The Windermere “Con Job” — Installment 1

I moved here in 2014 and while I can’t exactly remember which year I attended my first water company annual meeting, I do remember being amazed at the “passion” expressed by some people who berated and belittled the Board and management of our water company. It caused me to question what was going on! Their “passion” was so convincing, and they seemed to have really deep knowledge of what they were talking about.

It was easy to walk away with the notion that all the volunteer board members who have ever served the corporation and its members have been corrupt, inept, incompetent, whatever. And now that NextDoor has added even more thunder to their “passion” even more community members seem convinced that year-after-after the water company boards are made up of “those people,” a derogatory term that allows neighbors to feel good about setting themselves against neighbors who are actually trying to serve the community.

Over time though I came to understand that it was the same small group of people who were standing up, year after year, loudly berating the volunteers, dissatisfied with one matter or another: Land sale. Company debt. Audit. Online bill payment. Whatever. They change the goal posts year after year, raising new issues to convince new people about volunteers’ supposed ineptitude, corruption, whatever. 

Now that I am four years into being on the Board of Directors for the water company, I have come to realize that the “passion” of some members should be understood for what it is: a “Confidence job.”

The term “Confidence job” got its meaning from William Thompson, a man in the late 1840s who walked the streets of New York asking complete strangers: “Have you confidence in me to trust me with your watch until tomorrow?” Many people did! Thompson was pleasant and unthreatening in appearance, and many of his victims thought they recognized him as a previous acquaintance. They misplaced their confidence in him, and he stole their watches. Thus was born the notion of a “con job.” Read more here

To use a dictionary definition, the con job is an act or instance of duping or swindling, of talking glibly to convince others or get one’s way.

In my opinion, we have people in Windermere who have the gift of glib talk, convincing others of one thing or another, to get their way.

It’s truly remarkable, but their ongoing CON JOB continues every day, every month, every year, one email or NextDoor post after the other. The quantity of their emails and posts shows their obsession with continuing their con.

Here are examples I’ve seen on emails and NextDoor Posts regarding WATER COMPANY elections:

  • Two dead people voted last year.  Wrong. Actually three did. Here’s how: Water company memberships and their voting rights don’t “die” with the death of a member listed on a water company account. The widow, widower, heir, or executor to that property is entitled to vote that membership account until the account changes ownership (via sale of the house or hangar). The surviving current account owners voted in three cases last year. In his complaint to the Public Utility Commission (PUC)  about so-called election irregularities, Jeff Walker glibly alleged that two votes of dead people should be thrown out. Eliminating those votes — and disenfranchising those members — would have given him the election. However, he conveniently failed to tell the PUC about a third “dead voter” as that vote would have been from a supporter who had signed a petition in support of Walker’s PUC complaint. 
  •  The company spent $25,000 to keep Walker off the Board. Nope. Walker did not formally ask the PUC or the company to install him on the Board. Instead, he asked for the PUC to possibly take over the WOWSC. Big difference. And again, since all his complaints were shown to be con jobs, the PUC dismissed the case.
  • Some ballots sent in early are not counted. They are. Some members in our community have so strongly believed that pre-meeting ballots are thrown out that they have marked some ballots and envelopes with invisible ink and turned them in to WOWSC ballot box at the pavillion. Then, after the election, they inspect the ballots with the ultraviolet lights, to see whether those envelopes and ballots were somehow tampered with. After their inspection, they found that the invisible ink marked ballots were all there. They don’t tell the community about that.
  • During ballot counting, the Independent Election Auditor can’t mark ballots as “provisional” because it is not authorized by the Bylaws. So what. Marking ballots as provisional for future determination of validity is standard practice by vote counting authorities. But Walker’s complaint challenged the use of provisional counting, again in order to validate a vote that would have been cast for him, even though it would have been cast fraudulently by a non-member. 
  • The water company was caught “red-handed” last year. Wrong again. I’d seen that said many times in emails from one of the neighborhood critics of the water company. That particular critic never informs his marks that the charges were dismissed.

For those who remember the Paul Newman, Robert Redford movie “The Sting,” a con job can be long, elaborate, and detailed to the n-th degree. Don’t count out that con jobs, for whatever reason behind them, are occurring now. 

Today we will see the Mother of All Con Jobs, from the ratepayer’s representatives filings to the Public Utilities Commission. They are going to throw the kitchen sink at us. I can’t wait to read it! Come back for analysis.

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