Zak Retracts And Apologizes….

December 28, 2010

 

…TO JOSE CARVAJAL

On occasion, Zak gets it wrong.

That being said, the battle for transparency and disclosure continues.

I received an e-mail from José Carvajal, “spokesman” for the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, questioning my quote in the previous article regarding his having floated a “turd” that the proposed merger of the two water districts would be profitable within five years.

After scouring the necrotic recesses of my stroke-damaged cranium, I realized that I had been speaking to EVMWD District 5 Director-elect Andy Morris when the profitability turd was floated before Zak.

What makes the correction so disturbing is that it was not a statement put forth by someone paid to do so, instead, it came from the lips of the person who may vote on the issue, depending on the date of the meeting and Morris’s swearing-in date.

Hopefully, Morris will recognize that it is his obligation to represent the economic interests of this district, and not the residents of Director Judy Guglielmana’s or Harv Ryan’s districts.

I have already apologized for my “mis-memory,”  in a responsive, private e-mail to José and wanted to do so as well on the front page of Wildomar Magazine.

To be fair and equitable to him.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

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“Misleading” Comment…..

December 27, 2010

….. DAMAGES A HARMONIOUS ACQUAINTANCE

Steve Fetbrandt, arguably the Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch’s premier reporter accurately quotes your’s truly’s recent comments to him in today’s Patch article on opposition to the proposed water district merger.

Please click on a link for the entire article.

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/proposed-water-districts-merger-has-some-crying-foul

His writing reminds me of a former Californian reporter by the name of José Carvajal for its accuracy and incisiveness.

However, José took the job of Public Information Officer for the Lake Elsinore Unified School District as it probably paid better than being a reporter. Fair enough.

Sadly, however, José recently moved to the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District to be their “spokeshole.”

Which brings us front and center to today’s Patch article.

First, José, I understand that when you take  “The Man’s” money, you have to carry, ironically, The Man’s water for him.

That being said, to characterize my fact-based comments as “misleading,” sadly reduces my respect for you, downward to  the baser level of your predecessor spokeshole, Greg Morrison.

In a hopefully meaningful exercise for the readers of Wildomar Magazine, let’s discuss what’s been said, as follows:

“In the days following the meeting, foes continued to argue that the plan is awash in murky water, including inadequate information, dubious facts and suspect financial analysis.

“People don’t want to pay extra for new pipes,” said Gil Rasmussen, a Wildomar resident, EVMWD customer and merger opponent. “EWD hasn’t done its work and now it’s apparently caught up with them.”

Rasmussen believes it could cost upward of $24 million to rebuild EWD’s system. The $6.7 million would cover only the first phase, he said.

“The bottom line is that I’m not gonna pay a … penny to pick up the costs for the little water district,” Rasmussen said. “It’s their problem, not ours.”

 My comments regarding the $24,000,000 to replace the entire system is based upon information provided by the paid consultant speaking for the little water District during a break in the merger meeting.

My question to him was what would be the total exposure to the EVMWD ratepayers, if the entire aging, decrepit EWD system required replacement?

 The consultant’s response was $24,000,000.

Based upon my formal training as a Risk Manager, that is the figure that the EVMWD must anticipate, should this merger go forward.

And, José, if you recall, as I spoke at the merger meeting, my request was that a formal study be conducted by the various water districts to properly quantify, if possible, that exposure.

Not an unreasonable request, given the potential exposure.

José’s follow-on statement makes my point.

Jose Carvajal, public information officer for EVMWD, said the $24-million figure is misleading.

That figure is if the EWD system completely failed tomorrow and we had to replace the entire system,” he said. “That’s really not likely to happen. The $6 million is for the more immediate problems.”

Obviously then, according to Carvajal, there are “less immediate problems” as well.

No one can say for certain, not José Carvajal, nor Greg Morrison, nor EWD Board Pres. Jeff George, can tell us when the entire system might fail.

Or not.

Further, at last Wednesday evening’s Wildomar City Council meeting, Carvajal EVMWD Director-elect Andy Morris tried to float  a “turd” past me by stating that the EVMWD believes that the merger with the little water District will show a profit within five years.

Do the math with me, as follows:

1500 customers times $40 current average bill per month times 12 months times five years equals $3.6 million.

However, since most commercial operations can only achieve 5 to 6% net profit, “profitability,” even if 10% per year, would only net $360,000 in profitability.

According to my calculations, it will take more than 18 years to offset the cost of replacing the “known” substandard water lines.

Of course, if EVMWD raises everyone’s water rates, including yours, to amortize the known repair expense of $6.7 million, it will take less years to recapture it.

Or, am I misleading again?

I am calling on both John Lloyd and Andy Morris, since we’re not certain who will be voting on the merger, to properly represent Wildomar’s, and Murrieta’s, ratepayers by voting against this merger, unless, and until a properly conducted study on the exposure to the EVMWD  ratepayers is completed and published, before  this questionable merger should go forward.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

 


Zak’s Point Is Made!….

December 15, 2010

….EWD CUSTOMERS, IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Although I would have preferred that the attached Californian article would have been published yesterday evening, so I could have linked it to yesterday’s Wildomar Magazine article on the subject, I will link it now and also “lift” some of the quotes, in italics,  from the EWD customers, which will bring additional clarity to my concerns for Wildomar’s ratepayers, plus, as usual, some comments IN BOLD AND UPPERCASE LETTERS, like I was yelling, or something.

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/lake-elsinore/article_546c06fa-cce2-5a74-a666-629c333ccb66.html

FROM AN AVERAGE OF $40 PER MONTH NOW

To survive and provide adequate service would require a $6.7 million overhaul over the next five years and that would require the district to double the rates it charges residents now by the fiscal year starting July 1, 2014….

ZAK’S CONCERN’S ABOUT TOTAL COSTS CONFIRMED!

If the district resorted to a bond to finance the overhaul, it would have to raise rates to pay it off over 30 years, but would still face mounting upkeep and improvement costs beyond the five-year overhaul…

THIS STILL DOESN’T ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHY  SHOULD WE?

They (EVMWD) have a tremendous cash flow that gives them the ability to finance repairs without having to go out and do bonds,” Levy (EWD Water District’s paid consultant) said.

 YES, BUT WE IN WILDOMAR DO HAVE A CHOICE

“I really like the personableness of the little one and it keeps some of the historical things intact, but if they can’t maintain the infrastructure, maybe they have no choice,” said Rupnow, a Country Club Heights resident.

YOUR BLEEDING  $$ IN ELSINORE IS NOT OUR PROBLEM IN WILDOMAR

Mary Jones, a former Elsinore Water District board member who lives in Country Club Heights, said that she opposed a merger previously, but has changed her mind.

“It’s a necessity, I believe, because we’re bleeding money,” she said.

AND WE DON’T WANT TO START DOING “THIS”

“We’re hemorrhaging and we can’t continue to do this, and do business as it should be done.”

FINALLY, ANOTHER RATIONAL WILDOMAR VOICE IS HEARD

Why should we as EVMWD customers take over (Elsinore’s) problems?” asked Wildomar resident George Cambero, a former Elsinore Valley employee.

It likely will be necessary for concerned ratepayers of Wildomar to attend the eventual LAFCO meeting in downtown Riverside in order to appropriately influence that board to protect our interests.

Wildomar Magazine will keep you posted on the date of that event and, in the meantime, will  hopefully have agitated you sufficiently to move you to action.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Thanks, George, for sticking up for Wildomar. I hope that Andy Morris will do the same. 

Even a 4-1, (If Morris votes “nay”) vote by the EVMWD Board of Directors would be helpful for Wildomar at the LAFCO hearing.

An “aye” might doom Wildomar ratepayers, despite our opposition, to pick up Elsinore’s expensive plumbing bills.


The “Truth,” Written On The Back Of An…..

December 15, 2010

….ENVELOPE

I attended last evening’s meeting regarding the potential merger between the Elsinore Water District “EWD” and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District “EVMWD,” seeking factual information, in order to credibly opine, on the ever-illuminating pages of Wildomar Magazine, as to the salient points that would be to the betterment or detriment of Wildomar’s ratepayers, should this merger go forward.

As expected, a reasonably polished presentation was made by the ever-smiling Jeff George, President of the Board of Directors for the EWD.

Included in his presentation was the purported cost of capital improvements to the decrepit infrastructure of the EWD, most of which was originally installed in 1933, more than 75 years ago.

According to George, the merger into the EVMWD will require the outlay of $6.7 million over the next five years, which the EWD ratepayers cannot afford, but the EVMWD apparently has significantly over-extracted money from its current 40,000 customers to absorb the $6.7 M expense, without any increase in everyone’s water bills.

If that is true, then there is already too much of a reserve “cushion” for infrastructure repairs and upgrades to the existing, modern EVMWD infrastructure.

Then, a paid consultant, retained by the EVMWD, rose to the podium and re-gurgitated the same propaganda previously gurgitated by George, apparently presuming that the same information coming from his engineer lips would be more credible to the audience. It wasn’t.

After the “second verse” was completed, the meeting broke into smaller groups for “one-on-one” conversations.

During the “breakout” session, I collared the engineer to ask the following question:

“Once the merger is complete, and the cost for all required repairs and upgrades to the aging, decrepit EWD system, becomes the EVMWD’s sole responsibility, what would the potential cost to repair or replace the entire 75-year-old infrastructure, which we know to be in need of repairs presently, be?”

The consultant hesitated momentarily, and then told me an “off-the-cuff” vignette about someone connected to one of the water districts who, several years ago, was seeking grant money on behalf of the EWD, to bring the infrastructure up to a proper state of repair.

After doing calculations “on the back of an envelope,” this unknown person came up with a figure, according to the EVMWD consultant, of $24,000,000, to complete all of the necessary upgrades and repairs.

$24,000,000 is a far cry from the $6.7 million alleged by EWD President, Jeff George.

After the breakout sessions were over, the public was invited to speak from the podium and to address the officials in attendance, representing the EWD, EVMWD, and George Spiliotos, the Executive Officer of LAFCO, whose board must eventually grant approval of the merger.

During the “open microphone” portion of the Public Comments, a private citizen took to the podium and courageously proclaimed that, barring a proper exercise of “due diligence,” which should require  a full and complete investigation and cost analysis of  the ultimate, potential exposure to Wildomar’s ratepayers of the cost of repairing the decrepit 78-year-old infrastructure of the EWD, the ratepayers of Wildomar should not, hopefully would not, support this merger.

The effect of this man’s speech was such that no one else rose to comment and the meeting was adjourned. It was obvious that this informational meeting was inadequate in its information.

That man was Zak Turango.

Now, I don’t know if $24,000,000 is the correct amount to upgrade the aging EWD system, or not. And neither does anybody else. But somebody better find out before the merger is approved.

Therefore, the EVMWD needs to engage a competent engineering firm to thoroughly analyze and quantify the exposure of this merger to its own ratepayers, before moving forward.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

For the record, newly-elected EVMWD District 5 Director, Andy Morris, was in attendance, as well as outgoing director John Lloyd.

Hopefully Morris will resist the pressure to “go along” with the crowd and appropriately protect the interests of his Wildomar and Murrieta constituents from this inadequately-prepared merger proposal.


Time For Wildomar To Stop Being EVMWD’s…..

December 11, 2010

……ATM

The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (“EVMWD”) has plans for the ratepayers of Wildomar to  pay for the upgrading of outdated infrastructure for approximately 1500 Lake Elsinore and Lakeland Village residents, whose sewers and water lines are degraded and decrepit from years of neglect by the  Elsinore Municipal Water District (“EMWD”), also known as the “Little” water District.

Why should we?

Please click on the following links for more information.

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/lake-elsinore/article_5e6c3d2a-ec43-50d5-ae48-87bdebbde340.html

And this from the Press Enterprise.

http://blogs.pe.com/news/digest/2010/12/lake-elsinore-merger-talks-pla.html

A public meeting will be held next Tuesday evening at the Lakeside high school campus in Lake Elsinore. Forget about it being “informational.”

Instead, it will be propagandists from  both District entities “blowing smoke up our ‘*sses,’ which sounds like, but is not a part of, the sewage treatment process.

It is time for Wildomar rate payers to show up and go on record in opposition to this proposed merger.

“The proposed merger stems from a study concluding the small district won’t be able to make necessary infrastructure improvements without drastically raising service rates.”

“So,” say the Little Water District Directors, “let’s merge with the EVMWD ratepayers so they can make the payments for our customers instead.”

And it did not take a study for Zak to come to that logical conclusion.

Customers of the EMWD currently pay far less for their water and sewer then do you and I and are apparently unwilling to pay for the cost of bringing in water to drink and disposing of their resultant p*ss.

Many of them are still on septic systems, whose overflowing effluence can be seen running down the gutters to the Lake. Apparently, some of these people are too cheap to even pay to pump their septic tanks when full.

Pardon the pun, but I don’t give a sh*t about Lake Elsinore’s water and sewage issues.

And I certainly don’t want to contribute a single penny to their improvements, since I’m not going to participate in the eventual increased valuation of their homes.

This merger is being foisted on the public by the Directors of the little Water District, including Jeff George and Kristine Anderson.

If you lift your nose into the air and sniff carefully, the foul odor that your nostils pick up  is not Lakeland Village’s collapsing sewers, it is the fetid “stench” of the various chapters of the “borderless” Chamber of Commerce, whose members infest every local governing body, to the detriment of the citizens and ratepayers of Wildomar.

Wildomar Magazine challenges newly elected EVMWD District 5 Director, Andy Morris to attend on Tuesday evening and to speak up on behalf of Wildomar ratepayers and oppose this merger, unless there is some way to protect Wildomar ratepayers from the future costs of correcting years of Elsinore Water District’s neglect and mismanagement.

But don’t hold your breath. As a deeply embedded denizen of the Chamber of Commerce/Rotary cabal, Morris is beholden to his Chamber/Rotary buddies for their support in his recent election.

I would challenge the Wildomar City Councilmembers to speak out in opposition as well, but they are not going to cross any of their Chamber of Commerce supporters to represent the citizens of Wildomar.

Besides, there is no accommodation for goats to  make an appearance at the meeting, so why should they bother?

It will take outspoken vocal opposition from outraged individual ratepayers from Wildomar to derail this “insider” merger.

I intend to be there to speak out in opposition. I hope you’ll join me in protecting Wildomar’s economic interests.

Comments will be left open, but only with probationary access, to see if any of you care about your own economic interests. Once the comments go off track and onto topics about abortion, marijuana  or my “challenged” wardrobe, they will be shut down.

You are probably not aware that all EVMWD ratepayers, including those of us who live in Wildomar, the Board of Directors committed you to a  “guarantee” to maintain the water level in Lake Elsinore? If the water level drops below 1240 feet of elevation, we will be charged for the costs of restoring the lake to that level.

I don’t give a damn about that this fish and child-killing swamp but I am, nonetheless, obligated to pay to keep water in it.

And so are you, dear Wildomar reader.


A Wildomar Magazine “Pee Party”….

December 3, 2010

 

….TO RAIN ON THE BENOIT/MORRIS/WALKER “PARADE OF IGNORANCE”….

The “Word on the street,” provided by a credible source to Zak yesterday, is that political neophytes Ben Benoit and Andy Morris, neither of whom have been involved in previous community or public service in Wildomar, until they apparently jointly decided to seek elected office, went door-to-door throughout Wildomar promoting their own election campaigns.

No problem, so far.

However, according to my source, they also promoted “single issue” candidate, Tim Walker, by encouraging folks they met to vote for Walker as well as themselves.

And that, my friends, is a problem.

It is one thing to seek office while being totally devoid of experience. If a neophyte candidate can impress enough thoughtless voters to win an election, then those thoughtless voters fairly get the government they deserve, rather than the government they need.

It is, after all, a democracy.

It is quite another thing, however, for ignorant neophyte candidates to promote an equally inexperienced neophyte, such as Tim Walker, who admittedly knows nothing about city governance. Unfortunately, for the citizens of Wildomar, Benoit, Morris and Walker were each elected.

I am not certain what the connection between the three neophytes is, save for sharing the same abject ignorance of the community’s needs. With time, as it usually does, the connective tissue will become apparent.

Rumor has it that Benoit is currently residing with a Morris “relative,” to have a “Wildomar” domicile in order to comply with Government Code 36502 and my challenge to his residency.

If so, this would display a disturbingly close personal relationship between political fellow travelers.

In the meantime, rest assured, dear readers, that Zak Turango and the editorial staff of Wildomar Magazine will be observing, investigating, and listening, like a curious child with his ear to a rail, to  their comments and conduct as elected officials, to satirize and parody their commentary and conduct as it unfolds.

It is, after all, a democracy.

Such “treatment by Zak” will be a part of their “learning curve.” These neophytes obviously coveted these elected positions, for some reason and now that they have them, they must be able to conduct themselves appropriately, if not effectively, on behalf of the citizens of Wildomar.

This is not a game; it’s “our” government.

Inasmuch as Zak, in 15 years of online blogging experience, has seen the effect of his written words on thin-skinned politicos, including  specifically, Scott Farnam, who physically assaulted Zak on December 08, 2009 fr his WM articles, (ironically, December 08, 2010, exactly one year later, will be Farnam’s last day in office) said politicos, and any of their cronies, should know that Farnam received the “one and only” waiver for his mis-conduct.

The next person to foolishly engage in “unwanted touching” (see California Penal Code  242 pc) of my person will face prosecution to the fullest extent possible, under both  criminal and civil law.

It’s my new “one and done” policy.

 Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.


Another Voice….

October 24, 2010

…NEEDING TO BE HEARD

The following unsolicited political opinion letter was received from a local Wildomar resident and is reprinted without any editing, except for format:

 I think Ben is counting too much on his PR council image created by the Mann Communication.  He and Andy are products of imaging creator Chris Mann.

 I received a campaign mailer for Andy Morris and noted an endorsement by Chris Mann, who signs as founder of Inland Empire Tax Association.  Mann’s statement inserting words to play on your mind like the only candidate for E.V.M.W.D. we can trust to fight for lower water rates.”  It made my blood boil.  I had to know who Chris Mann was, because that was pure propaganda.  He has never met George Cambero, the other candidate for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District 5. 

Contrast Mann’s statement with that of our State Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, former EVMWD Board Director, who fully endorses George Cambero and knows his extensive knowledge will serve the ratepayers well.  “George will be a taxpayers friend on the water board.  He will fight to keep our water rates low and he has my support,” stated Jeffries.  George has more than 30 years of experience in the water industry and Mr. Morris has experience in. . . .insurance. 

 I had to find out more about this person who would boldly make such a false statement.  I found Chris Mann makes his living promoting and building images for clients and would like the voter to overlook the obvious (such as the fact that his client, Andy Morris, does not have a background in the water industry).  When you as a board member are tasked with making decisions regarding water, over 30 years of experience seems to be the greater asset.

 It is plain to see that Chris Mann is the shadow candidate for at least two candidates in our community and he boast that he can provide, both tactical and strategic, is public relations counsel.  His bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Political Science tells me the voters should question the statements in the mailer (propaganda) . . .and I question if there is anything standing on truth.  If you weren’t aware, Mr. Mann is also the PR consultant for Ben Benoit (running for City Council to fill Scott Farnam’s vacated seat).  I am sure all those campaign signs in every direction are Chris’ recommendation. He wants you to recognize the name, even though you don’t know the person.

 Did you catch the event staged by Chris Mann when he was billed, as a special host on KCAA Radio on October 12th?  Ben Benoit and Wildomar’s Mayor was Mr. Mann’s selected guest? It was suppose to be about parks issue, which Mayor Moore appropriately addresses. She did an admirable job talking about Wildomar.  The sad part it looks like a cover for a PR stunt for Ben Benoit.

Ben’s recent volunteering in the community was no doubt Mr. Mann’s recommendation and probably coincides with his political ambitions.

I thought Ben would have stayed on as planning commissioner so we could have seen how he might support Wildomar.  But obviously he (and Scott Farnam)knew from the get-go that he was only going to serve on the commission for five or six meetings. 

So another event staged for the benefit of Ben (and to the detriment of the community).

There’s no skin off Ben’s nose because he had no commitment to the community:  45 minutes late for one of the meetings and then had the audacity to sit there and play with his little Ipad during the remainder of the meeting. 

At the next meeting the conceptual Sunset Ridge project was presented (1200 homes on 3,000 to 11,000 sf lots proposed for the plateau area up behind the Farm), Ben recused himself because he may be taking money from the developer for his election.  You know he understands, for appearance sake, conflict of interest.  He wants everyone to think he’s noble – but the right thing to do would have been to tell the developer “NO”.

 If we are willing to dance to the developers beat and not seek the kind of industry that doesn’t depend on rooftops, then what a waste of many past volunteers’ hours, the time put in on the original Southwest Area Plan map, the 2010 General Plan Amendment to the Riverside Integrated Plan (over three years’ worth of monthly meetings with the County), our two year old Visioning Plan (created by committed Wildomar citizens) – all intended to let our new city have a guide to what the community itself wants for Wildomar. 

Are we going to blow the opportunity and give in before we have our General Plan reflect what the community has said they want?  If Ben gets on the Council (and I pray for the sake of our community that he won’t), he’ll be off to bigger and better things in two years and has used this community as his political stepping-stone and cut his political teeth as a board member, at our expense. 

Clearly, a lot is at stake in this election. 

I want to encourage the reelection of Sheryl Ade and the election of Kristan Lloyd for Wildomar City Council.  I want to see George Cambero elected as our EVMWD Division 5 Director.

Make sure you vote November 2, 2010.

Gerry Stevenson, a Wildomar Resident since l974 and dedicated volunteer

comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.