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Parting Shot
Why we don’t get true story

(The following is excerpted, leaving much out. For that, we apologize)

By Wes Rolley

I write a column for my local paper and always find it interesting to see how the editor writes the headline. In the May 8 edition of Morgan Hill Times, the headline was "Institutional Knowledge needed to make decisions."

That is not what I would have said, but on re-reading it, maybe he got the point.

We expect little more from our water districts than to open a faucet and have the water flow. There is much more to it than that and most of us are not paying attention. We expect the media to do that for us.

When newspapers cut reporters, they lose more than the salaries. When term limits force out legislators, we lose their experience. It becomes increasingly difficult to understand just how the governance of the local water districts are failing us when all you hear is about cutbacks in water supply or that the rates are going up.

But, in spite of this, I recommended a full house cleaning of the Board of Directors for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. These pseudo government districts are failing us and they get by due to voter apathy and the lack of a media that knows enough to hold their feet to the fire.

That is where I learned at a recent session at the Morgan Hill Community Center at which the Water District presented its Annual Report on the Protection and Augmentation of Water Supplies - 2009 and to explain its Recommended Groundwater Production Charges for Fiscal Year 2009-2010.

The problem was that I was not able to attend the public hearing. Neither was it reported in the local paper. The fact that I was not there, in itself, has consequences beyond the fact that I may have missed important updates to the document they provided. Surely, the presenters must have commented on the fact that a San Jose judge has ruled that the current method of computing and collecting groundwater charges is not constitutional in California.

However without media coverage, maybe no one tied this together. Underlying this is another thought, one concerning the role of the media, especially in the coverage of our government and local issues.

The result is that our community, no matter how broadly we define that term is not well served. We see many stories about the fact that farmers are not going to get any water this year and many of these stories contain the framing of jobs vs. fish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Were the question of term limits brought to the voters here, I am not sure what I would do. In a certain sense, the Directors need to acquire that same institutional knowledge, of course with an informed media that can hold their feet to the fire.

I can say I would not support the re-election of any of the current directors; those who have allowed an unconstitutional method of charging out costs to continue un-questioned for years, and those who failed to provide adequate long term, ecologically-sound planning for meeting our true water needs.