Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No Casino in Plymouth supports Friends of Amador's fundraising dinner - Sat July 13

Friends and Neighbors,  

NCIP invites you to support the Friends of Amador Fund Raising efforts to stop the  proposed casino in Buena Vista.

They have sued the Federal Government and their case is currently on appeal in the 9th Circuit.

They are holding a fundraising Prime Rib & Teriyaki Chicken dinner on Saturday July 13 at Evelyn Bishop Hall in Ione.

No host bar opens at 6pm with dinner at 7pm.

Door Prizes   Raffle  and Auction  fill out what will be an enjoyable evening.

Tickets are $35 each.

Call 209 245 4588 if you would like to join NCIP in supporting Friends of Amador.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mother Lode Tea Party: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Severe restrictions on land access in the Sierra Nevada

Angelo Codevilla
"Government Data Mining Threatens Our Citizens, Not Our Enemies"

California Tea Party Groups 

    Agenda 21 Links


El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini
Has Stripped Forest Service Agents of Police Powers
Here is the article

Write, call or email Sheriff Martin A. Ryan,
to stand up to the threatening behavior of federal agents in Amador county.


URGENT! The comment period for the frog and toad is fast approaching. To make a comment. Go to this link, and click on the comment tab next to the Designation of Critical Habitat for the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog, the Northern Distinct Population Segment of the Mt Yellow-legged Frog, and the Yosemite Toad. Make your comment.

Designation of Critical Habitat for the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog, the Northern Distinct Population Segment of the Mt Yellow-legged Frog, and the Yosemite Toad
Click Here

Frogs & Toads 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent out a notice of intent to expand the closure of California's forests. This addition spans 2 million acres, 14 counties, and 9 national forests along the eastern spine of California (see the map below). It is an area 30% larger than the state of Delaware. If transit corridors and buffer zones are added at a later date, the area could increase 10-fold. And this is only the start; there are 477 more species in the queue for consideration. 
The reduction in frog and toad populations is not a mystery. It has already been studied. By far, the two main causes are the planting of trout in mountain lakes, and a virus being spread worldwide by the African Clawed Frog
Loss of habitat is not the problem, and "habit restoration" the removal of humans and every human development is not the cure. The Endangered Species Act remedies are not relevant. The proposed actions will not fix the problem. They will only further hurt the people, their families, their communities, and our national self-sufficiency for food, water, energy, timber, and minerals. More information: Click here 

We will have a booth at the

JULY 25th - 28th
We need volunteers to help with the set up, tear down 
staffing of our booth (3 hour shifts).
Please call
Manner 296-5549 to sign up.  
We had great volunteers last year,
we appreciate any help you can give.

Joining us this year is the

An appeal to Sutter Creek City Council

I appealed a decision made by the planning commission and turned it into Sutter Creek City Hall.  It should be scheduled for the Monday, July 1st City Council meeting.

I am asking the City Council to revisit the plan as it is my understanding the new owners wanted to build a single family residence with in-law cottage.  Because the property is commercially zoned the city has said they must build to the commercial code, even though the property is better suited to single family use.

I've attached my letter of appeal.  I was not able to scan Exhibit 1 and attach it.  That is the Application Referral by the City of Sutter Creek and supports my statements.

There may be others interested in this and I could use the support.

Thank you for any help you can lend.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Amador Water Agency Botches Rate Notice

The Watchdog
Amador Water Agency Botches Rate Notice

About RPA
Ratepayer Protection Alliance (RPA) was formed to support the rights of the people of Amador County against unfair rate increases, which are usually used to subsidize special interests. Recently, RPA has assisted citizens who successfully protested several water rate increases. RPA is committed to ensuring that water, wastewater and garbage rates in Amador County are justified, and do not unfairly burden local residents.

RPA works hard to minimize costs of informing the public of unfair rate increases. RPA operates on the donated time of volunteers and no one is paid for their efforts. Donations for postage costs can be sent to:
Ratepayer Protection Alliance
P.O. Box 51
Pine Grove CA 95665
Amador Water Agency Botches Rate Notice

On June 10, Amador Water Agency General Manager Gene Mancebo received a letter from attorney Eric Benink, representing AWA water customers. The letter explained the confusion caused by numerous conflicting notices that AWA has sent to its customers. Benick demanded that AWA mail a new notice with the correct information and postpone the June 18th rate hearing. Based on information AWA sent to customers, it is impossible to know how much the typical ratepayer's bill will change.
In the notices, AWA explained how much change a typical user could expect to see in their water bill. However, Benink's letter points out that almost all of AWA customers received notices with information that conflicted with the information in the rate study. As an example, the rate study says that "typical" Sutter Creek user rates will increase by $0.83/month. The official 218 notice notified those ratepayers the increase would be $0.80/month. Then AWA sent a rate sheet in the water bills that said rates would go down by $7.62/month. AWA sent a letter apologizing for the error and sent another rate sheet that did not make an estimate of the change. Instead they left it to the customer to figure it out. If the customer took the time to do the math, they would have come up with an increase of $2.22/month. One day later, those same people were sent a flier that said rates would increase by $2.23/month.
Sutter Creek property and business owner Kathy Allen explained, "Each AWA mailing would say something different than the time before and each time I read one of them I thought to myself that I was paying for all of these mailings!"
Some Sutter Creek ratepayers were also sent an erroneous rate sheet in their bills that told them the "typical" increase would be $2.01/month. Upcountry and Camanche ratepayers were also sent information with different "typical" rate changes than what the rate study indicated they would get.
"AWA has a long history of generating different numbers for the same thing, but this is the most outrageous example I have ever seen, anywhere. They came up with 5 different numbers for the same 'typical' increase," said long time Sutter Creek resident David Evitt.
On June 11, AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo responded to Benink's letter. Mancebo claimed that monthly medians were refined in direct response to customer comments. He also explained why those refinements resulted in different  "typical" household rate increases or decreases. Some customers received 5 different notices each having a different  "typical" increase amount on it. Mancebo did not say which of the notices had the correct information for a typical increase. He did admit that the notice showing a rate reduction sent to Sutter Creek residents was an error by the printing and mailing company.
RPA member Ken Berry commented, "If AWA still cannot figure out what you're going to be paying after five different tries, how in the world are you going to be able to understand this mess? Since they don't seem to know what they need, except more money from ratepayers, I guess they will figure out how to spend it later."
Former AWA Director Debbie Dunn said, "A rate increase just shouldn't be this hard. After months of study and review by AWA, an ad hoc committee, hundreds of thousands of dollars to multiple consultants trying to figure out how to fund this agency, the public deserves a simple straightforward explanation of what they need to pay. Why can't the public have that? All of their money that AWA has spent on this rate study and they still don't know what the public is going to pay. What a disaster!"
AWA will now have a choice whether to proceed with the hearing on June 18th or start the process over with accurate information. You can attend the hearing at the Supervisors' Chambers in Jackson at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, June 18.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mother Lode Tea Party: Class Action Lawsuit Against IRS

We will have a booth at the
JULY 25th - 28th

We need volunteers to help with the set up, tear down 
staffing of our booth (3 hour shifts). 

Please call

Manner 296-5549 to sign up.  
We had great volunteers last year,
we appreciate any help you can give.

Joining us this year is the

is joining the class action lawsuit
 (Graves Bartle Marcus & Garrett, LLC)
against the IRS

Our personal experience with the IRS when we applied for the 501c3:
  • 3/2011- sent application for 501c3
  • 4/1/11- check cashed
  • 4/8/11- letter back from IRS saying, you will hear from us in 90 days  (7/8/11)
  • 9/26/11- called IRS agent assigned to our file - left message no call back
  • 9/28/11- called IRS agent assigned to our file - left message
  • 9/30/11- IRS agent called bank. Having no time frame for us, but suggested that applying for a 501c4,would make it easier to go though. We would be hearing from them.
  • 11/21/11- wrote to Congressman Lungren about this.
  • 2/15/12- letter from IRS came with intrusive questions.
  • 3/1/12 -  sent information back to IRS
  • Around 8/1/12 IRS called. The App was in trouble. Again suggested that if we reapply for a 501c4, it would go though easier.
  • 8/22/12- applied for the 501c4.
  • 8/31/12- received approval of 501c4.

Regulations concerning 501c3 and 501c4

Call your Senator today and ask two questions:
1) Has he or she read the bill in its entirety? (Very likely, the answer will be no.)
2) Can we count on the Senator to vote no on S.744 until everyone has had adequate time to read the bill?

AWA Can’t Distinguish between a Myth and Truth

On May 13 I received from the Amador Water Agency (AWA) a letter describing 5 “myths” that the AWA says are being discussed around the county.  “Myth 1” is that we are being asked to pay for a water system in a different part of the county.  If this is a “myth” then why did I, on May 17, receive an insert from the AWA in my water bill describing CAWP Water System Proposed Water Rates?  My home is in Sutter Creek and is part of the AWS Water System.  What’s going on here?  What kind of hokey system is AWA using to communicate to its ratepayers?  Don’t they know which systems their customers are in?   I finally got a copy of the AWS Proposed Water Rates (not from AWA, however, but from a private citizen).  The total CAWP Service Charge is going down, but the AWS Service Charge is going UP!!!  That seems like AWS is paying for water in other parts of the county.  So “Myth #1” isn’t a myth after all.

Myths 2 and 3, according to the AWA, are that our water bills won’t reflect real costs and that the AWA budget isn’t balanced.  However, AWA doesn’t provide any information to disprove these “myths.”  There is no data to support their claim that the AWA budget is balanced.  In fact, the AWA was criticized by the Grand Jury for just this thing.  They claim that by laying off staff, their budget has been balanced, but they don’t produce a budget for the ratepayers to see.  In fact, there is no real explanation on how CAWP ratepayers can have lower bills and the AWA still have a balanced budget.  Particularly since AWA has been pushing the very expensive GSL system—which only benefits CAWP.   Other Utility companies seem to be able to create bills that reflect the real costs of doing business.  Why can’t AWA?   I’m sorry, but “trust us” just doesn’t fly.  I’m tired of government agencies, whether they be Federal, State, or Local, telling us to just “trust us,” particularly when it comes to the budget.  Maybe the AWA should figure out how to create a bill that reflects real costs and produce a balanced budget before they start talking about raising and lowering rates.

‘Myth #4’, according to the AWA, is that new development has not paid its fair share for the local water system.  Instead, AWA claims that every new home pays its fair share for connecting to the system.  What the AWA fails to mention, however, is WHEN new development pays.  It seems that developers are reserving their bit of water for houses they aren’t building for years (or decades or never).  So, in the mean time, who pays?  Current ratepayers pay for the whole system while the developers benefit and don’t have to pay a penny.  And the real shame of it is that people who may want to buy vacant land and build NOW can’t because the developers are holding on to all the water will-serves that they may never use.  This whole system is slick and slippery—benefitting only the developers.

“Myth #5”, according to the AWA, is that customers in different parts of the county will be paying different amounts for water.  AWA instead claims that every resident with a 5/8” meter will pay the same rates for water.   The proposed Service Charge will be the same, but the proposed Debt Service is different for each district.  AND, AWA claims that CAWP customers will pay less after the GSL system is in place, but they don’t explain how this can be so.  How can customers pay less after having to spend millions to build a new system?  How is that new system going to be paid for?

AWA is at their usual shenanigans—telling us half-truths trying to make the rate-payers feel good.  They act like they are the good guys in the county, but over these last few years, has AWA done anything except deceive us?  When the Grand Jury called them on their dishonorable financial practices, did they try to fix the problem?  No, instead they wrote a disrespectful letter and have not fixed any of their deceptive budgetary processes.  How can we trust them to properly use increased AWS rates when they haven’t yet shown that they can keep a proper budget?  When is the AWA going to be more transparent in their financial operations?  When are they going to stop acting like the public will be satisfied with their “Trust Me” responses?

Kathy Allen

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Amador Water Agency Rate Adjustment - A Ratepayer’s Observation

In the last several weeks water users in Amador have received a great deal of information about the Amador Water Agency (AWA) water rate adjustment and the benefits of the GSL.  I have attended the majority of the AWA meetings since January of 2012.  My overriding observation is that the rate adjustment and the system consolidation will in fact eliminate ratepayers’ say in future water rate increases.

The funding for the Gravity Supply Line (GSL) loan calls for 40% to be paid by Amador County property tax funds. So not only are the AWA’s Central Amador Water Project (CAWP) ratepayers paying for the GSL - all property tax payers in Amador are supporting the developers by paying for the GSL.

A previous proposal for funding the GSL would have developers pay their fair share of the cost of the GSL, but under the current funding proposal the Amador County tax payers will fund the developer’s portion (40%) with no clear method of payback.

There are three parts to the water rate adjustment: water usage, operation costs and debt service.  In our CAWP system the water usage and operation costs will decrease by 32.1% or $150 annually. The debt service will increase by 55.0% or $65 annually.   We are getting a cost reduction of 14.4% or $85 annually.  So it would appear that for the last 5 years CAWP ratepayers have supported a greater portion of the total Amador Water Agency costs than have ratepayers in other systems.  [With the rate adjustment, other systems’ water usage and operational cost will be increased while the debt service is decreased.]

Debt service is a cost in delivering water to AWA customers, just as are water usage and operating expenses. Each system has a different debt service and total cost.  Therefore each system will pay a different rate.  In the future the debt service rates can be increased by the AWA in any of its systems but an appeal of that rate adjustment will need a 50% approval vote of the ALL the ratepayers in AWA systems to be successful.  The AWA in effect has taken away each system’s right of appeal.

In the latest mailing the AWA states that debt service can be increased to pay for operating deficits. If operating expenses and water usage are not fully paid for by the proposed rates can the AWA borrow the money to cover them? Does this mean that one system but not others can have their debt service increased to cover an operating deficit? This appears to be in conflict with the “system-wide rate structure” that they are proposing with the rate adjustment.

The Reed Group System-Wide Cost of Service and Water Rate Study is the basis for AWA rate adjustments. On page 14 it states that “all water rates contained herein are less than the full cost of providing service” and “In time the Agency will need to address these needs in order to ensure the long term sustainability of the water system and operations, as well as the financial stability of the agency.” So, its is obvious that the current reduction of fees in order to reduce bills will in the future require greater fee increases that are not addressed in the proposed water rates. Rates based on the Reed Group Study can only be short term if the AWA is to continue to operate!  A larger increase is in the future when the AWA can pick off one system at a time.

Some final points that have been made by the AWA that are misleading:

An independent audit of the account records of the AWA is performed each year to insure that the accounting is done using General Accepted Accounting Principles and an opinion is given on their findings. The outside auditors do not issue an opinion as to the budgeting done by the AWA. The General Manager indicated that because there is an outside audit the budget is in balance. This is not true.

As stated by the AWA, the system wide rate structure was recommended by the Grand Jury. But it was not a few years ago. It was recommended in 2001, twelve years ago. Why have there been several rate studies, both internal and by outside consultants, since then with no changes? Why are they now making this change?

If you want to protest and do not have a form go to to download the protest form or call the AWA at 209-223-3018 and request that one be sent to you.

Retired CPA and Business Operations Director