YES IT STINKS !!!
Hey folks, hope things are going well with you and yours. I’m still shaking off the shock of our CSD administration office fire – you know, depression – anger – frustration – suspicion – etc. Since I only have access to my personal digital recording of the last meeting (normal cassette copies of meeting tapes couldn’t be provided) which makes it much more difficult to transcribe, I’m just going to hit the highlights. Guess I should be thankful for that mini digital recorder huh?
Local news reports are now characterizing the fire as “Suspicious”. Personally, and from what I’ve heard others in the community comment, I think a fitting one word characterization to this revelation might be — “DUH”, however, until the official investigation is complete and a determination of the cause publically announced personal opinions and beliefs dont’ really mean much. [Eventhough they might be right on the money – so to speak.]
NOTE: There was also a Special Meeting on January 23rd regarding policy job descriptions and salary rates, but I’m not going to bother with that considering some of the interesting meeting discussions four days before the fire, which according to newspaper reports occurred early Monday morning.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
1100hrs: Finance Committee Meeting: Members: Kinsella, Richardson, IGM Tynan, Charise Reeves and Wes Barton. First meeting, discussed how to proceed in future, review Treasurer’s Report.
1200hrs: Public Relations Committee: Kinsella, Richardson, and Wes Barton. Review of proposed letter to the LDPOA regarding re-establishing The Community Pipeline and inserting it into the Discoverer. Not to be a contentious newspaper publication, basically history, facts, Capital Improvement Projects, etc. of the District.
1300hrs: REGULAR MEETING
Establish quorum and Pledge.
Public Comment: Much litter along the roadways. Suggestion of covering loads being transported to the transfer station (dump).
Manager’s Report, Director Afanasiev questions a dramatic change in an OMIDPOU (Outside Merced Irrigation District Place of Use) account usage. IGM Tynan advised he would check with the Billing Officer. VP Richardson questioned a January 17th, 2012 statement during the Board Meeting by Director Ross regarding how the OMIDPOU reporting had changed from its traditional reporting by name to account numbers. Richardson advised the attorney was not aware how it had been changed. Richardson questioned Ross’s statement that “we” had changed it.
Director Emery Ross: “I don’t know, but the district did change it though because of the privacy issue that you know when you tried to put Vicki in jail because she wanted some information that these things changed because you won’t let them have, don’t want people to know your private information, and so there were names on there, and took the names off and put numbers, that’s my understanding of it.”
Ross also stated he had nothing to do with it and was only one director on the board. Richardson relayed that going through past records it became evident the change took place between February 16th 2010 (report with names) and March 15th 2010 (report with account numbers), but there was no indication it was the result of any board action. Ross suggested checking with the office but acknowledged he had complained about the name reporting for years. (NOTE: Mr. Ross has two of the 36 OMIDPOU meters contained in that report.)
[Mr. Ross’s statement does not make any sense. “Vicki” (the former director who resigned from the board following a nolo contendere plea in Superior Court to false information to a peace officer apparently due to information referred to the District Attorney by the Grand Jury after an interview with the entire board and IGM) was sworn into office on December 3rd, 2010 — nine months AFTER this OMIDPOU reporting change had taken place.
Why would Mr. Ross bring her name into his response about a totally unrelated matter? I find it extremely improper, rude and certainly unsympathetic for Mr. Ross to revisit Vicki’s resignation from the board in an attempt to needlessly stir up old information instead of simply responding to a simple question. That board resignation should be allowed to naturally fade from current public discussion, however, Mr. Ross continually brings it up which is quite curious. I realize he and Vicki were quite close and communicated several times a day (according to Ross himself) and he has a different perspective about what transpired (how could he not since the same Grand Jury recommended Ross resign as president), but it has nothing to do with how the OMIDPOU reporting had been changed while he was on the Board and Vicki was not.
Also his accusation that I tried to put Vicki in jail is absolutely ludicrous and just another example of Ross’s grandstanding designed to divert attention from where it should be focused – how did Ross get that reporting changed since he admits to complaining about the name reporting for years? (Probably the same number of years he was on the board 2008-2010.) How can anyone be responsible for the words that come out of another’s mouth while they are under oath? Mr. Ross is extremely confused.
Evidently Mr. Ross does not want people to know how much CSD water he uses for his commercial cattle ranching business which is quite peculiar in itself. Everyone knows he raises cattle. “Ranching in Don Pedro” right? People passing on the highway can see the cattle and realize animals need water to survive (true chlorinated water might be a bit unusual but it’s still water), just as a fire department, elementary school, and waste water plant must consume water. What’s the big deal?
Could it have anything to do with a pipeline that had run through his property for many years that was only recently (late December of 2011) metered so as to detect any possible water loss? To my knowledge it was the only such non monitored water extension line like that in the district. I don’t know, but Mr. Ross seems highly defensive and agitated regarding simple questions about his water connections and usage.]
Director Ross: “Your name isn’t on there – how much water you use” (To Richardson)
VP Richardson: “I am not Outside MIDPOU”.
[Frankly I wouldn’t care one way or the other if people know how much water I use. Obviously I will consume more water than other customers by virtue of the fact I have performed much landscaping on my property within the last twenty years and trees and bushes require water. So what? I pay for the water used and use it efficiently as possible. The FACT of the matter is, I am within the legal place of use for water consumption pumped from Lake McClure and reporting of that usage is not required by MID.]
Ross also stated: “I physically did not go in and go into the computer and change something – I don’t even know how to turn a computer on”.
[I cannot imagine the work involved in writing the many years of “Ranching in Don Pedro” articles without knowing how to turn on a computer.]
There was continued discussion about how no one knew how it was changed, but it was.
I made the motion that the reporting be returned to the traditional reporting format which was seconded by Director Afanasiev. During director comment:
Director Ross: “I don’t think we should divulge personal information, like the other day when you asked for my check for my meter that I bought in ’93 I don’t see why you should do that, you tried to put Vicki in jail over that kind of stuff”
VP Richardson: “Emery you’re talking nonsense now”
Ross: “No I’m not I’m talking fact buddy”
VP Richardson: “No, it’s certainly not fact”
[HERE ARE SOME FACTS – that can be verified with copies of audio recordings of Board Meetings provided by the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District which are further supported with independent private audio recordings of the same meetings. (It is unknown at this time whether original recordings of our Board Meetings by the district survived the recent destruction of the CSD administration office but I believe it is required for them to be in a fire proof container and am quite sure Board Secretary Charise Reeves specifically discussed that matter on a few occasions due to questions from the audience.)
I am growing very tired of Emery Ross’s outlandish, unfounded and clearly self-serving idiotic statements. Again he brings up “Vicki” which makes me wonder if he is projecting his own guilt about that particular situation since he was far more knowledgeable about what was going on behind the scene. I am weary of being personally insulted by Ross and his supporters without a miniscule shred of evidence to support such ridiculous accusations. His belligerent and contemptuous conduct is embarrassing to anyone who knows the facts. I find Ross’s behavior even more outrageous considering his numerous documented examples of relaying blatantly false information and absurd statements to the public and other board members. Hummm, that would be an interesting chronological list to post huh? That along with his board voting record.
ANYWAY, once again Emery Ross attempts to obscure the facts. Here are a couple of actual requests I submitted to the CSD office on the required forms regarding outside water license service:
October 27, 2011: “A complete list of all properties within the CSD Service Boundary which do not financially contribute to the district.” (Reason) Evaluation and analysis of situation to assist in formulating a plan designed to have all properties within the service district actually contribute to this district’s future.”
December 16, 2011: “Records regarding the construction and placement of the Sturtevant water tank. When it was put into service, cost of the project, and how many connections it serves. Any CSD agreements permitting service to outside MIDPOU properties in that service area. (Reason) Understand prior CSD history and how the District boundary expanded outside our permitted water license service area. Director Ross during a meeting stated CSD has in the past installed multiple meters on the same property (as in the 3 meter Poe case), and offered the Sturtevant situation as an example (where 7 meters were installed/promised in exchange for the property where the Sturtevant tank was constructed.)”
January 31, 2012: “Owner name and historic consumption rate for account 6245. (Reason) 7 OMIDPOU accounts out of 36 have had zero consumption in the last four months. 6 have maintained a zero consumption for 25 months. Account 6245 had a previous 19 month average of 15.05 ccf/mo that suddently dropped to 1 ccf for both July and August, then zero for September, October, November and December 2011.”
February 13, 2012: “OMIDPOU meter service agreements (previously requested). (Reason) Information/discussion/action regarding whether meter application and appropriate fee paid to District. Clarification as to whether Mr. Ross paid for his meter installation in 1993.”
Succulently as possible, this is what I have learned regarding this issue.
There was an October 30, 1968 agreement between Sierra Highlands Water Company (T.C. Binkley President) and ranch owner Mr. Ralph Sturtevant to place a water tank on the Sturtevant Ranch to serve that area of the Boise Cascade subdivision. $500 and the promise of 10 free water meters in the future were exchanged for between ½ – 1 acre of land from the ranch for the tank site and a permanent 25 foot wide pipeline easement from the highway to the tank.
Later a portion of that ranch was sold to Emery Ross by Jean Hamar. In an October 4, 2002 letter from the Sturtevant Ranch to the CSD GM it was clearly stated that a free meter was “specifically excluded from the sale” of property to Emery Ross, however, Emery Ross never-the-less tried to get a connection but was initially denied. Later, on 8-2-93 a meter was installed on the Ross property yet charged against the 10 free meters granted to Sturtevant and Hamar.
This letter was written nine years after Mr. Ross obtained his meter so the question becomes did Mr. Ross ever pay his “buy-in fee” as an OMIDPOU property as was done by many other customers outside the water license? I never asked for a copy of his check as he stated, only information as to whether he acquired a water meter through the normal process which he apparently did not. Questions remain as to how Mr. Ross acquired his water connection. If I were an OMIDPOU customer who had to pay a substantial amount of money to “buy-in” I sure as heck would believe it appropriate for everyone esle to do the same.
Coincidentally, an old WWII pilot expression was recently used on the news to describe just such investigative situations: when receiving a lot of flak – you know you are over the target!
I have been using this electronic form since it was first established but an interesting situation has developed. When I turn in my request it is immediately forwarded to all other directors providing those who object to any investigation of particular subjects to begin their “behind the scene” obstruction and opposition to the subject matter being on the agenda or information being provided. Cute little system huh? You might be interested in viewing some of the other requests that have never made it to a meeting agenda or been seriously addressed. ANYWAY, back to the meeting.]
Director Mark Skoien thought since the form had been reported by account number for a while there was no reason to change it back to the original reporting. Richardson advised the public would much better understand the reporting by name since 600 units used by a fire department would be understood as reasonable and the same reasoning would apply to high usage at the elementary school. Account numbers to not provide that information.
President Kinsella opened the discussion for public comment and Director Ross encouraged his neighbor Mr. Kenner and wife to comment whether they wanted their names on the report. His neighbor felt it was a needless discussion and that although he guarded his privacy he didn’t care about the reporting by name and was indifferent about the matter. Sally Punte stated she believed we should abide by whatever MID requires. Mrs. Ross commented that she believed the change had something to do with a privacy issue because of all the foreclosures occurring at the time of the change. Mrs. Ross wanted clarification of whether the name was required by MID. Director Mark Skoien said he had not seen anything in writing from the attorney about changing it back and wanted to see that. Skoien wanted to know if we were breaking the law.
I read Director Ross’s statement from the January 17th meeting:
“I’m just telling you we had it put back to numbers because there were names and so, numbers is what it’s supposed to be, just like, your bill, you know, supposedly, it’s confidential.”
I advised the board that our attorney stated such information was not confidential as Emery has repeatedly stated. Emery stated other people had also complained about privacy issues.
The vote was taken with Kinsella, Afanasiev and Richardson aye (return to old format of name reporting), Ross no, and Skoien abstained.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Overtime greatly reduced due to the SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system repairs. Discussion regarding a PERS (Public Employee’s Retirement System) miscalculation back in 2009 being a difficulty for the last few years.
I asked about the Hughes Net $89.99 monthly fee since the office was furnished internet service by Throckwisp. Charise Reeves advised due to the instability of Throckwisp she was reluctant to turn off Hughes Net which was used prior to Throckwisp. Reeves advised the office was without internet service for two weeks and Hughes was used, when asked when that happened Reeves advised over a year ago. I commented that for $1,079 a year for premium high speed internet service that was not being used at all perhaps it could be dropped and brought back if Throckwisp actually failed again. The Hughes net contract will be addressed on the next agenda.
During the CONSENT AGENDA I referred to the last meeting discussion and proposed creation of a Resolution to commend the Customer Billing Officer for her persistent work which culminated in obtaining over $40,000 owed the CSD from the Public Works Department for the waste water facility. Seconded by Director Afanasiev, Vote 4-1 with Director Mark Skoien voting no.
Approval of Minutes: Vote 4-1, Director Ross voting no.
COMMITTEE MEETING UPDATES:
Board Secretary Reeves advised that the MID COMMITTEE was indeed an ad hoc committee, not a standing committee as Director Ross had previously stated. Director Ross continued to state he thought it was a Brown Act Violation, claiming he believed it was actually a Special Meeting and the secretary was required to be there and take notes. I advised the previous MID Committee was involved with many other issues including the water contract, however, the current committee was only addressing the limited subject matter of the CSD boundary and OMIDPOU issues and once resolved would be discontinued.
Operations Committee met on February 9th, 2012. President Kinsella reported that Mr. Porter wanted to meet at his property rather than the board room but no action was taken other than a conversation between Mr. Porter and the GM. (The Minutes for that committee meeting and the Special Board Meeting of January 23rd, had not yet been completed.) IGM Tynan advised a lateral was ultimately discovered on one of the two properties in question.
Mr. Thomas Porter commented that he shocked at the way the matter was handled and did not know about the Committee Meeting being held at the CSD. IGM Tynan advised that he had left the message with Mr. Porter’s secretary but Mr. Porter responded that his secretary was 200 miles away and she didn’t get in touch with him. Director Skoien explained the misunderstanding and that Mr. Porter thought the meeting was going to take place at his sales office (and then later at the actual location of the properties where he wanted the laterals installed for water service) because he (Porter) never saw the agenda and was not informed by his secretary.
I (Richardson) questioned whether there had been any decision on the laterals by the board one way or another. Mr. Porter acknowledged that he purchased the properties sometime after 1990 and started paying availability fees. I explained it was my understanding that there needed to be a determination regarding how far back availability fees were paid on the properties. (Like the OMIDPOU properties – where since availability fees were not paid, they had to contribute a “buy-in fee” to make up that difference to be fair to all the other properties that had paid since the beginning of availability fees.) President Kinsella advised there was supposed to be research within the office on the availability fee matter first. Mr. Porter insisted that he had paid availability fees since he purchased the property and questioned why another action was necessary.
VP Richardson: Maybe I wasn’t clear, uhm, want to see when the availability fees started. I’ve been doing a lot of reading going back, you know, in this regards because that’s considered Kassabaum Flats, is it not?
Mr. Porter: No
VP Richardson: No? That, that part isn’t?
Mr. Porter: No.
VP Richardson: Ah, Is that in the, ah, Association?
Mr. Porter: No.
VP Richardson: Alright, well, what are we talking about?
Mr. Porter: We’re talking about six acres that’s surrounded by Kassabaum Flats and the subdivision.
VP Richardson: On Torre?
Mr. Porter: Originally it was, it was a recorded white paper subdivision. Boise had recorded it as a subdivision and it had 11 lots. OK? So, then they got into a discussion with the attorney general and they ah went back and said OK we’re going to reverse all these 960 lots, there were 960 legal lots there, and this 5.67 acres was part of that subdivision.
VP Richardson: And what was this subdivision called?
Mr. Porter: It was Unit, ah, 4 or something like that
VP Richardson: OK, because my research, going back through the records shows Units 4,5,6 as being Kassabaum Flats.
Mr. Porter: Maybe
VP Richardson: And that wasn’t developed at the same time, wh, when the facilities and assets from Sierra Highlands was transferred to us, Kassabaum Flats was not developed. That was developed ten years later by a gentleman by the name of ah, Hugh or Hugo Cruickshank and that’s the question, did availability fees attach to those properties at that time like they would normally any other property in the subdivision? That’s the question and the problem is the computer records don’t show that. This means digging through the boxes and going back through Boise and Sierra Highlands records to find out, did the predecessor to your properties pay availability? Because just like in the ah case, back in December 18th, of 2000 where you purchased ahm, I don’t know, what was it, 80 properties and there was an outstanding balance of $61,722 on the availability charges that were never paid, I assume that was all resolved, I haven’t read that far yet, but availability is, I think, the key to this because our attorney has issued a number of letters saying that those fees guarantee water service so if those fees weren’t paid for that ten years we have a problem. If they were, I don’t see a problem.
Mr. Porter: Well, are you going to (inaudible) the investigative work to go back and try and find out when they were ah, when they were paid?
VP Richardson: Well certainly, most certainly.
Mr. Porter: OK, well this is going to lead into the next one, which is, means we’re going to be in a law suit for sure (Multiple voices) I mean you guys like law suits.
President Kinsella: Wait, wait a minute. Did you say there will be a law suit?
Mr. Porter: You’re damn right there will be. (Multiple voices)
Director Afanasiev: Stop there
President Kinsella: Then Sir, this issue is closed. No more.
Mr. Porter: Huh?
President Kinsella: No more, the issue is closed. If you’ll, if you have your lawyer contact our lawyer and let it settle that way – thank you.
Director Skoien: Now I have a question
President Kinsella: Yes
Director Skoien: What about the email that was sent to you from Syndie where she checked all of that, and one was about the three lots no availability and the other one said those two lots, were, had been paying availability.
Discussion continued with Director Skoien stating he believed it was an Operations Committee matter and wanted IGM Tynan to relay his opinion but President Kinsella (due to the threat of a law suit) decided to move on with the next agenda item. Director Skoien again asked that IGM Tynan speak to the matter but President Kinsella said he was moving on. When Skoien asked why, Director Afanasiev responded because there was a threat of a lawsuit. Director Skoien characterized Kinsella’s action as over-reacting yet Afanasiev said it was not due to the clear threat of a law suit against the district. Kinsella stated the board was moving on to item E, Board Room recorder, at which time Mr. Porter made the statement:
“May I add one more thing to this? Cannot huh – it’s going to be a joy Bill to see you not on this board”.
Director Afanasiev advised Mr. Porter not to threaten directors.
President Kinsella brought the topic back to the anticipated replacement of the board room recorder which has been “squealing” with hints of future breakdown.
My best to you and yours, Lew