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Battle is about to be joined.

#1  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 11, 2018 2:32 am

I’m about to do the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a shit sandwich, and I get to take a bite. Here’s the background:

We bought our house in early 2017. Our water is from a well shared between the 12 houses in this sub-divided 20 acre parcel. That well was operated by a private water company, and our service rates were governed by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC).

Until October 2017, when the Thurston County Public Utility District (TPUD) bought the water company that owned my water system.

I don’t live in Thurston County, I live a few miles from the southern border in Lewis County.

A PUD is a municipal corporation, very much like a school district. In some Western states, forming PUDs was the only way to get utilities to your town or county. They levy taxes on properties, citizens vote for their commissioners, all above board.

Except, I don’t get to vote in Thurston County elections. I’m registered to vote in Lewis County. TPUD, to me, is nothing other than a different letterhead on my water bill.

Except when it comes to changing the terms of service I had with the water company TPUD bought. No, when it comes to that, TPUD is trying to treat me like all the other TPUD electors and charge me their rates for water.

Now THAT, is a problem.

They bought my water system. Meh. They’re state certified to operate public water systems. Cool.

Except, they have no statutory authority to do all of that. The revised code of Washington has a section, Title 54, I think, that describes what a PUD may do.

One thing described In particular, are very specific legal procedures that must be met to acquire new territory, called annexation. The first requirement is the proposed annexation be contiguous with their existing service area. No joy for them, we’re miles away. Nothing but private properties in between.

Since they are a municipal corporation, and may only do what statute authorizes them to do, treating me as if I am part of their district is unlawful on its face. The action has no authority in statute.

Constitutionally, Washington State constitution Article 1, Section 1 establishes “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”. This is what protects me from government I don’t elect, such as another county’s PUD.

Where I’m going with that is, their commissioners’ signature on a water rate order is of no consequence to me.

Getting back to that UTC, I have another injury I can define as a result of this purchase. All other customers of private utility company’s throughout the state enjoy oversight from the UTC. Rates are regulated, as they should be. However, the UTC has no authority over PUDs. TPUD has, therefore, stripped me of the same protection under the law every other citizen in this state enjoys.

They’re having a couple of public meetings in the coming days to take comments on the 2019 rate increase. I can submit comments in writing to be read into the public record. And, so I will.

I will issue these demands:

1. Re-calculate our water bills based on our usage against the rate schedule in effect for my water company prior to TPUd’s purchase of that company. Credit our accounts with the difference.

2. We will go forward with those October 2017 rates in perpetuity unless we agree to any proposed changes to our service contracts or rates, in writing, under binding contract.

I intend to inform them my next actions are legal, unless they comply with my demands. That letter has to be there by next Monday. Which means, it goes certified mail tomorrow.

My positions on this are not news to the TPUD. I told them these same things in November 2017. That is in the public record and will serve to establish I never agreed to their authority or made any de facto contracts by paying my bills on time.

I don’t have a lawyer. I don’t know one. I can’t afford one. I have to figure out how to do this on my own. There is a high possibility of my neighbors finally waking the fuck up and joining me in a class action. That would be nice.


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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#2  Postby laklak » Sep 11, 2018 2:49 am

Legal Aid?
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#3  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 11, 2018 3:00 am

laklak wrote:Legal Aid?

I have a couple of referrals to call. There’s a payday behind civil rights violations. I’m not motivated by that, but if some hotshot lawyer is, who am I to argue?


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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#4  Postby laklak » Sep 11, 2018 1:14 pm

Looks like you've got the statutes on your side, but you are fighting City Hall. Or County Hall.
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#5  Postby ElDiablo » Sep 11, 2018 1:38 pm

Remember, they are probably experts at fucking with people.
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#6  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 12, 2018 5:55 pm

ElDiablo wrote:Remember, they are probably experts at fucking with people.

Probably. But, being right goes a long way.
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#7  Postby laklak » Sep 12, 2018 5:56 pm

Plus if you go down with your sword in your hand you have a chance at Valhalla. Not to be sneered at.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#8  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 12, 2018 5:59 pm

I found another remarkably interesting bit of federal law that helps me:

42 U.S. Code § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

I have several examples of them bragging about their public utility elected status, acting under the color of law.

They took away my rights under the law when they removed my protections from the UTC.

This will be useful, too.

I just got back from the post office, sending my demands via certified mail and backed up by email. It's fucking on now.
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#9  Postby Sendraks » Sep 13, 2018 9:07 am

Useful bit if legislation to dig up, especially as you don't presently have access to legal advice.
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Re: Battle is about to be joined.

#10  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 13, 2018 3:47 pm

I amuse myself on the youtubes from time to time watching First Amendment auditors at work around the country. I saw this citation in the description of one of the videos.
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