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Letters to the Editor

Invites public to attend forum on gov’t. access

Almost 200 years ago, James Madison wrote, “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.” His words remain a call to action today.

Given the gravity of the issues facing our nation and our communities, the need for public access to governmental decisions and policies that affect all Americans is greater than ever. Access to this information allows citizens to hold their government accountable at the local, state and national level. Whether it is to track how federal stimulus dollars are being spent or to attend a local government meeting where land use or school funding decisions are being made, “sunshine laws” afford us access and create government transparency.

However, these laws are only as good as we, the people, demand that they be. During his first year in office, President Obama has made a commitment to creating a more transparent, participatory and collaborative federal government. Now, it is our responsibility as residents of communities in the San Gabriel Valley, to ensure that this same commitment is made here.

March 14-20 is Sunshine Week (held around Madison’s birthday), a national initiative to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information.

To lead into Sunshine Week, League of Women Voters Pasadena Area is hosting a community forum on open and accessible government and public participation on Saturday, March 6, from 8:30 a.m. to Noon at Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena. There is more information on the League’s website, www.lwvpasadenaarea.org. The event is free. Spanish translation will be provided. An RSVP is requested at (626) 798-0965.

As members of the League of Women Voters, we are continuously answering Madison’s call to action: we are working to keep our community fair, vibrant and strong — starting with having an open and transparent government. We hope to see you on March 6.-Petite Morrison and Monica Hubbard . Editor’s note: Morrison and Hubbard are president and social policy director, respectively, of the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area.

Water customers need more information

Now, you may think that this doesn’t affect you, but if you live between Crescenta Valley and Eaton Canyon and get water from several agencies, including Crescenta Valley Water District, La Cañada Irrigation District, Mesa Water Company, Valley Water Co., Lincoln Ave Water Company, Rubio Canyon Water District, Las Flores Water District and Kinneloa Irrigation District you will be asked to participate in a mail-in vote in May for a bond approval of as much as $35 million.

If approved, it will be tacked on to our property tax bills, and the vote and actual payment amount will be weighted on the size of the property and whether the property is residential or business.

Through a small ad in the Pasadena Star-News, I became aware of Foothill Municipal Water District plans at a public meeting in September in Altadena. There was a presentation that totally lacked information.

They were attempting to inform the public (only a few people were in the audience) of their intent to do much-needed pipe maintenance and repair and, additionally, construct three sewage reclamation plants somewhere in their service district (between Eaton Canyon and Crescenta Valley). They are planning a mail-in vote for the bonds they would like to put in place, $7 million for the pipe and $28 million for the plants.

Mind you, this is only a portion of the true cost of the projects. The balance will be grants, etc., which if not sufficient, will be supplemented by increased water rates. I asked basic questions, which were not answered.

I get that pipe repair is a good idea, but how do you budget for this $7 million when you don’t even know how much pipe? I get that sewer reclamation is a good idea, but don’t we want people with a track record and knowledge to do this?

I have since attended three board meetings and remain unimpressed with this board and its ability to plan for and carry out any of this.

The mail-in vote is scheduled for May and, for anyone able to opt out, the last day for requesting an exemption is March 9. As of Feb. 16, I was told at the board meeting that they could not explain the current plans because the board had not yet approved it.

I questioned how a customer could opt out if they don’t know what they are opting out of except a vague statement “capital improvements.” I got no reply, but the opt-out form was placed on the website Feb. 18.

The foothill community needs more information.-- Marietta Kruells, Altadena

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