I live in the “quasi-boonies” (in some respects) but appreciate and enjoy the Lake Don Pedro foothill environment – but not the decades of arrogant local governance in the form of “we can do anything we want without accountability”.
So, what’s going on in the town of Mariposa? Heck, I don’t know other than what I read or occasionally hear from those with more routine contact. Most of the “common knowledge” possessed by area residents closer to that beautiful town would likely answer a number of questions I have contemplated from time to time. You know, why some things developed, and/or, are continuing to develop in a particular way – or not. Essentially the “background story” on wide range of local issues from the fairly insignificant such as why a particular road does not go all the way through to the next logical intersection, to more serious things like why an individual was apparently deprived of their Constitutional Rights?
People can say anything and they do, but how can extremely suspicious activities by a local government, continuing for many, many years and involving substantial public funds diverted and “gifted” to third party private interests, not be investigated by the local authorities delegated with that responsibility? Perhaps a stupid question?
You’ve probably heard variations of the following examples before when confronted with something you yourself recognized as wrong and refused to remain silent – but as soon as you spoke up you were surprised to hear people you thought you knew say things like: Hey come-on – we are neighbors, why cause a problem? Wasn’t really hurting anyone much. We are all trying to do the best we can. Who would want to harm or hurt a fellow neighbor? Who wants to ruin a lifelong dream for a profitable development to dramatically improve their family circumstances? Those projects, even if technically in violation, will probably help the entire community. You don’t want to harm your community do you? We are all human. Everybody makes mistakes. Be more understanding – you aren’t perfect, are you? Accidents happen all the time too you know? It’s just a part of life. Good and bad, it all balances out in the long run. Who are you to judge someone else anyway? No one is perfect. What’s done is done, can’t go back and make it right. Live and let live. Everyone knows you can’t fight city hall. It will cost a small fortune to play their legal games even if you could find a lawyer to take this on – chances of winning are exponentially small. Why ruin what life you have left with this sort of crap? Hey, you’re smarter than that, just let it go. Go with the flow. You’re not that stupid are you?
But if those who oppose what they see as corruption refuse to acquiesce to such support of “whatever” the above arguments often regress to physical violence, threats of such, or angry, hateful proposals along the lines of “go f*ck yourself somewhere else – we were here long before assholes like you arrived”.
Such things probably happen in every community to one degree or another and we are generally oblivious to the hardships of others due to a lack, or inadequacy, of contact or communication. Besides, we all have our own community problems to deal with anyway yeah?
When citizens are effectively “shut out” by local officials set on maintaining an inequitable “status quo”, which also appears to be contrary to operative established law, an important question emerges with a host of negative ramifications regardless of which direction a person may decide to proceed:
Do I quit and allow what I believe in heart and mind to be wrong and allow it to continue harming others (after all, I will likely be able to afford what they are doing sp why destroy my own life when those to be affected apparently don’t care anyway?), or, do I continue resistance with any legal option available regardless of the low expectation for success? (Besides, who knows what positive things might be discovered along the way…..like the personal enjoyment obtained in creating LAME Productions about the contested subject? LOL)
Obviously I chose to resist because my research of remaining and accessible records indicate the formation and development of the LDPCSD was far more focused on expanding water service OUTSIDE THE EXISTING WATER LICENSE PERMITTED PLACE OF USE (the intended residential SUBDIVISION), in favor of numerous proposed future LAFCO ANNEXATIONS into “their LAFCO special district”. Hum, sound like a conflict of interest perhaps? Creating a special district specifically intended to be exploited to provide water service to rural foothill areas not entitled under the State water license through a scam Groundwater Substitution Program paid for (since the beginning) by the Merced River Water Entitled Customers (MR WECs) of that water license entitled subdivision?
What are the primary elements of a special district? A limited service to a geographically defined area for a particular class of customers with that service provided for only the amount necessary in furnishing that limited service (emphasis on limited service, yeah?)
Every single element favoring creation of a special district was violated by the very entities charged with creating this “public service”! LDPCSD has no defined boundaries, thus the customer base will also continually fluctuate with every new LAFCO ANNEXATION (or detachment) and since groundwater substitution is an extremely expensive endeavor in this drought prone region and primarily paid for by MR WECs, their water service has always been much more expensive than intended – that is when provided by a proper formed and functioning special district.
Even before acquisition of the Sierra Highlands facility in 1981, it appears as though Mariposa County LAFCO (and to a lesser extent Tuolumne County LAFCO, since Mariposa is the lead agency) had already secretly added substantial lands to the much smaller service area the CPUC was prepared to approve in the transfer of Sierra Highland’s facility and assets to the new special district.
The CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (CPUC) quite clearly documented the service area when it approved the transfer of the former SIERRA HIGHLANDS WATER COMPANY to the new LAFCO FORMED Lake Don Pedro CSD in January 1981, effective February 1981. This would indicate that the claimed submitted ZONE OF INFLUENCE submitted to the CPUC by the Sierra Highlands engineers (which was much larger than what the CPUC approved) was indeed rejected by the CPUC. This was also made clear with the language in that approval regarding the other proposed line extensions and services that Sierra might later provide –such future proposed services were not to become liabilities of the new LDPCSD.
Sure looks diabolical yeah?
The LAFCos created a Special District serving water to a residential subdivision that could then be quietly “reconfigured” and used as a “spring board” for a foothill water empire with service connections to thousands of acres of drought prone, rural foothill land. The counties created the perfect situation for their respective foothill development potentials without responsibility for the costs associated with supplying water because the Lake Don Pedro Common Interest Development, Property Owners Association, and CC&R governed subdivision provided the “deep pocket” perpetual financing necessary for such massive expansion because the thousands of subdivision owners were also MANDATORY CUSTOMERS OF THE LDPCSD due to subdivision property ownership. MR WECs, even if the scam became apparent, had absolutely no escape except to sell their property and start again elsewhere where laws are obeyed by local government.
Yes, sure looks like a carefully prepared gigantic financial trap for every subdivision property owner unaware they were being setup to finance a public subsidy for special benefit groundwater substitution services to later LAFCO ANNEXED properties into the LDPCSD that were outside the legal water license service area of the subdivision. Can you imagine what this has done to the value of properties in our subdivision for the last forty years – an 11,000 acre sprawling foothill subdivision in drought prone foothills with quality water flowing from Yosemite National Park guaranteed for each and every lot upon a demand for service? Our subdivision property investments were destroyed in the name of greed.
Groundwater wells in a fractured rock drought prone geologic region are not cheap or dependable – especially for sustained high demand. Who wants to take on that financial responsibility for perpetuity with much more “UNCONTROLLED DEVELOPMENT” on the horizon?
Apparently, these two LAFCOs in 1980, had already secretly included substantial lands in this new district’s service area that was approved by the CPUC in early 1981 at time of actual facility transfer.
But how could Tuolumne and Mariposa change the configuration and operation of a water company in 1980 PRIOR TO ACTUALLY TAKING POSSESSION of that facility – when the PENDING APPROVAL BY THE CPUC was not concluded until 1981 – the next year?
NOTE ALSO: The CALIFORNIA STATE WATER BOARD in July 1980 declared the Merced River fully appropriated and being put to maximum beneficial use as prescribed by the State Constitution. Yet by the next month, August 1980, two County LAFCOS had already slipped in substantial lands not accounted for by the State of California when declaring the Merced fully appropriated?
Can you hear the comments?
“Ah, come on, what’s the big difference anyway – FULLY APPROPRIATED, or, FULLY APPROPRIATED with a little extra diversion and use (of Merced River water) pretty close to the actual approved WL11395 POU residential subdivision? Besides, it was always planned that way!”
Ahhh, the land developers often repeated lie. Sure all that extra development may have been planned by land developers, real estate interests, Sierra’s management, engineers, general manager (CSD inherited both engineers and GM incidentally), and the co-operative COUNTY LAFCOs (Local Agency Formation Commission) of Tuolumne and Mariposa, but not the State Water Board. LAFCO can not simply overrule state law concerning water restrictions in a state license (although Pete Kampa in the 1990s advised LAFCO could do just that).
The LDPCSD KampaBoard that has operated since October 2014 (with a few director changes) is continuing this same arrogant disregard for service restrictions in WL11395 and clearly supports the unethical GROUNDWATER SUBSTITUTION PROGRAM for LAFCO ANNEXATIONS. (Evidenced by recently changing an annexation detachment, back to an annexation permitted groundwater substitution for newly proposed development. – (But I’m confused again, I thought only LAFCO could annex and detach properties from a special district? Humm.)
Apparently our UNITED STATES of AMERICA system of law has been confused with some other socialist-left leaning “for the people scam system” that the board believes permits:
Continued “gifting” of public funds/resources to third party private land developers to which this Special District owes no legal duty or moral obligation to provide water,
Ignoring clear and long established restrictions on Merced River water service outside the water license legal Place of Use Lake Don Pedro residential subdivision (formerly Sierra Highlands Water Company subdivision),
Complete betrayal of the 99% of Merced River Water Entitled Customers (the MR WECs who are also MANDATORY VICTIMS OF THIS WATER SCAM AGAINST SUBDIVISION OWNERS due to their property being in a California Civil Code, Davis-Stirling Act regulated Common Interest Development governed by a POA (Property Owners Association) and elected Board of Directors, with annual assessments, various committees (including CCR VIOLATIONS), restrictive CCRs (Covenants, Codes and Restrictions) running with property title for each Unit of development and perpetually controlling development and use), and blah, blah, blah – basically each lot in the subdivision is MUCH MORE RESTRICTED in use than those outside a CID.
Yet all these restrictions worked together in providing a TREMENDOUSLY VALUABLE ASPECT TO THAT SUBDIVISION PROPERTY OWNERSHIP – EACH AND EVERY CPUC PRESCRIBED PROPERTY IS ENTITLED TO WATER SERVICE UPON DEMAND AT ANYTIME! The issue comes down to this simple lakedonpedro.org slogan (expressed in a few different ways including LAME VIDEO SONG- lol):
“THEY DIDN’T WANT OUR SUBDIVISION LAND WITH WATER
ONLY OUR SUBDIVISION WATER ON THEIR LAND”
Where were we? Oh yeah… CONTINUED: THIS IS THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA, NOT whatever socialist-left leaning “for the people scam system”, the LDPCSD board/management believe permits:
Arrogantly refusing to answer legitimate customer questions or accepting responsibility for their years of special interest activities in expanding a groundwater substitution program for LAFCO ANNEXATIONS their current General Manger set up over 20 years ago (when operating as a rogue employee without board direction or authority and pursuing his own personal/business objectives far beyond the scope and performance of job when employed between 1994-1997 – seeding annexations then? Attempting to harvest them now?)
Returning that former rogue employee in October 2014 through an unethical Board orchestrated closed recruitment process and appointing him GM without a backgroun0d check yet providing access to over one million dollars in cash –
(Cash accumulated over several years thanks to a successful PROP 218 to avoid a 2008 LDPCSD bankruptcy – this raised the rates and fees for the 99% of MR WECs who pay the bills and WHO DO NOT REQUIRE GROUNDWATER SUBSTITION FOR THEIR WATER SERVICE!)
CASH that the GM/TREASURER then used to leverage state and federal grants to develop GROUNDWATER WELLS to create a massive “ALTERNATE SOURCE of WATER” with which to expand a GROUNDWATER SUBSTITUTION PROGRAM –
(circumvent WL11395 restrictions by replacing Merced River water that illegally leaves subdivision with expensive groundwater)
and selling that newly developed “DROUGHT EMERGENCY GROUNDWATER” to LAFCO ANNEXED property owners to develop their outside subdivision projects.
WHERE THE HELL WAS I? lol
Don’t believe I have ever posted this before, but, I had pretty much decided to drop my subscription to the Mariposa Gazette and glean what news I desired from other sources. That is until I noticed a distinct difference in the publication. Sure, with new owners, editor, and staff a different style of doing things was expected and all of those improvements certainly noteworthy, but what halted my plan was a fundamental change increasing attention and focus on issues that, for whatever reason, particularly interested me.
Previously, it seemed articles/stories about controversial subjects or a particular case would rate an initial quick article – but always seemed to lack any sustained investigation or follow-up if you will, to flush out the truth and underlying factors which made it a story in the first place – when only briefly mentioned. A newspaper should contain trustworthy news that readers can depend on which results from honest investigation and reporting of the facts. I would think an openness to hear different perspectives/opinions to any controversy also appropriate in determining truth.
Now, with that said, would it be fair to expect a publication owner to risk retaliatory financial loss for reporting on a controversial subject that might possibly be uncomplimentary to the “movers and shakers” of a particular community? (Advertising dollars or whatever economic threat might conceivably be waved about or actually used in an effort to kill or influence a particular story.)
The original “letter to the editor” started off on that subject acknowledging my appreciation for the “real life consequences” people often experience in “doing the right thing” along with my desire not to cause such harm to anyone – but as you probably guessed, that original letter was a few thousand words over the maximum so that blah blah blah was dropped for space- lol. Actually, when I first spoke with the editor over the telephone and joked about always being verbose and having to really cut the thing down he actually offered more space (only goes to show he sure doesn’t know me – does he? Lol – In retrospect, I should have asked him, you mean a few extra words? Sentences? Full page? LOL!!!, however, as I explained at the time, my last shot was formed, loaded, and ready to go- so off it went. And to my joyous surprise, it was printed.
Yup, did it again huh? Blah blah blah too much all the time.
That original title said it all.
My best to you and yours, Lew