1.    CALL TO ORDER: Presiding Officer: Establish Quorum, Pledge of Allegiance


a.   Grand Jury Report (2 hours)

        Request – Response to the Grand Jury


Any Director may address the board on any item of interest that is within the subject matter and jurisdiction of the District.  Generally no discussion or comment by other Board members should be expected on non-agenda items, except to properly place the matter on a future agenda for review, discussion or action as appropriate.


NOTE:  Page two (2) of the thirty-one (31) page Board Packet contained the following information from Board Secretary Charise Reeves to all Directors:

 In the event the Board is unable to agree on a response by the August 29, 2011 date specified in Judge Parrish’s letter, District legal counsel has advised that the Board could authorize the District legal counsel to send a letter to the Court explaining that under the applicable Penal Code provision the District has 90 days in which to respond to the Final Report of the Grand jury rather than 60, and that therefore the District’s response is due on or about September 26, 2011.

Verbatim transcript of:

Special Meeting of the Board of Directors

Lake Don Pedro Community Services District

9751 Merced Falls Road

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.


Prepared by Lew Richardson from a digital audio recording

(NOTE: BOLD FACED material will be addressed and/or corrected later under separate Blog Posts)


President Vicki Keefe:  The Special Meeting for ah the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District Friday August 26 at approximately 10:09 is now called to order ah, let’s establish a quorum, Vicki Keefe here.

Director Emery Ross:  Ross here.

Director Mark Skoien:  Skoien here.

Director Bill Kinsella: Kinsella here.

Director Richardson: Richardson here.

President Vicki Keefe:  Ah please also note that ah Charise Reeves is here, the ah Financial Officer and Dan Tynan the GM.

Director Ross:  Interim

President Vicki Keefe: Interim GM, excuse me.  Ah, Emery would you lead the Pledge of Allegiance for us?

Director Emery Ross: Ah certainly.   (Pledge of Allegiance – 18 audience members)

President Vicki Keefe: The first and only thing on the agenda is the ah Grand Jury Report, the response to it, ah, we do have a response that the board had requested at a prior meeting to have the district attorney respond for us in this legal matter. 

Public Member:  District attorney?

President Vicki Keefe:  I’m sorry the ahh, (laughing) ah yes, the district’s attorney.  Sorry, Ah, OK, ah, do I have a motion to accept or not accept?

Director Ross:  Madam President I’ll make a motion that we accept the Grand Jury response as drafted by the ah our legal counsel and get it to the Grand Jury today, immediately, in a timely manner.

President Keefe:  Do I have a second?

Director Skoien:  I’ll second it.

President Keefe:  Any discussion?

Director Kinsella:  Yeah, the Grand Jury sent the repor….information to the board, not to the attorney, if we don’t have guts enough to reply on our own it should not be sent to the attorney for a third party input, the attorney was never present during the ahh, all of these meetings and his responses are superfluous and should not be handled.  There also is an issue here on page 37 of the Grand Jury Report, it says that not all issue, not all facts…let me read this thing…

Charise Reeves: That is, that is on page 24 of the packet

Director Kinsella:  Ok, page yeah,  “A portion of the findings, not included in this report, have been turned over to the District Attorney”, until we get a reply from the District Attorney as to what actions he is going to take we should not even consider adopting this report.

President Keefe:  Mark

Director Skoien:  That, anybody that has any questions about this report has had time to put his input to Raymond, and that thing is not part of this report that’s why it says it went on to wherever it went, it has nothing to do with this response.  That, that’s not going to be over in 60 days so how can you wait for it?

Director Kinsella:  It could be over in 30 days.

Director Skoien:  30 days from now which makes it late on our response. 

Director Kinsella:  It would make, it could be over in 30 days from the day the district attorney received it.

Director Skoien: OK, but it

Director Kinsella:  I’m not going to argue with you on it Mark.

Director Skoien:  But I’m just saying it’s not over so how can we wait for it and respond on time?  And it’s not part of the report.

Director Kinsella:  If the District Attorney, if the District Attorney decides to do something that could –

Director Skoien:  (Interrupting) It has nothing to do with the response to this report.

Director Kinsella: Why don’t you let me finish what I had to say?

Director Skoien:  Well you didn’t let me finish so I thought that that was the rule.

Director Kinsella:  I’m not even going to bother with….                              

President Keefe:  Any other comments?

Director Ross:  Ah 15 years Public Agency, we had many of these Grand Jury inquires, Betsies 30 years, many Grand Jury inquires.  We’re a Special District we did not answer this, we’re not lawyers, the attorneys always answer this stuff, we gave them input like we did here, they answered it, that’s it.  We don’t, you know, very foolish to think that we could answer this.  Now the one last time was simple they directed me and just, all it said was we’d be more professional, I mean I wrote that big deal.  It said be professional, I said we will. That’s it.  These these findings are complex this board will never agree on these findings and recommendations you see what Raymond put in there its way to complex that’s the reason you have a third party do it somebody who understands what Judge Walton is thinking when he reads this stuff.  Ah, we’ve already got,  I’ve been told, three at least ah Grand Jury complainants for next year, so, you know, we have plenty of time next year to play but we should get this over with now.        

President Keefe:  Well, I ah, remember that ah that when we decided and voted to send this to the ah attorney that ah we were all told we could have our comments and forward them to him.  Ah I tend to agree with you I think the attorney ah should handle this. And if there are any, are there any other comments before I go to the floor?  Yeah.

Director Richardson: Yeah, OK I’m going to read this because I don’t want to get tangled up in the moment, so this is for The Record and I will supply you a transcript

Board Secretary Charise Reeves:  OK

Director Richardson:  ….electronically so you don’t have to do it.  Mr. Raymond Carlson’s response to the Grand Jury is very well written, however, I still believe it was a responsibility directed to the Board of Directors who participated in the Grand Jury interview on May 5th because, after all, Mr. Carlson was not privy to the conduct of, or answers by, particular directors.  Responses to Finding F-9 that the Board of Directors lack knowledge of policies and procedures, and F-10 that the Board of Directors violated Ethics policies may have perhaps been more enlightening if answered by those who participated in that interview which resulted in recommendation R-3 that Director Emery Ross resign as president and Conclusion C-8 that a portion of the findings be turned over to the District Attorney for possible prosecution. 

[CLARIFICATION NOTE:  The actual Grand Jury statement read:  “The President of the Board should resign as President….”.  Although Emery Ross’s name was not mentioned in the report he did attend the Grand Jury interview on May 5th, 2011 as the District Board President.  Ross resigned on May 9, 2011 four days after the Grand Jury interview with all directors and the General Manager.  This resignation should not be confused with his first resignation as president on March 21, 2011 and subsequent re-election at another board meeting by himself and Directors Vicki Keefe and Mark Skoien.]

I am also concerned as to why Judge Parrish apparently shortened the normal 90 day answer period to 60 days.  Any response at this time would be premature considering a District Attorney criminal case, initiated by the same Grand Jury Report, remains unresolved.  Related to this are questions as to whether district funds have been utilized for criminal legal representation by one or more directors who acted outside the scope of their official capacity.  These questions remain unanswered and reimbursement of district funds remains a distinct possibility. 

You know, you’re right the three of you were the ones who decided to have the attorney do it and I can understand why because evidently two of you are the sus  subjects of the Grand Jury investigation.  I think it highly improper that you even have a vote in this matter.  Ahm, you folks have no idea what happened there – just as the community has no idea of what happens in these meetings.  They don’t know that a president lost his temper threw a gavel across the table and quit, and then later was advised by the Grand Jury to resign.  I mean, this is ridiculous, all this was unnecessary if Item S back in February 22 was addressed.  All you had to say is well let’s look at it, OK we looked at it we don’t think it reached the level of having to do anything, we investigated, its over.  That would have been it. It would have all been over – done, but instead, the three of you took the position to conceal wrongful behavior resulting in the Grand Jury investigation.

Director Skoien:  What are you talking about?

Director Ross:  What an absolute lie.

Director Richardson:  OK, alright, we shall see. 

Director Skoien: First of all, who concealed what?  I mean, your’re, I don’t…

Director Richardson:  You refused to investigate the allegation that there was misconduct by a director.

Director Skoien:  Well I don’t know if you could say I, I personally refused to investigate, am I, is that my job?

Director Richardson:  You voted for it.

Director Skoien: You two seem to think that investigation is your job

Director Richardson:  Oh certainly not

Director Skoien: …and you you couldn’t do it well enough (gavel bangs) when you supposedly got paid to do it so now you think you can do it (gavel bangs) here. 

(multiple voices)

Director Richardson:  Oh, oh, that’s a good one

(cross talk – multiple voices)

Director Skoien:  and this and this would have never ended

Director Richardson: And you are the one (gavel bangs)

Director Skoien: because you’re on the board (gavel bangs)

Director Richardson: And you’re the one speaking about interrupting.

President Keefe:  (gavel banging) Gentlemen, gentlemen, please one at a time.

(Background talking)

Director Richardson:  Again as I would remind Director Skoien talking about interrupting other people,  that is exactly what you just did.  Now going back to item S, that was a simple thing to do, it was a simple, simple thing to take care of  but the three of you knew exactly what was going on behind the scenes and you did everything you could to conceal it.  Well guess what?  Mr. Ross, your statement that the Grand Jury wouldn’t do anything was absolutely wrong.

Director Ross:  Previous question, previous question –that cuts off all (inaudible)

President Keefe:  Ahh, well I think you’re…

Director Ross:  (inaudible) respond to the previous question


Director Kinsella:  Point of Order, I think

President Keefe:  We’re going to go to the public

Director Kinsella:  You can’t go to the public they’re not listed here not on the agenda

Charise Reeves:  Public Comment…(inaudible) on the agenda

(Multiple voices)

Director Keefe:  Read the Brown Act

Director Kinsella:  Because you apparently are the object of an investigation of the district attorney’s office I don’t believe you should vote, you should recuse yourself.

(Multiple voices)

Public: How do you know?

Public:  How do you know that Bill?

Director Skoien:  That is not included in this report what are you talking, it’s not included in here Bill its not something – we’re voting on his recommendation.

Director Kinsella:  I don’t have, I don’t have to answer to anybody, I made the statement to Vicki.

Tom Porter, [President of the Deerwood Corporation]: (Interrupting from audience): You have to answer to all of the homeowners and…

Public: Ratepayers

Public:  Exactly

Tom Porter: … owners in this community Bill remember that

Director Kinsella:  I remember an awful lot.  I’m not the only one that’s, that’s aware of that.  Most of the people in this community are aware of what’s going on.  I’m getting telephone calls from people I’ve never even talked to wanting to know what the hell is happening.  Now there’s a problem there and I think to remove any any doubt Vicki should recuse herself.  And It’s not, it’s not me that made this statement other people have made statements including 

Tom Porter:  You’re speaking to me I think that all of us came here ah to to observe and so far its a circus and my belief is that we should be able to speak.

Director Kinsella:  Mr. Porter, Mr. Porter the majority of the meetings that we’ve had here in the past six months have been a circus so I agree with you there.

(multiple voices in audience agreeing)

President Keefe gaveling

Clem Brown:  And you two have been the clowns in the circus


Director Richardson: Oh Clem please, (Gaveling)

President Keefe: Please, this is going to go to the public and then it’ll come back to the board for further discussion if you’d like to speak

Director Kinsella:  Say again?

Board Secretary:  You have to go to the podium

President Keefe:   If you’d like to speak go up to the podium

Director Kinsella:  Let him

Kathy: Here we go again, this is appalling, my name is Kathy Agee, everybody knows me, you know, I’m bringing this in to what you guys are talking about ahum, and I’m just going to make this statement and I hope that you guys will just you know, Lew just give me a chance to talk don’t say this isn’t regarding  this it is, it will fit into it, just give me some time with this.  Bill at the last meeting you showed deep concern looking into some calls that were made by Vicki to the District lawyer and you indicated that these might be personal calls and that Vicki should pay for them ahh, and you said that you thought the ratepayers should not pay for them now I find that this statement of your concern for the ratepayers is less than sincere.  If it would not have been Vicki, Vicki doing this it wouldn’t have been brought up or so important in my opinion. Let me finish please, I know you want to respond to this and I hope you do.  But the reason being, that I feel this way is because the Board was given a lot of evidence of waste right down to the point of hundreds of phone calls and set in front of you as you, Bill and Lew, took those packets and just threw them up there on the edge as if you were not concerned.  That concern should have been equally you should have showed a lot of interest in that equally but of course Vicki’s name wasn’t on that. So I think anyone in this audience that’s been to any meeting can see what’s happening here.  Your vendetta your dislike for Vicki has consumed you and Lew to the point that you have not been representing us the ratepayers it has been focused on Vicki.  So you have not done the best of  your ability to represent us and at this time I am requesting that you both consider resigning from this board which would be in the best interests of this community.  (applause)

President Keefe:  Does ah anyone else want to speak?  Please come up to the podium.

Tom Porter:  It’s nice that ah Kathy came and spoke ah, I think that ah, we all know, oh and by the way my name is Tom Porter and I represent the Deerwood Corporation, ah we have a country in deep, deep trouble I’ve stated that before and here we come I used to think that the ah smaller the ah element of government the better it was.  Don Pedro seems to want to fight all the time.  We had a ah ah fight over at the homeowners’ association and had to recall all the all the members of the board.  Ah, and ah, and now it’s very smooth.  I met with one of the ah board members over there last night I spent three hours  with them it’s very smooth over there.  So, I don’t know where the trouble comes but ahh what we should do is try to do something to promote good will in the community and ah get off of these little tangents that really don’t mean anything in the whole total picture.  What we’re here to do is not to have meetings and argue out, whole reason for being is to serve people with water that’s the whole thing we’re supposed to be doing.  Serve people with water.  Ah and ah, I unfortunately didn’t attend the Grand Jury hearing ah and I do miss some meetings I ah have other offices ah but ah I certainly know that what I saw here this morning and I would second what Kathy has said ah Bill and Lew you should consider resigning.  If you don’t consider resigning then I personally will look into the idea of recalling the board ah, and that’s not a threat that’s just something I do intend, and I ah, I, I want a smooth running board that will serve water and ah, serve the people of this community and I support what Kathy Agee said and I also will ah put together a committee to to look into the idea of perhaps recalling the Board.  Ah, and  try to get somebody who ah, you know (laughing) you don’t make any money on this thing,  its just hard work but why should we have hard work and a bad time doing it?  (Laughter)  So, I say cheer up and let’s get past this thing and let’s do our jobs.  That’s what I have to say.  (Applause)

Director Kinsella:  We knew it was going to happen.

Harry Alfier:  Hello, my name is Harry Alfier and um I’d like to address something in the Grand Jury Report, that I found sort of interesting regarding ah, I think they were talking about Lew’s Blogs basically that its probably not appropriate for a sitting board member to ahh, and I see Raymond’s response is basically relying on the First Amendment, but I found something interesting I happened to look at his blog the other day and its regarding the under billing to the sewer plant, the county basically, and the fact I guess that the district never charged them for the original meter, and of course Lew decides that that’s some kind of conspiracy that all the people that live down around the golf course that they must have been  somehow been in kahootz or you know, that they’ve been receiving some kind of benefit cuz we’re a special benefit because cuz it has the word golf course in it.  And to me its just another example of Lew playing with the facts, you know, fast and loose with the truth.


Director Richardson:  Coming from a special interest

Harry Alfier: Yes, special interest all us real estate and golf course people you know we’re the scum of the Earth I guess

Director Richardson:  I never said that

Harry Alfier: I would have to agree with Mr. Porter and Kathy that ah it’s quite obvious what’s going on with Vicki and ah Bill and Lew here its nothing more than a vendetta I guess they blame her from getting recalled from the association board when it was no ones fault but their own. And ah I’d like to see the community support Vicki and ah maybe call the district attorney and let him know what’s really going on down here that this is nothing more than a vendetta.  Ah, two, two gentlemen that ah seem to have problems getting along with most people and ah put a big bull’s eye on Vicki.  Thank you.  (Applause)

President Keefe:  Are there any more comments?

Ruth Smith:  My name is Ruth Smith, and ah, Bill I have worked with you for many years on the board and on different committees and you were always (clears throat) excuse me, always level headed and and um, saw the right thing and saw good in people I don’t know what’s happened.  Um, you made the comment, ah, when ah, when Vicki first got on the board that you would have her off of here within 30 days. 

Director Kinsella:  Say that again?

Ruth Smith:  You made the comment, a remark, that you, that when Vicki got on the board that you would have her off in thirty days and its, its sad that this community has come to this that um that we have to take things to the Grand Jury to settle our problems ah, things could have been handled without going this far.  Ah, another thing is you keep saying Vicki.  Vicki and Emery I read that Grand Jury Report I didn’t see Vicki’s name or Emery’s name in there anywhere.  Ah, but everybody just seems to assume that its Vicki and Emery. Ah,  I’ve been coming to almost all the meetings and  it has been nothing but ah turmoil and a hassle at the meeting ah its, you, I can’t see that you’re doing anything for the community except arguing and fighting an and I think that’s sad.  We need to have somebody on this board that can work for the community and give us safe good drinking water.   (Applause)

Wes Barton:  I talk enough around here, but you know. I had to load this room up when I was trying to be censored, so that people would vote against the censorship doesn’t matter whether right or wrong just so the impression would be there.  Ah, Jason had to load the room up when he was ah ah about to lose his position to the secretary.  Some of you may not know what I’m talking about but a lot of people do.  Cuz the secretary was going to be made the general manager.

Board Secretary:  Not me!

Wes Barton:  Ah, no, no, not you, I’m not talking about you.  Ah, when we tried to raise prices and we tried to share the prices across the board, the room was loaded up with people that didn’t want the unimproved properties to be charged.  Ah, you can go on and on and on, frankly as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a single person up here that should be on the board.  Not a one.  So I’m not playing favorites on any of them.  But you’re criticizing and you are saying that we shouldn’t play these games, that we should be in favor of ah, of ah Vicki and be against these two, and I’m saying the whole bunch has grossly failed the community.  The board before, grossly failed the community, and I was on it.  The board before grossly failed the community ah, it goes on back, I’m not sure how far back it goes OK

Tom Porter:  You’re not old enough (laughter)

Wes Barton:  but it goes way back OK  (multiple voices) and anytime you have an organization that doesn’t know what their job is, and a vision, Tom you ought to know this you run a big business, if you don’t have the the all of the stakeholders focused on the same vision it ain’t going work.  If you don’t have processes in place to make that vision happen it ain’t gonna work.  If you don’t have people trained to live and do those processes and have that vision it ain’t gonna work.  We haven’t had a single board, we haven’t had a general manager and I’ve probably gone for four years and I’ve missed almost no meetings and believe me, you folks out here haven’t been to all the meetings that I’ve been to.  We haven’t had anybody that understood that concept, those three steps I just talked about, not a one of them understood it, OK?  Let me tell you there’s a lot of blame to go around here, lots of blame.  And so, just keep all that in mind.  (Applause)

(Multiple voices, inaudible)

Wes Snyder:  Wasn’t going to, but I am.

Wes Barton:  I’ll be out of your way Wes.

Wes Snyder:     My name is Wes Snyder which all of you should know by now, I’m not going to berate this board they know what they’ve done wrong and what they should do, but when I went to the board the other day and made a couple of simple requests, I asked them to appoint a person or a committee to oversee MID’s relicensing to build the dam I made that request and it was not done.  I also made the request that they ask the secretary to pull up the license, the old license to build the dam and the original contract of the water company with the district, made that request of them and this was not done.  And with those two things you’ve got to have in your possession if you go up there to that board and say you want to talk about something.  Now what I’m talking about is the license to build and  operate McClure and McSwain Lakes and the dam states there will be water stored behind that dam for the subdivision as Boise Cascade develops it and a golf course.  Its right in the license, its spelled out.  Now I believe with that in there and with Bean Creek and different waters coming into that lake that we should not have to buy that water, we may have to pay the farmer rate down there and offset a little power generation, but I believe we have water in that lake and according to those contracts there is 5,000 AF with this subdivision.  And I believe that 5,000 AF should be able to be pumped out of that lake with our intakes at no cost to us to MID.  And I wanted to get on the board and a committee when we done the last contract and the board told me no they had an attorney that would take care of it well he took care of it alright and you’re the ones being hurt by that right now.  I believe they should appoint one person or a committee to look at the old contract to look at the original contract  with the water district and MID and to regenerate something, a committee or something in there to get it back on the agenda and get our existing contract reduced.  Now the other one I believe that this district due to the fact the golf course is listed in there for water, to be able to bring that water out of the lake pump it for power, charge 10% for wheeling it and deliver it to the golf course.  I believed that from day one and I believe it today. 

President Keefe:  Thank you Wes

Wes Snyder:  That way the golf course can get a fair rate for water.  Thank you.

Charise Reeves:  That, I do believe that will be an agenda item on the next regular meeting it was requested by the Directors in response to this.

President Keefe: Alright, if there are no further, oh I’m sorry, go ahead Betsie.  It’s going to be on the  agenda Wes.  (Applause)

Betsie Ross:  Well I wasn’t going to speak, I’m Betsie Ross,  I wasn’t going to speak but I just, because of some things Mr. Barton said I wanted to make some comments.  And I know that there’s been a lot of disagreements on the board meetings aren’t always pleasant when they happen, however you have to look at perspective I think.  And starting about a year ago the board really dug in um, they ah, made some changes to ah personnel, to policies, there are, you don’t see water running down the street anymore, there’s not all these leaks, there were 50 leaks a year ago now you hardly see a leak Dan gets on them right away.  We stopped all this water there was a river running down towards Merced that they managed to get that stopped.  Ah I think the drinking water here is safe and clean.  The plant expenses have been brought down because of ah the changes in the way they run the plant at night  during off peak there’s been a lot of reductions in expenses.  The board did have to increase water rates because there had been no incremental rate increases all along the way the rates hadn’t gone up in years, and there should have been little rate increases every year but there weren’t so the board had to make one big rate increase last year which brought the district now so it is financially stable again.  The prior boards had gotten loans and spent money on all kinds of stuff some of it was valid as the Grand Jury response said but ah but you know there wasn’t a lot of money here we were running out of money the board turned that around with the rate increase and through keeping expenses down.  I think if you look at the big picture this district is not in complete disaster we’ve got safe drinking water, it’s a little bit expensive but at least you’ve got water and you can’t have wells here, it’s safe water, there’s not a bunch of water loss leaks.  That’s all I have to say.  (Applause)

President Keefe:  Now I’m going to bring it back to the board no more comments.  OK, Ahhm, I love how certain directors make statements like they’re fact and certain directors decide they know more than the attorney.  I think we would be foolish not to follow the attorney’s recommendation.  And in regards to the February 22nd the reason that the board did not discuss it in an open board meeting is because it had to do with personnel and any director could have called a closed session but that was neither here nor there and gee Bill you ah wrote to the Grand Jury about me before I was even elected.

Director Kinsella:  What are you talking about?

Vicki Keefe:  Interesting. Anyway that’s all I have to say..

Director Kinsella:  Now wait a minute now… made a statement so back it up.  Just like every other thing that you have accused me of you don’t have any proof.

President Keefe:  Oh I do.

Director Kinsella:  Oh? Bring it forward.

President Keefe:  I will.

Director Kinsella:  OK, bring it, when can you get it?

President Keefe: I don’t have it its at home

Director Kinsella:  You want to take a recess and go home and get it?

President Keefe:  No, I don’t have the time to bring it.

Director Kinsella:  No?  You don’t have it.

President Keefe:  Right.  Ah, any other comments before we vote on this?

Director Kinsella:  Yes.  I have a comment for Ruth and I have a comment for Kathy.  Ruth, when Vicki was elected to the board I never said anything to you about Vicki the only time I knew that you were around is when I acknowledged you at these board meetings, so that statement that I was supposed to have made was wrong.  Kathy, you can turn around and you can ask Wes to confirm what I am doing.  Every time there has been a query on the attorney’s ah bill I made points to find out what the attorney bill was for.  I never accused anybody I asked questions.  There were questions that on the attorney’s bill regarding Vicki and the Grand Jury that’s fine.  I’m not accusing anybody I asked the questions she never,  I never got an answer.  I continue to ask questions I don’t care who it is.  It could be Lew, it could be Mark, it could be Emery.  The question is there.  Your spending money that doesn’t belong to you and if it is benefitting you as a person then we should know about it and if you are using district counsel for your own benefit then you have to repay.  I couldn’t care less, Vicki and I are not friends and never will be but I do respect her opinion, I may not agree with it, but I do respect her opinion.  So that’s the bottom line there.  Mr. Porter, you said

President Keefe:  Ah, we’re on back on the discussion

Director Kinsella:  Yeah, well I’m , I’m answering questions

President Keefe:  That’s not appropriate

Director Kinsella:  Mr. Porter  you you suggest that I resign?  Ain’t going to happen. 

Thomas Porter:  Well,

Director Kinsella: If you, if you feel if you feel that I ah should be recalled that’s, that’s your prerogative but it ain’t going to be as easy as the owners’ association.

Tom Porter:  Well, who knows ah? 

Director Kinsella:  Mr. Porter I’m not arguing with you and just telling you

Mr. Porter:  I know you are not arguing with me, but ah Bill, I believe you need to do something to straighten your life out.  (Laughter)   You really do.  Every time I see, every time I see you it’s adversarial to me.  For example

Director Kinsella:   No, no

Mr. Tom Porter:  Wait a minute here, you were president of the board you went to ah to trials ah between me and another owner in this project

Director Kinsella:  wha, wha…

Tom Porter:  you showed up to those meeting routinely.

Director Kinsella:  Would you repeat that again sir?

Tom Porter:  You routinely went to ahh court hearings ah regarding a ah lawsuit ah and and sat with ah people who were opposing me in a lawsuit.  We subsequently won that lawsuit gee you even went to Fresno to the appellate court (apparent gaveling)  so  you you just make the point to ah to insert yourself in things that just have nothing to do with you and we did win the lawsuit Harry won, I won ah because they were wrong not not because it was me and Harry it was because they were wrong.   And so  I’m I’m just saying that ah actually what I feel is we have five people six people here very intelligent people all.  But why do we have to fight why do we have to shout at each other and why can’t we  say hey that’s a good plan let’s go with it or let’s provide a meeting and get a plan going – something, but don’t have a big arguing session and that’s all.

Director Kinsella:  Mr. Porter I would like to talk with you about that situation that you just referred to away from here, it has nothing to do with this meeting.  And I think

President Keefe:  Hurry up….(cross talk, multiple voices)

Director Kinsella:  and I think that once once we understand, once you hear my side I think you’re understand what’s going on, but to follow nitpicking, no I don’t do that.  I can’t.  First of all I can’t afford to I don’t have the time and I don’t have the inclination to do it  (gaveling by President Keefe)  And I don’t need a mother either.

President Keefe:  We need to get back on topic

Director Kinsella:  That’s fine

President Keefe:  Ah is there any more discussion with the board on this motion?

Director Richardson:  Yes, you know I keep hearing about the board is bickering and the board doesn’t get anything done but it seems to be from the same group of people making those claims.  What you don’t realize is that there are hundreds and hundreds of other people that don’t come to these meetings and they do rely on these directors to represent their interests (interruption from attendee speaking from audience chair)  would you please just hold your tongue and let me finish then you can get up there and speak.  Now, what you  people have (attendee still talking) time and time again have said, well we want people to represent the ratepayers, no you don’t.  You want directors to do exactly what you want for your best interests not the interests of the ratepayers (gaveling by President Keefe) or the district.

President Keefe:  Lew….

(Interrupting attendee speaking from audience chair- known to me as Johnathan Oden):  OK, now I’ll respond

Director Richardson:  Why don’t you get up to the podium?

Oden: (Refusing to address podium) You can hear me, you can hear me you little bigot

Director Richardson: Bigot?

Johnathan Oden: Yes you’re a bigot

Director Richardson:  Get a dictionary

Johnathan Oden:  You are all bigots I came up here because you guys hate this lady here, do you know what a bigot is?

Director Richardson:  I don’t hate Vicki.  I don’t hate Vicki.

Johnathan Oden:  Ahhhh  (multiple voices, gaveling)

President Keefe:  Come on or I’ll have to take a break, now we need to stay on topic.

Board Secretary:  We have a motion on the floor

President Keefe:  And the motion is on the floor and it’s to the board.  Any more discussion on the motion before we vote?   Alright, All in favor? 

Board Secretary Charise Reeves:  Lew, Vicki and Emery

Director Richardson:  Beg your pardon?

Board Secretary:  I’m just repeating whose saying aye

Director Richardson:  I, I  didn’t say aye (laughing)

Board Secretary:  I’m sorry, Mark, Emery and Vicki

President Keefe:  All those opposed?

Board Secretary:  Lew and Bill

Director Kinsella:  My opposition has been stated in the past

Director Richardson:  All they did is just brought more trouble

Director Keefe:  Alright, last item, any directors comments?

Director Kinsella: we’ve had enough

Director Richardson: Yeah

(audience member) you’ve got that right

President Keefe:  Alright, this meeting is adjourned

Board Secretary:  10:47


 My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.





That ‘ol Smoke Alarm went off again early this morning with flaring nostrils and a jolt of quick passing concern.  The strong aroma of burning wood sure can wake a person up fast.  You can see by the photographs taken this morning the atmosphere is considerably worse than last week’s incursion of smoke from Yosemite.

The “Motor Fire” name was derived from the fact the original ignition source was a burning motorhome.

This morning’s television news advised HWY 140 was closed at Cedar Lodge and portions of El Portal and Jerseydale were being evacuated.  I’m sure there will be continuing updates.  Here’s an article from MyMotherLode yesterday:

My best to you and yours, Lew 
Categories: Uncategorized.


Mariposa County Courthouse Clock

Lake Don Pedro, like an untold number of other communities across this nation, is continuing to experience its share of home/property foreclosures.  The Mariposa Gazette newspaper public notice section documents this devastating fact in seemingly never ending columns of small black print containing legal statements, property descriptions, amounts owed, dates and times, and whether there is a required opening bid.

The phrase, “purchased on the courthouse steps” has been referred to recently during  LDPCSD meetings yet unless employed in the real estate industry or personally involved most of us are probably unfamiliar with the process.

On August 18, 2011 at 10am we stopped by the Mariposa County Courthouse to witness this all too common legal process while in route to shoot some video of the Merced River’s travel from Yosemite National Park to Lake McClure.

[NOTE: These video clips are contained under VIDEO on the home page Top Menu Bar. Just hover your cursor over VIDEO and then over “From where we get our water” and click the link for a short video about the Merced River. Yeah I know, the clarity isn’t that great but what can truly capture and reproduce such beauty?]

Anyway, back to the courthouse steps – essentially a representative of the title holder literally stands on the steps of the Courthouse and reads a prepared statement which is very similar to what is printed in the newspaper under Public Notice. They then entertain bids on the property with the typical auction lingo — “going once, going twice…..”.

This process must be verbally spoken out loud regardless if there is a lack of bidders or even human witnesses – so if you ever happen to see someone standing on the courthouse steps speaking out loud to no one, they are not necessarily incapacitated but likely just doing their job. Once completed, the representative telephones the title holder notifying them of the results. When a property does not receive a bid (as in this case) a new auction date can be set and the entire process starts again.

Here’s a short video clip of the Mariposa County Superior Courthouse for those unfamiliar with this piece of California history — 

 “”   [Yes I know, the clock chime was a bit early but what the heck at least its working!  Last time I was in Mariposa the clock was off by several hours.]

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.

Friday Morning’s Moon

Get a chance to see this morning’s Moon?  Yup, I couldn’t resist trying the old “hold the camera to the telescope lens” trick.  Much better clarity than with the video camera zoom. 

August 19, 2011 Friday Morning Moon


Categories: Uncategorized.


Pretty hard not to notice the change in air quality the last several days.  Know why?




Last week a fairly good night’s sleep was interrupted with the smell of smoke at 3 o’clock in the morning.  First question?  Where’s the fire?  Although there is usually a fire burning somewhere in the state this seemed rather close.  Check out this article by the National Park Service….sure answered my question.


Categories: Uncategorized.



0530hrs:  Beats me why, but lately the Moon has held special interest.   Here are a few shots taken with my camera held close to the eyepiece of the telescope.

Tuesday 08162011 0530hrs Moon


Tuesday morning Moon


Tuesday AM Moon 3

Tuesday AM Moon 4


My best to you and yours, Lew


Categories: Uncategorized.


Due to some configuration difficulties which made computer access very slow, the website program had to be reinstalled last week.  No biggie.  Retyped two of the blogs.  Although not very exciting, I placed a link to Friday’s 1/2 Moon just to see if a video clip test would play properly – which it did.  That was good news. 


The incorrect billing for the Waste Water Facility for the last several years represents a lot of water that some called “water loss” while blamming the CSD for failing to respond to leaks in a timely manner.   I’m sorry, but I don’t believe it a coincidence that some of those doing the loudest complaining were in actuality receiving a benefit from the under billing because their homes are located in the special benefit sewer zone around the golf course.  

Does this situation sound familiar?  I mean, particular individuals [and/or businesses] complaining about something perceived as wrong or unfair to them, attributing the cause to something or somebody else as a distraction from their own participation in receiving, or attempting to receive, a hidden benefit?   

[“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Hamlet]

Unfortunately, I do not believe for a nano-second this will be the final example of such  preferential water deals that all ratepayers have unknowingly covered financially for years.   


Do you know our CSD was supposed to assume the responsibilities of the original waste water facility back in the 1980’s but due to equipment problems with that system it never occurred?    When that facility was finally replaced with the one further down on Ranchito Drive near the golf course, it was still understood that our CSD would manage that facility, but once again, due to system difficulties that did not happen.  In April of this year the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors approved $111,000 (and change) for replacement of motors, pumps and other equipment at the waste water facility.   Was such equipment replacement normal for a facility only five years old?  



During the campaign of “lost water” (as the major problem facing CSD) many residents questioned the regular observance of tanker trucks in the area along with the possibility of large amounts of water being surreptitiously shipped out of Don Pedro for some reason.   Of course nothing could have been further from the truth because water was not being transported out, but rather, LEACHATE was being transported in from the Mariposa County landfill for processing at the Don Pedro waste water plant.  [Could that program have anything to do with the plant’s expensive equipment replacement?]


Anyway, I do not know if the county still plans for our CSD to assume management of the waste water facility (sewer plant).   Seems to me supplying safe and affordable drinking water for this community is the most important issue but only time will tell.    

This is such a beautiful area with great potential.  Maybe everything will be taken over by another entity?  Water, sewer, and other services our CSD can legally provide?   Who knows?  Who cares?  Do you?

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


 I’ve been doing some research on the SWRCB (State Water Resources Control Board) website and have greatly increased my understanding of the serious water issues facing California. Truly, it is the new California liquid gold. Perhaps the best starting point would be Article X of the California Constitution which outlines the state’s policy regarding beneficial use and an avoidance of waste.


SECTION 1.  The right of eminent domain is hereby declared to exist
in the State to all frontages on the navigable waters of this State.


SEC. 2.  It is hereby declared that because of the conditions
prevailing in this State the general welfare requires that the water
resources of the State be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent
of which they are capable, and that the waste or unreasonable use or
unreasonable method of use of water be prevented, and that the
conservation of such waters is to be exercised with a view to the
reasonable and beneficial use thereof in the interest of the people
and for the public welfare.  The right to water or to the use or flow
of water in or from any natural stream or water course in this State
is and shall be limited to such water as shall be reasonably
required for the beneficial use to be served, and such right does not
and shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or
unreasonable method of use or unreasonable method of diversion of
water.  Riparian rights in a stream or water course attach to, but to
no more than so much of the flow thereof as may be required or used
consistently with this section, for the purposes for which such lands
are, or may be made adaptable, in view of such reasonable and
beneficial uses; provided, however, that nothing herein contained
shall be construed as depriving any riparian owner of the reasonable
use of water of the stream to which the owner's land is riparian
under reasonable methods of diversion and use, or as depriving any
appropriator of water to which the appropriator is lawfully entitled.
  This section shall be self-executing, and the Legislature may also
enact laws in the furtherance of the policy in this section


SEC. 3.  All tidelands within two miles of any incorporated city,
city and county, or town in this State, and fronting on the water of
any harbor, estuary, bay, or inlet used for the purposes of
navigation, shall be withheld from grant or sale to private persons,
partnerships, or corporations; provided, however, that any such
tidelands, reserved to the State solely for street purposes, which
the Legislature finds and declares are not used for navigation
purposes and are not necessary for such purposes may be sold to any
town, city, county, city and county, municipal corporations, private
persons, partnerships or corporations subject to such conditions as
the Legislature determines are necessary to be imposed in connection
with any such sales in order to protect the public interest.


SEC. 4.  No individual, partnership, or corporation, claiming or
possessing the frontage or tidal lands of a harbor, bay, inlet,
estuary, or other navigable water in this State, shall be permitted
to exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for
any public purpose, nor to destroy or obstruct the free navigation
of such water; and the Legislature shall enact such laws as will give
the most liberal construction to this provision, so that access to
the navigable waters of this State shall be always attainable for the
people thereof.


SEC. 5.  The use of all water now appropriated, or that may
hereafter be appropriated, for sale, rental, or distribution, is
hereby declared to be a public use, and subject to the regulation and
control of the State, in the manner to be prescribed by law.


SEC. 6.  The right to collect rates or compensation for the use of
water supplied to any county, city and county, or town, or the
inhabitants thereof, is a franchise, and cannot be exercised except
by authority of and in the manner prescribed by law.


SEC. 7.  Whenever any agency of government, local, state, or
federal, hereafter acquires any interest in real property in this
State, the acceptance of the interest shall constitute an agreement
by the agency to conform to the laws of California as to the
acquisition, control, use, and distribution of water with respect to
the land so acquired.


The SWRCB, or State Water Board, is the regulatory agency for water use. Every user must have a legal right to secure and use water and our CSD obtains this right through Merced Irrigation District (MID) License 11395 which was approved on   August 15th, 1983.

Currently we have a contract for 5,160 afa (acre feet per annum, sometimes expressed as afy, acre feet per year.)

L11395 states:

 “Irrigation of 131,953 acres within a gross area of 154,394 acres within the boundaries of the Merced Irrigation District and a 55 acre golf course within the service area of Sierra Highlands Water Company.

Domestic use at homesites within the service area of Sierra Highlands Water Company and at homesites and recreational facilities adjacent to Lake McSwain and Lake McClure including McClure Point, McClure Boat Club and Barrett cove.

Fish culture at Licensee’s salmon spawning channel and at a privately operated trout farm. Recreational use and fish and wildlife enhancement in and around lakes McClure and McSwain.

The places of use are shown on map entitled “Official Map of the Merced Irrigation District – 1973” and other maps filed with State Water Resources Control Board.”


SIERRA HIGHLANDS was the original subdivision  developed by Boise Cascade that subsequently became the Lake Don Pedro Owners’ Association subdivision.  I contacted the SWRCB to obtain the 1973 map but was advised it (1973) had been revised in June of 1978 and the June 1978 map was the official place of use retained by the state.  Here’s a photo of that map on a display board I created for a past meeting.  The red line identifies the boundary between Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties.  The subdivision is represented with the shaded blue line.

NOTE: Just left click the map if it appears “stretched”.


Here’s another map of the area.  This particular one was prepared in 2008 by our own CSD while we still had the GIS equipment to plot large maps.




Likely a number of reasons, but primarily because the area was not developing as anticipated and other properties “close by” required water and didn’t want to sink expensive (and often unreliable) ground water wells in this foothill geology.   Surely the fledgling water company could use all the paying customers it could acquire, so little by little, differing CSD administrations turned a blind eye to the requirements of L11395 and connected and supplied Lake McClure pumped water to outside MID POU (Merced Irrigation District Place of Use) properties.  

Around 1992 MID determined these outside MIDPOU connections were illegal which forced the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District to drill the Ranchito Well to replace water furnished to illegal connections.  Technically this is called, Ground water substitution for surface water transfers”.  You see, for our area Lake McClure water was intended ONLY FOR THE SUBDIVISION PROPER and the GOLF COURSE (paperwork states a 55 acre golf course yet the map identifies it as a 155 acre course).  This is why the 1978 map shows an area shaped as it is….it follows the subdivision perimeter.

NOTE:  THE South Shore Club project on Bonds Flat Road between La Grange and the subdivision is the only State approved change in Place of Use I have seen for this area.  WR-1993 [2003].   The 2,010 acres was planned as another golf course and residential community for which the SWRCB allocated 772 afa to be supplied by the LDPCSD, however, a number of requirements had to be met which have not occurred and the project appears to be languishing.

Below is a transparency sheet I created and placed over the CSD map indicating in red those areas that are technically ouside the allowed MIDPOU which are required to have their delivered water offset by pumping an equal or greater amount from the Ranchito Well.   [Typically water lines were simply extended from within MIDPOU to the adjacent property often indicated by the fact the meter address is within the MIDPOU but water usage is outside.]  Unfortunately, CSD has often failed to fulfill that requirement of water substitution – potentially placing us in a breach of contract situation.   The Ranchito well (CSD’s only well) is going to require a fairly expensive production capacity inspection and report by the engineers so we know where we stand.  Long over due.

NOTE: Left click to view entire map.

I have advocated for some time now that a committee be formed to open communications with MID in an effort to straighten out decades of failing to follow the restrictions of L11395 regarding where Lake McClure water could be delivered and benefically used. Naturally, every property up here would benefit through the ability to obtain clean, affordable, potable water, however License 11395 should no longer be ignored. 
How can CSD possibly approach MID with our hat in hand asking for assistance in this mess if we continue to supply water to outside MID POU properties?  Contrary to what others may say, I am not against development at all but it should conform to applicable laws, regulations and codes to avoid exactly what has been created within our Community Services District.
Large water users such as commercial livestock ranching businesses, a waste water treatment plant serving homes around the golf course and the course itself (recently discovered to only be paying for 1/1,000th of  the water used),  public schools and even a fire station – were never recognized as places of use for Lake McClure water, yet they currently receive such and require ground well substitution production. 
Shouldn’t they be included within our communities’ place of use?  Or would that be construed as essentially rewarding prior improper activity?  (Providing water to areas outside L11395’s Place of Use.)   
As far as I can tell there is only one way to bring these current properties within the MID POU and that is through a Change of Place [of Use] petition sponsored by MID to the State Water Board for approval.  Wouldn’t that be nice?   Make all the existing illegal connections legal and within the POU and do away with the requirement for “ground water substitution for surface water transfers”? 
Certainly it will be difficult, but without some good faith attempt it will NEVER happen and our CSD will continue into the very expensive ground water substitution business as property development expands away from the intended subdivision of benefit.
The LDPCSD is a surface water treatment plant.  In fact some of the chemicals and minerals found in local ground water is actually damaging to treatment plant equipment.   (Water from the Ranchito Well is mixed with lake water for the “substitution program”.)  Ground wells in rock fissures are traditionally iffy propositions.  
Do the majority of financially contributing customers (and future customers) want the CSD to start drilling a number of expensive and potentially unreliable ground wells to serve properties outside the MIDPOU? 
Seems to me focusing on maintaining and improving what we have is the priority while simultaneously opening constructive dialog with MID in hopes of correcting what decades of “fast and loose with the law” has produced.  Something else, related to our Community Services District boundary, is the fact some properties purportedly within the district do not even contribute one thin dime in “standby or availability fees” yet are permitted to vote in district elections.  Does that make sense to you?  If one is not a stakeholder in an organization – why should they be allowed to vote for directors who do represent ratepayers?     (As you may already know, a candidate in an LDPCSD election can win or lose by only a few votes.) 
I have been told this is because of how the TRA’s (Tax Rate Areas) were formed in Don Pedro decades ago.  Did you know that the Lake Don Pedro area has the most TRAs in Mariposa County?  Ten of them in fact.   We’ll return to this subject when more information has been obtained.
Until then and always,
My best to you and yours, Lew  
2011-003  🙂
Categories: Uncategorized.