Editorial

Case Dismissed. So why is Ventura still suing us?

 web 7 2 lake to go with edit
Opinion Editorial
Laura Rearwin WardOjai Valley News publisher
The launch to nowhere: The stairs to Lake Casitas now go to dry ground. Effective July 1, Ventura City Council rescinded its Stage 2 water-shortage event, “based on current supply,” while Casitas users remain in Stage 3.
The Santa Barbara Channelkeeper complaint against the city of Ventura has been dismissed. Ventura was taking too much water from the river and has now agreed to take less during the dry months.
Channelkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, is satisfied. The Ojai Post Office bell tower should be ringing sounds of sanity and hallelujah.
Redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim is a definition of fanaticism, and the Ventura City Council is still on the march up the hill for Ojai’s water. Water adjudication means a reshuffling of the deck, where ratepayers lose ($6 million as of December to Walnut Creek attorneys), and those able to grab more control, will.
Even Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger wondered aloud at a recent water adjudication status conference why the case is still going forward. The “Physical Solution” — litigation style — is a path to more power for big players and boards of tiny fiefdoms throughout the watershed. It’s “Ojaitown” — the B-movie.
Ventura City Councilmembers believed the Walnut Creek lawyers of BBK who said that a countersuit against Ojai and Ventura residents was its best option — and attacked more than 12,000 of their neighbors’ and constituents’ water rights. The current Ventura council members uphold the claim, (Third Claim for Relief), that the Ojai Valley’s water rights, and its general welfare, are subordinate to Ventura’s.
They believe that these “rights” are codified in the atrocities committed more than 100 years ago by the San Buenaventura Mission system practices. Meanwhile, cash-strapped Ventura has been forced to cut back on fire protection, homeless services and grow its unfunded liability.
On June 15, Ventura City Manager Alex McIntyre, shared that Ventura “is not on very solid financial ground.”
What is the reason this case continues? What can possibly be their answer? Ventura’s stated reason for “bringing the entire watershed into the process” no longer holds water. There is big money and a bigger plan behind this lawsuit. Those who tell you that going forward with the suit is for your own good are actually the abusers they sound like.
A continuation would be clear evidence that the Channelkeeper lawsuit was merely an excuse seized on by the fat-cat water attorneys of Best & Best and Krieger and dozens of others, to prey upon residents, hapless water agencies and governing bodies to shamelessly, mercilessly drain their coffers over the next 10 to 40 years while the wealthy, and sneaky, amass the marbles.
The dismissal of the lawsuit is a tidal shift, and brings an opportunity to Ventura councilmembers: Claim victory, do the right thing for their own constituents, and make peace with their neighbors. Heal the permanent divisions being sown, save Ventura taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and dismiss the crosscomplaint against thousands of Ojai Valley and Ventura residents.
We ask our readers to join us in action. Ask those who are actually in charge at the city of Ventura: Now that the case against the city has been dismissed, and the environmentalists have left the building satisfied, what is the reason Ventura councilmembers want to continue to sue thousands of water users? What is their goal? What is the issue that warrants a physical solution? What can be the return on investment for Ventura taxpayers?
This is a watershed moment; we are barely into a 15- to 40-year case. Ventura has successfully ended the case against it by Channelkeeper.
Now is the time to end it all. Isn’t $6 million enough for Ventura taxpayers to spend fighting their neighbors? (A drop in the bucket for thirsty Walnut Creek lawyers who will likely suck 10 times that amount if the adjudication continues.) If the first complaint can be dismissed, so can the cross-complaint.
We, the people being sued, will be paying for the Porsches of BBK lawyers for decades and creating layers of bureaucracy, without adding one single drop of water.
Please take action now, and contact your Ventura neighbors and council. Tell them to dismiss the case.
Call or write the Ventura City Council members: 805-654-7827
Mayor Sofia Rubalcava — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Joe Schroeder — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lorrie Brown — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jim Friedman — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Doug Halter — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mike Johnson — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.