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Hi Desert Water District Outreach Stumbles Coming out of the Gate

By   /   May 15, 2014  /   Comments Off

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Yucca Valley, Ca.-After two meetings with dismal attendance, 8 citizens and 3 citizens, the Staff running the SEWER outreach has realized they need to change tactics. Concerned they would have too many show up for a meeting, say…100 or so, the plan was to target small pockets of citizens living in Phase One without regard if they were tenants or owners. The dismal attendance of the first meeting was the result of placing 700 door hangers on targeted sections which obviously did not pan out. 

One citizen had 6 rentals in Phase One and was not notified of the meetings by her tenants until she received my email trying to get the word out. I finally found the information from one Director which was not on either HDWD websites or Facebook pages. My call and email to the sites listed in the ad were not returned…Staff was out of town.

The problem is, the HDWD Staff has no experience in these matters which was compounded by the General Manager hiring a public relations firm to create the “campaign” and design the “collateral.” 

Time and time again, recommendations were made to use the word SEWER in the expensive color brochures instead of “Wastewater Reclamation Project” which apparently has fallen on deaf ears.  The fancy term of “collateral” is being tossed about to described printed material and marketing tools. Get real, this is Yucca Valley and the folks at the local coffee shop talk about the SEWER project and use real words like flyers or brochures.

The problem of paying CV Strategies all this money is they get paid no matter how the assessment vote comes down and they are getting paid very well for learning on the job.  The HDWD Staff is getting paid very well while learning on the job too. These mistakes are costing the ratepayers lots of money in ineffective advertising, high salaries and cushy benefits. The mistakes by Staff for failing to proof the newspaper ads is unacceptable and reflects the lack of experience or minimum grasp of understanding publicity.

My criticism has nothing to do with the individuals that are on the Staff as persons.  They are very nice Mothers, Fathers and members of our community but they have NO experience.  A multimillion dollar project needs a professional experienced organization to have an effective outreach program.

Unfortunately, the outreach plan is laid out from May to July with a meeting schedule that does not really serve or accommodate anyone that works or has to drive back to Yucca Valley to make the 5 PM meetings.

The literature available to hand out at the first meeting was approximately 40 pieces and the “price sheet” was of poor quality. No where was an explanation of EDU’s which was tossed about handily at the first meeting which consisted of 8 citizens that previously attended several meetings over the years.

There was nothing printed bi-lingual to explain the technical terms of the SEWER project…actually, nothing in plain English either.

The slick 4 minute video was the sole brainchild of the public relations firm at a cool cost of $5,000 which gives out incorrect information.  In the video, it states a person can choose to have their septic sealed and pumped as an alternative to hooking up to the SEWER project as suggested by the Regional Water Quality Board. That is not the truth.

As requested by the Staff, this public relations firm pinched the HDWD Board of Directors to pay for a survey to see where the SEWER project stands while seated at the Staff table, no less.  Other “vendors” were seated in the audience to include the appraiser, engineers and agencies that designed the collection system. I believe the original agency that conducted the other surveys should have been used to evaluate the progress made, or not, on the education of the SEWER assessment. It was a no-bid award to CV Strategies for a survey they previously pitched at “no charge.”

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

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