Following a heated nearly 4 hour board meeting on October 7th where the public who attended were outraged of the final vote on water rates, the Board passed the 5 year proposal 3 YES (Verbeke, Muse, Linden) to 2 NO (Hedberg, Scalzitti). Director Muse started the October 21st meeting with the invocation - reading a story of "You Can't Please Everyone".
Aesop's Fable: “the Man, The Boy, And The Donkey”I’ve always liked this story as it perfectly conveys how it's just not possible to please all the people. Some people keep trying and trying but you inevitably wind up miserable yourself.
A Man and his son went to market with their Donkey. As they were walking a countryman passed and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey good for but riding?”
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey. Soon they passed a group of men and one said: “See that lazy Boy, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. Then they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son march along.”
The Man didn’t know what to do, so he placed his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and passers-by jeered and pointed at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey with you and your large son?”
The Man and Boy got down and didn’t know what to do. They thought and thought, until they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole with the donkey to their shoulders. They went on in the middle of the laughter of everyone who met them until they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, wiggling and moving around, caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge into the water and drowned.
“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none!”
Here is the agenda and board package link for our Regular Helix Water District Board Meeting:
REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 2 p.m.
7811 University Avenue, La Mesa, CA 91942-0427
Agenda Item 5 – c)ii Minutes from Public Hearing on Water Rate Structure (pdf Page 53)
The vote was 3 (to 2 to adopt the 5 year plan as presented by Helix Staff and Consultant . Director Joel Scalzitti and I had proposed a two year plan adoption, due to the uncertaintiy of the water conditions/drought and unknowns, however, we lost the vote 2 (Hedberg, Scalzitti) to 3 (Muse, Verbeke, Linden).
Here are some links to some news media that attended.
Union Tribune October 7
Union Tribune October 15
Quote from our Board President DeAna Verbeke:
"I don't know what we can do to settle them down," Verbeke said. "It's the same thing over and over. They don't want to listen; they want to be mad. People in general are mad at the government. Everything costs more. Water is still inexpensive. My cellphone bill and cable bill are higher than my water bill, and I'm a Tier 3 user."
Quote from Susan Nichols, president of the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association
Her group, which represents homeowners in one of the water district's areas, has lost confidence in the majority of the board.
"They have demonstrated a complete lack of regard for the public hearing process as evidenced by their dismissive treatment of the 500-plus opposition letters and standing-room only ratepayers in attendance," Nichols said. "As for the future, our organization treats issues with the Helix Water District as a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue to encourage our members - and the community at large - to speak out at board meetings, participate vigorously during elections for board seats, and to monitor the process of setting rates in the upcoming years."
Small businesses worried about rising water prices – Channel 10 News
Helix water board approves 5-year rate hike – Union Tribune
Helix water rate hike approved despite backlash – Channel 8 News
Helix Water District approves big rate hike – Fox 5 News
HELIX WATER CUSTOMERS CRY FOUL OVER FIVE YEAR RATE-HIKE PLAN – East County Magazine
Hearing on proposed Helix water rate hikes – KUSI News
Information Item A (Pdf Page 130) 2014/2015 Audit
Information Item C (Pdf Page 220) Drought Action Plan Update for September 2015
I got to the Board Room at 4:30pm and the parking lot was filling up and I parked on the street. When the meeting started at 5pm it was a full house, every seat was filled and the people were lined outside the door and people were standing in rows near on the sides. At least 150 members of the public were in attendance, several tv crews (KFMB, KUSI & FOX that I saw) and we all echoed the pledge of the allegiance to the flag together. I was hopeful and optimistic that the meeting was going to go well...oh how wrong I was.
The Helix Staff gave a presentation on the water rate process and it went on for about 50 minutes, and the crowd was getting restless, they wanted their opportunity to speak. Helix had another presentation by the company who did the cost of service study, which took another 20 or so minutes. Helix was going to have another presentation by the District BBK legal counsel but that was postponed due to the anxious crowd (thank goodness)! So, finally sometime after 6:15pm the "Public Hearing" began and it was not pretty. Many, many issues and concerns of the 5-Year water rate plan were brought up by the public. Over 45 speakers turned in a slip to speak and they all opposed the plan - not one person stood up and applauded the District/Board for the proposal or supported the plan.
Probably sometime after 8pm after all the speakers we (the Board) started discussion. It started with Joel opening comments and making a motion to move that we go to a two year rate plan. I seconded the motion. Too much uncertainty to secure a 5 year plan, that the public wants a voice in the process and know about the rates before adopted - not after the fact. The voted died 3 NO (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 YES (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg).
Then the vote came up to adopt the 5 year plan. But before the vote, Chuck Muse decided to read an excerpt from the book a Perfect Board, by Calvin Clemmons, www.ThePerfectBoard.com, on Unity. He first had referenced the Helix Board Meeting on August 5th, where as that was the decision to put the proposed rate plan forward for the public hearing, which at that time the vote was split, 3 YES (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 NO (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg). His excerpt was on the chapter regarding Unity such that "...when a decision is made or action taken, all of the Directors are obligated to support the decision." I stated at the meeting that he was out of order and get to Helix Water District business! Mind you this book is most relevant to private businesses, shareholders and not government agencies. President DeAna Verbeke allowed him to continue and then Chuck Muse then proceeded to refer to the binder of VALID Protest letters (see binder in picture above) saying that most of them are only signed protests and gathered by one individual. The public was furious. I stated that what he stated was a blatantly disregard to the public process - the PROP 218 process!
There were 551 VALID PROTESTS and they all have original signatures and addresses, some are typed, some are handwritten, some are from businesses, residents and home owner associations and government agencies! All delivered by hand or by mail. They are all VALID and should be respected as such.
The vote on the 5 year plan was then taken, 3 YES (DeAna Verbeke, John Linden, Chuck Muse) to 2 NO (Joel Scalzitti, Kathleen Hedberg). The public was outraged. Meeting ended around 9pm.
Here are some news clips of the meeting.
Small businesses worried about rising water prices
Helix water board approves 5-year rate hike
Helix water rate hike approved despite backlash
Helix Water District approves big rate hike
HELIX WATER CUSTOMERS CRY FOUL OVER FIVE YEAR RATE-HIKE PLAN
Hearing on proposed Helix water rate hikes
Author: Kathleen Hedberg
Civil Engineer in 4th Term as a Helix Water District Board Director and Past President of the Board!