Cambrian: Opinion

Cambrian Letters to the Editor, Oct. 16, 2014

Paying the PIO

Earlier this year, many Cambrians balked at the decision of CCSD to hire a public information officer (PIO) to the tune of $10,000 to communicate with Cambrians about the wells and the “Emergency Portable Brackish Water Reverse Osmosis Treatment Facility.” With a general manager at the helm and dozens of existing employees, it seemed hard to justify the expense. 

It turns out that by the first of September, PIO Tom Gray had exceeded $10,000 and invoiced a total of $12,350, although the contract with CCSD specified that any increase must be approved by the district in writing. In response to the excessive invoice, CCSD decided to increase the PIO budget retroactively, and it appears charges continue to mount. Even more troubling is that in a recent memo, CCSD management told Gray it had decided to “allocate any addition (sic) amount above the original $10,000.00 to be budgeted as part of the Emergency Water Supply Project since the work you are doing is directly related to the project.” 

Where is this money coming from? As Gray acknowledged in a news release this summer, under Proposition 218, rate surcharges for the Emergency Water Supply (EWS) can only be used for their stated purpose — construction, financing and operation of the EWS. Are monies Cambrians are being charged to pay for EWS now to be used to pay the PIO to talk about it?

Jean Matulis,  Cambria

Twain’s wisdom

As local farmers, we don’t use the services and can’t vote for the CCSD. But we have a vested interest in our community; Carol and I are sellers at Cambria’s farmers market, which we also manage.  As growers, we share the local watershed — Santa Rosa Creek — with Cambria residents. We also will not claim to speak for all local farmers, but know many agree.

Because water is an increasingly scarce resource, we encourage our many friends in Cambria to vote for Mike Thompson and Jim Bahringer, who have shown the determination and backbone to bring desalination close to reality. 

Many of you will remember the failed lawsuit by an earlier CCSD to adjudicate local watersheds; local farmers certainly do. Only through a sufficient supply of water for Cambria will all local interest groups be able to live in harmony. 

Remember Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” Local farmers and ranchers have and will continue to do our part to ensure healthy watersheds.

Carol and Mike Broadhurst,  Cambria

Blame the CCSD

Mark Kramer’s recent letter to the editor (“Don’t repeat past,” Oct. 8) lamenting 30 years of the CCSD Board’s spending millions of ratepayers’ dollars on failed water projects is spot-on. However, he places the blame for these failed water projects on Cambrians and not the CCSD. He ignores the fact that the water projects put forth by the CCSD failed because they could not stand on their design, safety, legal and environmental merits. Nevertheless, he is correct when he acknowledges that I am a champion of water reuse. 

It is well documented that Greenspace is also squarely in the camp of water recycling for domestic and landscape use. Water reuse and water storage are part of our water future when done thoughtfully, transparently and with oversight by agencies whose mission is to protect resources from public hysterics and poor decision making.

Richard Hawley,  Cambria

An issue of fairness

My thanks to the League of Women Voters for running an orderly CCSD candidates forum recently. For me, there was not much new in the candidates’ responses to the questions presented except for the response to slow growth by one of the candidates, a strong community environmentalist, who stated that he did not care about the people on the water wait list; only those people currently being served.

I think this is a short-sighted view. I’m not in favor of rampant growth — nobody I know is — but I think a little growth is good for the vitality of a community. It also gives some hope to the people on the water wait list, most of whom have dreams of one day building a home in Cambria. An issue of fairness is in play here.

So, if you don’t want even a little growth, you should vote for the no-growth candidates, but if you want a long-term solution to our water shortage problem that does not depend entirely on rain, you should vote for Mike Thompson and Jim Bahringer.

Jess Bathke,  Cambria

Bikes needed

Hopefully most you have heard of my charity, “Bikes for Tikes.” We refurbish unwanted bikes and distribute them to needy children and adults throughout the county. It is that time of year again when I particularly need bikes for the December holidays.  

 Last year, I distributed 69 bikes.  Some of the recipients included the San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter Program, Prado Day Shelter, Grass Roots II, Toys for Tots, Family Care Network and several churches. Many bikes went to needy families here in Cambria.

Most of us have the fond memory of ourselves, our children or our grandchildren getting the first taste of independence by riding a small bike alone. I would like to make the opportunity available to as many children as possible.  As for adults, especially in this economy, there are many in our county who are without transportation and a bicycle is sorely needed. This year I received a communication from a homeless woman that the bike that we donated to her daughter last Christmas helped her lose weight. She stated that her daughter is now considering playing high school volleyball since her weight is in better control. 

Please note I do not accept cash donations but can always use bikes new or used of all sizes, and helmets. I am hopeful that some of you who are reading this will donate your used bike or perhaps a new bike to Bikes for Tikes. Thank you again. 

James Ellman,  Cambria

All of the above

In the 30 years I have watched and been involved in Cambria’s water politics, I have seen the issues and battle lines being drawn in divisive either/or terms. Either water tanks or trees. Either desal or reservoirs. 

It is time to support an all-of-the-above strategy if we have any hope for water security. That is why I am voting for Michael Thompson and Jim Bahringer for CCSD director. I’m not sure why anyone in their right minds would want this job, but I am convinced they both have our best interests at heart. They are volunteering their time and talents for Cambria’s present and future. 

I urge my fellow Cambrians to vote for Bahringer and Thompson for CCSD director on Nov. 4.

Art Chapman,  Cambria

Support CCSD effort

We bought our home in Cambria in 1988. When we moved here full time in 2000, we installed low-flow toilets, water restrictors and a recirculation pump for our kitchen. Our water use stayed pretty constant (4 to 7 units bimonthly).

We don’t take one-minute showers, we don’t flush our toilets unnecessarily, and we purchased clothes and dishwashers with water-conservation features. Our landscape is predominantly natural, and we don’t water it. We came to Cambria to enjoy its natural beauty, and accept we must live as responsible citizens in order to live in this natural paradise.

We were overjoyed when the CCSD moved forward with a desalination/water purification system installation with an emergency permit. Finally, our board did something positive to ensure a backup water source to supplement groundwater supplies that might not always fulfill the community’s needs for potable water and fire protection. For opponents of this project to resist these improvements to our community infrastructure is beyond our comprehension.

Let’s now support the CCSD’s efforts to get a permanent permit so the plant is available to us on an unrestricted-use basis. Let’s not put forth specious arguments, albeit we’re sure by well-meaning citizens, nor rumors cloaked as facts to scare fellow Cambrians without cause. Let’s unite and support lasting water infrastructure improvements so long overdue. Vote to re-elect Mike Thompson and Jim Bahringer to the CCSD board. 

Iggy and Suzanne Fedoroff,  Cambria

Where did money go?

How do CCSD directors keep track of the money we pay for water and sewer service? Every month they approve expenditure reports.

The interim finance officer announced at the Aug. 21 meeting of the CCSD Directors that $420,000 has been spent to refurbish Santa Rosa Creek wells 1 and 3 and the Filtronics system. But looking line by line at all the monthly expenditure reports to the board, I can find expenditures of only $181,823. We paid the additional $238,177 for what? 

The CCSD spent $300,000 for legal services from July 1, 2013 to Aug. 31, 2014. We paid them nearly a third of a million dollars for what? A total of $30,140 went to Ferguson Group, LLC, a lobbying group. For eight months after Oct. 2013, they reported nothing about their work. We paid them for what?

I could give more examples. 

Please elect CCSD directors who read expenditures reports before approving them and who require a budget at the beginning of a project. The CCSD Board of Directors approved spending $9 million plus 

$4 million in interest for the emergency water supply project, but no budget has been created. We pay for what?

Vote for Rick Hawley and Jeff Hellman!

Elizabeth Bettenhausen,  Cambria