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Our View: Rep. McClintock already paid to represent us

Our View
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The cash-strapped city of Colfax recently agreed to pay former Congressman John Doolittle $30,000 to lobby the federal government on wastewater issues. Since news of the deal was published in the Auburn Journal and Colfax Record, residents have rightfully asked: why? Why would Colfax spend taxpayer money on a legislative advocate when it has a congressional representative who appears eager to help? U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is already employed by taxpayers to act in the best interest of 4th District constituents. He is paid more than $150,000 annually, plus generous perks. McClintock has already vowed to seek federal funding for local projects based upon their own merits. McClintock campaigned against earmarks and the pay-to-play Washington politics that are pillaging our local, state and federal government. He hosted a fact-finding wastewater treatment forum with fellow Republican Congressman Wally Herger and other leaders in Auburn Monday. “Colfax has been a flashpoint for this revolt – its residents are being eaten alive by litigation filed by predatory law firms who party while residents pay,” McClintock said in his opening statement, which was e-mailed to the Journal. “… Colfax is hardly alone – small communities across Northern California face the same outrages – and are now demanding relief.” Area water agencies were encouraged to tell the congressman about over-regulation, “ridiculous” water quality standards and excessive fines facing local government. The proceedings were videotaped. McClintock said he would submit the forum-testimony as evidence of the problems due to excessive regulations and penalties at the “earliest opportunity in the 112th Congress.” This week McClintock also announced he had secured a $5 million federal loan to help the Georgetown Divide Utility District refurbish its Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant in Cool. Doolittle served 18 years in Congress. No doubt he has connections from his powerful past and the key leadership positions he held. And maybe he can bend the right ears. But a financially challenged city of just a few thousands residents like Colfax should not be forced to pay tens of thousands for a lobbyist when its residents are already taxed for federal representation. McClintock realizes that Colfax and other foothill communities are being hit in the teeth with excessive financial penalties for breaking clean water regulations. He is acting with a sense of urgency, as demonstrated by his forum this week. Colfax has had longstanding problems with the Edwards family, who live downstream from the Colfax wastewater treatment plant. Allegations against the city and its plant run from sewage spills to lack of keeping proper documentation. Bruce Kranz, Colfax city manager, admits the city has violated a settlement agreement and continued to inadvertently release sewage into Smuther’s Ravine, a creek that runs through the Edwards property. Kranz has railed against lawyers with the Oakland-based Environmental Law Foundation saying their fees, which Colfax may ultimately be forced to pay, are excessive. Congressman McClintock agrees. So why hire Doolittle, and is it necessary? “That’s none of my business,” McClintock told the Journal. “That’s between Colfax and Doolittle.” It is understandable that McClintock would not want to criticize Kranz, the city of Colfax or former Congressman Doolittle. It’s also obvious that McClintock believes he is up to the challenge of representing the 4th District on water treatment issues. It’s yet to be seen whether Doolittle’s up-to-$30,000 compensation agreement will pay off for taxpayers. Colfax has already paid what Kranz said earlier was in the neighborhood of $150,000 for attorney fees and related charges. Hiring Doolittle when a motivated congressman already represents Colfax seems like throwing away more good money after bad.