“THEY WILL GET YOU BACK”

“They have deep pockets at the tax payers expense. Even though you won they will “ get you back” and drain your bank account before they ever pay. It’s like a public middle of town stones throwing. Its crazy. They are working for us as public servants. They take this personal like its each individual on the board that lost. It’s like they have to admit defeat and pay out of their own personal accts. It gets me so drove up. We’ve been in a similar situation in our life and we’re told you cannot fight then. They will bleed you. I pray that justice serves not only you but our community. “

This is Facebook post by a friend of mine and has bothered me for several days but she may be right, Miners Camp is not the first business to be caught in the crosshairs of FPUD. Valero brought a valid claim to this board and GM. The PUD's broken water lines had apparently damaged Valeros property. The district wouldn't resolve the issue and the parties were forced, just like Miners Camp, into litigation. This cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees as well as a huge amount of stress and loss of business. Common sense tells us the burden was not equally shared. Only the district has an endless legal budget. The board decided that litigation was cheaper. Is this the same route the board is perusing with Miners Camp?

For decades, Foresthill PUD has split their fuel business between the two gas stations in town, alternating between the two; one month they buy from one station, and the next the other. Not years, but decades. However, after Valero’s claims were made and litigation was filed the FPUD stopped purchasing fuel at Valero’s potentially injuring Brian and Fred by taking away revenue and profits. Was the PUD retaliating against Valero for exercising their First Amendment protected right to petition government without fear of retaliation? If not, then we must ask why would the PUD all of a sudden, after decades, stop buying fuel from Valero. Brian and Fred are a blessing to our community. They have donated and volunteered here for many decades and run one of the best businesses in town. One could write a book on the contributions they have made. We all know the one thing that will force any lawsuit to settle is one side running out of money. Take away the money and you take away a persons right to defend themselves.

After hearing complaints from PUD employees that they could no longer purchase fuel at Valero, I submitted several public records requests asking for documents relating to who made the decision to stop the fuel purchases. The district responded no documents existed.

You may see PUD vehicles at Valero but they are not there for fuel. Instead they can only purchase their own personal items. The board may abandon Valero but their employees will not; they are loyal, outstanding people. These are guys and gals that we grew up with, our friends , our neighbors , our classmates. These are the folks that RUN the PUD and do a damn good job doing it. They are the ones that deserve respect for keeping us in water. They are the complete opposite of the general manager and the bureaucrats that we've elected.

When I spoke about this at a recent board meeting one of the board members actually snickered. They apparently believe our livelihoods are fair game and find humor in suffering.

We patronize our local businesses because this is our community and these are our people. We do it because we know the people behind the counter. We buy fuel in Foresthill because we know saving a few cents a gallon in Auburn means less dollars in our community. We do it because we've known the owners of these local businesses for years and some for our entire lives. Most importantly we do it because these businesses employ our friends and neighbors and they rely on our loyalty. It's unacceptable that our local officials would do anything to potentially hurt or retaliate against one of our own.

The PUD board has not treated Miners Camp litigation any different. The board has concluded it would be cheaper to pay more legal fees going forward instead of fixing the issue. What about their moral responsibility of just doing what's right let alone the legal responsibility of obeying the Court Order to cease and desist billing until they comply with the law?

Our PUD should be supporting local businesses not attaching them. When the power was out and the only place they could buy fuel was Valero the general manager apparently approved fuel purchases. As soon as power was back on he’s back to his old tricks. Boycotting one of our local businesses by politicians we elected is indefensible.

Is the PUD attacking some of our local business to ensure the others remain silent? They are sending the message if you speak up we will not patronize you. This is not easy, but I would encourage everyone to speak up without fear. I had someone ask me aren’t you afraid of what they will do? No, they have the bag of dirty tricks, but we have the truth.

Let’s, as a community, demand the board reverse its boycotting Valero policy and let’s also demand they settle the Hillcrest and Miners Camp lawsuits.

If you care to be heard I’m sure the GM and board president will be all ears.

Please contact them at Neil Cochran, President at ncochran@foresthillpud.com and Hank White, GM at

Gm@foresthillpud.com.

Leif Lowery

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