Prada will destroy Apple Hill - Opinion by DAVID BOLSTER
To the great dismay of the agricultural and business communities, ratepayers, and longtime informed, rational observers of EID, the Mountain Democrat has endorsed Greg Prada for the EID Board. Mr. Prada has made it clear the last few years with statements during public and private meetings, and on his Website, that his primary goals are to eliminate the Agricultural Water Rate Classification, divest the District of Project 184, and find a new general manager who will collaborate with his destructive agenda. During the campaign, Mr. Prada has moderated his rhetoric, and for the sake of political expediency, modified some of his positions. A one-hour face-to-face meeting for the purposes of obtaining an endorsement from the Mountain Democrat Editorial Board does not cleanse or expunge Mr. Prada’s multi-year track record relative to the El Dorado Irrigation District.
The Prada agenda outlined above is problematic enough, but if we are in the unfortunate position of having other like-minded individuals elected to the EID board, the board will devolve into a GPUD-like dysfunctional circus, and the Prada agenda may be realized. A wonderful opportunity to sell newspapers, a calamity for EID ratepayers. We will lose, in my observation, the finest GM in EID’s history.
Starting in 1987, I served for five years on the El Dorado County Chamber Board, and on the Economic Development Corporation Board, with Jim Abercrombie. Mr. Abercrombie is a licensed Profession Civil Engineer with a marketing MBA. With his education and experience in the water and electric utility businesses, Jim Abercrombie is the most qualified individual ever to serve as the GM of EID. Witness GPUD as an excellent example of a highly qualified GM being forced out of the agency by a misguided board. Regarding the Ag Water rate, if Mr. Prada is successful, that will effectively end a substantial percentage of commercial agricultural activity within the District. Only the largest scale wineries within the District may survive, and the rest, along with the Apple Hill program that’s taken 50 years to build, will be gone. Let’s be clear, Mr. Prada’s goal is to kill my family’s farming business that has operated since 1951, along with other neighbors such as the Larsen family who have operated their farming business in Camino since 1867. The loss of Project 184 would not only exacerbate the effects of losing the ag rate class, it would have far reaching implications to the entire district and its ratepayers. Not only is there 15,000 acre feet of water associated with the project, but valuable water rights as well.
Regarding rates and debt service, we all, including Richard Englefield, prefer to see the district’s rate increases either leveled off, or rolled back, and debt service pared, if the financial condition of the district warrants. The distinction between the District 2 candidates is that Richard Englefield has a demonstrated track record of problem solving and rational contribution relative to the water-related community entities that he has served. Conversely, Mr. Englefield’s opponent advocates a corrosive and destructive path that will endanger our water rights, water availability, and lead ultimately to ever higher water rates for the district’s rate payers. I urge the voters of EID District 2 to vote for Richard Englefield.