BY KATHERINE KELLY
I am one of the volunteers for the prop 218 water rate protest collecting signatures door to door. The experience has been eye opening. People really are suffering and are not shy to talk about it, especially the elderly people. Most of them have been here for a long time and have seen what’s been going on forever. I keep hearing about how the people running the city are crooks, how the good ol’ boys club has been running this place into the ground for decades, and how money is always being asked for and nothing is ever better. And how though the faces change it always stays the same: dysfunctional.
The sewer issue is still stuck in the craw of so many. One gentleman protested loudly about the fence. He said they could’ve put up a chain link fence but instead they build something grand, and we get stuck paying for it. One lady wondered why they didn’t spend a little less on the sewer and spend some of that money on the water.
We didn’t have to build “a Cadillac sewer,” as one old fellow put it. The city wasted our money building something pretty to look at when they should have focused solely on function. Now we have a beautiful sewer that isn’t working properly, and he doesn’t trust the city when they claim to need money to fix our broken water system. Another gentleman claimed they can’t be trusted to do what they say, or to even do it right, just like they did with the sewer.
Most complain about their income being too small to be able to afford this rate increase, like we’ve been saying all along. One elderly woman said she couldn’t pay more if she wanted to. She feels it’s already too high, and frankly didn’t give a damn what other cities pay. She said her income is fixed and there’s no way to get more. So what will happen to her when they raise it to where she can’t pay her bill? She’s afraid of losing everything over an unpaid water bill.
The people we talk to just don’t trust the city to be honest. When they’re told the water increase is 150%, not 60% like the city is claiming, they look shocked that the city is trying to fool them. One lady who, at first, said she needed to think about it more before signing the protest, said a 60% increase wasn’t all that much. Then when I informed her that 60% was only the first year, and that in total the 5-year increase would be 150%, she signed without hesitation.
House after house, story after story, and the theme is the same: we can’t afford this rate increase. And they’re thankful we are out here standing up to the city. They know the city is lying about things because they’ve been there – done that too many times to count. But who listens to them? Most either won’t or can’t make it to the council meetings, and those who can say it’s a waste of time because they don’t listen. That’s something else we’ve been saying all along.
In a sense it’s nice to hear our sentiments coming from these hundreds and hundreds of people. But it’s sad that no one in power is listening. Maybe the city council should sit down and talk with our elders, listen to their wisdom, listen to their view of the world. They are such a valuable resource being wasted. Their knowledge and guidance is just what we need in these hard times. Many have lived through the depression so they really know how to survive and make it work without spending our future