Claremont Insider: Yet More Mail

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yet More Mail

A reader commented on the Daily Bulletin's coverage of Claremont's residential trash collection rate hike, which a number of citizens believe is being implemented in an underhanded manner by the City and the City Council. The reader took issue with what he/she felt was uncritical thinking on the part of the Bulletin's reporter, Wes Woods II:

DATE: Thursday, October 9, 2008 12:47 PM
TO: Claremont Buzz

I AM APPALLED THAT THE REPORTER FOR THE DAILY BULLETIN TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT ABOUT THE CITY INCREASE IN RESIDENTIAL RATES FOR TRASH. He (or perhaps his editors) mislead the public by saying that a part of the letter sent out by the city to 10,000 residents included a sentence that said residential fees WOULD be increased to the CPI every year. It is clear (and perhaps the only clear thing about the letter) to anyone who received that letter that the word RESIDENTIAL was never used in reference to residential fees. The reporter further says “The confusion appears to stem from the fact that in one portion of the notice that deals with a price hike to several classes of services, the single-family residential service is not mentioned”. TRUE, but then here is the obfuscation, “But in another portion, which discusses the application of a new Consumer Price Index fee, the notice states that single-family residential service is included”. NOT TRUE AT ALL. The reporter could have at least quoted the sentence from the city letter that city staff says refers to single-family residences “ In addition to the proposed rate increases listed in the above table (they are referring to a chart above showing increases in multi-family, commercial and bin rental fees) , an annual increase to all solid waste service rates at the rate of inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is being proposed”. In that way he could let the public objectively decide whether that sentence meant to include SFR in the proposed fee increases, but he chose not to do so. I guess it is a matter of what “is” is.

The reporter then goes on to say that “The city analyst”, and he means Anna Sanchez, “said the wording on the notice outlining a price increase for single-family residential pickups was spelled out, and there was no intention of deceiving residents”. Notice that he is not quoting her, merely paraphrasing so we do not know if she actually said that or not. But we do know that on the videotape of the July 22nd City Council meeting when this issue was discussed, Ms Sanchez, in her report to the council on this item, clearly stated that staff was not proposing to increase single-family residential rates (you can get a copy of the tape from the Claremont Public Library for free or view it at city hall by requesting it from the city clerk or buying a copy for $5 and see and hear her exact words on tape). So where is this reporter getting his information?

It is disappointing to see a new reporter get it so wrong so soon in his career, and I hope that your readers will write letters to the editor correcting this misrepresentation. At the very least , if they oppose this CPI increase, which will be in place FOREVER with no review by the council again, that they each write a letter of protest stating their name ,address parcel number (assessor’s id number on their property tax bill) and stating which rate increase they oppose( in this case single-family residential CPI increase in trash fees) and get it to the Claremont City Clerk on or before Oct 14th. If they want to be present at the public hearing which will be held at the regular City Council meeting on Oct 14th no earlier than 7pm (we do not yet know the agenda item it will be but they cannot hold a public hearing before 7pm so people should get there no later than 7pm), that would be great. We are appealing to the sense of fair play and doing the right thing that we hope the council will consider and not impose the CPI on single-family residential rates as we pay the highest rates out of 17 cities (16 pay less than we do)and we feel it was not properly or clearly noticed.

And thanks for your coverage of this and other important issues that don’t seem to get coverage in the media, or at least, in many cases, not competently reported upon