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Measure A: Why four Valley Water Board members should resign

Valley Water Board members Tony Estremera, Dick Santos, John Varela and Gary Kremen have spent $3.2 million of your taxpayer dollars for Measure A, a self-serving June 7 ballot measure based on deceptively worded term limit extension that falsely appears to be around a term limit imposition, but actually allows Board Members a fourth additional term beyond their current three-term eligibility.

The Valley Water Board violated both their fiduciary duty and trust of The People when they submitted this Measure A ballot language intentionally designed to confuse voters. Such dishonesty is absolutely unacceptable in a democracy. This is a failure of character on the part of the four Board members and they have to be held accountable.

The official Measure A ballot question states:, “Shall the measure amending the Santa Clara Valley Water District Ordinance 11-01 to limit Board members to four successive terms be adopted?” and deceptively suggests that the measure is more restrictive than the current limit, when in fact, it’s just the opposite.

This costly and deceptive ballot measure exemplifies the water district board’s long history of failure to represent its constituents:

The Board lacks leadership: During our frequent droughts, the Board quickly mandates reductions that trigger the imposition of ratepayer surcharges that are extremely profitable to private utility companies like The San Jose Water Company, but fail to provide any plan to address the perennial recurring drought and/or mitigation of the ratepayers’ inflated water bills.

The Board is totally out of touch: In 2019, the board supported the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnels project, approving funding for preliminary planning costs of a $19 billion boondoggle that ultimately would not add a single drop of water to Santa Clara County’s water supply. The Board has also failed to engage and address the expanded housing mandates that greatly exceed the population the current water infrastructure of Santa Clara County can support.

The Board is not proactive and lacks urgency: The Coyote Creek flooding of 2017 in South San Jose forced 14,000 people to evacuate and totaled damages of $100 million. Allegations that the Board knew of debris and sediment blockage but took no action are currently under investigation.

A 2009 study pointed out that an earthquake could cause a dam failure at the Anderson Reservoir flooding surrounding areas. This Valley Water retrofitting project stalled for years putting our people at great risk, until the Feds intervened and forced the reservoir to shut down and drained last year.

The Board has failed to address the unsustainable debt:The debt projection is astonishingly high for Valley Water with no plan from the board members to address it. The debt payment schedule (between 2021 to 2025), shows the total principal paid out would be $866 million, while an additional interest total of $573 million with debt increasing exponentially in years after in an unsustainable way.

As a commissioner on the Valley Water Commission, I raised these points at the last Valley Water Commission’s meeting of April 13th. I asked for a special meeting to discuss Measure A and take a stance prior to the June 7 election. The Valley Water Board should work hard to address the needs of the two million Santa Clara County residents it represents, not just protect their paycheck and benefits at the cost of $3.2M. Such self-serving hoodwinking of the electorate has no place in our Democracy and the four board members should resign immediately.