Oversight

After a judge dismantled Stockton’s $600 million waterworks privatization deal – the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi River – the Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton, the litigants, suggested that a citizen oversight committee be formed to watch over water.

 

The coalition’s Bill Loyko was on speaker phone this afternoon for a meeting of the City Council’s water committee. He and the coalition’s Dale Stocking were recommending for an oversight committee. Municipal Utilities Director Mark Madison was recommending against.

 

Madison went first. The water committee, composed of Councilwoman Diana Lowery (the committee chairwoman formerly known as Sally Save Water), Vice Mayor Kathy Miller and Councilman Dale Fritchen, is a capable group, he said. It also allows ample public input, and to staff another committee would be expensive and redundant, Madison said.

 

“My recommendation is to stay the course,” he said.

 

In rebuttal, Loyko dispatched the matter of staff costs and redundancy by suggesting that a citizen oversight committee replace the water panel (No kiss-up, he). It could be for water what the Planning Commission is for planning, Loyko said. Stocking, who was in the room, might have assessed that the committee’s interest in disbanding itself was not high. He said a replacement committee was not what the Concerned Citizens Coalition wanted. Instead, it sought to form a group that could bring to the water committee matters of concern, he said.

 

Lowery and Fritchen were skeptical. Water committee meetings are public, they said, and people may participate there.

 

“I feel very good about our public transparency and opportunity for participation,” Lowery said.

 

But speaking at public meetings and making decisions at them are different things, and Miller saved Loyko and Stocking for another day. She said she would not be opposed to formalizing citizen involvement, perhaps by adding resident members to the existing committee. Lowery and Fritchen said that is worth considering. The committee is to do so in July.

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