Orinda protests Plan Bay Area

After running a story on the May 13 special Orinda City Council meeting to hear citizen's views on Plan Bay Area, the Times dropped the ball by not covering the meeting itself, and the standing room only crowd that showed up to express their views.

If this many folks had held an immigrant or gay marriage rights rally, it would have been front page news. Instead Angelina Jolie's self-imposed breast removal made the headlines.

During the meeting, I heard only three people speak in favor of Plan Bay Area and it's transformation of Orinda's downtown into high-density housing. Most asked that the plan be put to a vote. Many expressed concerns on local schools and property values, others urged Orinda to drop out of the Association of Bay Area Government, and questioned the constitutionality of regional government. Others questioned Orinda Mayor Amy Worth's conflict of interest because she serves on an ABAG board and could not truly represent her constituents.

After attending, I was left with the thought: Whatever happened to government by the people and for the people?

Marilynne L. Mellander

El Sobrante

'Preposterous' EBMUD rate hike proposal

Finally you took notice of the outrageous rate proposals by EBMUD in Denis Cuff's article last week, "Hike in water rates proposed." But no one is holding the feet of the board members to the fire to justify a preposterous rate increase of 19.25 percent over two years. nd your article didn't mention that in 2009 EBMUD raised rates by 7.5 percent for each of the next two years for a total of 15 percent.

That's an increase in rates of over 34 percent over five years if these proposals are approved.

It's clear that there's something seriously wrong at EBMUD. Only a municipal monopoly could skewer customers like this and get away with it. Not even the California Public Utilities Commission would approve such a money grab without extensive hearings and the opportunity to review the basis for the proposed rate increases.

It's obvious that the fix is in, and EBMUD management already has a majority of the board members agreeing to the increases. The board shouldn't even have allowed the proposal to be presented but should have told management "no." A majority of ratepayers must object to the increases, or per EBMUD's rules, "the Board will be authorized to impose the respective fee increases."

They know that won't happen because most people are just too busy getting through each day of our ever-increasing complex lives to take time to protest.

EBMUD says it needs the increases because their costs "continue to increase," but the Federal Reserve has assured us inflation is below 2 percent, so how can EBMUD justify any increase over the inflation rate? And what did EBMUD say in 2009 when they raised rates 15 percent over two years? They are silent about that now.

We need two things which only a powerful editorial from the Times denouncing the proposal will accomplish -- a 90-day delay of the vote by the board, now set for June 11, and the appointment of an independent auditor to look at EBMUD finances and the basis for its proposed rate increases whose report would be presented to the public and the board.

It's clear from this preposterous rate proposal that neither a majority of the Board nor management is representing the ratepayers.

I implore your Board of Editors to take on this issue. You're the only ones who can truly represent us.

James P. Tuthill

Lafayette