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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

And now, another Letter (and see UPDATE posted below)

The following letter-to-the-editor appeared in the Tribune May 9th by Beverly A. De Witt-Moylan of Los Osos (She’s one of the Los Osos 45 served with a CDO) Her letter speaks to something that I found fascinating here in Sewerville: How quickly certain folks moved to dissolve the CSD that many of them, ironically, had struggled so hard to create in the first place when a recall didn’t go their way. No town meetings for them, no open debates, no compromise, no new candidates, no input or even new initiatives, no working on committees, no re-recalls (wouldn't that have been fun?), no use of any of the tools in the “democratic” tool chest except --- Blam! -- out of the box – dissolve the whole CSD. End game. No ninth-grade civics for them. Nosir!

It remains one of the most fascinating elements of this whole strange trip. Clearly, Sewervillers ain’t New Englanders, more’s the pity.

Growing up in New England, town meetings were a way of life for me.

Every week in March, my parents met our neighbors at the Town Hall to debate and vote on the town budget for the year. Into the night they amended and revised our local bylaws, item by item, with the Board of Selectmen, our town’s governing body.

This purest form of democracy continues to thrive in many communities across the Northeast. Though some have joked that we threw off the bonds of England only to be free to tax ourselves, the representative democracy that emerged from the American Revolution is the best embodiment of the concept in the world today.

Anyone who benefits from self-governance has a stake in democracy. Having only recently gained the right to local control, Los Osos struggles now with forces working to solve local problems by dissolving local government.

Ninth-grade civics teaches that the foundation of democracy is compromise, which can only happen if all sides represent themselves in the open where debate and resolution take place. Handed over to us instead of won through a difficult, bloody struggle, perhaps our local control came too easily for many to grasp its precious value. Easy come. Easy Go.

Beverly A. De Witt-Moylan, Los Osos UPDATE: (5/11) And Beverly notes . . . Being a California Girl, although married to a Boston Boy, I was aware of the tradition of New England town hall meetingS, as well as the annual big Town Meeting, but, like the Tribune, I didn’t catch the distinction (and had no idea the letter had been changed slightly by the Tribune editors.) A little history lesson for us all. The following excerpt from Bev’s email:

Dear Ann,

As long as you have posted my PUBLISHED letter to the editor, you might as well have THE REST OF THE STORY which I sent out today. Since I've already had my say for this month, and since they don't like printing criticism of themselves, this won't get into the TRIB, but people who like to argue on your web site might get something out of it. Use it or not... . . .
Blessings of peace,

Bev.

----- Original Message -----
From: MOYLANS
To: letters@thetribunenews.com
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 7:27 AM
Subject: correction

Thank you for printing my letter regarding dissolution of the Los Osos CSD in its entirety in the Tuesday issue. After my careful effort to hone it to 200 words, it was somewhat surprising to read the first sentence, which you edited by adding two letters to its length. "Town Meeting was," in your hands became, "town meetings were." While I am aware that few people outside New England would have any understanding of Town Meeting as an institution, it might have been instructive to trust that your readers would understand the term in context. Like anywhere else in the USA, meetings are held year round in my hometown. They are not, however, town meetings. They are Board of Selectmen (a term which has survived since colonial times) meetings, which citizens attend in the same way as they attend city council or CSD meetings in this county.

Town Meeting is a specific process, described in my previous letter to you, which happens every spring in those New England towns where it has survived. In my home town of Canton, Massachusetts, Town Meeting occurred in March when I was growing up. It is a proper noun, such as, "Are you going to Town Meeting?" or "Town Meeting begins at 7 PM."

Rather than changing my words to suit your paradigm, it might have been prudent to discover whether the specific phrasing used had merit and meaning. Though probably borne from innocent provincialism, it is insulting to be treated like an ignorant bumpkin by your presumption that I meant something I did not. Judging from the Trib's coverage of the RWQCB CDO prosecution hearings, however, it is not surprising. Your paradigm regarding citizens of Los Osos would not allow you to see it any other way.

Beverley De Witt-Moylan, B.A., M.Ed.
Los Osos

28 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

You sat tomato, I say nightshade family member.

You are oversimplifying the Dreamer/Dissolver position. What's new? Their argument is that the CSD was a fine method of solving our wastewater problem (and a few others as well) but once a new group, a group who was committed to the destruction of the CSD was elected, the LOCSD is no longer able to accomplish the goals of dealing with the wastewater problem.

Simply put, your board is selling off the TriW site, they've decided to pursue a STEP system that has already been studied and found to be deficient and they claim they want to put the plant "out of town" where we know that additional lawsuits will delay construction by at least several years. Oh yeah, these actions have broght fines and will furthermore, keep us from getting a reasonable interest rate once we would attempt to build the thing. The costs are increasing and at an accelerated rate. If our community couldn't afford the previous TriW WWTF (something those behind the recall argued) we can even less afford it now.

In other words, Los Osos will not be able to pay the bills of this CSD.

Dissolving the CSD will have a dramatic impact on the cost of the WWTF ... it will make it more affordable. ($300/month as opposed to $500/month ...)

The problem since 2001 has been that those who are currently running the LOCSD have been stalling and delaying and raising our costs.

Julie and Al are the problem, not the dissolvers.

That would be a fair statement of the Dreamer/Dissolver position.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

58 minutes after Ann's posting. The #1 signal jammer responds.
A new speed record?
Julie and Al? How deliberately broad brushed can we get?
Anything to bring back Tri W.
To hell with democracy if doesn't achieve that noble goal, right?

"Dissolving the CSD will have a dramatic impact on the cost of the WWTF ... it will make it more affordable. ($300/month as opposed to $500/month ...)"
Your bullshit smells even for 7:59 AM. Pandora's Pansies.

Shark Inlet said...

Nice try, Dogpatch.

Perhaps if you would be willing to actually discuss the issues of inflation and financing you would be more credible. Hell, I put an excel spreadsheet online for you and Ann and anyone to scrutinize. Pick some holes there and then we can talk. Until you bother actually looking at the numbers, your criticism appears to be unfounded.

All the best to you ...

Anonymous said...

Is not democracy the ability of the people to vote on what they want?

Voters put politician into office, then over time may decide to vote them out (presumably because of job performance or lack thereof)

There is nothing UNDEMOCRATIC about voting for the dissolution of the CSD!

Be very afraid if we advocate selective democracies!

Shark Inlet said...

Our most recent anonymous friend has a good point.

Presumably one should view those who would vote to dissolve but who voted to form the LOCSD as people who have been convinced that the CSD is a bad idea. In other words, had they known then what they know now, they wouldn't have voted to form the CSD. There's nothing wrong with that opinion.

Presumably had there been no stalling, legal challenges and recall, many of those same people wouldn't be in favor of dissolution. If the CSD were able to get us a WWTF and solve our discharge problems in a timely fashion, there would be no need for dissolution.

Here's an interesting question ... according to the best guestimates of those on the board, the staff, wastewater and finance committee members and the board's informal advisors ... how long will it be before the "alternative" WWTF will be completed. (Oh, and no fair complaining about "if they just let us get to work..." because the current board and their buddies are exactly the same group who wouldn't let the previous board work on their project unobstructed.) So then, how many months or years will it be. I am even happy with a guestimate with a 50% margin of error. (I.e. guess 4 years, but anywhere in the 2-6 year timeframe counts as a "hit".)

Mike Green said...

Vote for dissolution?
Lets wait and see....

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Step right up folks. Get yr Dissolution Solution. Garuhnteed to solve all problems involving edicts, incompetence and colusion.
Cures Recall. Absolves the past. Just add some local cronyism & presto Tri W is restored. Act now & get a golden shovel. Comes with free GIGO Excel spreadsheet written by unnamed experts. The County will LOVE you Osos, & even treat you better than they already treat you now. Just dissolve that nasty CSD. YOU didn't vote for them so why do we need them?
Running against them is too much off a bother. Dissolve them instead. Riff Raff dissappear.
Dogpatch refugees. Replaced with Nice new homes & boutiques. Wine bars and galleries. Won't it be beautiful?
All you got to do is jusr dissolve.

Shark Inlet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shark Inlet said...

Dogpatch,

What you don't seem to get is this...

The current board is on a path to raise our bills much more than is likely should dissolution occur. Mocking a careful analysis without taking the time to understand it first is simply a lack of wisdom. I would again suggest looking the numbers over or checking with an accountant who understands inflation and bond rates to verify my conclusions. (Also, please note that one nice thing about the spreadsheet is that it would allow you to provide your own input guestimates about things like the rate of inflation and the time until completion and the ultimate disposition of various fines and lawsuits ... if you think it is GIGO, provide you own inputs and see what the conclusion is.)

Then you will realize it is the current board who is (perhaps unintentionally) going to Carmelize our town. If you really cared about your neighbors you would study this issue before reaching conclusions.

Churadogs said...

Dogpatch says,"58 minutes after Ann's posting. The #1 signal jammer responds.
A new speed record?"

Actually, I think the record must be a "comment" that Inlet posted about 58 SECONDS after I posted the CSD's Press Release. I think that was the record to date, though I haven't gone through and compared posting data because, unlike some folks, I actually have a life. . . .

As for Inlet's comments, once again he's making stuff up and then treating it as fact. Weird. Like, he said, "Dissolving the CSD will have a dramatic impact on the cost of the WWTF ... it will make it more affordable. ($300/month as opposed to $500/month ...)" HUH? WHERE DOES INLET GET THIS STUFF? Or states AS FACT that the present board "decided to pursue a STEP system that has already been studied and found to be deficient" THEY HAVE? When did that happen? The Ripley group is looking at -- LOOKING AT -- NOT PURSUING -- several systems and will report back for public comment and a Board vote and a public vote. Jeesh! This isn't just signal jamming it's fantasyland. Caveat Lector when it comes to all things Inletish.

Anonymous said...

Any bets on other than Step? PLEASE!

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Any bets on ANYTHING other than the Tri W Boondoggle coming from Ripley as a recommendation won't make the signal jammers howl with disdain? Not that it would be anything new...
As far as what agendas are at play concerning Brave New Los Osos (Maybe they'll also want to rename it Bear Valley, so much nicer & easier to pronounce), please look to campaign contribution disclosure statements, various letter & E-mails to the water board, etc. Follow the $$$$ & you'll find contractors, cronies, & the co-opted.

Anonymous said...

And your point IS?

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

If you want to know where I "GET THIS STUFF" you should look at that excel spreadsheet I posted a link to here. Reasonable guestimates about the time to construction, bond rates, inflation rates and various other costs (like fines and the like) make it pretty clear that we'll not escape for less than about $300/month ... that's if we start on TriW ASAP. If we spend some four years studying, siting, designing and permitting (oh yeah, and the lawsuits) and inflation is about 8% per year and if we can only borrow at a 8% interest rate, even a "cheaper" collection system and plant will end up costing us $400/month easy.

If you don't trust me, look at my numbers, consult an accountant, put in your own guesstimates and reach your own conclusions. To deny that the costs are going up and rather quickly is what is fantasyland at this point in time.

As to the question of STEP ... the previous board rejected STEP as too expensive. Back in November, when Lisa, Rob, Dan and Darrin penciled things out, Lisa reported that STEP was more expensive than gravity and that the associated energy costs made it not sustainable. (Go get the videotape of that meeting...) If you are telling me now that she lied then, fine. If you are telling me now that she told us the truth then and that STEP isn't really better, fine. If you are telling me now that she was speaking off the cuff then and we really need to study it more, just to be sure, fine. In any of these three cases, there is a pretty clear problem. The current direction of the board doesn't match what the chair told us just a few months ago.

Caveat Lector all around. However, I've been pretty clear and open about where I'm getting "THIS STUFF". If you don't like it, do some reasearch and find out where "THIS STUFF" is in error ... don't just complain that I'm making things up, convince those following this discussion that I'm wrong. If I've given you the references and you chose not to bother doing the research, your argument that I'm just making things up sounds really weak.

And to our good friend Dogpatch ... I don't care what Ripley comes up with ... but if it would reasonably end up costing more than Dissolution followed by TriW would I will be one of those howling. Would that be so wrong? Why is it bad to want one's bills to be as low as possible? Why are you so opposed to my focus on lowering the bottom line?

Mike Green said...

A howling Shark? This, I gotta hear!

My opinion is that LAFCO will deny the petition.
Why?

After delaying the decision as much as they legaly can (possibly even after Ripley makes their report).
It will be found that the only problem with the LOCSD is that it may possibly cause the voters to pay more for the mandated sewer plant.
That by itself will not be enough.

Affordability for this project was a "trickey" problem all the time.

Thats why no real affordability study has ever been done.
Even the fantasy 200/mo. exceeds the afordability guidlines as established by the EPA.

Hey, whats that noise? sounds like a shark howl.

Here is a rather mundane idea.
(It's not mine I heard it from Blakeslee)
If Los Osos is going to be succsessful in obtainig any State or Fed help, the first thing that has to happen is the community needs to speak with a unified voice.
Good luck getting heard when your only voice is with one third of one representative on a five member board of supervisors
But, we shall see.

Shark Inlet said...

So Mike,

If $200/month is not affordable, why do you support this board who is taking actions that have already raised our bills to $300/month or more?

Mike Green said...

Support?
No, I've made it clear before that I thought things could have been handled differenty.
I'm just a pragmatist when it comes down to how I think political questions will get resolved.

It's just my opinion at this point that the dissolvers will not be succsesful.

Fatalist-- Realist? we will see

Mike Green said...

If being anti dissolve is support for the LOCSD then I guess you have a point,
Uh, any port in a storm?
My opinion is our most likely future will involve lenghty legal delays, a superior design. and costs wont matter.

PublicWorks said...

Mike,

Lengthy legal delays, superior design, and costs won't matter are three strange bedfellows.

My opinion is lengthy legal delays, there will not even be a site by 2010, there will not be a sewer unless a Judge or the state orders it, and payments will still be $205/month. Hey, maybe I just described a Superior design?

Mike Green said...

Publickworks! Nice Bet!
I say, lengthy legal delays
site 2009
federal funds 2010
250/month

Loser buys winner a dozen Carlocks donuts.

What do ya say?

PUblicWorks said...

Deal, I'll collect on 1/2/2010. Meet me at 8:15 am SHARP.

I'll be the one ordering 3 old fashioned, 3 chocolates, 3 glazed, 2 jelly-filled, and a maple bar.

Mike Green said...

Man, what a sweet tooth! Me, I want three cajun sticks, three jalapeno fritters and three wellingtons!
Oh will it be sweet!

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"As for Inlet's comments, once again he's making stuff up and then treating it as fact. Weird. Like, he said, "Dissolving the CSD will have a dramatic impact on the cost of the WWTF ... it will make it more affordable. ($300/month as opposed to $500/month ...)" HUH? WHERE DOES INLET GET THIS STUFF? Or states AS FACT that the present board "decided to pursue a STEP system that has already been studied and found to be deficient" THEY HAVE? When did that happen? The Ripley group is looking at -- LOOKING AT -- NOT PURSUING -- several systems and will report back for public comment and a Board vote and a public vote. Jeesh! This isn't just signal jamming it's fantasyland. Caveat Lector when it comes to all things Inletish."

I will ask again,How does dissolving the CSD make the sewer "more affordable?" And just WHEN did the CSD decide to persue a STEP system?

Anonymous said...

Churadog, what will your blog say when Ripley's findings are in? Is there anyone on this blog that believes it will not be STEP?

You do not need much time to whip up a good lashing against those not supporting your paradigm, but with three plus months still to go, maybe you need to begin wordsmithing now.

You will never admit you were wrong, so I am anxiously awaiting how you will convince the faithful how surprised you are that Ripley's report says STEP is the far superior approach.

In fact he will even volunteer that he can do the whole thing for half the price of a gravity system, though he will want the entire $$$$Millions paid up front in advance!

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Gee when Ron supposedly doesn't answer "a simple question", he gets labeled "a coward"...

Shark Inlet said...

Ann, the argment for dissolution makes things cheaper is simple. In fact, I've explained it time and time again to you. I've even given you a spreadsheet that explains it. Presumably you were too busy to read those things over carefully.

Okay, let's go one more time. If the current board continues to pursue an "out of town" plan ... or pretty much anything other than TriW, it will take a minimum of five years before construction starts ... possibly more. The impact of inflation over that time period will be considerable. Furthermore, the CSD's bond rating is pretty much horrible. Blesky said as much himself. The rate (maybe 10%) is so horrible that our costs will be off the chart. You will wish for TriW and $200/month.

Should dissolution occur and the county pick back up on TriW after 1 year of lawsuits and associated delays, we will only have one year of inflation. Furthermore, the County could possibly get some of our costs covered by a SRF load. Even if we don't get a SRF, the County could borrow at a lower rate than the CSD. Contractors would also be less likely to overbid if the County were in charge than the CSD.

Look it over for yourself and you'll see that even a "$30M cheaper" sewer/WWTF by the LOCSD will end up consting more than TriW. Oh yeah, should any pumping charges or fines occur, the balance will be shifted far more in favor of TriW.

Churadogs said...

Anon said:"You will never admit you were wrong, so I am anxiously awaiting how you will convince the faithful how surprised you are that Ripley's report says STEP is the far superior approach.

In fact he will even volunteer that he can do the whole thing for half the price of a gravity system, though he will want the entire $$$$Millions paid up front in advance!"

Uh, I'm missing something here. If STEP is a "far superior" approach that can be done for 1/2 the price (of gravity?), helps solve the salt-water intrusion problem by some magical as yet undisclosed method and reduces O&M&R,is there a problem?

Or are you saying that no matter what Ripley's proposal is it will be totally fake and undoable, he'll be given gazillions up front and then leave town on the next bus with a suitcase full of money?

Anonymous said...

Churadog says: "Or are you saying that no matter what Ripley's proposal is it will be totally fake and undoable, he'll be given gazillions up front and then leave town on the next bus with a suitcase full of money?"

You got it, except he already has the suitcase full of money. Never con a conner!

Can you bring yourself to tell your readers what you think the result of his study will be? Which technology will he "prove" is the superior?

I thought not!