As Scots speakers would sound, but a good question though: Should Old Acquaintance be forgot?
DECEMBER 19th, 2011 LDPCSD REGULAR BOARD MEETING
Open meeting at 1303hrs, Pledge of Allegiance, establish quorum: Vice President Bill Kinsella, Directors Emery Ross, Mark Skoien, Victor Afanasiev and Lew Richardson present as well as Interim General Manager Dan Tynan and Board Secretary Charise Reeves.
Thank you, anyway, my name is Donna Morasci I just happen to run into something online and was furious, ah, so I thought I’d better attend one of these meetings. I’d like to get it straight right off the bat about my, whether I have a friendship with Emery Ross or not, which I don’t, I’ve met him twice.
[NOTE: A May 3rd, 2011 email by Director Emery Ross entitled: “Poe- investigation and interview results” was sent to all directors with the first sentence reading: “After reading the Poe information in the Board packet, the following clarifications need to be made” The email then contradicts previous statements made by Director Ross at the January 18th, 2011 Board meeting when he initially presented the “Poe meter matter” to the board with assistance from Director Skoien and former Director Vicki Keefe. In the second bullet point Ross states: “I have known Donna Morasci for years, and well know who her friends are.”]
Once he did ah, ah a write-up on my Bison Ranch, a couple of yea– year and a half ago, ah after that, ah he had an ad in the paper which didn’t have his name on it but I called it for “hay for sale”. Picked up a couple of bales of hay from him. He had a ah cow down with “milk fever” he was going to let her die and I um, I said if you have XY and Z she’ll stand up, so I’ll get her straightened out for you. They happened to have it, I hit her in the vein, the cow end of the line, survived, ah but anyway what I’m on fire about is that I’m, I’m hearing, I know now that it was represented that Emery Ross with Mrs. Poe for years have been misrepresenting anything that I may do in regards to a property that I had on HWY 132 and ahm, I bought that property in 1986 , for, close to 43 acres ahm, after being there a time or two realized it was lower than I wanted to be, I wanted to be really in the snow line. Ahm, bought a ranch, a bigger ranch 120 acre ranch up above Coulterville and I just kept this ranch for a savings account if you will ahm or to decide what I was going to do with it later.
My neighbor Mrs. Poe was going to ah, she owned the place and they were living in a mo – in a travel trailer I believe up there and they were putting in a ah double wide, they had already bought it. She wanted to know if I wanted to go in on water with her and I told her no. I bought another ranch I’m going to be developing that ranch, that’s where I’m going to live not down here. And ah, she ended up making application, which I never made an application for water on my property there, ever, ahm she made an application I presume and went ahead and had it drilled across the road. There’s been a lot of chitty chat about this. Ah drilled it across the road. She called me again asked me if I’d, after she had drilled it, if I wanted to ahm go in on halves and put water on my place and I told her no, I had bought a larger ranch and I bought it right after I bought this place and ahm, so anyway ah, she says well it will make your property value worth more and I said no, I just, I’ve got to spend a lot of money I built a house up there I’ve developed that ranch I put a lot of money into it and so there’s no way.
Bottom line the last time she called me ah, was after she had drilled it across the road and she told me she goes, well they’ve drilled it across the road here’s what it is, if you want to go in on it now you’d pay half of that and I said I don’t. I appreciate your offer but I have no intentions on doing that and so that was it. I have heard nothing but BS on this whole subject I’m so furious.
VP Kinsella: From the who?
Donna Morasci: This whole subject
VP Kinsella: Oh, OK
Donna Morasci: Since 1991 there’s been a lot of that chitty chat around in here about it bad mouthing my good name Donna Morasci Martin and just recently and, and Ross is one of the big ones batting it around –
Director Emery Ross: I don’t have, I’m not on the internet you’re talking about Lew – I have nothing to do with the internet
VP Kinsella: Wait, wait, let her finish
(multiple voices, cross talk)
Donna Morasci: Hey you know what? Hey listen Ross, you know, I’m already hot so just let me say what I got to say
Director Ross: ..do with me
Donna Morasci: but, but here’s the thing, you know you’re representing like you knew that was an agreement between her and I, and I didn’t even – I have no idea who you were until a couple of years ago
Director Emery Ross: Lew made the presentation, I had nothing to do with that
Director Richardson: I beg your pardon
Director Emery Ross: You made a presentation up there on the board
VP Kinsella: OK,
Director Richardson: Whoa, whoa, whoa, OK, excuse me for a second, you brought the Poe meter issue up in January, you brought it up then and you said that this woman here owed Mrs. Poe money
Director Ross: Poe says that yeah, she put in (inaudible)
Director Richardson: No you said that –
Director Ross: Poe said that and I
Director Richardson: Ahhh, here we go again
(multiple voices, inaudible)
[NOTE: The following verbatim transcript regarded Item I: Customer Request to Remove Meters from Property on the January 18th, 2011 Regular Board Meeting Agenda. Mrs. Poe was not in attendance and the matter was presented by then President Emery Ross, Vice President Mark Skoien with a map of the disputed area furnished by a former director. It should be noted that a number of clearly incorrect (or suspicious) statements were made during this presentation and have been highlighted. The letters Ross referred to were never furnished to Directors Kinsella and Richardson nor were they provided to the CSD office until AFTER the January meeting.
[January 18th, 2011 Meeting]
President Ross: Next item is Mrs. Poe I think, isn’t it? (Inaudible) Mrs. Poe, went down and looked at her property and talked to her (mumbling and cross talk), ahum, she’s got three meters on her 41 acres, we’ve got a map from ah Director Keefe, she has one continuous lot, she’s surrounded by BLM. Next to her is the Martin property and ah, you know, she wants, she can’t afford these three meters she doesn’t want to discontinue her water service but she just wants to have one meter because now that it’s $47 she can’t afford it. Her husband has medical problems and pays $900 a month I think it is, or six, for medicine and she just can’t afford it. The meters are in the names of her two sons, I got the, I’ve got proo – letters from the sons saying – hey take the meters out, however, there is an original bill where she purchased the meters herself, and ahh, so we really didn’t need the letters from the sons but we do have that, we have the original billing and ah it’s one parcel surrounded by BLM and no other parcel. The map is in there, she doesn’t want to get out of the district she just wants to be let, she wants to keep her water but not have two meters that don’t do anything. Ah Vice President Skoien you have a comment?
Vice President Skoien: Yeah, it was, it was basically a family plan that went wrong their plan was, her two sons would ah (background talking)
President Ross: Guys back there, we’re up here – someone’s talking.
Vice President Skoien: … would ahh put houses on this property in her perfect world way back and it hasn’t worked out that way her sons are married with kids in the big city and you know they love to visit but they don’t want to live here (laughs). And she’s been paying for it all along even though they never put the other houses on that property there are two extra meters besides her meter and she’s always paid, but it’s, they’re not going to ever do any other houses.
President Ross: It, it, it almost doesn’t need to come to the board I think. I talked to Dan about it
Vice President Skoien: Yeah
President Ross: …you know, you just take the two meters out unless it needs to be a board decision, she doesn’t need three meters they’re all on her property and, you know, we can take them out right?
Vice President Skoien: Just find out which one goes to her house….
President Ross: The key here is that she does not, she’s not going to pay any kind of availability or anything like that for this one lot, when we take these meters out they’re just on one lot.
Vice President Skoien: Also point out that, the letter to you from Syndie, (CSD Billing/Customer Service Representative) this is not the way it is, where it says there are two adjoining properties that have different owners one of them who share a meter box with Mrs. Poe that’s not the way it is.
President Ross: That’s not true.
Vice President Skoien: There’s a meter box on the other side of her driveway for another piece of property….
President Ross: That belongs to Martin.
Interim Manager Dan Tynan: Yeah, once I talked to Emery I realized….
Vice President Skoien: Yeah, so this is, this is, I don’t know where she got this info but it’s not the way it is.
Dan Tynan: Pull the meters and…(inaudible)
Skoien: Yeah, it’s…
President Ross: Well, I guess just for clarity we’ll say, the board will make a motion that we ah, I’ll entertain a motion from the board to pull two meters that belong to her but her sons pay for in Palmdale, she will not be on the availability roles for those meters because it’s one lot.
Vice President Skoien: Yeah
President Ross: OK, that’s a motion.
Vice President Skoien: I second it.
President Ross: Do I have a second?
Vice President Skoien: I’ll second it.
President Ross: We got a comment out here a minute ago, go ahead Wes. (Laughter)
Former President Wes Barton: I may have people mistaken here, but it seems like two years ago, ah,
President Ross: Aha-huh….
Wes Barton: …… I know the board, the board (Ross…yeah….) … issued a new hookup letter of some sort…
President Ross (interrupting): That’s correct….that’s the lady that lives next door….
Wes Barton: ..… so I think that should also be looked at…
President Ross (interrupting): I don’t think so – let me tell you what that’s about
Wes Barton: …..in terms of ….
President Ross (continuing interruption): ….let me tell you what that’s about….Mrs. Poe way back in the year zero, drilled a hole underneath 132 and brought it up to her property, Betsy, what is that lady’s name?
Betsy Ross (President’s wife): Um, Donna Morasci …
President Ross: Morasci,
Betsy Ross: …(softly) Martin
President Ross: ……said I’ll pay, I’ll give you half, OK? This is what the board decided what you and I are going to be talking about, and Wes and those guys said when Morasci hooks up she’s got to pay Poe, that’s what we agreed to we honored the former board’s decision, so she owes her for that pipe coming underneath the road and I think it’s something like maybe six grand and they made her put in a fire hydrant too, so before Morasci can ever hookup we’ll probably be dead and no one will ever remember this but she owes this lady who is about to sell her house and leave probably…
Vice President Skoien: But this doesn’t affect that (inaudible)
President Ross: Has nothing to do with it, has nothing to do with this issue.
Wes Barton: Has nothing to do with the two meters?
President Ross: Nothing
Vice President Skoien: No, that’s the other…(inaudible)
Wes Barton: (inaudible)…put those two meter back in someday….(cut off by Vice President Skoien)
Vice President Skoien: Well no, the meter that is on the other side of the driveway of the lady who was supposed to pay for the boring of the highway it’s there, it’s just not hooked up
Vice President Skoien: …. it’s a private…..
Wes Barton: … let you guys know, just remembered in the back of my head, if I can find (inaudible)
President Ross: (inaudible) … got all these letters and the guys sent letters agreeing and all that stuff, OK, go ahead.
Chuck Rebert (ratepayer): Yeah, if that woman bought the meters, she owns the meters, so you can’t take the meters unless you buy them (inaudible) meters or else just lock them down or pull them up or (inaudible) …
President Ross: Chuck thank you for bringing up a can of worms, thank you for bringing up a can of worms.
Vice President Skoien: You’re right technically but she doesn’t care about the meters. She doesn’t want to pay that availability – the standby (cross talk).
(Much background talk)
President Ross: Wait a minute, hold it, hold it, hold it…
Vice President Skoien: …… leave them on her front porch, she don’t care
(President Ross gavels audience)
Chuck Rebert: ..I mean the meters have value if you take the meters, you know, you can sell them to somebody else and….
President Ross: You know, you know, you know Chuck what my solution for this is? (Inaudible) I briefly talked to Syndie about this. We’ve always said when I bought my meter, bought my meter right? They say you want 5/8s or 3 quarters? You know, one is more than the other, I’ll take the cheapie one I’ll buy that one. And we’re always say we’re buying meters. Ron Hunt said buying meters but I think what you’re really doing is connecting, it’s a fee to connect to the system I don’t think you’re really buying a meter … because…
Chuck Rebert: Well I’ve got a gentleman sitting behind me that was charged $3,000 three times for the same meter it’s ridiculous, so anyway, this feeds into this…
(Cross talk-multiple voices)
President Ross: Really big issue, I was going to try and just dodge that bullet and bring it back another time, because you know, people, the board is going to have to wrestle with that issue of do you own that meter or not, I don’t, I don’t think you do but, but, but we’ve got to clarify that, other board members may think they do, I don’t know.
Chuck Rebert: OK, I, I left you guys something specifically to that issue of ownership of meters, so you can put that, I brought it today so we could put it on the agenda some other time but it speaks…
President Ross: I believe that Mrs. Poe is OK with if we take- remove the meters just so long as she doesn’t have to pay the ….
Chuck Rebert: Yeah that’s fine with her…that’s fine with her…
President Ross: But you know the problem is, if you say you’ve got the meter, right, and then we leave and back in the meter goes, that’s a problem I think it’s a connection fee really although it’s been called something different, you know, Kal (Kalvin Gile) were you going to say something?
Chuck Rebert: Part of that too is…
President Ross: Kal – were you going to say something?
Chuck Rebert: … you know, charge to connect up to the water I mean there are some places they charge you $30,000 ….
President Ross: I know, I know, I know….
Chuck Rebert: ……and should not be here ever, anyway…
President Ross: Do you have any comment? Mr. Tynan?
Interim General Manager: Oh, I agree with you, it’s not like owning the meter because if somebody doesn’t pay their bill for I believe it’s three months, six months, we pull their meter – then there’s no other way of shutting them off you know, or them just going out and just turning back on the water. If they haven’t paid their bill in six months our only option is to pull their meter so they are paying for the water, I don’t know how else…
President Ross: Mrs, Mrs Poe is OK with the meters being gone OK because I asked her specifically the question just as long as she doesn’t have to pay the money so, ahh, did we, so now we’re completely sidetracked did we have a motion on the floor and a second or not?
Charise Reeves: Yes you did, you had, I don’t have it word for word cuz you read it too quickly…
President Ross: (inaudible)
Charise Reeves: ….. I’ll go back to the tape and listen but I believe it was pull the two meters and not put them on availability because the meters were on one property or something to that effect…
President Ross: (inaudible) (multiple voices in background).
Director Skoien: it never subdivided
Charise Reeves: …. I’ll get it word for word based on what you said in the tape and it was a first by you and a second by Skoien.
Director Kinsella: Subdivided?
President Ross: OK, any more comments out here? (Multiple voices) OK, back, back to the board, all in favor of this motion?
Vice President Skoien: It was just planning ahead for a family plan that went wrong.
President Ross: Director Skoien did your hand go up or down?
Vice President Skoien: Oh… I’m…
President Ross: OK, he’s good.
(Unanimous vote to remove meters based on information presented by President Emery Ross, Vice President Mark Skoien and a map by Director Vicki Keefe. In April Directors Richardson and Kinsella requested a revisit to this issue based on new information which contradicted statements by Ross and Skoien. The requests were denied by Ross, Skoien and Keefe.)
Back to the December 19th, 2011 Meeting where Donna Morasci contradicts statements by Ross and Skoien.]
VP Kinsella: OK, it’s not going to get any better
Donna Morasci: …. I had no contract whatever with Mrs. Poe in writing or verbal. I had no application put in here for water on that ranch with you guys, OK? I had no agreement with the ah the guy that was doing the excavating – zero. OK? If, if there’s anything that I do, I’m involved in all of my projects and I would have been in on that – I wouldn’t have put the line coming across right there by her place I would have had it come more closer to mine I mean in the center but it’s a moot point because I had, it wasn’t my thing, she was hoping if I paid half – ‘cuz she was going to live there anyway, she was paying the whole thing no matter what but if I paid half how wonderful.
VP Kinsella: yeah
Donna Morasci: and I don’t blame her for trying, I don’t blame her for trying. What I do blame is there was a lot of fraud that’s happened here and cover up and Ross is involved I think in both of them.
Director Ross: I haven’t done anything
Donna Morasci: …and let me tell you why, because my, my name and my property was added to the Poe’s bill to have three meters up there, three boxes, whatever, for one APN and you can’t do it from what I understand.
Director Ross: You can
Donna Morasci: OK? Now to make it, to make it where Mrs. Poe could, she went ahead and added a son and ah, Pattison or something, Hank Pattison, ah to my APN, I’m the only one on that since when do you guys go ahead and put something in my, my property, my APN and then you’re sending the bill out of town to one of her sons, this is the fraud right here, this is the fraud.
VP Kinsella: That was a question, that was a question that we had.
Donna Morasci: And, and ah, hey my numbers in the book for a good 18 years around here, it’s ah, as far as finding (inaudible) it’s you know, if you pulled the local book it’s right there. Ahm, Mrs. Shaw was another one that had fraud committed against her. They went ahead, I don’t know Mrs. Shaw, Ramona Shaw, but they went ahead and put her other son John Terry – she’s been married a bunch of times, who knows, she’s got three or four different names, I don’t care about that. The point is it was fraud on both Mrs. Shaw and myself. And then a cover up because when I started to sell this property I had called the water district here and I remembered from years ago that when I, when I was even just chitty chatt’n about this at all, that if you paid for whatever coming in, a pro-rata that there’s a possibility you could have a meter. I called here and somebody said and I’m looking for my notes, it was a few years ago, I will find my notes, but I talked to somebody and they said well, we have a Martin, Martin is a married name I’ve been married one time Martin. Morasci is my real name when I was born. Ah if you’re confused, but anyway, ah, I called here one time and I’m looking for these notes right now and I will find them. I talked to somebody and she goes well we have a Martin and it might have been Pattison and I said no-no I own the property by myself and ah, and then she called me back sometime, and she goes no, you don’t have a meter on that, there’s no – and you’d have to go in and make application and go through all of this stuff to get one. Because I was going to sell it and I wanted to know what, what could I represent to somebody? Is there community water possible or drill a well? You know, I told him hey, drill a well, the guy that bought it from me I said you may be able to I don’t know, but you can drill a well, you know.
VP Kinsella: Who was that person?
Donna Morasci: What’s that?
VP Kinsella: Who was that person who bought it from you?
Donna Morasci: Michael Schwartz
Director Skoien: He’s sitting there
(multiple voices- discussing difference between Schartz and Schwartz)
Director Ross: It’s on, it’s on the agenda, it’s on the agenda
VP Kinsella: Scharts or Schwarts?
Director Ross: Schartz, it’s on the agenda, it’s the same guy.
(Multiple pronunciations of the name)
VP Kinsella: Oh OK
Director Ross: It’s on the agenda Bill
Donna Morasci: It’s Schwartz that’s what he told me
Director Ross: It’s on the agenda, it’s an agenda item
VP Kinsella: Yeah, OK
Donna Morasci: Anyway, he ah, well, the problem that I’m having is that there was, there was fraud committed by this district, by the water district, and a cover up. And, and then, because that allowed my property to possibly be in, in a problem with ah, I don’t know if you guys do a foreclosure I know a lot of water companies do, if you’re Bay Area, you don’t pay your water bill could be one hundred bucks they, they’ll take your property. It’s like property taxes, and ah, so there seems to be a lot fraud and a lot of BS which I’m not happy with. I wanted to get it straight in here and I, and it’s been bantered around – oh she won’t pay her bill, you know, well you know what? I didn’t have a damn bill to start with.
Director Ross: Never did
Donna Morasci: And I’ll tell you what no one has a, I’ve made no agreement with anybody. Yes sir?
Director Mark Skoien: Well I just, talking about the bill, I, no doubt something was, we’ve all talked about it, got done funny in that office somewhere on the APNs and all that, ah, but there was, we have, I don’t happen to have it with me here today but there was a bill that was separated for yeah, it was written up back, I don’t know why they did it – now let me finish, and it even mentioned that they’ll be no meter attached to the Morasci property it was for the tunneling and they had it split, the bills are in there.
Director Richardson: But why would her name be on it if she didn’t have a contract?
VP Kinsella: Yeah
Donna Morasci: I didn’t have (multiple voices, inaudible, cross talk)
Director Skoien: We never have figured that out but the bills were in there
Donna Morasci: ….because it’s a bunch of BS, I want it straight, it’s a bunch of BS
Director Skoien: (interrupting) I have no doubt if it’s done
(Major cross talk)
Donna Morasci: I don’t want my good name mixed
Director Skoien: in that office (inaudible-multiple voices) funky like we’ve always said…
Donna Morasci: illegal crap that’s being done in here, and, and some of your directors, you know, I mean talk about Grand Jury, there needs to be another Grand Jury investigation into this and trust me there will be, they’ll probably be a law suit involved in it.
Director Skoien: Well this was done way before any of us were here (laughing) you know
Donna Morasci: It doesn’t matter
Director Skoien: No, I know it doesn’t, it was done by this CSD
Donna Morasci: But it’s still a top, it’s still a major topic. Does Mr. Schwartz deserve water over there? Yes, he does, why not? He does. Look at all the bullshit fraud that’s happened between here and there, and we’re, you’re still talking about this and I think there was a meeting in 1991, get, move on from this, but what you’ve got to do, I don’t, we’re not going to probably move on too quick because of the fraud and the know, know it all cover up. There’s cover up in here and let me tell you why, because when I called in and when they pulled those meters, they pulled them so I wouldn’t find out. And when the first word that the girl said in her mouth was right, oh you, there is a, you already have a meter on there. Well I know it can’t be because I don’t. But I did, there was a meter in my name which I didn’t know about and there was a meter in Mrs. Shaw name she didn’t know about it. It’s not right, it’s not right, and it’s not fair and I want a public apology, at least for bantering my name around when who knows who was setting out here in the audience and thinks when they meet me think, oh my God (inaudible) I don’t want to be friends with her, she’s, she’s some bad gal.
Director Skoien: Well, I, I, I think I agree with you, I think something funny years ago went on in there with all these EPN, APNs and, and, and because you didn’t have a meter, we, we’ve kicked it around we still haven’t figured it out, but I don’t think Mrs. Poe even had anything to do with it. She just wanted the meters.
Donna Morasci: Oh you’ve got to be kidding?
(Multiple voices, cross talk)
Donna Morasci: …Mrs. Poe….and, and her son’s names just immaculate, all of a sudden, they’re on with my APN which you could only have one meter on, and then Mrs. Shaw, which is I guess another bordering property, on….come on!
Director Skoien: She is, I don’t think she, (inaudible) they got registered that way in here I think. That’s just what I think.
Donna Morasci: Isn’t that interesting that those are both of her sons going to two different directions, just, two different addresses, my address is on the APN,
Director Skoien: right
Donna Morasci: I’ll answer to either one of those names, my address is on that APN did you guys send me a letter and say hey, we’re going to be doing this, ahh, I understand you, you’ve got a piece of property you want a meter on? Hell no.
Director Skoien: I don’t know what was sent way back then, who knows?
Director Richardson: I, I, I thin, you know, again it’s all supposition because this happened quite a while ago, but what it appears as though, the Poe’s sons placed two meters on Mrs. Poe’s property but so it would look alright on our books, your APN number was assigned to one of them and Mrs. Ramona Shaw’s APN number was assigned to the other.
Donna Morasci: And it’s fraud
Director Richardson: yeah, I think that would be fraud.
Donna Morasci: And all the, all the bad batting around in here about my name
Director Richardson: You’re right, that’s wrong, that’s wrong.
Donna Morasci: It’s libel, it’s libel, it’s slander, and it’s not right.
Director Richardson: Well
Donna Morasci: You know, I didn’t get, I didn’t pay attention to anything, of course I don’t you know, I didn’t think twice about anything going on down here, you know, but ah, these, let me tell you where the cover up comes in, when you guys wanted to pull them out because I was going to find out – that’s where the cover up comes in – Ross knew about it,
Director Ross: I didn’t know about it (laughing)
Donna Morasci: He went to school with Mrs. Poe
Director Ross: (laughing) I didn’t go to school with her
Donna Morasci: that’s why he stood up in here in the Minutes, I’ve read a few things
Director Ross: it wasn’t me
Donna Morasci: I’ve read a few things Ross, and ah
Director Skoien: The lady came here and just asked to have them removed
Director Ross: She did
Director Richardson: No, no, no, no she did not come here to ask, Emery came here and asked
Director Skoien: Oh
Director Ross: She, she called me
Director Richardson: When I, and I asked you that and you never gave me an answer of why she was not representing her own interests rather than a, somebody on the board?
Donna Morasci: That’s a high point of interest in my opinion
Director Ross: She gave it to a board member and I wrote a report. And all this stuff happened like in 1960 and I not even here.
Donna Morasci: No it didn’t
Multiple voices, cross talk, inaudible
Director Ross: Well these meters were put in a long time ago
Multiple voices – cross talk- no, no
Director Ross: I wasn’t on this board, I had nothing to do with it
VP Kinsella: Have you contacted the district attorney?
Donna Morasci: I’m going to, and, and the DA is going to be involved, the I’m going to do civil law suits as well
VP Kinsella: You may want to confirm that the statute of limitations has, has
Donna Morasci: I just found out, it starts when you find out.
Unknown voice: absolutely
VP Kinsella: Well, sometimes, sometimes that’s correct and sometimes it’s not, (multiple voices, inaudible)
Donna Morasci: (inaudible) I know a little bit about the law – I’m correct
VP Kinsella: I’m not
trying to you know BS you I’m just telling you that if the district attorney
says the statute of limitations runs out the only other alternative you have
would be civil law
Donna Morasci: Well, I, I you know the DA, I you know, they need to investigate what’s going on if you guys are doing that, someone’s got to keep a tighter handle and double
check and make sure, is this that person’s APN or are they putting it on
someone else’s property?
Director Skoien: That’s what should have been done in that, that’s what should have been
done in the office years ago.
Director Ross: Years and years ago.
VP Kinsella: OK, Charise has a….
Charise Reeves: I just want to say going from this point, Syndie does get a copy of a grant deed, I can’t speak to what happened back in the 90s, but I know now she gets the grant deed that goes in the file you know. None of us were here
VP Kinsella: We, we, when this thing first came up we had concerns as to why your name was hooked up with a, a one of the Poe children
Donna Morasci: and had I known I would have been in here a long time ago, had I known in 91 I would have had my little self right here, but I didn’t know any of this stuff was going on.
Director Skoien: But you had a bill separated with
Donna Morasci: But not generated by me!
Director Skoien: No, but,
Donna Morasci: I understand that somebody penned my name in
Director Skoien: that’s what you’re saying I don’t know (cross talk)
Donna Morasci: I can pencil your name in…. you want a bill? (laughter)
Director Skoien: No, I’m just saying they brought it as part of this agenda item we were doing and it was split and billed to you and (multiple voices)
Director Richardson: No
Director Skoien: (inaudible)…billed meter going to Morasci
VP Kinsella: The bill went to Poes with Mrs. Morasci name on it
Director Richardson: No the bills went to Mrs. Poe’s sons Hank Pattison and John Terry
Director Ross: Right
Donna Morasci: Using my, using my property
Director Richardson: Well using your APN so on the books everything looked right
Donna Morasci: And that’s still using my property
Director Richardson: Yes it’s a fraudulent use of your APN true, and I, I can see what you’re saying that if, if somebody had reneged on a contract or something
theoretically it could have, something could have been a lien could have been
put on your property, and you wouldn’t even know about it.
Donna Morasci: Yeah if they didn’t pay their water (inaudible)
Director Richardson: Right
Director Skoien: I don’t know who handles all the APNs and assigns them and who did that way back when
Donna Morasci: You guys
Director Skoien: obviously you didn’t want it done
Donna Morasci: I didn’t want it done or I would have been here in black and white
VP Kinsella: Ms. Morasci, I can, I can promise you that any inquiry by the district attorney or any other (inaudible) agency ah, we’ll cooperate with them right down the
line. This is not good for you, it’s not good for anybody and if fraud has been committed I want to get rid of it, I want to
Donna Morasci: Fraud has been committed what else could you call it
Director Ross: Years and years, and years (iniaudible)
Donna Morasci: Somebody had to stop and think how are we going to get these other two
meters in ah, in, in in my name? Who’s going to benefit from this? Mrs.
Poe! Period. Dot. Dash. Mrs. Poe! The Poes. It’s their sons.
Director Afanasiev: Mam, which county do you live in Mariposa or Tuolumne?
Director Ross: Mariposa
VP Kinsella: This is Mariposa
Donna Morasci: Mariposa, well no, that property is on both Mariposa and Tuolumne
Donna Morasci: Which property, the property we’re talking about, where I live is Mariposa.
Director Afanasiev: I mean the property we’re talking about
Donna Morasci: The property we’re talking about is there’s a little bit, is, is Tuolumne and the other part is Mariposa, the bulk of it is Mariposa County.
Director Afanasiev: Ok, can I make a suggestion and talk to DA Segrestrum in Sonora?
Donna Morasci: Sure, yeah. Well you know what, the DA is one thing, civil is the main thing probably, in my mind, and what you know as far as the, hey, someone needs to check out what’s going on here’s where I think the cover up is – you guys know those meters were in all these people’s different names and instead of, did you call, did I get a notice or a note saying hey we want to hear from you? Did Ramona Shaw get one? No. And Ross is trying, has tried to cover it up.
Director Ross: I haven’t covered it up (inaudible)
Donna Morasci: But I want it on, I want it on the record he doesn’t know my friends and I’m not, I’ve seen him twice and you know what? And I don’t, you know, I don’t want to deal, I don’t want to deal with him, and I didn’t like him when I first met him.
Director Ross: Well that’s nice
VP Kinsella: OK, ahm, then, you will contact the District Attorney in both counties?
Donna Morasci: Well I’ll contact some, I’m already in a process
VP Kinsella: Well either or
Donna Morasci: I don’t know if it’s DA, well yeah, maybe I will they might
VP Kinsella: Well if they
Donna Morasci: You’ll find out
VP Kinsella: If it was perpetrated in both counties then both counties should be contacted and then let them work it out as to who the lead county is going to be
Donna Morasci: Technically (multiple voices) I think those members are probably right
on Tuolumne ah County
VP Kinsella: The, the, the
Director Richardson: Ah, kind of in a weird position here but, in, in light of your, your statement of your public reputation and stuff I have written blogs on the internet about
things that transpire in here
Donna Morasci: That’s what I picked up
Director Richardson: I thought that might been, I thought that might have been it
Donna Morasci: That’s where I had a heart attack
Director Richardson: I want to assure you I’d like to get together with you and you give me
the factual information and I will certainly write a blog explaining the whole
situation, what really happened.
Donna Morasci: Thank you, I appreciate that. All right.
VP Kinsella: Thank you. Any other comments from the audience? OK, I’ll introduce
Wes Barton: Maybe you wish it was me instead huh?
VP Kinsella: Huh?
Laughter – multiple voices
VP Kinsella: You got all the attention this time (laughter)
Donna Morasci: Well I appreciate your time really
VP Kinsella: Oh you’re, you’re welcome
Wes Barton: It had nothing to do with you
Donna Morasci: Well that’s OK
VP Kinsella: Ms Morasci….
Donna Morasci: I need a good laugh
VP Kinsella: Lew will, you’ll get in touch with her?
Director Richardson: Sure
Vp Kinsella: Lew will get in touch with you and he’ll get his portion straighten out, and then we’ll work with the district attorney or any other agency that ah makes an inquiry on
Donna Morasci: OK
VP Kinsella: But it has to be a legitimate agency though
Director Skoien: Yeah
Donna Morasci: Well we only did, of course I guess you know, I don’t know that kind of crud is an irritation too, of course it would be a legitimate, get real, you know?
Director Afanasiev: Well you’d be surprised (multiple voices – inaudible)
Donna Morasci: The illegitimacy is setting in this room
VP Kinsella: Whoa (laughter) there are
Donna Morasci: I’m serious you make accusations about people that are not true and you know and how many people have attended these meetings a bunch and my name has been
dragging around in here, it’s not right.
VP Kinsella: OK, thank you
Sally Punte: Is this the first you heard of this?
Donna Morasci: Yes
VP Kinsella: OK, any, any other comments?
Donna Morasci: They talked about it in October, they talked about it (inaudible)
VP Kinsella: OK, the next item is the presiding officer’s report, since I’m the presiding officer, there ain’t no report (laughs) The next item is Board reorganization, we need a
president and/or vice president. So,
Director Afanasiev: You mean president and vice president not or?
Charise Reeves: Yes
VP Kinsella: Well if somebody else is named president
Director Skoien: You’re still the vice president
VP Kinsella: I could still be vice president
Director Afanasiev: No, no if you’re not nominated, according to the (inaudible, multiple
voices, cross talk, laughter)
Director Skoien: Yeah cuz he’s just acting, he is the vice president
VP Kinsella: OK, we will, OK let’s open it up, and it’s nomination for board president.[NOTE: I don’t know about you folks, but that’s enough for me right now. We’ll pick up the next blog during the nomination process, until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR’S DAY!]
My best to you and yours, Lew
REPORT ON SPECIAL MEETING OF DECEMBER 19th, 2011
DRAFT AUDIT REPORT PRESENTATION
The Auditor’s report (postponed from the November meeting) was presented by Michelle Gallagher from Clendenin Bird & Company, PC, Modesto California. Accompanying Michelle were Kathy Gatewood (also a partner of the firm) and Sara Geer who is a member of their staff. All three participated in the audit last August which took approximately three days of performing various tests and a number of interviews.
[NOTE: Most of the audit information below is paraphrased from Ms. Gallagher’s report unless verbatim, when it will be contained within “quotes”.]
“Overall the audit itself in terms of the financial records, ahm, was really clean, the only adjustment that we had, and it was due to lack of information, was the postretirement benefits adjustment that had to be made. Unfortunately we didn’t have the information in time when the audit started for Charise to have made that journal entry so that was the only journal entry that had to be made to record the mutual liability for the postretirement benefits. But besides that, all of the records that we have tested ahm, came out clean, and documentation is ah, sufficient.” Michelle Gallagher, Partner Clendenin Bird & Company.
The report was an “unqualified opinion” (which is the best you can get) and there were no adjustments, problems or non-reporting of things that would have caused the LDPCSD to receive a “qualified opinion”.
Pages 3-6 were Management’s discussion and analysis, where Charise had put together a “recap” of the events for the year in terms of financial information. Essentially a CSD narrative of how things were going throughout the year. 84% of our Net Assets is due to Capital Assets which is all our of CSD’s infrastructure. Regarding Governmental Activities we had another expenditure over revenue but the majority of that is due to depreciation – we don’t have to spend money for that to be a deduction or an expenditure so in terms of cash flow and how much money we’re spending, our operating is still doing OK.
Page 6 explained some of the capital items that were placed in service. Long Term Debt: two loans with one payment left on the AMR to be finished this year which will help since it’s about $69,000.
INFORMATION FROM THE BOARD PACKET: “The Water District also had a loan with Municipal Finance Corporation for the Treatment Plant Upgrades with a balance of $1,277,463.51. Payments of principal for 2011 and 2010 totaled $53,767.39 and $51,201.55, respectively. Interest paid for 2011 and 2010 totaled $65,238.69 and $67,804.53, respectively.”
Pages 7 – 10 are the Financial Statements. Cash has increased from year before, accounts Receiveable quite high but is due to the Account Receivable from the Waste Water Treatment Plant from Mariposa County that was discovered this last year at approximately $45,000.
Liabilities are pretty much the same as last year but slightly up which is not unusual.
Page 8: Statements of revenues, expenditures, and changes in net assets. Most significant changes are that out operating revenue did go up and expenditures for that did go down, so the net loss was only $51,000 from operations, so it was significantly better than last year’s which was about $300,000.
Page 9-10 Cash flow statement: Basically where money came from and where it went. We paid off $117,000 worth of debt and we netted out of operations from cash $274,000 which was significantly higher than the year before due to the increase in rates.
Pages 11-21 “Are the notes to the financial statements, they’re basically describing various items in the financial statements, they describe the accounting policies of the organization, what kind of funds you have obviously since you’re just a small district it’s just your water and sewer (inaudible).”
Page 14: Cash note: Describes where our money is held, LAIF (Local Agency Investment Fund), banks other financial institutions.
Page 18: Describes our Long Term Debt, how much longer we have on the note from the Government Capital Corporation, $69,000 finished next year (above); the other one will not be done until 2026, about $1.2 million dollars left on that one.
Postretirement benefits this year; Charise had a firm calculate that, huge liability last year due to Government Auditing Standards so this year the increase was only $124,000 because the actual cost was about $168,000 but we’ve already paid in about $42,000 of it so the net increase for the year was only about $124,000 and the year before it was, again, $208,000, so it was a pretty good decrease.
The most significant letter because after the third year of this audit we decided we needed to make sure the items we talked about were significant enough to warrant a comment in the letter.
“Typically ah, we would be giving you a management letter which is a separate letter that would be recommendations for items that we thought could be worked on, and since this is the third year in a row that we’ve had some of the items still open we feel it is important to put it in the letter along with the Grand Jury Report, ahm, we felt really strongly that we need to put it in the letter, so now it’s stated, and now we can talk about it, and now we can move forward on comments that were derived as a response we’re encouraging because now it seems that, you know, with a mediator coming in, (inaudible) reviewing policies that hopefully will get approved for this next year and maybe some significant ah, ahm, improvements on those policies.”
Vice President Bill Kinsella: “How much impact did the Grand Jury report have?”
Michelle: “Quite a bit”.
VP Kinsella: “Significant?”
Michelle: “Significant (inaudible) for us absolutely.”
A comment was also made by Ms. Gatewood we would have still been “hit” on the other items (below) , despite the Grand Jury Report.
Michelle: “Ah, no, I spoke with Bill and I tried to get a hold of the previous director ahm, that had resigned, but she did not respond at all to me, at all, so.”
Michelle felt the Grand Jury report just meant that there were other people looking at us in terms of making recommendations that needed to be in place for us to be successful.
There were 5 important points the auditors wanted to make clear and needed addressing:
1) Updating policies and procedures
2) Job descriptions for specific employees need to be clarified
3) Unapproved Board Minutes should be approved [Issue of verbatim transcriptions]
4) Waste Water Treatment Plant Under Billing [$45,000]
5) Hierarchical structure of the organization [Currently the GM is responsible for everything, but if so, the Finance Person is not responsible for employees and therefore that position may not be an exempt (salaried) unless it falls under the category of administrative exempt (supervisory positions) otherwise the position is technically hourly.]
1) Lack of Performance Reviews of employees
2) Recommendation that a director assume the role of Treasurer because the Financial Administrator should not hold both positions.
Director Emery Ross then made a comment about this recommendation: “61050 A, ah, General Manager could be Treasurer, ah Board…”
Michelle: “As long as it’s not the Finance person”
Emery Ross: “…a board member can’t be”.
Michelle: “Is that right?”
Emery Ross: “Yeah, you look at 61050 A, B, C, D, E, F of the Government Code and it will tell you very clearly that a board member cannot be the Treasurer”,
Emery Ross: “but….”
Emery Ross: “… in the past way back in 92 he was, they did that one page that says Treasurer’s Report he use to read, that’s all he did.”
Ross: “Ah, an, an, but under the, and, (inaudible) nah, in 2005 the Community Service District Code changed and then this new thing is in here, so Dan could be the Treasurer, which basically would be reading the report I guess.”
[NOTE: I have found it extremely illuminating to double check code sections that Director Ross offers in meetings, and once again, I do not believe his interpretation of this section is supported by the language of the code. Does the below code “very clearly” state a board member cannot be Treasurer? What do you think? Why would professional auditors suggest such a thing if it is not a viable option?
Government Code 61050.
(a) The board of directors shall appoint a general manager.
(b) The county treasurer of the principal county shall serve as
the treasurer of the district. If the board of directors designates
an alternative depositary pursuant to Section 61053, the board of
directors shall appoint a district treasurer who shall serve in place
of the county treasurer.
(c) The board of directors may appoint the same person to be the
general manager and the district treasurer.
(d) The general manager and the district treasurer, if any, shall
serve at the pleasure of the board of directors.
(e) The board of directors shall set the compensation, if any, for
the general manager and the district treasurer, if any.
(f) The board of directors may require the general manager to be
bonded. The board of directors shall require the district treasurer,
if any, to be bonded. The district shall pay the cost of the bonds.
Since Director Ross has repeatedly done this (stating incorrect code sections and/or misinterpreting them) I must seriously question: does he actually read the material he offers in support of his arguments? Although it is entirely possible there are other regulations which would support this unequivocal statement, Director Ross when interrupting a presentation by the Auditor and making such a bold corrective statement, should at the very least confirm that his stated information is correct.]
Director Emery Ross: “But anyway, going back to this (laughter from previous comments) recommendation and that would not be factually correct because you cannot do that.”
The auditor agreed the recommendation could be changed based on the information provided by Director Ross since the report was only a draft. Michelle advised there was a lack of segregation of duties regarding financial matters and the Financial Administrator should not also be the Treasurer for the Board. Essentially a check and balance process with another person involved as Treasurer.
Director Victor Afanasiev questioned whether the report would go to other State Government Agencies to which Charise Reeves replied it would be sent to the State Controller’s Office and to the people that do our loans, and the county.
Director Ross also asked questions regarding pages 16-19 and PERS (Public Employees’ Retirement System) and the district’s contribution but disagreed and argued with the provided answers. He also questioned who the retired employees were and stated the information was factually incorrect.
Ross stated that on page 20/23 (audit report page number and Board packet page number) it said:
“Full time employees are eligible for PERS, [NOTE: actually stated “All District full-time employees participate in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS)”] we’ve got, the board directed the staff to have, have all part-timers get no benefits or retirement or anything and some of them are working 32 hours or more and getting benefits, and that’s under this section of PERS in here.….”. It was explained to Director Ross that PERS policy required such participation. Charise advised to avoid that contribution the part time employees could only work 19 hours a week.
Interim General Manager Dan Tynan stated he believed having only two licensed operators in this big of a district was putting the district at risk. He advised CSD was legally way behind in flushing fire hydrants which should be done once a year but many haven’t been flushed in years.
Michelle Gallagher advised she would make some of the revisions and answer the questions from Director Ross and submit the report to the board for final approval prior until publishing.
Wes Barton furnished some information to the auditor and board regarding his perspective regarding CSD’s financial situation. Wes stated the comments regarding CSD’s failures as noted in the material weaknesses were devastating and did not believe the district had ever received that before in several years. Wes felt discussions about job descriptions and policies pointed out some major discriminatory issues between employee positions. He said many issues need to be addressed before the job descriptions can be accepted for policy. He spoke of the necessity of the board having a common view and purpose of how to run the CSD before job descriptions and processes could be formulated. He felt the current procedure was working backwards and the job descriptions and policies were going to be discriminatory. Barton stated that considering the suggestion that the auditing company might drop our business it was imperative to have focus. He felt mediation was not going to resolve the underlying problems. He referenced TUD’s (Tuolumne Utility District) recent abandonment of their rate increase due to the public uproar yet LDPCSD has a higher rate for comparable water. He reiterated a number of points and suggestions he made back in 2008 that were rejected then and are still being ignored.
Reconvene meeting: 1124hrs, going into Closed Session for Conference with Legal Counsel regarding Existing Litigation Government Code Section 54956.9(a): Kent/Topie v. LDPCSD (2 cases)
Close open portion of meeting.
Reconvene Open Portion of meeting at 1137hrs. Report out of Closed Session: Vice President Bill Kinsella stated the Board had taken no action on the matter. Wes Barton questioned, and confirmed, each of the two cases actually contain two lawsuits and the Board took no action on any of them.
AGENDA ITEM B: JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND SALARY PLAN – Review and approve policies regarding job descriptions; prior policy numbers were 2300 – 2410 replaced by new policy numbers 2300 – 2440. Review and approve retroactive salary plan for 2012 fiscal year.
Director Ross questioned what the salary plan represented in an increase compared to today.
Charise Reeves: “These are ah approximately 2% over for our full time employees in the plant and myself, this is less, this is exactly what was in the budget, we had used these numbers when the budget was presented in August and it’s about a 2% increase for the three employees and then the one that got the promotion it’s about 12%, because that caught her up to where it, it basically evened things out to what has occurred.”
Director Ross discussed the over lapping duties of Board Secretary, Treasurer and Financial Administrator and how the job descriptions would be established further stating he felt they should be separate positions. Director Mark Skoien mentioned earlier discussions about previous salary plans and tables compared to now. Reeves advised the salary plan would be retroactive to August when the budget was approved and the numbers have not changed from what was included in that August budget. IGM Tynan expressed his concerns that running a water district this large with only two licensed operators in the field was risky. Mark Skoien stated he had much experience with such operations and our CSD was not over-staffed. Tynan advised one of the licensed operators had been out for two weeks and it placed a considerable amount of stress on the remaining employees. Currently the part time employees contribute 7% and the District 8.6% to PERS which works out to about $50 a paycheck which was included in the budget.
Director Lew Richardson stated while looking over the proposed salary plan he researched some other material and found we had Policy 2020 where it outlines that such a process should contain prevailing rates for comparable work and other similar public and private employment in the immediate or similar geographic area, internal pay differences between different job classes, the current change in the cost of living and the district financial condition, funding sources and financial policies, and other such information the plant operations manager and office manager deem necessary. He felt looking at the furnished information with charts A, B, C and all that, without this other information one could not see where the increase occurs, just that all steps were going forward which was fine and dandy, but where does that person pick up in that step? He thought if there was some background information of other organizations that are comparable to our size, staffing, and the like it should be included and would make it far easier to see what the actual financial cost is while sticking with current policy.
Director Mark Skoien requested Richardson re-read the policy.
Director Richardson: “This is a Policy, titled Preparation of a Salary Plan, Policy number 2020.10: The plant operation manager and the office manager shall prepare a salary plan covering all job classes under their supervision at the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District. The plan shall depict minimum, intermediate and maximum rates of pay for each job class.”
Charise Reeves: “Which it does”
Director Richardson: “Yeah, 2020.11 the plan shall contain job descriptions, grade number and classification, which it also does. 2020.20, in establishing salary ranges and arriving at specific rates of pay the plant operation manager and office manager shall consider 2020.21, prevailing rates of pay for comparable work and other similar public and private employment in the immediate or similar geographic area and 2020.22 appropriate internal pay differences between the district job classes. So, then, that would then, by looking at something like that we would have something to compare to….”
Director Skoien: “But there’s something after that too right?”
Director Richardson: “Ah, current changes in cost of living, the district’s financial condition –“
Director Skoien: “The district’s financial condition”
Director Richardson: “Right, which is a big thing – do we have the money to-“
Director Skoien: “Yeah, what can it over-ride because of our condition, it sounds like it could over-ride any of that—“
Charise Reeves advised there was officially one increase in three years.
Richardson acknowledged he understood that the salary plan started with a Step One but questioned how that first step was established based on what was paid several years ago. Charise Reeves advised if we go back to the 2008 Resolution that had the last salary tables, she had taken those and added a CPI, this is less than that CPI would have been from the 2008 ones that were there.
Director Skoien commented on the past Prop 218 controversy and how questions were asked if the money was going to be used for salaries. Charise confirmed only the first year of the Prop 218 5 year plan officially on paper promised no salary increases but the 5 year plan included increases for each year.
Wes Barton stated he believed CSD employees for the most part have done better than the economy but felt there should be four full time employees capable of running the plant which would eliminate the part time. Barton said if we look at our costs we’d find labor and benefits is 48% of our revenue and the next big number is 18% depreciation and the rest of the numbers were much smaller. He stated labor was not the problem but the retirement benefits were approximately $171,000 by itself. Barton also commented that availability fees have not been increased since 1994 or 1995. Those two items were the most important, retirement benefit costs and insufficient availability fees.
Reeves advised the salary increases for the three employees were minimal, right at 50 cents/hour and less than what was included in the Prop 218 and less than the cost of living increase from the previous tables. The vacant full time position in the office was not filled and part time help was utilized for that in order to provide two part time employees in the field.
Motion by Ross to revisit the matter in a Special Meeting with the information Director Richardson requested regarding previous 5 year salary increases and Policy 2020, the Treasurer issue with clarification as to whom Charise Reeves actually reports. Second by Mark Skoien.
Wes Barton confirmed that everything was essentially being postponed to the future and seemed particularly concerned with the job descriptions.
Board vote was unanimous.
The Special Meeting was then adjourned with the Regular Meeting to start in approximately 20 minutes.
14 HOURS – 15 MINUTES AND COUNTING BEFORE THE NEW YEAR
Wishing you all a SAFE and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
My best to you and yours, Lew
Certain areas around my property were years ago chosen by my [then] puppy for her normal bodily functions so I am cognizant of where cautious walking is prudent. The normal routine calls for immediate yard work if new areas have been utilized for this function because it signals over-capacity of the traditional “poop field”. Dog sitting for someone else obviously changes the normal procedure since any place is subject to such contributions because the new animal is unaware of our normal “business areas”.
NOT A BAD DOG AT ALL
There should be no expectation that an animal placed in a new environment would instinctively know that the corner over by the big Oaks is the accepted repository for “number two” donations or that rock cleared trails were not specifically created for that purpose or convenience. Given sufficient time such information will be learned through repetition along with corrective action for any of the more egregious violations and fortunately, in this situation, no “in house accidents” have occurred as of this posting.
NOT A SERIOUS PROBLEM
Only once thus far have I been required to scrape and hose off the soles of my boots due to accidently “Stepping in it” and that clean-up was only necessitated because I was headed into the house and did not want to track up the floors with the obnoxious material. Had I been continuing work outdoors I would have probably just allowed it to naturally wear off during the course of my travels around the property with a quick check to confirm its absence before entering the house.
NO DOG OATH
Seriously, it’s not like a canine has the ability to take a solemn oath to not “doo doo” in certain places around the property before being admitted to the premises. They cannot “raise a paw” and repeat after me……”I, [bark your name], do solemnly swear or affirm that I will not relieve myself near the garage door, deck steps, around motor vehicles, …..” We take them as we find them and begin what will usually, and hopefully, be a long term relationship of mutual love and companionship.
TELEVISION PAIN IN THE NECK
When it’s time to get some rest but my head is full of thoughts and musings of the day’s activities, I often drift off to sleep with some program on the television. The television shut off timer is a fantastic option to prevent awakening to loud commercials at 0300hrs in the morning. The two biggest problems for me with this particular method of sleep induction: 1) waking up in the morning with a sore neck from too many pillows under my head, and 2), leaving my eye glasses on. I’m not sure, but I think this last pair of glasses has passed the previous record for not incurring scratches or nicks on the lenses.
Wednesday morning at approximately 0350 hrs, I pulled on the covers while rolling over in bed and vaguely recalled hearing something hit the floor. I knew it wasn’t the television remote control because I’ve heard that fairly loud noise many times. I was drifting back to sleep when three thoughts almost simultaneously woke me up: 1) the noise was likely my eye glasses hitting the floor, 2) the visiting dog sleeps on the floor on that side of the bed, and 3) she has a propensity for chewing!
GOOD MORNING GIRLS
Got up, turned on a light and started searching for the glasses which naturally signaled my sleeping canine roommates that it was time to start a new day. Searching for glasses without your glasses is an interesting dilemma in itself but when combined with the time limitation caused by two dogs dancing around because they need to go outside for their morning ritual made a quick successful search imperative. Found the glasses, got the dogs outside without incident but the commotion summoned the cat to the back door and she was now impatiently meowing for an early breakfast. Needless to say, after all this going back to sleep was not an option so the day started early.
AS IF I CHEWED THEM MYSELF
Had I ignored the sound of something hitting the floor; didn’t appreciate the probability that my glasses had fallen; failed to remember there was a “chewing machine” in the immediate area; and simply drifted back to sleep, whose fault would it have been if the glasses were indeed chewed up and/or destroyed?
The facts of the situation, clues to what had happened, reasoning, probability analysis, along with a personal commitment to protecting fairly expensive eye glasses from damage, all played a role in starting the day early.
Why bother to take the time to mention this stupid little “doggie story”?
Answer: Because it simply illustrates how a foreseeable negative outcome can be avoided by preemptively taking action based on known facts.
What does it have to do with Lake Don Pedro?
Answer: The far majority of LDPCSD customers essentially have no idea what is happening within a public agency they financially support which severely limits the probability of being able to detect and avoid foreseeable negative outcomes.
One of the water publications I read regularly mentioned some time ago that the worst possible thing a water agency could do would be to only contact their customers when raising their rates – yet this is exactly what the LDPCSD has done, and will likely continue to do, without re-establishing “THE PIPELINE” publication. Think about that for a moment. Shouldn’t a ratepayer at least have the opportunity to be informed as to how their money is being spent and why?
The ONLY REASON customers are notified now about rate increases is because such notification and opportunity to respond is REQUIRED BY LAW. Sure, there are laws requiring factual reporting of public business, which is generally provided at mandatory board meetings, but if the customer never receives the information what good is the reporting process …. I mean other than dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” of government regulations?
WATER LICENSE SERVICE AREA
The permitted service area under our water license is the Lake Don Pedro subdivision and golf course.
The subdivision is governed by the Lake Don Pedro Owners’ Association. The LDPOA is required to furnish members with their mandatory corporation disclosures so the DISCOVERER is sent to members all over the country. Out of area owners of unimproved subdivision property pay “water availability fees” with their property taxes and therefore financially contribute to the district. Doesn’t it make sense that the LDPOA DISCOVERER would be the perfect vehicle for the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District to furnish district information to its scattered customers as well?
During a time when both private and public entities are looking to save money and be more efficient, doesn’t dual use of an existing publication sound reasonable?
Since two Directors on the LDPOA Board routinely attend LDPCSD Board meetings wouldn’t they be excellent candidates for assisting in putting such a dual use program together? The LDPCSD could create a minimal publication that could be inserted into the DISCOVERER and reach 99+% of their customer base at the same time the LDPOA is contacting their property owners with their mandatory corporation disclosures. Why is this concept resisted?
DOES THIS WEBSITE DO ANY GOOD AT ALL?
I have asked myself that question for years (usually when disgusted or frustrated with what goes on here) but received another unambiguous affirmative answer during the Public Comment portion of Monday’s Board Meeting [December 19th, 2011]. A citizen of Mariposa County, whose name and property ownership had been linked to some serious questions regarding multiple water meter installations on an adjacent single property, happened across postings on this website which contained her name. This “meter matter” was initially presented by two CSD directors last January (a third former director also supplied a partial map of the questioned area) who asserted that a woman by the name of Donna Morasci-Martin owed money to another land owner for a pipe extension yet had refused to pay the debt for almost two decades. Those assertions, along with some others, were unequivocally contradicted by Ms. Morasci herself.
Although factually reporting on what others had to say about this matter (supported with audio tapes of those meetings), I would never-the-less like to offer a public apology to Donna Morasci-Martin for posting that incorrect information along with any theorizing on my part. [How our CSD actually became involved in this matter also appears to have been largely based on that same incorrect information presented to a past board some twenty years ago.] I have had a number of questions regarding this matter since the beginning and the information Ms. Morasci furnished last Monday provided important missing pieces to this confusing puzzle. Her words of “fraud” and “cover-up” appear warranted.
AFTER THE HOLIDAYS
I will follow up on this story after the holidays because there is much information to go through and organize (including four audio cassette tapes of meetings on December 19th), but for now, suffice it to say it is absolutely shameful how information was intentionally misrepresented and another person’s name and reputation was sacrificed in the process. Differing opinions and/or perspectives are desirable and useful in any decision making process but intentional fabrication of the truth should never be permitted, especially in the public sector.
When a public official “steps in it” through misrepresentation of the truth, they track up not only their own personal floor of integrity, but more importantly, the base reputation of the public agency they supposedly serve.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
My best to you and yours, Lew
Just wanted to take a couple of minutes to say “hey” and take a break from reading the LDPCSD Board Packet in preparation for Monday’s meetings. [177 page 10am Special Meeting along with some other Closed Session material and 126 pages for the 10am Regular Meeting.]
THE TREES HAVE EYES – BUT THEY’RE USUALLY CLOSED IN THE DAY
During a reading break I was walking around with the dogs when I spied one of my “regular Owls” quietly sleeping and digesting his night’s work. [Never ceases to amaze me how many mice, voles, gophers, etc. these Owls snag.]
HIS DISTANT RELATIVE DOESN’T HUNT
My 30+ year old Mitred Conure “Zack” seems to have stablized on his journey from whatever happened to him (likely some kind of a stroke) to his normal cranky deameanor. He still cannot fly and is much slower when getting around (who isn’t?), but seems to have regained much of his strength since his bite has returned to quite a painful “pinch” just shy of breaking the skin. His appetite seems more than adequate but he continues to sleep more and more every day frequently caught in a mid-afternoon nap with his bill hung on the mirror for balancing support on the perch (below).
Surprising that this is the same parrot I found in the avairy on this back with legs straight up in the air over a year ago.
My best to you and yours, Lew
A few months ago I received a very high water bill that ultimately caused me to take a serious look at my aging water system. Occasionally I will forget to turn off one of a number of irrigation valves and understand a slightly higher consumption use for the next billing period but looking back through past bills for the same months in previous years revealed a regular consumption increase that I could not explain. Ahhhh, the quest begins.
HIGHEST BILL EVER
A neighbor was kind enough to stop by and advise he noticed some of my sprinklers had been running for quite a while and water was trickling down the roadway easement ditch. Naturally, that particular line of sprinklers were fairly isolated, rarely used, and the normal water line pressure had not been reduced for drip line/emitter irrigation. (Leaving “drip lines” on by accident will only create a slight increase.) I could not have intentionally chosen the worst possible valve to have left open. Duh!
After thanking my neighbor and running over to the valve I almost immediately remembered turning it on the past weekend just as some guests were arriving and in the commotion of greeting them failed to turn off the valve. Two and a half days those ^%$#*!+ high pressure sprinklers were on. I had already routed normal run off to the benefit of planted trees but as I followed this “metered creek” downhill the fact that most of the excess water was only nourishing weeds I would eventually have to cut next Spring was quite obvious. The waste of water was disappointing. That was the highest water bill ever received in over 20 years and was the catalyst for the above cartoon. Live and learn.
BRIGHT YELLOW CARD
Yup, this is something you certainly don’t want to find in your mailbox, but it sure is a wakeup call. This was the second time I recalled receiving an LDPCSD “COURTESY CARD” and for those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the notice, here’s the message:
“As a courtesy, we are sending you notice that an increase in water usage was noted during meter reading. Your meter was read on ____________, indicating water consumption of ___________ units compared with ______ units last month.
If you are aware of increased irrigation or other usage, disregard this notice.
If not, please investigate for possible water leaks or other malfunctions. If you find a problem please repair it or contact a plumber for the required repairs.
If you require further assistance, please contact our office at (209) 852-2331 Monday – Friday 7:30am to 4:00pm.
Thank you, Customer service”
STARTED TRACKING USE
I was curious about the discovered underlying increase of water consumption so I started documenting the days, time and meter readings before and after irrigating. Fortunately, when I initially started plumbing the property 20 years ago (and had the strength to dig all those trenches in this rocky soil) I installed two primary supply valves for irrigation; one west and downhill, the other east and downhill. Below these main valves are some secondary shut off valves along with several “Drip Line valves” which provide water to certain irrigating areas.
Through a process of elimination (closing secondary valves from downhill to uphill) I found even though ALL VALVES WERE CLOSED BELOW THE TWO PRIMARY SUPPLY VALVES – IF THE PRIMARIES WERE OPEN WATER WAS STILL VERY SLOWLY PASSING THROUGH THE METER – every second, minute, hour, day and week of the month! I have only temporarily solved the problem by keeping the primary supply valves shut for the winter and will eventually have to locate from where the water is escaping, but for now the waste has ceased. I know of one “in-ground” secondary valve that leaks and do not look forward to digging it up next year for replacement since I’ve already tried repacking the seal which obviously didn’t work.
DIFFERENT METERS OUT THERE
Currently the LDPCSD is replacing older meters (which are likely under-reporting actual water consumption) with newer models with drive-by electronic reading capabilities in addition to other desirable features. When my old meter stopped working years ago I received one of these new meters and must admit to noticing an immediate increase in my consumption rate which leads me to believe older meters do indeed start to under-read after time. [Documentation of this fact has been contained in previous Board Packets.] Many customers do not want a new meter and I can empathize with their concern but, in all fairness, they are likely under paying for what they actually use which is unfair to those that do. The loss of revenue by several hundred under-reading meters decreases the CSD’s revenue and over time could represent a significant loss, besides, we have the meters and they are useless unless working.
Due to the differences in models currently used in our water system it is impossible to determine what type of meter a customer is using and therefore what type of “leak indicator” is incorporated in that model. The first photograph is of an older model and I assume that “sprocket wheel” probably turned with the passage of water. The second photograph depicts one of the newer AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) meters currently being installed and that small white triangle in the center will turn when water passes through the meter. [I believe my old meter had a red triangle.] Naturally the long red needle will spin around the numbered dial with water consumption and the total amount is recorded on the digital counter. The faster the water rushes through the meter – the faster the triangle and dial will spin racking up a higher number of units used.
The LDPCSD measures water usage in CCF units (Centum Cubic Feet or 100 cubic feet) [1 cubic foot of water = 7.48 gallons, therefore, 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons or 1 CCF ]
I was talking with Randy Gilgo the other day and he relayed how some customers couldn’t believe their leak indicator was turning very slowly until me made an ink mark on the meter glass cover. After talking with the customer for a while the movement was obvious.
SOURCE OF LEAK OFTEN SURPRISING
Some friends of mine recently commented they too had received a yellow “Courtesy Card” and could not understand how in light of there being no changes to their normal water use. Having already experienced my own leak investigation, we started with the “leak indicator” on the meter. Yes, it was turning. We shut off the supply valve to the residence to rule out any leaks in or around the house (hose bibs) but the indicator was still turning. We confirmed all irrigation valves were off and not leaking, but the triangle still turned. Then the serious inspection started – looking for any indication of dampness around pipes and valves. [This is why I brought up this subject now because soon it will be the rainy season and locating such “wet spots” will be impossible.]
Sure enough – after digging around some above ground pipes water saturated ground was revealed. The excavated hole quickly filled with water. We shut off the main water supply line at the meter box and emptied the hole of water and cleaned around the pipes and fittings. While one person turned the water back on at the meter box another watched the pipes in the hole for signs of leakage. Sure enough water was now spraying with the dirt removed. SHUT OFF THE WATER! lol
Now in this particular case the news was very good because there was no damaged pipe or broken fittings but rather, the connection was coming apart due to the water pressure in the pipe. Evidently, decades ago when the pipe lines were installed, a single coupling had been assembled in a manifold (numerous pipes and valves connected together in one area) with only the purple primer pre-treatment being applied and no pipe cement for a permanent connection. I’ve observed this very situation happen a couple of times but the “pressure test” revealed the problem prior to filling the trenches and burying the mistake underground and out of sight. [Of course, maybe the primer held for the test before filling?]
EASY TO DO
Laying out a complicated manifold can get confusing with the two chemical applications (primer and cement) to every connection in addition to the hurried time required to correctly assemble the manifold as the cement sets up – one component fitting can easily be overlooked. [There are now one application glues/cements.] Yup, sure was good news. We simply cleaned the two fittings and cemented them back together and thus far the leak indicator remains still. [Don’t forget to flush the line by opening a water faucet to expel sand, gravel or excess glue when the water is turned back on.]
RUNNING OUT OF TIME
The above leak would have been very difficult to locate and repair if the surrounding ground was already wet from rain. A leak that cannot be stopped without shutting off the supply to the house will continue without intervention and could get much worse. Unless you are prepared to go outside and turn on the meter valve every time you want to flush a toilet, take a shower, brush your teeth, wash the dog, etc., and then turn it off again, that leak is going to waste water and cost you more money.
My best to you and yours, Lew
Although the number of “on scene survivors” and their accounts of what happened that day are rapidly dwindling, December 7th, 1941 irrevocably changed the lives of countless millions of people and will likely remain one of the foremost examples of the horrendous cost of war.
MOST EVERY FAMILY AFFECTED SOMEWAY
Mom was a teenager and quite cognizant of the realities of World War II and kept a scrap book of news articles, reports and photographs. One of her brothers was a Marine engaged in front line combat and still carries shrapnel in his neck from a near death experience on an island beach. Another one of her brothers served on the Navy destroyer USS Missouri also in the Pacific. Numerous friends were spread across the globe in other areas of turmoil in addition to Europe. As a young girl in California she lived with the ever present danger of potential invasion on the west coast. During the Summer from high school she helped out at the mud baths, hot springs, and mineral pools in Calistoga (Napa Valley) where injured soldiers were treated for their wounds and amputations (evidently the heat assisted in healing and extracting imbeded shrapnel). Her future husband, my Father, had enlisted in the Army Air Corps and ultimately became a bomber pilot in the Air Force also serving in the Pacific. Dad made a 33 year career in the US Air Force as did my brother who served over 20 years.
GREW UP AROUND DAD’S MILITARY SERVICE
Most of my adolescent life was spent on or very near military bases providing the opportunity of meeting many different people involved with various aspects of national defense in both military and civilian capacities. During the cold war era (Cuba situation) Mom was actually required to drive my brother and I on an escape route from Castle Air Force base up here into the foothills under the theory of avoiding potential radiation exposure if Castle were hit with a nuclear weapon. I currently look down at the old Castle air base remembering Dad shooting “touch and goes” in a KC-135 (Air refueling 4 engine jet aircraft) from the Fox Road vantage point at the end of the runway – even saw my brother decades later land and take off in a T-38 (jet training aircraft- he was a flight instructor like Dad and eventually ended up piloting the C-141 Star Lifter cargo aircraft which was later replaced with the C-17.) I vividly recall visiting and playing outside with other kids at “alert facilities” near base runways during different holidays when Dad was on alert.
A friend and co-worker of my Dad’s in Grand Forks North Dakota was a POW in Europe and relayed to me his stories of being transported by railroad car through numerous cities and towns in route to his ultimate confinement. His description of brutal situations soften with accounts of compassion displayed by indigenous people remain in my memories. Woodworking became this man’s personal relaxation hobby technique and I still possess a handmade cabinet he created in his garage 45 years ago and the thought of refinishing it is unconscionable. The scratches and scrapes only document it’s history of travel and are as important to me as the furniture itself.
I remember the noise of B-52 engines roaring outside our base housing only indicated to me that another episode of Gun Smoke with James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillion was about to begin.
Sure is interesting how the “old shows” could tell a gripping story within an hour – often culminating in a bloodless fatal shooting, but still be quite dramatic. Remember those? The victim would grasp their chest with one or both hands, make a quick parting comment, then collapse without even the slightest evidence of blood loss – yet now, gallons of blood and remnants of internal organs are Hollywood splattered across a wall just to illustrate the reality of a violent death.
While living in Taiwan for two years we could see the C-130s and other aircraft taking off to, and returning from, in-country missions to Vietnam and heard the stories of near misses by surface to air missiles and harrowing landings in remote areas. That was indeed a lifetime ago and although the type of warfare was different from today’s “war on terrorism”, all of it is destructive, horrific, and painful to those even remotely involved.
In light of the recent discoveries of possible habitable planets in space and man’s violent past, it begs the question: will humans eventually end up in some kind of war with another species like on Sci-Fi afternoon television shows? I’d be willing to bet money, marbles, or chalk that a malicious deep space enemy sure would unite humanity on this little rotating and revolving blue marble in space. Nothing like a common foe to put things in perspective – huh?
Sorry, I digress. I guess this is the sort of stuff that belongs in a private journal so suffice it to say today marks yet another day of remembrance to those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl.
THE NOVEMBER 21st, 2011 BOARD MEETING
The initial meeting opened at 0905hrs with a full board consisting of Vice President Bill Kinsella and Directors Emery Ross, Mark Skoien, Victor Afanasiev and yours truly. Interim General Manager Dan Tynan and Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator Charise Reeves were also present. The meeting jumped from Public to Closed Session during the continuing Personnel Grievance process initiated by the Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator against the Interim General Manager. Again, with the sincere hope of a satisfactory resolution to this matter (both parties have agreed to meet with a mediator) I will not get into the literal “she said” – “he said” particulars of the situation.
PERSONNEL PROBLEMS NOT SURPRISING
There should be no surprise when the difficulties between Board members enable/produce an environment for similar problems with Staff and other employees. The concept of rotating the general manager’s position within a large organization with hundreds or thousands of “staff qualified” employees makes some sense considering the “cross training” approach, however, the proposed plan to do so at the LDPCSD where there are only six (6) full time employees [half of which might be interested in the GM position] was, in MY OPINION, extremely damaging to this district on a number of levels.
Such a suggestion does not occur within a vacuum devoid of consequences and I believe this is precisely what our CSD is now experiencing … the negative ramifications of an ill-conceived proposal. (Whether the resulting turmoil was intended or not is for the public to decide. Insecurity in any position is not desirable and can greatly increase the probability of a manipulative influence. The former Mariposa County Grand Jury certainly did not embrace the concept and ultimately suggested the director proposing such rotation resign as president of the board.)
INTENT AND MOTIVATION
What motivates people to do the things they do? Are their actions reasonable based on the currently known fact patterns or are there surreptitious ulterior motives? This is where trust in representation is crucial.
Obviously the extent of monetary compensation received for an individual’s work is of great interest to any employee. Those fortunate enough to actually enjoy their work may indeed place greater emphasis on their personal satisfaction in doing a job well but I suspicion most everyone would prefer to earn as much as possible if given the opportunity. But there’s the rub. If someone is tantalized with the prospect of greater reward and responsibility in obtaining a higher position such a proposed opportunity could distract from the duties for which they are already employed and compensated. Add to this the uncertainty and frustration caused to the employee who is currently charged with the sought after duties (and compensation) and a stage is set for an unnecessary adversarial and competitive relationship rather than that of mutual co-operation.
This produces serious collateral damage to other employees and district business at hand. Rather than collaborative work by all employees focused on the efficient execution of district business – an environment of distrust and suspicion is created. Co-operation and mutual support for the primary job is replaced with at best, apathy and/or indifference and at worst, disruption and/or intentional sabotage of another’s work.
SIGNIFICANT FACTS UNKNOWN
Without knowledge of all the facts (Closed Session information is confidential and not to be disseminated) it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the public to appreciate exactly what has been going on within our CSD. I believe particular pieces of information acquired in CLOSED SESSION would in short order clear up much of the confusion on both sides, but that is not possible at this time.
Personally I believe both parties are essentially victims of a ludicrous idea whose foreseeable negative consequences were clearly evident.
ANOTHER CIVIL MEETING
Although the last meeting went quite well (with the exception of the Ranchito Well Study – a preliminary capacity report – see below) I can’t help but believe the presence of an observing mediator (suggested by the previous Grand Jury) and members of the current Grand Jury, [in addition to the Vice President’s clearing of the meeting room a few meetings back because of another planned disruption], undoubtedly played a major role in the resulting civility. Be that as it may, it was pleasant and should continue. You know, as residents and “investors” in this community we probably have more in common than either side is willing to recognize. Perhaps by conscientiously avoiding “trigger issues” of the past our meetings will focus on more current district issues?
POSITIVE AND UPBEAT
I have a “post-it” above my computer monitor that reads: “Keep it positive and upbeat” but holding to such a positive affirmation is quite difficult at times. Occasionally friends and acquaintances from the valley will ask if I am still pleased with my foothill property purchased over 20 years ago and to be quite honest the answer might vary a bit depending upon recent activity up here. Lake Don Pedro politics are not enjoyable but the beautiful foothill environment usually trumps that downer. Perhaps the question is actually moot because much like the Roach Motel you can check in but cannot check out without a substantial loss of hard work and money – but that’s probably true anywhere nowadays. I firmly believe Lake Don Pedro will eventually be recognized as a great place to live and a good investment for the future, however, the past ideas of “fast money” probably won’t materialize again for quite some time. I guess it all depends upon what a person values the most, a home or lucrative financial investment.
A while back I was visiting some friends up here when a Hawk decided to take a break on their deck railing. Although the photograph was taken from inside the picture window it still came out pretty clear. Check out that predator look after I tapped on the glass!
Yup, there is so much to appreciate in these foothills if you take the time to observe and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else…. now if we could just do something about the counter-productive politics! lol
RANCHITO WELL STUDY REPORT
Unfortunately, the Engineer’s report concerning the question of the Ranchito Well production capacity [included in last meeting’s Board Packet furnished to the public] appears to support the uneasiness of those (including myself) who believe the continued expansion of service from that source could have some serious financial ramifications. The LDPCSD is a surface water treatment plant but if “ground water substitution for surface water transfer” is something to be considered – all rate paying customers should have a say in establishing that policy because it could get extremely expensive. Only a few months ago there were those that strenuously advocated expansion of such water service to properties outside the Merced Irrigation District Place of Use requirements under Water License 11395 – imagine where we would be now had that taken place?
Sure it would be wonderful to provide water to any property whose owner wanted it but as a former LDPCSD President recently commented, our CSD should refrain from providing services that are not required by law. Not required is one thing, not authorized is another. Still, just about anything is possible with the support of the majority of customers who would be willing to fund such a project.
A NEW COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT?
Apparently, a well is being drilled at the corner of HWY 132 and Bonds Flat Road where some potential commercial businesses might be located in the near future. Hopefully the drilling was successful and the well will provide adequate water for that development under the theory fair competition benefits everyone.
My best to you and yours, Lew
Difficult to believe it is December already – sure seems time moves faster the older one gets. Two days ago marked the one year anniversary since taking the Oath of Office to be a director on our LDPCSD Board of Directors. Although many good improvements have occurred already others are “in the pipeline” and will just take time.
I read an interesting article recently by a gentleman who spent 30 years in the public sector in Sacramento who commented that even when constituents overwhelmingly support a particular project or plan, due to the time constraints involved with legal requirements, regulations and procedures, governmental change often moves quite slowly. Certainly frustrating to both the public and those elected to represent their interests.
AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU ONLY HAVE YOUR OWN?
My Aunt once said “when you take a look at everyone else’s problems, aren’t you glad you only have your own?” Boy! Isn’t that the truth! This morning, just after 1030hrs, while standing in a checkout line at Staples in Merced I noticed a number of shoppers moving
towards the large windows at the front of the building and overheard someone
say there was a car fire in the parking lot. Sure enough when exiting, there it was.
Fortunately I don’t believe anyone was injured but what rotten luck just
before Christmas (not that any time would necessarily be much better).
Again, sorry about the quality of the video clip but that’s the best I can do right now. A “zoom shot” was all I was prepared to risk since there were a number of loud “POPS” just before the fire flared up. I was afraid the fuel tank might explode but that’s probably more of a Hollywood type thing since I’ve witnessed several vehicles burn to the hubs without exploding, but why take a chance right? – Besides, it’s best to stay out of the way of emergency personnel while they do their work.
CAR FIRE IN MERCED CA PARKING LOT: http://youtu.be/xJuZX-yJqVA
My Best to you and yours, Lew
JUPITER AND 4 MOONS
(Left to right) Ganymede, Europa [the planet JUPITER center], Io and Callisto.
The photograph was shot with a digital camera held close to the telescope lens so left/right is reversed from the actual position in the sky. Taken around 2000hrs in the Eastern sky.
My best to you and yours, Lew
PS: The last LDPCSD meeting went very well and we’ll get to some of the highlights later, but for now, hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!