OP-ED: Fultz Henry Swan Respond to SLVWD Incumbent Candidates Op Ed “Article” in the SCM Bulletin

 

Editors Note: Below is an Op-Ed from Bob Fultz, a candidate for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, in response to a recent article published in the SCM Bulletin.

 

A recent “article” by Chris Finnie in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin demonstrates what happens when reporters don’t follow important journalistic professional standards and ethics, and the effect that has on our community.

To begin, this article isn’t clearly labeled as an opinion piece or news reporting, so it has caused a lot of confusion among readers, with people posting on various social media sites citing it as “reporting”.  Glaringly missing is Ms. Finnie’s disclosure up front that she was the Campaign Manager for the incumbents.  The first rule of journalism, one important for the editor to enforce to maintain journalistic credibility, is that a reporter must disclose all conflicts of interest.  This omission clearly calls into question Ms. Finnie’s credibility as a reporter; we’ll assume the Editor wasn’t aware of this breach, where another news writer could have been assigned to cover the election. But even if this was intended as an opinion piece, Ms. Finnie is still professionally and ethically obligated to disclose to readers and the community her position or inside relationship with the campaign, critical information that would allow them to make a judgment on whether this is serious news reporting, or more correctly, a heavily slanted campaign ad.

Even more harmful is the disturbing ripple effect this breach of ethics has, as the “article” is artfully passed around various social media outlets as “reporting” by prominent members of the community—people who like to think of themselves as our leaders.  As a community, we should be horrified that anyone, let alone those we tend to trust, would be comfortable weaving this unethical behavior into the fabric of our shared community values.  It is also sad that rather than engage in meaningful political dialogue on issues, of which many are unfamiliar concerning the water district, our community leaders instead feel compelled to stoop to fear-mongering and mud-slinging.

To the voters of the SLVWD, this clearly shows the political culture embraced by incumbents, who by their silence consent to this breach of ethics and deliberate misleading of the community.  This lack of transparency and disrespect for the public is exactly what the Grand Jury was saying when it issued a recent report criticizing the incumbents for their lack of it.  As a community, the team of Fultz Henry Swan believes that it is time for us to say loudly and clearly that the era of this kind of ugly politics is over –by electing a new board who will truly get back to the mission of the water district, representing everyone in our community.

An old saying is that when incumbents don’t have a positive record to run on, they resort to running a negative campaign.  Given Ms. Finnie’s relationship with the campaign, this intent is abundantly clear.  The incumbents don’t say anything in their ads or flyers or in the debates about what they are going to do for the community for the next 4 years.  Their entire message is an appeal to their authority and a promise to “do more of the same”.  Please contrast that with the positive platform put forth by Fultz Henry Swan for Board Director 2018 (www.Vote3IfYouAgree.com).  It is specific about all of the critical issues facing our community.  It talks about our vision for the future.  It focuses on you and not us.  And it is very detailed about what we will do over the next 4 years that will move the district forward being stronger and better.

Friends, our community is better than this, and we need the leadership to show it.  Our team wants to build a new board culture—a culture where everyone is heard, everyone listened to and everyone has their questions answered and thoughts addressed in a positive way.  The culture we have now really starts at the top—the incumbents. If this negativity is what they stand on during the campaign, imagine what the next four years will be like.  Our vision for the future firmly leaves all that behind.

We’ll return to fill in the missing pieces of Ms. Finnie’s “article”, but more importantly, first move on to good news and the positive message SLV and Scotts Valley voters in the district deserve, let’s review what Fultz Henry Swan will do for our community:

  1. Stop the use of Glyphosate in our watersheds and by the District generally.  The incumbents will not.  In fact, they have attempted to recruit Mr.  Stone warily into the discussion, but how members of the valley’s leading environmental organization can support the use of glyphosate is beyond us.  Really, would they put power ahead of what is good for our community’s health?

  2. Fultz Henry Swan have never said that rates can’t go up.  But what we have said is that before rates go up there needs to be a strong review of the numbers, a positive action fulfilling the primary duty of the board.  Incumbents are hooked on hiring consultants to give them an “independent analysis”; those hired opinions are often drive-by window dressing designed to provide political cover.  The inattentiveness or irresponsibility of the incumbents around financial matters has caused the SLVWD’s costs to provide service to essentially the same number of customers to balloon over 30% in two years, to drive our reserves down to dangerous levels, meaning we are one disaster away from a financial crisis. The board has raised rates to the point where the 30% of our community living on less than $40,000 a year are facing a huge percentage of their income going to pay for water.  We are listening to you, and believe that we can find cost savings of $400,000 a year and are committed to finding that through a mid-year budget review as soon as we are seated.  If we can, we’ll stop the rate increase already set for October 2019 AND we will still be able to do the needed infrastructure, a win-win.

  3. We are going to dispose of the lawsuits—lawsuits that the incumbents freely but willfully decided to undertake to protect a former board member who from his illegal act—which has now been affirmed by judges 3 times.  This has cost us, the ratepayers, hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The incumbents are now emotionally invested in this fight and so they are doubling down on this as well—meaning the ratepayers continue to be on the hook for their lack of experience with lawyers and conflicts of interest situations.

  4. We will establish a new board culture to ensure that the trust and transparency that the Grand Jury reports of 2014 and 2018 say is lacking will no longer be the case.  We have a multi-point plan for doing that which you can find at our website:  www.Vote3IfYouAgree.com.

We believe the choice for the water board is very clear.  The incumbents say they will give you more of the same.  Fultz Henry Swan say there is a much better district ahead.  We have the vision and skills to move in that positive direction, and just need your vote to get started. We very much appreciate your support.

Now, to address the specifics under question, let’s turn to the article itself.  First, it must be clearly stated that heavily quoted Assemblyman Mark Stone is NOT endorsing the incumbents, and that readers are encouraged to call his office if any further clarification is desired.

Quite a bit of time and detail is focused on one of our team, Lois Henry, criticizing her work on the Lompico board, and deserves a response.  Let’s be brutally honest –by the time Lois Henry joined that board the Lompico District was not healthy.  In fact, Lois and the rest of the Board—in an act of public service that we should hope that all public servants perform—were left with the unenviable task of fixing it.

Here are facts that Ms. Finnie excluded from her “reporting”.

  • December 2008:  Lois Henry was seated on the Board.

  • July 2009:  Grand Jury started its investigation, meaning it was mostly investigating what had happened BEFORE Lois joined the Board.

  • July 1, 2009:  Lompico appointed Santa Cruz County to handle its financial accounting, which enabled Lois and the Lompico Board to finally have financial oversight.

  • February 2010:  Lois uncovered the embezzlement by the secretary resulting in her firing.

  • March 2010:  Lois uncovered the general manager falsification of water reports, as supported by a Grand Jury indictment and the State, resulting in his firing.

  • May 2010:  Grand Jury report issued which included the following commendation by the Grand Jury:  “Commendation:  The Grand Jury commends the actions taken in 2010 by the Lompico Water Board. This board has begun to recognize and understand the challenging issues facing the District and has taken difficult but necessary first steps to address them.” as well as a recommendation that Lompico merge with SLVWD.  Lois was already advocating for that position.

  • 2011:  Lompico caught up on all of its bills that had been outstanding as of December 2008.

  • 2013:  Lois receives “President of the Year” award from California Special Districts Association (composed of over 3000 special districts in the state of California).

  • June 2016:  Lompico and SLVWD merger, as recommended by the Grand Jury, concludes, with Lompico coming in with cash, assets, an increased annual property tax share for SLVWD, and a self-taxed Assessment for planned infrastructure upgrades.  Once those projects are completed, the Lompico infrastructure in most areas will be as good as or better than the other areas in the SLVWD.​

Shouldn’t we, as a community, agree that this is a pretty fast cleanup and healthy outcome, of what was obviously a Board dedicated to serving its community?

This is where the incumbent message and Ms. Finnie’s “reporting” really fails.  It’s easy to criticize, but if using any standard model, like Compare and Contrast, for evaluating a preferred outcome, NOT ONCE have the incumbents or their supporters suggested what Lois and the Lompico Board should have done differently.  This is an important point, because the actual outcome was Lois and the board engineered a successful merger with SLVWD, which went “seamlessly” according to SLVWD staff, and did so while ensuring that the Lompico residents never ran out of water.  That action included strong leadership of recognizing when to ask for help and convincing others to provide it.  Lois’s leadership did that in spades and that’s why she was named “2013 President of the Year” by the California Special Districts Association.   This honor was richly deserved, a key fact an ethical reporter would have included in a real news article—but Ms. Finnie saw fit to withhold.  Not many among us would agree this is valid “reporting”, as do incumbents and their supporters, bent on promoting only a negative message.

Turning to Ms. Finnie’s next unsupported assertion, apparently based on the type of unsubstantiated “gossip” most serious reporters disregard, that Mr. Fultz was somehow “uncooperative” during his service as a Trustee for the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District.  Again, had Ms. Finnie exercised even the most basic fact checking she would have uncovered the fact that documentary evidence shows the SLVUSD voted unanimously 91.5% of the time and Mr. Fultz voted with the majority 94.5% of the time.  While that sinks in, consider that in the world inhabited by Ms. Finnie, the incumbents and their supporters, this is what they present as being “uncooperative”, a very weak and amusing position.   This distortion of the truth is in line with the rest of Ms. Finnie’s “reporting” which is heavy on sensational language but light on facts, documentary evidence and reality.  In other words, very little of what she wrote should be taken seriously as professional reporting, and should be read for what it is, a slanted negative campaign ad for the incumbents, with readers being appropriately cautioned as to its purpose and accuracy.

We encourage voters to contact us through our website www.Vote3IfYouAgree.com or Facebook page (search for Fultz Henry Swan for SLV Water District Board November 2018) , or call and talk to us, and if you read something that seems odd or disturbing, please let us know and we’ll figure out the truth together.

Our success as your board will depend upon working together, and that starts right now for us. Please vote for Bob Fultz, Lois Henry and Steve Swan, and let us start building a better future for our district.

Bob Fultz

Candidate

Fultz | Henry | Swan for Board Director 2018

Vote3IfYouAgree@gmail.com

(831) 338-4650

 

BREAKING NEWS: SLV WATER DISTRICT CONSIDERING RATE INCREASE FOR MOST CUSTOMERS

SLV Water

Miller Maxfield, the PR Agency that Boulder Creek residents ultimately pay for (through our water bill), has just issued a “strategically-timed Friday afternoon press release.” (this is what government entities do when they don’t want people to notice news.. it’s called the “Friday News Dump” )

The SLV Water District is holding a special board meeting next Thurs, 7/13 to consider a rate restructuring, which would result in increase for most customers and a decrease for some.

If the Board of Directors chooses to pursue the proposed rate restructuring, the District would follow California’s voter-mandated Proposition 218 process. The Prop 218 process requires the District to notify ratepayers of the proposed increase, provide a 45-day period during which ratepayers can submit a letter of protest and hold a public hearing at the end of the 45-day period, at which time a decision would be made by the Board regarding the proposed rate restructuring.

Full Press Release from our PR Agency hired by the SLV Water District is below….

 

SLV WATER DISTRICT TO CONSIDER RATE RESTRUCTURING TO FUND CAPITAL PROJECTS AND BUILD EMERGENCY RESERVES AT SPECIAL BOARD MEETING 7/13 @ 6PM

PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT; MEETING TO BE HELD AT HIGHLANDS PARK SENIOR CENTER IN BEN LOMOND

JULY 7, 2017 — BOULDER CREEK, CA — The San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) today announced it will hold a special board meeting to receive public input and consider whether to move forward with a proposed rate restructuring. The restructured rates would simplify existing rate tiers and produce additional revenue to be invested in ongoing capital improvement projects throughout the District service area as well bolster as the District’s emergency reserve funds.

The special board meeting will take place Thursday, July 13 at 6:00p.m. at Highlands Park Senior Center, 8500 Hwy 9 in Ben Lomond.

The District’s capital improvement projects have been prioritized through a public process. The projects focus on repairs and improvements to the District’s aging infrastructure, such as fire protection capacity, leaking tanks and pumps and water mains prone to failure. Most customers would see an increase in their rates, though some customers who use very little water would see a decrease in their rates.

“Based on current rates, we have enough yearly revenue to adequately cover operational expenses, but not enough to cover ongoing capital improvement costs or grow rainy day reserves,” said Brian Lee, SLVWD District Manager. “To help us understand where we stand, what our needs are and how we can prepare for the future, the District has engaged with the community and key experts to complete three important studies over the past year including a cost of service study, a prioritization of capital improvement projects and a comprehensive rate study. The Board now has an opportunity to discuss whether or not to ask our ratepayers to consider a rate restructuring that would produce ongoing funding for capital improvement projects.”

If the Board of Directors chooses to pursue the proposed rate restructuring, the District would follow California’s voter-mandated Proposition 218 process. The Prop 218 process requires the District to notify ratepayers of the proposed increase, provide a 45-day period during which ratepayers can submit a letter of protest and hold a public hearing at the end of the 45-day period, at which time a decision would be made by the Board regarding the proposed rate restructuring.

 

 

Throw Back Thursday – Bruce McPherson… where are you?

Below is a Q&A our current supervisor Bruce McPherson completed during his campaign. Dated October, 12, 2012.

We’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of his key statements. As crime increases in Boulder Creek making it a less hospitable town for commerce, tourists and families, we gotta wonder……  Bruce… where are you man?

 

October 12, 2012….

Why do you want to be Supervisor?
Simply put, I believe that public service is what many of us should
aspire to.  Our democracy, and our governments won’t work unless we,
as citizens get and remain involved in serving our community and
working to make our democracy more vibrant, sustaining and
representative.  My family has been here since the 1840s, and we have
both served the community, and helped build it.  I want to continue
helping my neighbors, and serving my community because I am fulfilled
by the experience, I believe I can do a good job, and I enjoy working
with people and finding new solutions and ways to make our lives and
communities better.  This will be a full-time job for me.  I’m
dedicated to the 5th District and to Santa Cruz County.

How will you help Boulder Creek?
I will continue to “deliver”, just as I had when I was elected to be
your Assemblyman and State Senator.  I know that the San Lorenzo
Valley and Boulder Creek haven’t received adequate funding and other
resources from the County for years;  We have clear needs to better
serve those who live in Boulder Creek;  better roads and road
maintenance, ensuring that our watershed and river water remain
healthy, working Valley-wide to find solutions to our air-quality
standards, and building a bigger, and better ‘eco-tourism’ local
economy based on our environment, parks and rural attractions.   I
have found ‘new’ state money to help ourl fire departments, I have
fought for bond funds to improve our local parks. I have been a leader
in class-size reductions and changing local bond elections that
allowed passage of the SLV school bond that funded the new library and
performing arts building.

What are the obstacles facing Boulder Creek and how will you address them?
There are a series of obstacles, some of which are physical and
geological.  In an interesting turn, those obstacles are also some of
our most significant strengths, so we need to continue to enhance our
image, enhance our natural resources and carefully adhere to our
slow-growth and stringent environmental regulations so we preserve our
strengths.  Resources, as in “money” is the other obsticale, and that
challenge is getting worse, not better during this economic downtourn.
Community participation, volunteerism and synergy and cooperation can
help, but – “we” need the money that previously flowed into other
parts of Santa Cruz County to improve our downtown, increase sheriff
and public safety programs, improve our local parks, schools and begin
planning to implement those elements of the Boulder Creek Town Plan
that are achievable in the short run.

Why do you think you are the best person for this appointment?
The “County” as a government entity is both an official extension of
the State, and it is our “local government” for unincorporated areas.
I have been elected to represent the SLV and Boulder Creek four times,
and I believe I know Boulder Creek and the issues that we need to work
together on, and I believe I have served the area well.  However, we
face a series of new challenges, as the state continues to reduce
spending on local issues while at the same time, it is shifting more
and more ‘state’ responsibilities to the local communities (Counties).
So, I believe the fair question is;  Who would you want to represent
you now?  An individual who has had decades of experience representing
this local community, and working at the State level – with that
knowledge and experience, or someone who is less qualified?  Our
county resources can easily be re-directed to doing the business of
the State, and that shift will make it even more difficult to do the
good things we need to do locally.  Or, our Supervisor can fight for
our “fair share”, and can fight to keep the State from shifting more
and more resources away from our local needs and local agenda.  I am
that person – the one with the experience and knowledge and clear
vision to “fight” for our fair share.

I have delivered for the 5th District throughout my career, and I want
to work for you again.

Bruce McPherson

 

Election TODAY

VoteToday is election day, the polls are open from 7:00am and close at 8:00pm. Please vote and make your voice heard. All ballots must be received by 8:00pm, that includes mail in ballots.

You can lookup your polling place here:

http://www.votescount.com/nov14/root1104/

If you have a mail-in ballot you can drop it off at any polling place in the county. Boulder Creeks polling places are:

Boulder Creek Fire Station
13230 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Boulder Creek Library
13390 W. Park Avenue
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Redwood Elementary School
16900 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Other information about what is on the ballot or other voting related issues can be found here. http://www.votescount.com You can also call (831) 454-2060 Monday – Friday from 8:00am till 5:00pm with any election related questions.

FULL Voter’s Guide

Links to voter’s pamphlet info, for, against, funding, campaign, background, and so on regarding all items on the ballet. This voter’s guide is meant to be non partisan and is in same order as the official ballot.

https://bouldercreekinsider.com/2014/10/22/voters-guide-2014/

Local Issues

(included in the full Voter’s Guide as well)

San Lorenzo Valley Water District (vote for no more then 3)

Eric Hammer

www.hammerpratherratcliffe4water.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


Gene Elizabeth Ratcliffe

www.hammerpratherratcliffe4water.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


Larry Prather
– currently in office

www.hammerpratherratcliffe4water.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


Karen Brown

http://www.votekarenbrownslvwater.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


Chuck Baughman

http://www.chuck4slvwd.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


Bob Fultz

http://www.bobfultz.com

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/slvwater.pdf


SLV Water District information sites

http://www.slvwd.com/BoardInfo.htm about the district and board

http://www.slvwd.co SLVWD watchdogs

http://www.slvwd.co/dp/sites/default/files/docs/grandjury_slvwd.pdf
Grand Jury Report 6/2014

County Measures

K – Cannabis Business Tax

http://votersedge.org/unincorporated-area/ballot-measures/2014/november/measure-k

Voter’s Pamphlet http://www.votescount.com/nov14/meak.pdf

Yes – no site found

No – no site found

Comment Period ending for Economic Vitality Strategy

2014-08 Economic Vitality Strategy

The comment period for the Santa Cruz County Economic Vitality Strategy was lengthened thanks to our own Business Association, but it is ending on August 15. So if you want to comment you need to do so now.

This strategy is currently in draft form and will be revised and then finalized by our board of supervisors. The current draft over looks many issues in the San Lorenzo Valley, and on the whole doesn’t seem to have many plans at all for the economic needs of our valley.

Current Draft – Santa Cruz County Economic Vitality Strategy (110 pages)
http://www.sccoplanning.com/Portals/2/County/Planning/economicdev/Draft%20Economic%20Vitality%20Strategy.pdf
The text of this document is not searchable, making it difficult to find information with out reading the entire document. Page 3 of the document does mention San Lorenzo Valley and the valley is mentioned throughout the report but in very general terms. Also individual towns in our valley are not really mentioned.

Background Report – Santa Cruz County Economic Vitality Strategy (86 pages)
http://www.sccoplanning.com/Portals/2/County/Planning/economicdev/Ec%20Vitality%20Trends%20Report%209-30-13.pdf
If you notice on page 3 under “Local Economic Development Initiatives” San Lorenzo Valley is not even mentioned. Our valley is mentioned on pages 13, 63, 65, and 74.
Ben Lomond is mentioned on pages 14 and 52.
Boulder Creek is mentioned on pages 14, 52, 53, 65, and 66.
Brookdale is mentioned on pages 52 and 53.
Felton is mentioned on pages 14, 52, and 53.

Public Comment – You can leave public comment at the link below or email your comments direct to Kathy.previsich@santacruzcounty.us
http://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/EconomicDevelopment/EconomicVitalityStrategy/OpenTownHall.aspx#peak_democracy

Petition done by our Business Association gathered 146 signatures and brings up many issues with this report. They include sewer systems needed for downtown areas, high-speed internet, road maintenance, parking, tourism / hospitality, public safety, and branding issues. See link to their petition for details about their concerns.
http://www.change.org/petitions/supervisor-bruce-mcpherson-our-response-to-the-santa-cruz-county-evs-report?share_id=fAbXvliTeV&utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false

Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin wrote an article in last months paper about this petition along with Bruce McPherson’s responses to it. There might still be some copies of the paper in town.

So if you have an opinion about this email it to Kathy.previsich@santacruzcounty.us by August 15 and make your voice heard.

Election TODAY

Go Vote

Today is election day, the polls are open from 7am and close at 8pm. Please vote and make your voice heard. All ballots must be received by 8pm, that includes mail-in ballots.

You can lookup your polling place here:
http://www.votescount.com/jun14/root0603/

If you have a mail-in ballot you can drop it off at any polling place in the county. Boulder Creeks polling places are:

Boulder Creek Fire Station
13230 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Redwood Elementary School
16900 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Other information about what is on the ballot or other voting related issues can be found here.
http://www.votescount.com

So get out there and rock the vote.

Town Meeting Tonight: Meet Bruce McPherson

Town meeting tonight, 7pm in Boulder Creek Elementary’s Multipurpose room.

Come out and meet up with other community members and Bruce McPherson concerning the Boulder Creek Town Plan.

To view and download the Boulder Creek town plan click HERE – it should be noted this was drafted in 1992… over 20 years ago.

Boulder Creek Town Plan

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