Mysterious survey arrives in Montara mailboxes
In late December, 2004 residents in Montara (about 60 miles
north of Felton on Highway 1) received a mysterious opinion poll
from the Southern California-based Reason
Montara had purchased its water system from Cal-Am in 2003 and
embarked on an ambitious program repairing water mains and drilling
new wells and revitalizing existing onesthat Board President Scott
Boyd says were neglected under Cal-Am's tenure.
The survey asked some rather one-sided questions relating to
Montara's purchase of its water district from Cal-Am. You can
view the survey here (PDF).
The executive director of Reason's Public Policy Institute acknowledged
that American Water (Cal-Am's parent company and a past contributor
to the Reason Foundation) is interested in the results of the
survey.While the Reason Foundation claims it is non-partisan,
it is without question pro-privatization and operates the website
We're still waiting for the Reason Foundation to release the
results of the survey, but residents who received it immediately
questionedwhether its clear slant would allow recipients to accurately
record their opinions, according to this story in the Coastsider
and this letter
to the editor.
A "citizen's coalition" that received funding from
American Water shareholders in Lexington, Kentucky includes a
17-page FAQ prepared by the Reason Foundation on
The Reason Foundation finally released the results of its survey
and, not surprisingly, they reported that a majority of people
who responded (about 300 total) are not happy with the purchase.
What the Reason Foundation decided not to include when pitching
the story to reporters was some of the comments included in the
191 pages of written responses. As a public service, we provide
a few examples here.
Unlike the Reason Foundation, we've opted not to include the
name, mailing address and phone number of each respondent.
"Montara should own its water service. We should all pay
the same per household, not depending on amount property is worth,
for the purchase. Ivoted against the measure because i believe
property taxes is an unfair method of spreeding the cost. Iam
happy that a private company is no longer associated with our
water sevice. I hesitated in responding to this survey because
it is not clear who is behind it, or their motives. it is obvious
that the 'reason foundation' has been hired to conduct this survey.
Iam not impressed by the form of the questions asked, they will
insult the intelligence of most of us in the community."
"I think this phony survey is a naked attempt to incite
anger and resentment over an increase in property taxes that we
all voted for. Yes, property taxes have increased. People who
didn't realize that must have been all asleep. However, in return
for the increased taxes, property owners are getting something
in return: local control over our water system. Now we see our
money going to work. We see the MSWD actually working on improving
the infrastructure. We know that problems that come up can be
dealt right here in our community, not by some huge overseas corporation
that has little interest in our small community. So, doctor moore,
do I have to guess who hired you to conduct this manipulative
"The increase is not significant in light of owning our
own water company. I have lived here for 35 years and have had
to deal with poor quality service, leaky pipes in the street and
very high rates. The local employees have generally always been
helpful, when they could be out-of-state owners made it hard to
"I resent the manipulation of this survey. A change like
this takes time. Our water & water service declined under
previous ownership. It will take years for progress. Shame on
"I am greatly pleased and wonderfully comforted to know
that the community has voted for owning & managing their own
representatives. It sounds like the writer of this questionnaire
is trying to slant the out come of this survey by phrasing questions
in this survey. This research project appears to be very unprofessional.
it feeds the reader propaganda from one viewpoint of a controversial
issue, then asks questions about the issue. this type of survey
can't possibly be valid."