By Nolan P. Smith
(Apple Valley)– On February 16th, the Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability group held a meeting, Avoiding the Claremont Disaster, in hopes of helping the citizens of the Town of Apple Valley from going down the same road the city of Claremont did during its takeover attempts of its respective water company. The event hosted speaker James Belna, who witnessed firsthand what the effects of a proposed takeover can do to a community.
“The only thing worse than losing 10 million dollars is admitting you made a mistake, and that’s what it is in my town,” said Belna during his presentation to a full room of concerned Apple Valley citizens. “I love Claremont, it’s a wonderful city. We did a very stupid thing. Anyone who thinks they are going to have an easy road based off of what we did is full of themselves.”
The city of Claremont has had a costly battle for their attempt at taking over the local water system, which is currently operated by Golden State Water. The cost so far for the takeover has reached over an estimated $13 million. The Town of Apple Valley has been engaged in a battle to attempt to take over Liberty Utilities- Apple Valley, the main water provider for the town.
Belna, who has been a very vocal in regards to the eminent domain battle for Claremont’s water system, informed the residents of the pitfalls he has seen in regards to water, and how the Apple Valley/ Liberty Utilities eminent domain struggle is following in their costly footsteps.
“Today is very important, to keep people informed,” said Diana J. Carloni of Victorville. “As I said at the beginning of the evening, when you have an educated citizenry, they can advocate good choices, common sense choices, and a lot of what was presented today shows how we have to balance our emotions and our irrational way of decision making, versus factually based, evidence based common sense actually. We need to challenge, we need to ask questions. However it goes out, we need to be involved.”
Breaking down the process, from the idea sparked by wanting lower water rates to the psychological steps and actions to came after, Belna painted an eerie picture that is mirroring what Apple Valley residents have been seeing.
“I have been criticizing the judgment of people in my town for four years now,” said Belna is his closing statement of the presentation. “I have never criticized their motives, I have never criticized their intentions. I’m convinced that they believe this was the right thing to do and they were doing it for all the right reasons. I think they are wrong, but sincere.”