Montecito Water Race Echoes of Casitas Board Race
I read with interest Melinda Burns’ article on the battle for the Montecito’s water board ( The $120,000 Campaign for Montecito’s Water Future) because we are embroiled in a bitter campaign up here in Ojai for a seat on the Casitas Municipal Water District Board. A realtor/developer/water-privatizer backed contender named Angelo Spandario is looking to unseat incumbent Mary Bergen who is a well-qualified scientist with plenty of background working with cooperating agencies and legislative bodies.
Spandario’s campaign has raised about $30,000 to defeat Ms. Bergen’s self-financed effort. The largest single donation to Spandrio’s campaign came from the California Association of Realtors. Many individual realtors, developers, related businesses, and trusts are listed as individual donors as well.
Last week a disturbing connection between Spandrio, his backers, and water privatization interests emerged. A local presentation titled Protecting Ojai Valley’s Water was promoted on social media just a day or two before it occurred. It seemed odd that I had not heard of the presentation, nor was I familiar with its sponsoring organization ojaiislandfoundation.com.
Out of curiosity I looked at the presenter list and one of them Dr. Andrea Neal is a “team” member of a company called Primary Water Solutions. A quick look online revealed this company’s focus is privatizing water: drilling on private property and selling the water back to customers or districts for profit.
Complicating the mysterious appearance of this presentation and the composition of its speakers is that a name on Primary Water Solutions “team” roster jumped out at me E. F. (Ted) Moore. I went back to the list of Angelo Spandrio campaign donors and found his name listed there, described as real estate developer.
Ted Moore is a real estate developer, member of a company that specializes in water privatization, and he has formed an organization that appears to promote conservation but is selling the services of Primary Water Resources.He admitted in his presentation that the Ojai Island Foundation is simply a group that has been formed to solicit funds for the Primary Water Resources company, which by the way, shares a street address and phone number with E.F. (Ted) Moore real estate business. He is also supporter of Angelo Spandrio in what has been the most contentious and highly priced campaigns for a water board seat in Ojai’s history.
Spandrio has said his intention is to “be a thorn in the side of the board” and to “clean house.” His supporters have made it clear that they will be trying to replace other board members as well as those seats come up for election or through recall.
If this all sounds a little conspiratorial, you will have to bear with me. I am not prone to flights of fancy. I am a high school English teacher and administrator, grandmother, environmentalist, outdoors person, and one who loves my hometown passionately. I see Ojai on the cusp of a movement to secure outside or private water at any cost, and I fear that the environment, local farmers, and the character of our community are at risk.