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Bill Kennedy: Act now or forever be content

Right Here, Right Now!

Posted: July 22, 2010 8:22 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

“The world is run by those who show up.”

That anonymous quote is one of my favorites, because it conveys a basic truth that sends a message of great significance in our lives.

The premise of the quote is that people can be classified into two groups: Those who are actively engaged in shaping events to secure their own future, and those who are detached, content to allow the activists control their lives. I like to refer to those in the latter group as the “melancholy herd” — a sad band who often unwittingly allow themselves to be guided to places they do not want to go.  

It is simple to become a member of the melancholy herd. In today’s hectic world, with many tugs on limited time it is easy to “trust others do the work.”

The problem with that approach is that minority activists have learned they can take advantage of such resignation of the masses to forward programs and issues that would otherwise never withstand the scrutiny of critical public examination.

A current example is the move by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to impose a sewer-water-rate increase for Santa Clarita residents. The justification for the rate increase — which has been  adequately covered in this publication and other media sources in the past few weeks — is to fund provisions to remove chloride from our waste water before it is allowed to flow downstream.  

The control board cites removing chlorides from the wastewater as necessary to protect crops grown downstream that might be damaged by high chlorides. Yet there is no scientific basis for such a claim.

What’s more, under drought conditions the incoming water our community receives exceeds the allowable limits imposed for the chlorides, which would make us responsible for removing chlorides from upstream sources.

The control board is relying on the apathy of the melancholic herd to make the proposed rate increases stick. The reason is that now that public notice has been given, the rate increases will take effect unless a majority of the property users protest in writing to the new fee structure.

Most feel that a majority will not protest for several reasons. First, few will take note of the notice, discarding it as another annoying letter from government.  Second, many will go along with the proposal based on their notion that the board knows what it is doing. Third, environmentalists may feel good about an initiative aimed at clearing salt from the water. Fourth, those who look at their rate increases may convince themselves that the increases are below their threshold of economic pain and not worth the effort of contesting.

These attitudes would be wrong for a number of reasons. First, not to act on such an egregious fee assessment will merely condition the misguided bureaucrats to the ease with which the public may be manipulated.

Second, the cumulative amount raised by the new fees will total hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years, and such public money should be spent on more important projects than this quixotic endeavor.

Third, there is no scientific basis that our discharged sewer water causes the environmental distress claimed. Fourth, though the assessment for individual homeowners may be small, for many businesses they will be huge. 

The assessment may not breach your economic threshold of pain, but it could put your favorite business out of business and could dissuade new businesses from opening operations in our area — which will hinder, not help, our economy.

To avoid paying the proposed fee increases, the melancholic herd will have to stampede to the side of activism.

Fortunately, the mighty Signal has made that task easy. A protest form and instructions on how to use it were on page A12 of the July 19 paper. Copies are also available on The Signal’s website, 

The forms must be submitted before July 27.

How easy is the protest procedure? Starting from scratch, I completed the procedure in six minutes, including addressing the envelope and looking up my property assessor’s parcel number, which can be found on your property-tax bill. 

Six minutes is a modest investment of time to attend to such an issue of import. Please do your part to help. Stop whatever else you are doing and do it. Do it now, because time is of the essence. 

For the sake of all of us, do it — Right Here, Right Now! 

Bill Kennedy lives in Valencia and is a principal in Wingspan Business Consulting, chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. and a planning commissioner. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of these organizations or The Signal. He can be reached at


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