Residents Enraged At Being Cheated Out Of Their Right To Pay More For Water
By Belladonna Blunderbuss
The streets were filled with the outraged cries of hundreds of Sierra Madreans this weekend, angered by the realization that they could very well have been cheated out of their right to pay more money for water. "It's our water!" said one visibly angry resident. "Who dares to think that they have the right to tell us how much is too much to pay?" A sentiment that has found many adherents here.
One mother, her teenaged daughter visibly racked with sobs, told the harrowing story of how the frail and lonely child was subjected to the cruel taunts of her out of town schoolmates. "When they found out how little we're paying for water here in Sierra Madre, they turned on my daughter and shunned her. They told her she is no good because she drinks cheap water. Cheap water! This has been so humiliating, for all of us!"
The problem stems from the usual small group of individuals, people who used misinformation and intimidation to coerce unwitting residents into giving up their rights to high water rates by signing "documents." Many of these signers have now told this paper that they actually thought they were giving their approval for paying more. "Evian has nothing on Sierra Madre's water," said 42 year resident Bardley Blanderstone. "The only difference is you pay more for it, so you think it tastes better. By holding down the cost of our City water, these people have condemned us to a life of believing that our water is less flavorful. I for one can never forgive them for that."
At City Hall the recount has been going on around the clock for the last four days. City Manager Saywatcha Wannahear, gazing over a table filled with smudged and oftentimes indecipherable protest forms, gave what she feels is the most accurate reading of the results. "483 are signed with the names of dead people, with another 912 a mixture of dog and cat paw prints. The remainder are filled with doodles of stick figure guys drinking beer and chatting up women. As far as we have been able to tell, absolutely none of the signatures come from living water rate payers."
Sensing that there are many stories that need telling, we asked some of those out on Sierra Madre Boulevard today about their personal experiences in this series of tragic events. "I had to commit my twin sons to a special care institution this morning, " said one visibly aggrieved father. "When they discovered just how little I've been paying for their water, and how their beloved pet rabbit Hammy has been drinking that cheap stuff, they began to cry and cry. It went on for three days. I just couldn't take it anymore. I will now spend the rest of my life on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena drinking wine out of a paper bag and whistling at office girls on their lunch hour."
An elderly couple walked up and told me the following heartbreaking story. "We've been in Sierra Madre for a long time. We raised our children here, retired here, and yes, this town has been good to us. But now there are those who are saying that we shouldn't be forced to pay more than what we can afford for water. Which will cause us to stay on here and not move. How will new houses be built if people like us are just allowed to hang on? By keeping water rates low, aren't these people denying us the significant life experience of extreme geriatric stress and displacement anxiety?"
The primary issues for those opposing the water hike seem to be that they don't like volunteers, firemen, the library, gardening, the Kiwanis Club, and people who are different. Since recommendations for a rate hike have been around for years, they really should have been used to it by now. That they aren't speaks volumes about their limited attention spans. There is no reason why the rest of us should continue to suffer the effects of their misplaced anger.
Beefy Sideburns, Executive Director of the Sierra Madre Commerce Club, took two opposing viewpoints simultaneously. "Many of our members are against the water hike, which to me indicates that they do feel we have been paying too little. I think that once they really understand that water costs money, they'll pay for it. Otherwise they'll just have to do like the rest of us and gladly write their checks to our All American City."
The Reverend Round Cannonball of the Contributional Church of Realty put it this way, "You only honor God's wondrous creations by paying fair value for them. When you underpay, you play with diabolical forces that harm you in ways that are unimaginable. And believe me, where you're going you'll beg to pay more for water. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to lunch with the Mayor."
I did briefly get a chance to speak with the Mayor. He informed me that water rates will not be going up before they do. "It is basically a process of reaching out and educating people about the needs of our town," he said. "We will be holding Powerpoint Parties and Lunch & Learns on alternating Saturdays over the next couple of weeks. Trust me, it is only after we've spoken about this in a meaningful meeting format with residents will we do what we want to do anyway."
Finally, outraged resident Gandy Dancer has taken his feelings on the matter straight to the streets. Standing in Kersting Court with clip board and papers in hand, he has asked residents to sign a pledge to volunteer to pay three times the amount of whatever their water bill might say. So far he has gathered an incredible 14,000 signatures in a town of less than 11,000. "Those people with their water rate protest need to be taught a lesson they won't easily forget. From now on we in the Coalition of the Water Willing (COWW) will be paying triple. If that doesn't teach them, then perhaps nothing ever will."