Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bob Dunning: When yes means no, and no means yes


From page A2 | May 14, 2014 |

Confusion reigns supreme in the Second Most Educated City in America.
My friend Carol writes to say “I am more confused than ever after reading articles for and against Measure P. It seems to me that if you vote ‘no’ you mean ‘yes’ and if you vote ‘yes’ you mean ‘no.’ Now I am really confused. I think you have to set us all straight on this one more time before the big vote.”
Add to that Otto’s opinion that “A lot of people are confused about Measure P. Here we have the case of 1) voting for something to vote against something; or 2) voting against something to vote for something.”
Owen, meanwhile, says he called the city to see how the CBFR would work for renters and was told “the rate would be based on what the previous tenant consumed, so if you are going to rent a home in Davis, you’d better ask about the previous tenant’s usage before signing that lease.”
Which brings us to Claudia, who, after attending forums and debates and reading arguments and rebuttals to arguments surrounding Measure P, is absolutely appalled “to find myself on the same side of this as people I never agree with, like Jose Granda and Ernie Head. So I thought I’d ask you if my head is indeed on straight.”
The Davis Enterprise, speaking editorially, weighed in on all this municipal dizziness by accurately stating that “Voters are worried about the rising cost of water, and they’re confused about the consumption-based fixed rate that will take effect in January.”
Actually, the CBFR has already taken effect. It formally began on May 1. It’s just that we won’t see the bills from the CBFR until next January. But trust me, your “summer” usage is being tallied by Big Brother even as we speak.
The Enterprise, while urging a “no” vote to keep the current rates in place, then argues that the “controversial” CBFR structure should be scrapped.
“We remain uncomfortable with basing part of a future year’s rates entirely on summer usage,” The Enterprise writes, reflecting the views of many citizens in this town.
Adding to the confusion is a highly respected water expert named Ned. Or is it Ted or maybe Jed? His first name has escaped me for the moment, so let’s just call him Fred.
Turns out Fred was so confident the CBFR is a great deal for Davis that he fired off a letter to the editor that was published online. In it, Jed used actual facts and figures from his own consumption to demonstrate that even for a large water consumer like himself (20 ccf per month in summer), his bill even in 2018 when rates are highest, will be only $7.41 higher than it was last summer. A remarkable claim indeed, but given his credentials, who would dare to argue with Ned?
Well, as fate would have it, Ted doesn’t understand the CBFR any better than anyone else and miscalculated his rates by a whopping $648 a year. In his favor, of course.
Somehow, Fred’s letter disappeared from cyberspace faster than you can say “screenshot,” never to be seen again. Whether he’s sticking to that $648 miscalculation will forever remain a mystery. At least until he gets his bill.
Then there was the major proponent of “Yes on P” who admitted to me that her Ph.D.-laden husband got up one recent morning with a confused look on his face and said “Tell me again, dear, which way we’re voting on Measure P.”
Adding even more to the confusion is the fact that a major metropolitan newspaper recently claimed Davisites already voted on the rates in March of 2013. Put simply, we didn’t.
And we haven’t even discussed those incredible lawn signs for Yes on P and No on P, the former claiming “Fair Rates for All” and the latter promising to “Keep Rates Fair.”
For the record, Measure P asks, “Shall an initiative ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 2405, which adopted increased water rates, and putting water rates in effect prior to May 1, 2013, back into effect, be adopted?”
In other words, if you like the old rates, vote “yes.” And if you like the new rates, vote “no.”
There now, wasn’t that easy?

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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