Letters to the Editor: June 11, 2021

Sewer rate increase

At a time when some members of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce are still receiving COVID relief grants and loans, another regional government has decided to collect more money from them.

Six of the ten board members of the Monterey One Water board voted on June 7 to implement an abrupt, immediate and substantial sewer rate increase. This is supposed to pay for future construction projects, build reserve funds, and fund employee pension obligations.

Our objection to the rate increase is not based on the belief that sewer improvements are not needed. Instead, we see the absurdity of ratepayers spending part of their recently distributed stimulus payments and business grants and loans on building up reserves for their sewer agency.

More than 2,000 customers submitted a protest about the increase. It did not matter. Board members representing ratepayers in Pacific Grove, Seaside, and Monterey voted for it. No vote was offered for more reasonable alternatives with smaller, more gradual increases.

Your bill in July will include the rate increase. Meanwhile, we are watching to see if other local governments may be inspired to grab some of that “stimulus” now circulating in our communities.

— Frank Geisler, President/CEO of Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

What are we paying for?

I attended the public hearing on the proposed and now enacted 122% rate increase for water treatment in Monterey County.  Rates were already increased 16% just last year!  This was not a “public hearing,” it was simply a “this is why we are increasing your rates” hearing.  The truth of the matter is stated in the Sewer System Update flyer that was sent out.  It states, “Additional revenue will support increases to critical expenses like chemicals and utilities, while assisting with necessary capital investment, responding to personnel obligations, and improving the Agency’s financial strength.”  So why should Monterey County residents and businesses pay for the mismanagement of the budget for M1W?  Why should we pay for “personnel obligations” that M1W is responsible for?  The directors want to “improve the Agency’s financial strength” at the expense of the financial strength of residents.  Every attendee, with one exception, agreed that residents are still trying to recover from a shutdown for over 15 months and can’t afford this astronomical increase.  But this matters not to M1W.  It’s all about more revenue for them, Monterey County residents be damned!

— Robert Brannon, Salinas

Pride flags

Local governments are patting themselves on the back for flying the Pride flag.  Interestingly, a quite small minority of the American people is thus commemorated. Do you suppose there could be special flags for other tiny minorities?  Examples might include Spanish-American War widows, or World War II veterans, or California Republicans.

— Robert Hellam, Seaside

Are two new hotels in PG needed?

I wonder how many new hotels Pacific Grove and the Monterey Peninsula can accommodate?

If it hasn’t been studied, I think Pacific Grove and other cities on the Peninsula should do an environmental study. The study should evaluate how many hotels and tourists our cities can handle before it has a detrimental effect on our community.

It would appear that the more hotels we build, the more tourists will come. I enjoy interesting people traveling here from all over the world and it’s good for local businesses, but I don’t believe we should overdo it and have it ruin our communities with traffic.

I think we need to study more of these effects on our community before it’s too late.

— Steven N. MacDonald, Pacific Grove

Course correction needed

With plentiful and indisputable evidence that the 2020 presidential election was fairly contested and legitimately won by Joe Biden, the Republican response, in addition to being delusional, puts the party in a vulnerable position in terms of winning future elections. The “Big Steal” never happened. The former Vice President said it didn’t happen, the acting Attorney General said it didn’t happen and over 50 court cases said it didn’t happen. No need to belabor the point. The point is, however, that when you choose to deny the reality of what is right in front of you, you put yourself and your party in the unenviable position of having to defend and support a wholly unsupportable position. Sadly, one way to do that is to lie and resort to desperate measures such as the “recount” in Arizona and, as we are now witnessing, the introduction in many states of laws that will make it more difficult to vote but that will, in the opinion of many Republicans, help put an end to the phantom and ubiquitous ill regularities that allowed the “Big Steal” to occur. Once again, the steal never happened. When you double-down on something that never occurred it becomes difficult to change course. The course correction so desperately needed by the Republican party, and frankly democracy itself, will not come easily, but hopefully will materialize in one form or another.

— John Ruskell, Carmel

Contributed by local news sources

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