This letter to the editor, which was published in the January 12,
2005 issue of the San Lorenzo Valley Press, is reprinted with permission
from the author.
A few days before Christmas, Cal-Am Water sent its Felton customers
a newspaper article from the Selma (Calif.) Enterprise. The article,
"Amid stiff opposition, city drops Cal Water purchase",
described an Oct. 18, 2004 Selma city council meeting where about
170 residents, wearing neon stickers and carrying protest signs,
voiced their opposition to the councils interest in buying
back the community water system.
Evan Jacobs, Cal-Ams Community Relations Director, claimed
in his cover letter that Selma residents "rebelled" when
they learned the true costs of buying the water system. Mr. Jacobs
likened the Selma situation to efforts by Felton residents and Friends
of Locally-Owned Water (FLOW) to buy back our local water system.
The reality, though, is a bit different. I spoke with Selma Mayor
Dennis Lujan today (Dec. 28). Mayor Lujan said Cal Water executives
told him they were prepared to spend $2 million to defeat the citys
buy-back effort. Cal Water brought in an outside PR consultant,
set up phone banks and distributed mass mailings urging customers
to oppose city leaders.
The night of the council meeting, Cal Water executives hosted a
free dinner at their offices, handed the attendees "homemade"
protest signs and walked them the two blocks to City Hall. This
wasnt so much a rebellion as it was a highly choreographed
public relations stunt disguised to look like rebellion.