San Juan Capistrano


   City Newsletter; "News” or Editorial?

As a San Juan Capistrano resident, I received an insert in my water bill this month, depicting how the Ground Water Recovery Plant is allegedly cost-effective and “reliable”.

As someone trained in statistical presentations I am both appalled and embarrassed for the city by this insert.
From a legal standpoint, the city cannot send out inserts at resident’s expense to (attempt to) explain a fact that would defend a councilmember currently legally involved in a recall process. I have never seen a similar insert in the 18 years I’ve been a resident, so this clearly isn’t a common practice. In my opinion, this opens up the city and that individual to personal liability.

Equally importantly, from a statistical viewpoint the insert is presented as fact when in its current format it is completely editorial. Here are just a few of the flaws:
- There are no sources cited anywhere, or dates provided for when the “phantom” data was compiled. So where was this information pulled from?

- The headline on the pie chart is in no way supported by the “evidence” depicted below the chart, which is undocumented and is directly contradicted by information contained on the city’s own website.

- Exactly who certified that our GWRC is “drought proof”? The city has never experienced a drought of this significance in the history of the plant’s existence! No evidence was provided to back that “drought proof” claim.

- How can the GWRP be considered “reliable” when the current City Manager’s own December 2013 “Weekly Report” documents how often it is non-operational - especially in Nov & Dec, 2013?

- The same report also completely contradicts the statement “increasing the local water supply”. The current report not only tracks how the annual goal has been repeatedly reduced over the plant’s history, but despite those reduced goals, production has failed to meet even those reduced goals in the last 7 of 8 years!

- The City Manager’s Weekly Report documents the GWRP (once again) missed its December production quota ~ so the entire chart is a blatant lie!

-The line graph on the other side of the insert is even more misleading:

The “All-In” portion (total cost) is footnoted as “all capital and operating costs” but makes no reference to bond or interest costs, which significantly increase the cost of operating the GWRP.

If this insert reflects the level of financial or statistical analysis common to our city, residents should be very concerned. These are rookie errors at best and purposely misleading errors at worst.

This insert would never have been accepted in any professional business analytical presentation…and thus it smacks of a baseless political flyer, compiled and distributed by the city and paid for by residents.

I renew my written request to the city that they consult with the city attorney for legal exposure while considering a retraction that should be immediately mailed to all rate payers.

Mark Speros
18-year resident of San Juan Capistrano

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