Recently Modesto Irrigation District meetings are more like a Shakespearean play. They’ve had it all, palace coups, intrigue, betrayal, possible legal violations and audit reports that stretch credulity. And believe it or not we’re underplaying recent events.
Since it directly effects our wallets lets start with the most recent first, the 100 plus pages of the District’s Cost of Service Study Report. Listening to the report of their meeting on line will mystify and amaze you while on occasion putting you to sleep. When I hear “generally accepted audit and accounting standards” the hairs on the back of my neck rise up because that is the same verbiage we heard during the Enron scandal. Remember Enron’s report suggested Enron was financially sound all the while the walls were crumbling down.
MID is fiscally sound but the reasoning behind the report is questionable. The whole purpose of this report is to defend them against an electrical ratepayers law suit. They change the words “electrical profits” to “discretionary funds” that can be applied anywhere the Board chooses. And as the magician says abracadabra there is no subsidy for the water side despite the annual shortfall of $17M. When evaluating MID’s reports keep in mind the old adage ‘liars can figure and figures can lie and that well paid ones do it even better.”
The report’s cost of service numbers are skewed, in other words biased and distorted. As we learned during the Mountain House discussions it all depends on which column they put costs into. Or if they bother to account for them at all, after all out of sight is out of mind. MID has a tendency to say once we decide to supply power to an area the expensive main feeder power lines and substations don’t count against cost of service. Yet someone pays the bill. But that person is an imaginary one named ‘discretionary’.
While we’re still working our way through the report we haven’t come across the validation of supplying electricity at below cost to businesses while still covering their costs. If you have any doubts, it’s ‘Discretionary’ that is paying for it. If you want to meet ‘Discretionary’ take a look in the mirror.
As we continue to review the report and receive information from our on-going public record requests, there will be more to follow.