city of Rialto “trying so hard” to bring American Water to town. And regarding the 450 union jobs, “Those won’t be going to people who live in Rialto.”

Inge said that several of her children live in cities where America Water provides service and that “they never do what they say they will.”

Michele Heal said that it appears that the city council wants to work for America Water more than it wants to work for the citizens of Rialto.

The improvements resulting from the agreement will benefit the existing ratepayers. New large projects, such as the Lytle Creek residential development. and projects planned at the municipal development, said Robb Steel, assistant to the city administrator and director of development services.

There has been criticism by some residents who allege that a portion of the rate increase will subsidize future developments.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Rininger
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 05:42:00

    The fact of the matter is that the City of Rialto can raise rates on water without having to sign a contract with some outside company. The problem is that the money that has been brought into the water district has been mishandled and wasted. West Valley Water District also services parts of Rialto, they get money from the state and grants for improvements on top of the revenue from water. I am sure that WVWD will probably be raising it’s rates as well, and rightfully so, considering they have been lower than the City’s rates for years and they never charged their customers perchlorate fees. The City of Rialto should handle this in house and not bring in outside companies. They need to take a good hard look at where the money has gone to and restructure themselves.

    Reply

  2. Anne Lopez
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 03:14:01

    With as many that came out to be heard, we fell on deaf ears. I understand that there is a need to increase the rate, but not where people can not truly afford it. Its not that we don’t want to pay, its the fact that our household budgets can not stretch that far.

    Reply

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