Correct and Proper?
by Ken Coates, Brian Goebel and Cori Hayman
In his recent letter to the editor, long-serving Montecito Water Board Member Dick Shaikewitz said: “So far, everything the [Water] District has done has been correct and proper.” (“On Recycling Wastewater,” MJ #24/37) We disagree.
Let’s review what the water board has actually done during his tenure:
• Implemented water rationing.
• Set excessive penalty rates.
• Threatened service cut offs.
• Forced customers through an onerous appeal process to get relief from high bills caused by leaks and other inadvertent use.
Indeed, Mr. Shaikewitz’s signature achievement while serving on the board for the past 12 years was to create an emergency, through years of inaction, that culminated in quotas and penalties.
Where else has Mr. Shaikewitz’s inaction been costly for District customers?
During his tenure, he has:
• Ignored the advice of geologist Steve Bachman in 2007 to develop storage projects.
• Failed to file the State-mandated Urban Water Management plan in 2010 and 2015.
• Been unable to reach an agreement with the City of Santa Barbara on a desalination project.
• Driven residents to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on storage tanks and well drilling in the face of quotas and uncertain water supply.
• Failed to cooperate with Montecito Sanitary District on a recycled water plan.
With regard to recycling, Mr. Shaikewitz now claims that “times have changed.” But given that we are in the eighth year of drought, the only thing that has changed recently is that he must now defend his record of inaction before the voters. This is why, despite previously comparing using recycled water for landscaping to spraying our beautiful communities with agent orange, Mr. Shaikewitz now says he is waiting for a recycling recommendation from outside consultants. But we have all been waiting for Mr. Shaikewitz to lead on this issue for the previous 12 years.
This is not misinformation or special interests at work; these are facts that every resident of Montecito and Summerland should find appalling.
Rather than try to defend his dismal record, Mr. Shaikewitz and others have fabricated stories about our platform: that we are pursuing cityhood and privatization. We trust that members of the community will not be so easily fooled by these lies. We are not pursuing either of these objectives.
As the last architect of penalties and quotas remaining on the board, Mr. Shaikewitz seeks to justify his re-election bid because his “years of MWD Board experience are needed to point out problems and solutions.” As his comments regarding agent orange make abundantly clear, Mr. Shaikewitz has excelled at looking for problems. But with his legacy of penalties and quotas, Mr. Shaikewitz has failed miserably at finding solutions. All the other board members who served with Mr. Shaikewitz during the era of inaction were voted out or had the good sense to resign or retire.
It is correct and proper for the voters to retire Mr. Shaikewitz on November 6 and bring in a fresh team of problem solvers capable of bringing water security to Montecito and Summerland. We are that team.