RATE HIKES, WATER SUPPLIES, & SANTEE LAKES’ FUTURE AT ISSUE IN PADRE DAM MUNICIPAL WATER BOARD RACES

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7 candidates vie for 3 seats
By Miriam Raftery
October 7, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Water board races don’t often stir up controversy.

 

But with restricted water supplies to our region and recent water rate hikes, ratepayers are paying attention. Padre Dam Municipal Water District's board has also hit troubled waters over a cable ski park project at Santee Lakes and for the California Attorney General’s lawsuit to stop the District's construction of a Lakeside water storage and pumping project where a Native American burial ground was discovered.

 

Three seats are up for grabs. The District’s general manager, Doug Wilson, hopes to unseat incumbent Jim Maletic in Division 1. In Division 3, challengers Ronn Hall and Gary Kennedy are running against appointed board member Bill Pommering. Division 5, meanwhile, pits Padre director Dan McMillan against Otay Water District engineering manager James Peasley.

 

 

East County Magazine asked all candidates to fill out detailed questionnaires. All seven responded. Below are summaries of their key points. 
 

For a map with district boundaries, see http://www.padredam.org/PDFs/divisionboundaries.PDF.


DIVISION 1: DOUG WILSON

 

“The key issues facing the Board are water supply reliability in the face of increasing water costs and rising water rates,” said Wilson. “The water customers are being asked to conserve, only to then be faced with increasing rates. It’s like being punished for doing what is being asked. Under my leadership, staff created a water budget-based drought rate model that seeks to fairly allocate water to customers based upon their customer type and lot size…Customers who conserve and stay within their assigned allocation can avoid a higher bill.”
 

Wilson has served as the district’ general manager for five years and previously served 8 years as chief financial officer and 9 years as board president/member. A certified public accountant and Viet Nam veteran, he has also served as general manager/vice president at Carlton Oaks Country Club, executive vice president of Home Building Company, and assistant controller of Travelodge International.
 

“I have over two decades of experience in the water industry and bring private industry concepts to the government sector with emphasis on operational efficiency and budgetary stability,” said Wilson, who pledges to apply a “household budget” concept to asure that the district does not spend more money than it takes in. His management team cut operating expenses by over $4 million (8% budget savings) to offset revenues lost through the drdought cutbacks, he said.
 

He notes that water supplies have been restricted by changing weather patterns, seven years of drought along the Colorado River, and a federal judge’s ruling restricting pumping water from the Delta to Southern California to protect Delta smelt. To increase supply, San Diego Water Authority, which supplies 100% of Padre Dam’s water, has more than doubled its investment in more reliable local water supplies, but that has led to spikes in water pricing to cover the costs, Wilson observed. “Those increases are expected to continue, which will affect the rate customers pay for water throughout San Diego County,” he added.
 

Long-term, he sees solutions in creation of new water supplies and recycling. “Padre Dam was the pioneer using recycled water for beneficial recreational use at the Santee Lakes,” he said, noting that the Lakes receives funding primarily from campground fees. The district is also a leader in using recycled water for irrigation of medians, schools, and common areas. New water sources include 200,000 acre-feet of water transfers from Imperial County, lining of the All-American Canal to avoid ground seepage, the Carlsbad desalination plant, an emergency storage project that increase height at San Vicente Dam, and more water conservation by users.
 

Freezing rates only to spike them later is “always a mistake” said Wilson, noting that failing to provide maintenance can lead to emergency water breaks that cost twice as much to fix and sewer line breakas that cause environmental damage, incurring regulatory fines.
 

“Every election season people run on the promise that they are going to lower water rates,” he said, noting that investing in more reliable water systems and increasinged regulatory compliance create fixed debts and operating expenses. “The five-member Board of Directors voted unanimously for rate increases to pay for a higher level of preventative maintenance program and aging infrastructure,” he pointed out. The Board voted for a five-year business plan and budget calling for an annual 6% each year from 2008-2012.
 

Wilson had this to say about the voting record of key directors, including his opponent. “In many cases, the unanimous votes were motions instigated by Director Maletic and/or Director McMillan who are now trying to distance themselves from these rate increases,” Wilson said. “As the 2010 election neared, these two Board members voted against a continuating of the rates changes even thought hey ahd previously voted for the $50 million in new debt and higher level preventative maintenance.” With help from newly appointed Board member Bill Pommering, the board by a 3-2 vote reduced the 6% down to 5% “knowing they could not renege on the obligation to pay the higher level debt service,” Wilson noted.
 

He supports pension reforms and says he was instrumental in helping persuade employees to agree to a lower level pension program for new hires even though legally they didn’t have to, since it was in the mddle of the contract period. Employees will also pay a larger share of their retirement plans for the future. In total, over $4 million has been saved in operating expenses, said Wilson.
 

As to his views on the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park, Wilson said he has run “hot and cold” on the project. While the Board was unanimous in its support, Wilson said, “given ethe localized concern by the immediate neighbors and my general belief that the Santee Lakes should remain passive rather than active, I would vote against the Cable Park as a Board member.” The developer has not come up with the financing and will forfeit his rights if he can’t complete the project within a short time frame which is fast approach, he added. “I would not wish to rekindle the plan should the current developer fail to achieve financing.”
 

Asked whether Padre should continue its legal fight with Viejas over the water project now in litigation, he responded, “I don’t think it has to be ‘either or.’ I believe it is possible to both honor the concerns of the Viejas tribe and complete the project. Due to legal confidentiality, we cannot provide specific options.”
 

Wilson describes himself as a “conservative who takes pride in an ethical value system of doing the right thing.” He and his wife have lived in Santee for 38 years, with three children and three grandchildren. He has been endorsed by Padre Dam Board members Augie Caires, Augie Salizitti, and Bill Pommering as well as former board members Andy Menshek and Jesse Dixon as well as Assemblyman and Judge (Ret.) Larry Stirling, Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Santee Councilman Jack Dale, and el Cajon C ouncilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox.
 

“As the keeper of the public trust, we owe the voters our allegiance in providing stewardship over pubic funds and in providing water and sewer services in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Wilson concluded.
 

For more information on Doug Wilson, visit www.wilson4padrewaterboard.com

DIVISION 1: JIM MALETIC

Incumbent Jim Maletic says he is running for reelection “to continue to support my constituents in providing the best water and associated services at the lowest possible cost.”
 

He has served four years on the Padre board “working to lower costs and rates” and notes that he voted with Dan McMillan “for no rate increase for Padre Dam in 2010,” (though did vote for a prior rate increase for reasons noted above). He said he was overruled by fellow board members in a 3/2 split on occasions when he proposed or supported lower rates.
 

He served as Treasurer and Vice President, on the Finance Committee, Park Committee, and Facilities Development Committee. He’s spent over 35 years in construction-related industries as a licensed general building and engineering contractor. He holds a community college teaching credential, is a licensed construction inspector, owner of a small family consulting business, former City of Ontario Planning Commissioner, and member of the Grossmont Hospital Bond oversight committee.
 

Asked to name the key challenges facing the board, he replied, “Labor rates continue to escalate.” To resolve the issue, he wants to negotiate labor and benefits packages to employees that are fair while keeping costs down.
 

As for what steps he would support to create new water supplies, Maletic said he is a proponent of desalinization and recycling, as well as expansion of Padre Dam’s wastewater treatment plant.
 

Maletic also supports pension reforms as well as lowering administrative costs. “I supported the lowering of management ‘s salary by over 5% this year,” he noted.
 

Unlike Wilson, Maletic said he supports the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park “tp develop this venue to support our local community” while protecting the site’s tranquilty (a feat some neighbors have contended is impossible to achieve due to noise decibels that the ski park is projected to generate).

 

As for the issue with Viejas over the Lakeside project, he replied, “We should continue proper respecteful dialogue with all parties…and work together to mitigate issues with mutual satisfaction for all players. Alternatives should be explored to insure we are moving forward to a fair solution on this matter with respect to Viejas’ concerns.”
 

A Republican endorsed by the San Diego Republican Party, Assemblyman Joel Anderson, Padre Dam director Dan McMillan, Padre Dam board candidate Ron Hall, and Frank Hillker, Lakeside Water District board member, Maletic says he wants to continue working for constituents to maintain the best possible water and sewer services “at the lowest possible prices, keeping quality foremost.”
 

DIVISION 3 – BILL POMMERING

Incumbent Bill Pommering wants to continue serving and says he has been successful in a number of areas. “I have the best interests of our ratepayers in mind,” he said. “I am fully committed to Padre Dam and not some other elected position. I understand the nature of the business and I am prepared to make the tough and right decisions.”
 

He is the only candidate in Division 3 who has water board experience, as an appointed director for the past year and a half. In addition, he noted, “I have worked for businesses that range from major U.S. corporations to small, entrepreneurial business ventures.” He has worked for both non-profit and for-profit businesses and says he can instill fiscal responsibility. Pommering is also President of the Santee Lakes Foundation, which was set up to create a relationship between the public and private sector and to provide to improvements at the Lakes that might not otherwise be feasible.
 

Pommering is proud to have been instrumental in negotiating a reduced retirement pension and benefit tier for new employees, saving the District money in years to come. “Secondly, I am proud that I was able to propose and gain Board approval for a rate reduction from a previously scheduled rate increase without sacrificing water/sewer service quality or reliability,” he said. He also voted for the automatic meter reading system, which he said will reduce administrative costs and provide customers with “useful tools in managing their water use.” He also supported other capital improvement projets to insure safe and reliable water systems.
 

Availability and cost of water are the District’s key challenges, he said. “Padre Dam has no local potable water soruce and so must purchase all of its potable water. The majority of the cost of water is set by the San Diego County Water Authority—not by Padre. Padre implemented an innovative rate model that fairly allocates water to customers based on type and lot size. “ He said the model enables customers to actively manage their water bills. “This plan is currently being studied and emulated by other agencies throughout the state.”
 

He believes every possibility should be explored to create new water sources, “even those that may today seem economically not feasible. The key to finding relief lies in a long-term vision as well as doing what needs to be done for today.”
 

Some shortage issues are man-made and need to be addressed in a collaborative effort with other water agencies across the Western U.S., he said. Meanwhile, “water conservation is a step that is readily achievable and has been supported by the customers of Padre Dam. It is the least expensive method and provides customers with immediate economic relief.”
 

He also supports looking at ways to increase use of recycled water and notes that Padre was a pioneer in showing how recycled water could be used for recreational purpose at its Santee Lakes facility. “There are very few parks that are financially self-sufficient and Santee Lakes is one of them.” He also supports building reservoir and emergency storage facilities, as well as desalinization projects.
 

Asked about water rates, he replied, “My philosophy as a board member is to represent the best interests of our customers: to provide safe and reliable services at the lowest possible prices.” The bulk of recent water rate hikes came from water wholesalers’ prices charged to Helix, he noted. “The rate increases specific to Padre Dam have been necessary to fund vital projects for water quality, reliability and fire safety.”
 

Failing to spend money on infrastructure maintenance would be a mistake, he said, pointing to other communities where water or sewer line breaks have posed health and safety hazards, also wasting water. “You won’t have a reliable car if you don’t maintain it propertly,” he said, but added, “I am proud to have been able to gain board approval to limit a rate increase this past year while still providing the District with the funds necessary to meet its many fixed obligations.” He said it’s important to maintain the District’s reserves for emergencies and said taking action without knowledge of the District’s existing financial obligations would be “irresponsible.”
 

He supports pension reforms and helped negotiate a new tier of pension and benefits for new employees last year. “That alone will result in millions of dollars of savings for our district in the years to come,” he said. He also worked to reduce benefits packages, but believes there is still more to be done to keep the District sustainable. He also believes management needs to explore ways to save money while maintaining operational standards.
 

Asked about the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park, he noted that the plan was signed before he joined the Board. “Do I think economic times have changed since that plan was approved? I do. Is now the right time for this venture to be implemented? I have my doubts. No one wants to see any venture fail and eocnomicalyl this may not be the right time to go forward with an entertainment venture of this magnitude. But that choice lies with the developer. Padre Dam is not at any financial risk for this venture.”
 

On the Viejas dispute over the proposed water project in Lakeside, he hopes for a reasonable solution and views the project as important to the needs of East County from “both a service and a safety standpoint Those needs haven’t changed. A way to meet them needs to be found,” he said, but added that due to the ongoing litigation, he is legally unable to comment on specific recommendations as a Board member.
 

Pommering and his family have lived in Santee for nearly 30 years ; he says he is also active in the community. He claims bipartisan endorsements including Santee councilman Jack Dale, former Santee mayor Jack Doyle, Padre Dam directors August Caires and Augie Scalzitti and former board member Andy Menshek. (One endorsement was removed from his website, after a Union-Tribune reporter noted that there is no such entity as the “East County Mayors Association” listed. Pommering has said the error was due to a misunderstanding with political backers.)
 

“I am and always have been a fiscal conservative who believes in a balanced budget approach,” said Pommering, who believes politicizing of elected offices that should remain nonpartisan is a problem in government today. He also expressed concern over parties using positions such as water boards to “train” members to move up to higher offices. “I am committed to Padre Dam, not some future eleted position. My support bridges party lines,” he said.
 

Pommering wants voters to know that he was selected by the Board “ out of a field of over a dozen candidates—including both of my opponents,” he said of his appointment.
 

He says he set forth a rate reduction that was adopted 3-2, achieved by “careful reductions in expenses and using our dollars wisely.” The reduction was not done at the expense of maintenance, safety or reliability, he emphasized. “I believe I have made a positive impact, have made important changes, and have laid the groundwork for future changes which will continue,” Pommering concluded.
 

To learn more about his candidacy, visit www.electbillpommering.com.

DIVISON 3 – GARY KENNEDY

Gary Kennedy says he is running to put an end to the Padre district’s five year plan, which began in 2007 and “called for a yearly 9.4% water rate increase and a 10.4% yearly sewer rate increase each year until 2012. More than 50% increase was planned for water and sewer way back in 2007, which the previous board approved. We also need to stop the wasteful spending and get back to basics.”
 

Kennedy said his experience with budgets comes from owning a small business, while his management education and customer service education mainly came from working for others as an assistant manager for Thrifty Drug, as General Manager and Vice President of U-Haul Corporation, and as a consultant at Budget Car Sales where he learned the importance of having a “fine tuned team working together for the same goal.”
 

He believes the board wasted money on unnecessary projects including $6.5 million for automated meters, a conservation garden, and proposed cabins and a dock at Santee Lake 7.
 

“Another thing the five-year plan says is that good employees will be heard to find in the years to come do [sic] to baby boomers retiring, and they believe they must offer excellent salary and benefiet packages,” he noted, adding that the Board forecast a $4.5 million increase from $6.9 million for 76 employees in 2007 to $11.5 million for 86 employees in 2012. The Santee Lakes campground alone is projected to need $1.5 million for salary and benefits in 2012, Kennedy said. Meanwhile private business and state government has seen furloughs, pay cuts, and bonuses put on hold—and medium family incomes have dropped 4.6%. He wants to compare district pay and benefit packages, as well as retirement packages, to the private sector.

Kennedy wants to schedule water board meetings when ratepayers are available to attend and give input, instead of in the afternoon when many people are working. “I would also vote to make Santee Lakes day use FREE AGAIN!! For PDMWD Ratepayers,” he wrote. “We built it and we should get to enjoy it. Many ratepayers are struggling n this economy and cannot afford entry fees.”

 

He wants to get rates “back in line” and stop wasteful spending. He calls for an immediate freeze on water and sewer rates and a halt to the Viejas/Alpine water line project. “I would vote to temporarily stop hiring, stop pay increases, and stop bonuses,” he said, adding that he would also consider outside bidding from the priate sector to take over some functions.
 

Kennedy did not respond directly to our question regarding the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park. However in response to another question, he said the District should pause to reevaluate the purpose of the water district. “Is it to provide safe, reasonably priced water and sewer service for the public?” he asked. “Or is it to be this ever-expanding entity with drought-resistant gardens and a camping resort with Disney-like tow rides?”
 

He and his wife, Molly, are native San Diegans who have lived in Santee and Lakeside for over 20 years. A graduate of Grossmont College and Mt. Miguel High School, he is endorsed by former Fire Chief Dennis Rink and construction foreman Rick Adams. “I believe we can get our rate problem fixed and I promise to work in the best interest of the ratepayers at all times,” he concluded.
 

Kennedy said he is working to get a website posted soon at www.garykennedyilovelowrates.com.

DIVISION 3: RONN HALL


Ronn Hall says he is running to provide quality water at lower rates and to “stand up for the community and make a difference.”
 

Vice President of the Santee Chamber of Commerce, he said he has been a business owner for 23 years and has 35 years of managerial experience. He was named Santee Small Business of the Y ear in 2009-10 and believes he has strong fiscal skills.
 

He is for lower water rates and wants to “stop the 5% a year raises by my opponent” noting that Padre Dam has raised rates over 25% in the last five years. “Two of the five board members, McMillan and Maletic, motioned to lower the rates for Padre Dam and even showed how we could afford to do so,” he said. Even with reduced water usage, he added, “Directors Pommering, Scalzitti, and Caires voted not to lower rates, but to increase them 5%.”
 

He views administration costs, wages and retirement benefits as the key challenges facing the board. He wants to bring the District in line with the general business environment for these factors amid today’s era of water shortages. He views pension reform as a “must.”
 

To create new water supplies, he says he’s an “avid proponent for recycling and desalinization.”
 

Hall thinks the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park “should be revisited. The Santee Lakes is a tranquil place to visit and many believe this will add noise and chaos to the peaceful environment.”
 

He said Padre Dam should both continue its legal fight with Viejas while also pursuing alternatives to the Lakeside water project stalled due to discovery of a Native American burial ground and ceremonial site. “We should still attempt to open dialog with Viejas in hopes of coming up with a compromise, at the same time pursuing other alternatives,” he added. “This was a poorly managed project. The General Manager and senior staff should have been held accountable for not checking with Viejas prior to construction and wasting up to $20 million of ratepayers money.”
 

Hall has lived in the district for seven years. He is endorsed by the San Diego Republican Party, Greater Santee and East County Republican Assembly, as well as Assemblyman Joel Anderson, Mayor Randy Voepel, Santee Councilman John Minto, Lakeside Water Board member Frank Hilliker, and Padre Dam board members Jim Maletic and Dan McMillan.
 

“I, like many citizens, am tired of conserving water to only have my rates go up,” he concluded. “I am tired of the water board using my pocketbook to balance their budgets and provide lavish perks and pensions to a short-term general manager and senior staff.”
 

For more information about his candidacy, visit www.VoteRonnHall.com.

DIVISION 7 – DAN MCMILLAN

Incumbent Dan McMillan says he seeks reelection to “continue to work for lower costs with a more reliable water supply.” He notes that the board has important decisions to make in the near future on desalinization and recycled water projects, then adds, “ I have the necessary finance and management skills to insure Padre Dam proceeds in the right direction.”
 

As a Board member, McMillian said he has “advocated and voted for lower costs and rates” and notes that the budget was reduced by $5 million during his three-year tenure. “My 30-years business experience and academic background provide me with the necessary background to properly represent you in our negotiations in the areas of labor, construction, and internal cost reduction,” he said, noting that he supported a new two-tier retirement plan and a reduction of management staff salaries by over 5% this year.
 

He sees key challenges as maintaining costs, planning and implementing new agreements with employees, and expanding the water treatment plant to provide more recycled water to the area.
 

To increase the region’s water supply, as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority he has supported a desalinization facility at Carlsbad and a possible plant at Camp Pendleton, as well as lining the All American Canal to prevent leakage. But he noted, “We must be awre of costs of all these projects and we are. The CWA has gone from being 90% dependent on MET to about 65% and will be at 35% in the next few years.” He chairs the Imported Water Committee at the CWA and says new water sources are being diligently pursued.
 

“We have built a wonderful water saving garden at our headquarters so that each of us can see what a great variety of plants are available for our semi-arid climate,” he said of District efforts to promote water conservation .
 

He voted against a water increase for the current year (though supported a prior rate increase to cover maintenance and new water source investments). He supports pension reform and notes that the district reduced management salaries by 5% this year.
 

As for Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park, he noted, “We have a contract with a developer at this time.” But if the contract is not completed on time, he added, “We will definitely revisit the projet. The development will provide $100,000 per year to offset park operating costs,” he said, adding that Santee Lakes is supported by user fees, not ratepayer dollars.
 

He remains strongly supportive of the Lakeside water project despite legal issues. “Padre Dam—you the ratepayer—have invested over $10 million in this project, so we need to find an ACCEPTABLE SOLUTION with our friends at Viejas,” he said. “The project is necessary to provide the water volume required for East County and as a redundant system when our present pipe ahs a problem or needs to be shut down for repairs….Hopefully the Board will agree to do some more archaeological excavation with Viejas so that we can move forward.”
 

McMillan served in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from college, as well as in the National Guard. He began his career as a math modelr and system analyst, then went into business sin the real estate and construction fields. He holds a B.A. and M.S. degree in mathematics and an MBA in finance from San Diego State University. He teaches part-time at Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges and is am ember of Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church. A resident of the District since 1977, he has raised two children who attended Granite Hills High School.
 

Presenly an independent, he says he was a Republican for many years. “I intentionally do not seek endorsements so that I can represent you,” he noted, but added that three current board members have endorsed him, as well as directors from other water districts, friends and elected officials.
 

For more information on Dan McMillan, visit www.reelectdanmcmillan.com

DIVISION 7 – JAMES PEASLEY

“I believe the current board leadership has gotten off track with constantly increasing water and sewer rates, less water supply reliability, and board member dissension,” said James Peasley when asked why he’s running. “I will work hard to resolve these issues and to change the direction of the board.”

Peasley has over three decades of experience as a registered professional civil engineer in the water, recycled water and wastewater industries. He is currently the water resources engineering manager at the Otay Water District and holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from San Diego State University. He describes himself as a “consensus-building leader possessing long-term relationships with elected officials, water agency staff, and industry professionals.”
 

He says he has played key roles in a City of San Diego Otay Water Treatment Plant water supply/treatment agreement, a City of San Diego South Bay Water Treatment Plant recycled water supply/treatment agreement, and an East County Regional Treated Water Improvement Program agreement with San Diego Water Authority from Helix Water District’s Levy Water Treatment Plant. He has also been instrument in a local supply groundwater well project in Rancho del Rey, annual water agency operating and capital budget preparation, water rate and fee development, as well as grant revenue acquisitions totaling nearly $14million from federal, state and local sources, among other efforts.
 

His platform objectives are:
 

• Keep water rates at the lowest possible level
• Increase water supply sufficiency and reliability
• Have effective and efficient government
• Increase community responsiveness
• Achieve professionalism, openness, and transparency
 

“The key challenge and issue facing the Padre Dam Board is acquisition of sufficient water supplies at the lowest possible price,” he said. “Judge Wanger made a ruling in 2007 that ordered a historic reduction in supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This is the single largest court-ordered water curtailment in state history.” While awaiting a comprehensive solution at the state level, water agencies including Padre Dam have faced cuts in supply and declared a level or stage 2 drought condition requiring customers to conserve water, while at the same time requiring customers to pay higher rates.
 

Another key challenge is cost of water from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of southern California. “The Water Authority Board recently approved filing suit against MWD challenging their methodology for determining water rates,” Peasley noted. “San Diego County ratepayers may be overcharged as much as $230 million annually by 2021. This cost is significant and directly impacts water bills.” The good news is that if the Water Authority prevails, water rates in all 24 member agencies could be significantly reduced, he noted.
 

He supports development of new water supplies including maximum utilization of recycled water for landscape irrigation and industrial purposes, groundwater well development and treatment, water conservation and water use eefficiency measures for new construction and current users, seawater desalinization such as the Carlsbad project, All American Canal and Coachella Canal lining projects (completed), conserving agricultural water from the Imperial Irrigation District, and the El Monte Valley Groundwater Recharge, Mining and Reclamation project.
 

“It is very important that these projects be carefully considered prior to implementation,” he noted, adding that capital requirements and operating costs must be compared, along with water supply yields and environmental impacts. He noted that several major capital investments by MWD and the Water Authority have occurred or are underway to enhance reliability of our region’s water system, including raising the level of the San Vicente Dam for emergency water storage as well as completed projects at the Olivenhain Dam and MWD Diamond Valley Reservoir.
 

Asked whether the Board has acted appropriately regarding water rates, he noted the increased cost of wholesale water to Padre Dam from the Water Authority and MWD. “There is little that a retail agency can do save perhaps attempt to absorb a portion of the increases,” he noted, adding that the Board voted unanimously for rate increase to fund infrastructure improvements. “I would support establishing rates to service the established debt obligation,” he said. “My engineering and budgeting experience will be useful in determining if the infrastructure improvements are needed and appropriate and if the capital improvement budget estimates are realistic.”
 

He notes that “for transparency purposes, my opponent, Dan McMillan, the Padre Dam represesntative on the Water Authority Board, voted affirmative on a long list of Water Authority capital expenditures that collectively drove water rate increases. But when the vote for water rate increases at the Water Authority came forward this past summer to support the expenditures, he voted no,” Peasley noted, calling those stances “disingenuous.” Bud Lewis, chairman of the Water Authority, chastised McMillan in a June 30, 2010 letter which stated that “after 15 years of such affirmative votes, to now “protest” the rate increases that are paying for those votes rings hollow.”
 

Peasley supports pension reform and wants to see transparency in all actions by the board, with impacts to ratepayers fully vetted and addressed appropriately. He wants to see information technology utilized and a strategic plan. “The use of modern tools and equipment is being accomplished by other water agencies with proven results that clearly have reduced administrative expenditures.
 

Peasley expressed strong opposition to the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park. “In my opinion, it is clear that the Padre Dam should have taken the communities’ views into consideration,” he said. “I do not support the Santee Lakes Cable Ski Park development plan proposal.” He calls for development of a master plan for the Santee Lakes Park and an environmental impact report on the master plan “in a collaborative, deliberative, and transparent process so that there is clear direction with community support for the future of the park.”
 

As for the legal battle with Viejas over the Lakeside water project, Peasley calls it an “unfortunate situation that could have been avoided. With the human remains and other items found on the project site, it is clear that Padre Dam proceeded with the project when they should have known or perhaps did know that the site selected appeared to be fatally flawed. Allegedly, Padred Dam did not do or simply ignored their responsibilities to fully investigate the site to the extent necessary.” He said Padre should have met with concerned parties to resolve the situation. “No doubt that legal fees, engineering fees, and construction contract costs have all risen as a result and do impact ratepayers,” he noted. He wants to see Padre Dam work with the community to build a consensus resolution as quickly as possible. “Padre Dam should do the right thing and find an acceptable alternative site solution.”
 

Peasley has lived in the Padre Dam/MWD district for nearly 17 years and currently resides in Blossom Valley with his wife, Linda of 36 years. “We have East County history and values,” added Peasley, who is endorsed by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Padre Dam MWD Board Member William Pommering, Helix Water Board member De Ana Verbeke, Padre Dam MWD general manager Doug Wilson, and former Otay Water Board District board memer Larry Breitfelder.
 

“I have traditional American values and principals with a high level of integrity that drive me to do the right thing,” said Peasley, a fiscal conservative who said his family has been in this country since 1736. “If I am elected to the Padre Dam Board I pledge to the ratepayers that I will diligently pursue my platform with integrity, transparency, and accountability.”
 

For more information on James Peasley, visit www.PeasleyforPadre.com, or http://california.evoter.com/peasley, or http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/11/02/ca/sd/vote/peasley_j/.