[Editor: Why is this posted on the Governor's page you may ask.  Well, Ducey seems to have his thumb on the water scale of Johnson Utilities.  Johnson made a sizable contribution to the Ducey campaign. These contributions come with strings attached.  When Ducey was asked about this by a reporter yesterday, he was suitably vague.  

When Gary Pierce (father to the Pierce brothers, one who ran for Congress and the other currently working at AZGOP) was Chairman of the Az Corporation Commission, he made under the table deals with Johnson Utilities.  He was subsequently indicted over these deals along with his wife, Sherry, who received an unusually large sum of money from Johnson, and George Johnson.  The utility has consistently produced water tainted with high levels of nitrates that could be fatal for young children.  Water water every where, but not a clean drop to drink.]

SAN TAN VALLEY — Residents voiced grievances and opposition to a proposed Johnson Utilities rate hike at a Arizona Corporation Commission public hearing Tuesday morning.

Nobody spoke favorably of the utility or the rate increase.

The rate hike would see water service increase in cost by 23.6 percent and wastewater would increase by 17.6 percent. The docket shows that the utility lost money in the fiscal year ending June 30 and that they would need to increase revenue by $5.6 million to cover the deficit.

Many residents complained that the utility was charging them for using exorbitant amounts of water they couldn’t possibly be using. So many residents complained about this that the commission began to track and tally the complaints for later use.

“How can they say I use 33 (thousand) gallons of water per month? I’m not watering the golf course,” Catheryn La Grange said.

The response from the utility? You have a leak or someone is stealing your water, she said.

“We had a plumber, there is no leak,” she said. “I started with paper plates, plastic forks, (barbecuing), so I don’t have to use that much water. And they want more money?”

One resident even said she had been charged for 60,000 gallons of water. Fred Campbell said he had a 7,000 gallon spike on his water bill in one month with no change in behavior. He was told that he must have a leak.

“Excuse me, I’m a plumber, I don’t have a leak,” Campbell said.

Nick Myers, who is running for the state House of Representatives, spoke and said that watching what has happened with Johnson Utilities was part of what inspired him to run.

“I find it preposterous that the ACC, the very organization charged with regulating them, should pancake like a mouse before Johnson Utilities, the very company it’s supposed to be a watchdog for,” Myers said. “Clearly their objective isn’t money, it’s sticking it to those of us who dare to complain.”

After the public hearing, ProgressNow, a grass-roots organization, held a press conference to kick off its “AZ Watergate” campaign. The group says they aim to highlight the connections between Johnson Utilities and top players in Arizona politics, particularly Gov. Doug Ducey, who received the maximum allotted donation from George Johnson.

“We’re launching it because the people of Pinal County deserve better, we deserve fair bills, adequate service, and water that’s safe to drink reliably. So far, Johnson Utilities has failed to provide that,” Co-director at ProgressNow Emily Kirkland said. “We are calling on Arizona Officials to put clean water first by cutting their (ties) with Johnson, Norton and Pierce. And that means returning the thousands of dollars of campaign donations they have received from these men. Second, by addressing the culture of corruption at the Arizona Corporation Commission.”

The Tuesday hearing, broken up into three sessions, was held in Pinal County Supervisor Mike Goodman’s San Tan Valley office.

Three more open house sessions are planned for Wednesday at the Central Arizona College San Tan Campus, 3736 E. Bella Vista Road, San Tan Valley.

The three sessions for the public to attend are 8-10 a.m., noon-2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

The sessions were designed for staff to hear feedback on the proposed rate increase and also any comments on complaints with the water and wastewater company.

There is no time frame for when commissioners might hear the proposed rate increase.

Source: Pinalcentral.com 

Views: 361

Replies to This Discussion

Since we have not heard on or when there will be a trial for the Pierce and Johnson '' under  the table deals," could it be

that now Governor Ducey may be holding up the process of justice, just wondering?

My only input is that an indictment is not a conviction  The old saying about indictments is" Any good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich."  Neither the target nor his attorney has the opportunity to present any evidence.

That said, I have no love lost nor support for Gary Pierce and it would not surprise me that he could do what he is charges with.  Further, mismanagement of the water company, I am sure, has not direct connection with the Pierce's.  And I think it is unfair to make it appear that he has been found guilty of an offense when there has been no chance for redress.  This is too close to Mueller and the MSM standards.

Eh, were does it say or imply Pierce is guilty? I missed that part.  OK, I'll say it because I used to know him. He's always for sale.   Thanks for the reminder that the cabal worked great for Johnson when Pierce was chairman.  Johnson has produced bad water for the folks in that part of the state for 30+ years.  They should be indicted for that IMHO. If they look like crooks and act like crooks chances are they are crooks.

I live in Pinal County and I am a Johnson utility customer. I also attended one of the recent AZ Corporation's (ACC)meetings this week.  I drink Johnson utility water every day, directly from the tap; I've been doing it for almost 10 years.  I'm still alive and have no untoward physical ailments from said water.  Yes, I know this is in direct contradiction to all of the hoopla surrounding Johnson utilities, but the truth is the truth. Further I am against the rate hikes, but for factual reasons. In the last 8 years I have decreased my water usage by half yet my water bill is 2.4 % higher and my sewer bill is 25 % higher. There are several other reasons for my opposition which I listed in a letter to the ACC.  During the meeting yesterday there were some valid reasons voiced, if they indeed can be proven, that people spoke about.  Several stated that they were billed for outrageous amounts of water one month and when  JU investigated, JU stated that they had a water leak.  The people said that they didn't have a leak.  If that is indeed true then it can be easily proven and dealt with.  Others complained that JU does not list the exact amount of water usage on the bills, instead listing by 1K gallons.  That is indeed true, and I concur with those who spoke to that issue. Another valid issue is the hydrogen sulfide smell especially around the Pecan Creek subdivision, off of Ironwood drive.  Anyone driving by that area will definitely concur.

Many others at the meeting used conjecture, innuendo, and heresy in their arguments, and this was appalling. I have addressed this issue of heresy and innuendo that I have observed in Arizona in other groups on this web site.  I also saw it in your statement above relative to the nitrate issue as well as  insinuating  that an indictment is indeed a conviction. Having lived in this area I am aware of several people such as Tisha Castillo, owner of SanTanValley.com, an online 'news' service who for years along with a realtor named Bambi, former supervisor Bryon Martyn, and Stacey Duprey-Purpur  having tried to find any way possible to undermine George Johnson. This was due in part to their differences about the water issues as well as Mr. Johnson's opposition to San Tan Valley incorporation. I have personally dealt with each of these individuals since 2010 and can provide documentation about this, no innuendo or heresy. Their differences range from the 'straw vote' on the name of San Tan Valley to the Pinal County Truth Squad to the Florence Copper Project (which will indeed contaminate the Town of Florence's aquifer.) Martyn and Duprey-Purpur have since left the area, but Tisha is working hand in hand with Supervisor Mike Goodman to go after JU. And yes, Goodman is against JU. Several months ago I attended one of his 'Get to know Supervisor Goodman's meetings' and one of the first comments out of his mouth was a disparaging remark about JU.  Personally that is not acceptable coming from a county supervisor especially about a local business. Mr Johnson has become the big, bad, wealthy boogey man and this is being amplified by the liberal Phoenix media. Shame on those who are buying into it.

I do want to address the nitrate issue though. In 2016 elevated levels of nitrate were detected in our water. These levels were detected on October 27 & November 21, 2016. I don't recall them being that high but they were elevated nonetheless. We were informed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) that these levels could affect infants less than 6 months old. ADEQ alerted area residents to this problem 36 days after the fact. Of course by that time, infants less than 6 months old were already affected so, in all honesty, the alert was moot. It was a typical debacle that served no purpose other than make it appear that ADEQ was ‘doing its job’, which indeed it was not. I seriously question how that agency thinks it protects the public.  But back to JU, they must provide safe water and it must be professionally tested by a certified lab. I have been responsible for verifying well water tests as part of a federal position that I held so I am aware of what the requirements are. Further there are times when tests may be abnormal for whatever reason however there are procedures in place to retest in those cases.  ADEQ sets those procedures and JU must adhere to them.  JU does not get to set the rules.

Finally concerning the indictment.  Let us keep in mind that everyone has a right to due process including Gary Pierce and George Johnson. They are innocent until proven guilty.  Assuming they are guilty is a liberal mantra, not a conservative one. If found guilty, then so be it, they are not above the law, but let the judicial system work, and do not fall in the trap of the court of public opinion.

Water alert at Johnson Utilities https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2016/12/02/adeq-warns-of-high-n...

This: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/pinal/2016/12/02/johnson...

and this: https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2017/04/26/san-tan-valley-famil...

This is what nitrates can do to humans (and they come from septic tanks, agri runoff, etc ) https://www.scribd.com/document/59730792/Nitrate-Pollution-A-Menace...

Seems there is some kind of problem and maybe JU is raising rates to exorbitant levels to pay for their mistakes + Johnson has a criminal case to defend.  Lawyers are expensive.  BTW, no one ever said these guys don't have the right to due process.  Of course they do.  It just goes to character that there is some evidence to indict these people.  Where there is smoke you know.  We've seen JU in the news many times for problems.

No doubt there was an issue in 2016, that's a point that I brought up.  Here are some reason for high nitrate levels in rural areas:

http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/facts-slides-self/facts/nit-heef-grw85....

NATURAL RESOURCES CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION

Nitrate: Health Effects in Drinking Water

How dangerous were these levels? Obviously ADEQ didn't think they were too dangerous as they waited 36 days to notify us. By that time the levels were down to 11.4 mg/L.  WHO has set their levels for nitrate at 11.3 mg/L :

https://www.wqa.org/Portals/0/Technical/Technical%20Fact%20Sheets/2...

When I referenced due process this statement(in bold) is what I'm referencing:

When Gary Pierce (father to the Pierce brothers, one who ran for Congress and the other currently working at AZGOP) was Chairman of the Az Corporation Commission, he made under the table deals with Johnson Utilities.  He was subsequently indicted over these deals along with his wife, Sherry, who received an unusually large sum of money from Johnson, and George Johnson.  The utility has consistently produced water tainted with high levels of nitrates that could be fatal for young children.  Water water every where, but not a clean drop to drink.]

We are told that Pierce made under the table deals...this has not been proven.  He has a right to due process to defend himself. Then there's this..consistently.  Again this is not true..it happened 2ce, and is not a consistent problem. 

Except they plead guilty!  And there are articles revealing that high level nitrates were also found in 2017.

No, none of them have pled guilty; their court date is in May 2018

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/arizona/articles/2017-12-21...

The additional nitrate incident was in June 2017 in an article in the SanTanValley.com 'news' that is owned by Tisha Castillo.

https://www.santanvalley.com/news/san-tan-valley-news/nitrate-alert...

 It was found to be 11mg/L, and remember according to WHO, 11.3 is their cutoff whereas our EPA has it at 10 mg/L. High nitrate levels do occur in rural areas (please review the previous article that I sent) Two incidents do not prove 'consistently'. Further, once these levels were detected that particular well was shut down.  Anything negative about Johnson utilities will be found on Tisha's site even if the hydrogen sulfide is found to be .02 ppm above 'normal'.   She is part of the problem causing the 'fear' that abounds in San Tan valley about JU. And, Jasper I am not here to defend JU, it's just that I know the players, I have dealt with them since 2010, and can prove their bias. All I ask is that you keep these things in mind as you read the 'sensational' stories on her site, hear then on the local left leaning Phoenix TV stations, and read them in the leftist AZcentral newspaper. Perspective, my friend.

BTW are you a JU customer?

I read an article I found after reading about this and remembering when that all happened. The article was clear that both men plead guilty originally.  Then they lawyered up and changed their plea. In their minds, they are guilty or they would not have plead that way. I wouldn't.  If I'm innocent, and I think most would agree with me, never plead guilty.

Interesting Pat. 

I know very few people even if they're guilty who plead guilty so I'd love to see that article.   Trust but verify as President Reagan said.

I just did a general search on the names.  I saw a lot of articles but I can't refer you to the one where these people pleaded guilty before they lawyered up. It may have been azcentral but I found it and I'm sure you can too.

Pat,

I've read numerous articles on the indictment but NEVER anything saying these guys pled guilty and then decided to lawyer up. If you find a link to the article then let me know otherwise ....

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