BY DONNA WESTFALL

I am hiring people to collect signatures to defeat the sewer rate increase.

Here is the job description.  If you can walk, talk, write and follow simple directions, virtually anyone can do this job. 

All you have to do is go to a neighborhood, knock on a door and ask, “Do you want your sewer rate to go up again?”

9 out of 10 people will say, “NO.”

Ask them to sign the protest letter form.

This form includes:

1.  Someone’s name.  The printing has to be legible because if I can’t read it neither can the City.  The person’s name that goes on line 1 can be one of two people.  THE HOMEOWNER/PROPERTY OWNER or THE RENTER THAT PAYS THE SEWER BILL.

2.  Their street address.  Not a Post Office Box number. It must be the street address. (The City provides us with a list of valid sewer users by printing out Assessor Parcel Numbers.  We match that to the County list of homeowners.)  Not every homeowner lives at their property.  Many people own property here and live out of town.  Many homes are rentals.  You need to ask basic questions.

(a)  Do you own your home?

If they say, “YES,” then they can sign. 

If they say, “NO,” then ask if they rent.

If they rent, ask

(b)  Who is responsible for paying the sewer bill?  That is the person that must sign. They are called the TENANT.

snip sewer bill

 

Here is a copy of a sewer bill.  Do you see the area labeled ACCOUNT NUMBER?  Write that number on the line that has PARCEL NUMBER.  We forgot to print that on the form. You have to remember to ask them for their account number.  Their sewer bill looks like a post card.

3.)  Their parcel number  No one knows their parcel number and that’s ok because we have lists of parcel numbers.  It’s better to have their sewer account number though.

4.) Then, ask the person to sign their name.

You already know if they own or rent.  Check one.

The simplest way to have the form 100% accurate is to get their phone number so if there are any questions, we can call them up and ask for clarification.

How long does this take? Less than 2 minutes.

By now, the entire town knows that a protest is going on.  The majority of people cannot afford higher rates on anything.  Increasing the rates is called inflation.  The government creates inflation by continuing to raise the rates.  However, peoples incomes are not keeping up with inflation and they cannot afford to pay any more.

The California Constitution under Proposition 218, allows ratepayers to protest an increase in their water or sewer bill.  We know that we have to turn in 1,696 VALID signatures by May 19th. We call this a Prop 218 protest vote.  No one involved in protesting has to be a registered voter.  What do they have to be?  One of two thing:

1.  A homeowner or apartment owner or mobile home owner or business owner – they don’t even have to pay the sewer bill.  Their property ownership gives them the right to protest an increase in rates;

OR

2.  A renter that pays the sewer bill.

Is there anything else you need to know about applying for this job?

Yes.

They have to be on sewer.  If their property uses a septic tank, they cannot sign a protest letter.

How much will you be paid?

$1 per valid signature.

Most people who go out into neighborhoods usually average between 9 and 10 valid signatures per hour.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Yes.  You must turn your signatures in each day so I can update our records.  Because I do not pay for duplications.  The first one in, gets paid for that address.

I will provide you with areas and address to go to. I will also provide you with a clipboard, forms, blue ink pen and scotch tape.  What’s the scotch tape for?  To attach a form to their door if they are not home.  That way they can mail in their form or bring it over.  If you put your name or initials on the form, you will get paid when the form comes in.

Every day our records are updated.  We know who has signed and who hasn’t.

Will we stop collecting signatures once 1,696 is reached?

No.  Here’s why.  The City will disqualify protest letters for any number of reasons.  As careful as we all try to be, they may decide that they will not count some.  In the last water rate protest, we handed in over 2200 signatures.  They disqualified over 900.  We lost.

Here are some example on why some protests were disqualified by the City.  Ownership of the home has changed and the county has not updated their records.  The City will disqualify the new owner…UNLESS we provide the new owner’s sewer bill account number.

The person who signed up for service has moved out of town.  Their relative continues to live in the home or apartment, pays the bill, but the city disqualifies their protest because their name is not on the sign up card at the Water/Sewer Department. 

How to avoid that?  By providing the new owner’s water/sewer bill account number on the protest letter.  Some people only have City water and some people only have City sewer.  This is a sewer protest.  We do not sign up people only on City water.  They must have sewer

On this current sewer protest, losing is not an option.  Too many people are hurting financially. It is my opinion that the City is not and has not been operating in reality or honesty.  It’s time to give them a wake up call. When they are serious about tackling all the questions I brought up regarding fraud and corruption on the sewer plant, then maybe we’ll make some headway.  Until then, I don’t trust them and neither should you.  Plus they are having the rate payers pay for expansion and under Prop 218, the rate payers are not supposed to pay for expansion.

To Recap:

This Prop 218 protest vote is for properties serviced by the City sewer system which extends out into the County.  There are over 3,000 sewer users.  To win this protest, we must submit 1,696 valid protest signatures.  We do that by using the form called a Protest Letter.  Once the form is properly filled out and signed with an original signature (not a faxed, or electronic signature) it must be an original and once it’s filled out properly, we submit it to the City.  On May 19th, they will theoretically count all the protest votes.  If they count 1,696 valid protests, then by law they cannot raise the sewer rates.

Does that answer all your questions?

Here’s one. What if someone is rude, argumentative or nasty?  LEAVE.  No need to deal with them.  Right now 9 out of 10 people are signing. Many of them very appreciative that someone is doing this job.  Some will practically grab the clip board out of your hands just so they can sign.

What if someone says they already signed?  If they are not crossed off my list, then they probably signed for the Water Rate Protest held last year during the months of September, October and November. You let them know that we don’t have their signature on this protest and if they want their vote counted, and the sewer rates to remain steady, to please sign.  By law, we only get 45 days to collect all the signatures.  Today leaves 15 days left.

If all your questions have been answered and you want a job, give me a call and we’ll schedule time to train you.

I need more people now.  TODAY!  We have 15 days left to collect the rest of the signatures. There are 2,000 signatures waiting to be collected.  Call me. If you want a job.  If you want to join our volunteers, we welcome you.

Because losing is not an option.

 

 

 

 

 

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