My turn: Kill the messenger at EID

By From page A4 | August 13, 2014

We appreciate Director Alan Days’ confirmation of his meeting with the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and their director of legal affairs. This is not a free speech issue. The real point that the community would like him to respond to centers around this question: Why is a newly elected EID director seeking the HJTA to litigate against the very district he represents, litigation that could seriously impact EID’s finances and increase costs for all ratepayers? Yes, this was a couple of years ago, but it is the implications of such actions by a public official that matter. What else has happened or is going on that the public needs to know about?

For several years Greg Prada repeatedly stated that sewer and water decisions were violations of state Proposition 218, indicating he had HJTA support, perhaps advice, that certain EID actions were illegal. We wrote HJTA asking if they were active in providing legal counsel with Greg Prada and Alan Day. HJTA responded with details of their interactions and ended by stating, “We declined to represent Mr. Prada.” We made the HJTA response public because of the potential for damage to EID customers.

This e-mail details the history of Greg Prada’s early efforts to discredit EID’s Cost of Service Study and Alan Day’s subsequent involvement. The HJTA agreed to look into their concerns regarding rate disparity between residential and agricultural rates. The director of legal affairs writes, “I did look into the matter, and in February 2012 I sent the e-mail below to Mr. Prada. In it, I cite four justifications for the disparity and conclude by stating, It is my plan to stay out of the EID rate fight.” Why not release this e-mail sent to Greg Prada, Alan Day and Jon Jakowatz and clear the air once and for all regarding this issue?

Let’s stop this nonsense of a “rate war,” claiming that residential users are subsidizing agriculture rates. The documentation of rate determinations for agriculture and residential users is clearly shown in the Cost of Service Study.

Some confusion exists regarding water supply. Sly Park reservoir was built by the Bureau of Reclamation as the Sly Park Unit of the Central Valley Project (CVP) for the primary purpose of irrigation. Agricultural users were the primary user class, allocated 87.5 percent of the project water. Only 12.5 percent was allocated to incidental domestic use. Today many users of Sly Park storage are residential customers, including Cameron Park, benefiting from a facility built for agricultural irrigation.

Integration of Sly Park with the CVP allowed the Bureau of Reclamation to finance substantial construction costs so that water costs would be within the “ability to pay” of the agricultural users. The net result is that debt and infrastructure were handled as part of the CVP, treating all reimbursable irrigation costs as interest free. The interest free provision also applied to the construction loans for the distribution system.

We have met with Alan Day several times. We find him quite personable, likeable and appearing to listen to our issues. This has to do with a much larger issue of credibility.

Let’s all join to get on with the real needs of the district — develop sufficient water rights to avoid future drought conditions. It is possible and work has begun toward that end.

Doug Leisz is a wine grape grower and a retired chief associate of the U.S. Forest Service. Tom Heflin is an economics professor and co-owner of Rainbow Orchards.

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