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Ferry takes aim at candidate

Frank Ferry sends letter to water-board challenger’s employer urging it to endorse other candidates

Posted: September 30, 2010 9:05 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Local water-agency candidate Kevin Korenthal said Thursday he is weighing his legal options after learning City Councilman Frank Ferry sent a letter — on city of Santa Clarita letterhead — to Korenthal’s employer criticizing his campaign.

“I just think the people who employ him as a lobbyist should know what’s going on,” Ferry said when reached at his home late Thursday afternoon.

The councilman said Korenthal has lobbed unfair attacks and insults at local elected officials while campaigning for a seat on the Castaic Lake Water Agency board.

In a campaign blog cited by Ferry, Korenthal wrote: “In these difficult economic times, it is irresponsible of the CLWA and their partners in crime to be hiding their involvement in this scam from ratepayers.”

Korenthal says he has a right to say what he wants.

“This is my right as a free citizen of this country,” he said.

On Monday, Ferry sent a letter to the Associated Builders and Contractors in Arlington, Va., which begins: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have no idea what the various elected officials and governmental agencies of the Santa Clarita Valley have done to offend your association.

“Your local lobbyist/Executive Director, Kevin Korenthal, through his campaign for public office, has launched an attack on us. Unfortunately, this is not the first time.”

Korenthal told The Signal that he is not a lobbyist, but rather an advocate, for the ABC builders association. His title is executive director at Associated Builders and Contractors, California Cooperation Committee, a trade association.

‘Beyond the pale’
The letter goes on: “Your employment and support of a candidate who uses such rhetoric and tactics in this local election cycle is ‘beyond the pale.’” Ferry urges the association to support all four incumbents in the water-board election.

“I believe Mr. Ferry has overstepped his role as a City Council member by printing his letter on city letterhead,” Korenthal said.

The top of the letter shows the city of Santa Clarita seal and the address of City Hall. Ferry also identifies himself as “Councilmember” above the body of the message.

When asked about the letterhead, Ferry replied: “I am a City Council member. I’m not speaking for City Council. I signed the letter.”

A spokeswoman for ABC reached at her home in Arlington on Thursday said she has not seen the letter.
Ferry takes offense

Ferry said he took particular offense to one of Korenthal’s published attacks on the CLWA in which he refers to the agency and its supporters as “partners in crime.”

In his letter, Ferry notes: “The disparaging ‘partners in crime’ term would include every Santa Clarita City Council member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.”

Ferry sent copies of his letter to Antonovich, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, state Sen. George Runner and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth.

“They have a reputable organization,” Ferry said of ABC. “They support many of the elected officials here in our valley. They are a responsible group.

“So, when someone who represents them makes statements that I find inflammatory, they need to know.”

‘Legal options’
Korenthal, who is running against CLWA board member Ed Colley, said: “I’m looking at what my legal options are” in regard to Ferry’s letter.

At the core of Korenthal’s campaign is the costly issue of removing chloride from water discharged into the Santa Clara River.

“All of those costs are shouldered on the backs of ratepayers in Santa Clarita,” he said.

The costs to which he was referring are the $210 million needed by the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District to build a salt-ridding reverse-osmosis plant by 2015.

The district had initially planned to raise sewer rates for ratepayers each year over four years to pay for the initial part of the project.

That plan was put on hold in July, and all discussion about rate hikes postponed until spring.

Korenthal is opposed to agency members having signed a memorandum of understanding with a coalition of Ventura County farm groups expecting chloride-free water downstream, all agreeing to pursue chloride-reducing plans outlined in the agency’s Alternative Water Resources Management Plan.

“We need to get rid of that document,” he told The Signal  on Thursday.

His only opponent in the race for the agency seat is one of the agency’s board members who did not endorse the agreement.

“He and I do not differ on that issue,” Colley said Thursday.


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