SFPUC AND THE MIXED SIGNALS IT SENDS (01/17/11)
Most people know the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) from reading their clean water and sewer bills. Some, from paying their electricity bills. The SFPUC constantly sends mixed signals and most people find it difficult to follow the ploys and machinations because one has to have the ability to discern.
The SFPUC talks a good talk and the members on the Commission are mostly beholden to the Mayor- at one time it was the "thug" Mayor of San Francisco Willie L. Brown Jr., not to long ago Gavin Newsom and today the Interim Mayor Ed Lee.
If any layperson attends the SFPUC meeting or if you care to watch it on SF Government Television you will hear huge numbers spoken of - in the millions. Sometimes in the billions. Financial institution like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citi Bank, Wells Fargo and so on - bidding and buying bonds at fixed rates for 30 and 40 years. And we are told calmly is it all good and that the ratepayers are saving millions of dollars. Interest rates at 4 and 5 percent.
Here lies the paradox. The first time around we the taxpayers and rate payers voted and passed a Bond Measure to address the Water System Improvement Project and the Sewage System Improvement Project in San Francisco. The amount we agreed upon was $2.4 billion with the Regional partners committing another $2.2 billion linked only to the Water System Improvement Project in their respective areas. In total $4.6 billion.
Fast forward to San Francisco, at some point through some ploy and sordid machination the Sewage System Improvement Project was dropped entirely and the SFPUC and its operators decided to boldly proclaim they would just deal with the Water System Improvement Project - at that time we called it Clean Water and the Sewage System - Waste Water. Thus hoodwinking the constituents of San Francisco and failing to abide by the Proposition that permitted SFPUC to conduct its business and fulfill its mandatory obligation to the constituents of San Francisco - hard working - tax payers.
Some of the astute constituents questioned the SFPUC and until today no one cares to answer. Now, in the year 2011 the SFPUC is negotiating for another Bond Measure in the billions - and J.P Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, Goldman Sachs, and the other rascals in fiduciary affairs of dubious nature, are vying for these BONDS - because we are told the SFPUC has a clean track record and resources that these rascals that took the Nation to the cleaners - see bountiful opportunities. I know blinders work on horses but judging from the drab comments from the SFPU Commissioners - something stinks in Denmark!
I clearly do not see it like that. I strongly feel in the first round we, the constituents of San Francisco were taken for a ride. It fact we were hoodwinked. We were told the first time around - the $2.4 Billion Bond Measure would be used both for the Clean Water and Waste Water. But, as I said somewhere, someone, deceived the constituents and decided to drop the Waste Water project - now named Sewage System Improvement Project or whatever and resurrected.
Here are a number of factors I want to bring before the SF Public Utilities Commissioners; especially, the newly appointed ones that have no history what so ever. The SF Public Utilities Commission is saying to you that they got a good deal on the Bonds. Well, here is how I see it.
Our Nation is bankrupt and we have trillions of dollars in deficit. In simple terms we spend more and borrow to pay. China holds most of our Treasury Bonds and we all know there are trillions of Junk Bonds linked to sub-prime loans and derivatives. The world know this but not the SF Public Utilities Commissioners.
Further our dollar is worth less then four cents. Some years ago it was worth six cents. When our Nation was hook winked by Wall Street and financial agencies like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, AIG, and banks such as Citi Bank, Wells Fargo and others. We the tax payers bailed their financial institution devoid of any regulations. Today, the banks are sitting on trillions of dollars and adversely impacting everyone - especially the tax payer living pay check to pay check.
The rate payer has to pay the increases in water and sewage rates with no consideration what so ever. Not only in San Francisco but the Regional areas too; and as much as SFPUC it is fair - fairness is in the eyes of the beholder.
Here is the point I want to make. The deficit is so large that soon a decision will have to be made as to how to guarantee any of the Bonds we are talking about. Who will bond the bonds, who will act as guarantor, who will provide surety? I see the SF Public Utilities Commissioners and the General Manager and the Chief Financial Officer - seem to be confident that all will be well.
Now, I want to take you all on a tour of history. For thousands of years the First People took care of Mother Earth and the resources that the SFPUC depends upon the waters stored in the Hetch Hetchy dam. Clean water flows by gravity to San Francisco and our Regional partners some 2.4 million. Electricity is sold to areas such as Tulare and to all our MUNICIPAL for their, needs. Basically, we stole the resources and in the last 95 years - enjoy the wealth that is not ours.
The SFPUC is not cognizant of sustainable practices, stewardship, and the holistic approach to conserve and preserve Mother Earth's resources for generations to come. If the SFPUC take the sordid approach to consume and be materialistic- it will suffer the consequences, sooner then later.
It is shocking to see the SFPU Commissioners wallow in the presentations that they clearly do not comprehend. Having no history, what so ever, they have no clue that the property, the resources are stolen, and as such they, the SFPUC have to pay - restitution- sooner not later.
Wall Street has cheated us, the financial institutions the SFPUC deals with linked to the Bonds have cheated this Nation and the tax payers. Now, how can we afford to trust these scumbags and what is most abhorring permit the SFPUC to conduct their financial and fiscal operations in a nonchalant manner? The opinion of Moodys has been thrown to the wind; nay to the cesspool.
These Financial Institutions turn around and will sell the Bonds to European Countries all of which are experiencing fiscal tsunamis. In the real world no one worth their salt is confident that any return on the BONDS is workable in years to come. But, I am sure the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with whom I have no gripe - will, say something. And I will reply: "It is difficult for me to trust entities that have taken this Nation for a ride. The first time around we should have fulfilled our requirements and not betrayed the constituents of San Francisco". With the Water System Improvement Project - I will reveal a systemic failure on the part of those that were in charge of outreach and other related matters. Over $100 million was wasted, when the SFPUC and those in charge of the Water System Improvement Project, that I call Clean Water - decided to divide the project in four parts. Each bid for each part going to a different Prime contractors. So, we had four Primes and each prime as some point had to repeat and do the outreach and related programs to the project during the interim time, within which they had to complete their project. What a Mickey Mouse manner to do business and that too from a large Utility Operator - like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
So, here is how this idiocy played out. Each Prime had to reinvent the wheel and carry out the outreach and related programs. Each time the Prime took extra time to reinvent the outreach wheel - millions of dollars were wasted. In all about $100 million; can we the public at large have an audit of this waste of millions of dollars. If so when?
Today, millions of dollars are being expanded in tunneling jobs - one, next to my office at Executive Park within a stone's throw. The noise is unbearable and no noticing to near by residents and officer workers. This nonsense has been going on for weeks. I know some one must do some outreach; but SFPUC thinks that the area is remote or that it is their fiefdom - where they can do as they please.
There is a law governing decibels and there is a law governing sound waves that can cause tremors. SFPUC has no such concerns and it is this type of blatant, nonchalant behavior that SFPUC will deny or at the least - ignore.
SFPUC purports that it is doing the right outreach but it has failed miserably with the Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) and they way it is addressing the situation at hand; the Sewage System Improvement Project (SSIP). Time will tell.
Some outsiders have been hired to do some community outreach. They have no history and less the ability to come into our community and address the right issues in the proper manner. I have answered their on line questionnaire complete with my email and address. These jerks have yet to contact me - because they know they can fool the people in Oakland but they cannot and we in San Francisco will not allow them to fool the people in San Francisco.
I attended three Land Use meeting with Sophie Maxwell as Chair conducting the drab meeting. At all the meetings - nothing came from the SF Public Utilities Commission - employee reporting. There was no ability to report line item because as was stated by the newly appointed SFPU Commission employee for Outreach - the SFPUC did not have a clear reporting system in place. Sam Murray tried to say something, pandering to Sophie Maxwell and put his foot in his mouth. I could name others - suffice to say they all made a fool of themselves. I called the presentation before the Chair of the Land Use - despicable and will attend other meetings to further comment with empirical data.
We, San Franciscans are not so stupid as to watch the SFPUC appoint a former Commissioner to an appointment that garners her over $200,000 in pay with benefits. We also do not like to be played with and apparently that seems to be the game. We do not like to beg but I can assure you we can discern, evaluate, adjudicate and if possible - litigate.
At the Presidio of San Francisco I helped created the Infrastructure Group, the Maintenance Support Group, and the Real Estate and Property Management Group. I also represent the First People of San Francisco, the Muwekma Ohlone on all Infrastructure Issues: www.muwekma.org.
We built a brand new Water Treatment Plant at the Presidio of San Francisco, a brand new Communication Center, Wired our system with a T3 way back in 1992, rehabilitated the Golden Gate Club, maintained and repaired our internal infrastructure. Besides, upgrading our high power lines and looking after 650 huge buildings and over 1800 housing units. In short a City within a City complete with Olympic size swimming pool, two large gyms, Clubs, Churches, and huge warehouses that once housed planes that flew from Crissy Field.
I served three Generals, so I know how to read between the lines and monitor those that hoodwink the innocent constituents of San Francisco - some 816,000 that make their abode in San Francisco. I can smell a rat from a distance.
In years past, I attended the Clean Water and Sewage Rate Increase committees and watched the buffoonery. There is only so much that the astute constituents can stomach. Once, we had some in attendance at the SFPU Commission meetings. No more. I attend when I have the time and if I cannot watch the meetings, on my computer. I do not like what I see - but I will monitor and collect the relevant, pertinent empirical data.
The Digesters have to be replaced. The failing Weirs repaired. The over 1200 miles of leaking waste water pipes repaired. In all the talk - no one mentions the leaking pipes both clean water and sewage pipes that leach and contaminate the Watershed.
One would think that having stolen the resources at Hetchy Hetch thorough the Raiker Act - the SFPUC would at least have the decency to preserve and protect the Watershed in and around San Francisco. But, this is not the case. The SFPUC continues to spew Methane Gas in less measure, once in greater measure - stock center and right in the middle of a residential area.
On several occasions salt water has entered the system close to halting the operations at the Phelps Raw Sewage Treatment Plant. We know that half treated sewage - the fancy name the SFPUC uses is secondary effluents - have spilled into Islas Creek. Daily, the entire area in short distance from the Raw Sewage Plant on Phelps Street - stinks to high heaven. The elist residents from Pacific Height, Nob Hill, and Forest Hill - would not tolerate such nonsense.
The mantra today is Green and Carbon footprint. The reality is that monthly over 12,000 tons of Methane Gas spews into the air in San Francisco. One ton of Methane Gas equals twenty two tons of Carbon Dioxide. The SFPUC will be quick to say that not all of those figures can be linked to their drab operations. But, the fact remains a large portion is their responsibility - but they hoodwink us into thinking their LEED building at 525 Golden Gate absolves them of all their evil deeds, hoodwinking, and largesse.
Once there was the Muwekma Park and Sanctuary that the SFPUC destroyed. Of course the Outreach morons know nothing of this episode. Less the SFPU Commissioners. Three conduits were dug under the Force Main - thus compromising the Force Main that carries over 300 million gallons of secondary effluents - by Pier 80 and into the Bay. The three conduits costing million remain underground - a White Elephant to the thinking and planning of the SFPUC.
No compensation has been forthcoming from the drab, inconsistent, SFPUC toward the Muwekma Ohlone Park. We are watching and know that KARMA will get the SFPUC ass. The SFPUC talks the talk but cannot walk the walk. Of course they may not like what I have to say - but I do not give a rat's ass.
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