Yucca Valley, Ca.,- The Hi-Desert Water District met last evening with a full house in attendance. Most of the agenda items moved along pretty quickly until the issue to re-visit in-house sewer construction was announced. HDWD President Roger Mayes read aloud the agenda item, reiterated “there is no staff report” and then asked for Public Comment. A puzzled audience looked around to see if they heard correctly because it was difficult to comment on the “unknown” so the first speaker read his prepared statement on the item as written on the agenda.
I had no prepared statement but questioned the Board, “Just exactly why are we here revisiting this again? Who placed this on the agenda?What new facts surfaced to support consideration of in-house construction? I explained I researched the past meetings to verify there were NO agenda requests. I assumed it MUST have been the General Manager, Ed Muzik, especially after the in-depth conversation at their April 2nd meeting where all the Board members agreed not to bring the sewer project construction in-house.
Still no response from the Board and Muzik chose not to fall on his sword on this question. I again asked if anyone on the Board would come forth to take responsibility for putting this on the agenda…again? Lo and behold, Director Sarann Graham meekly raised her hand saying she would report on it after public comment.
I thanked her for stepping up and requested to President Mayes that he re-open public comment after her presentation so the citizens may have a chance to comment on the “new” information. Mayes then called on the next person and before she had a chance to say anything, Director Munsey requested that the public comment be reopened after Director Graham spoke. At that moment, Mayes asked the speaker to be seated and would be called back up along with the other two who spoke previously. (Yucca Valley Planning Commissioner Chair Tim Humphreville was seated in the front row and let’s hope he learned something from this exchange about reopening public comment when new information was revealed…probably not.)
Graham Fesses Up: Director Graham said she was approached by a handful of citizens who asked additional questions and impressed upon her to revisit the in-house construction idea. These “handful” of citizens did not attend any HDWD Board meetings to express their concerns or ask questions, but had heard about the Board decision against in-house, after the fact.
She said she brought her concerns to President Mayes, (who did not back her up leaving Graham to dangle alone) and suggested a committee could be formed to “investigate further” by conducting interviews with the engineers, contractors and other agencies.
Graham offered to withdraw her suggestion before public comment…unless the Board agreed to her idea. Verbal daggers were tossed about punching holes in her balloon by comments from the public and the Board members. Please note: I first apologized to GM Ed Muzik and then expressed my shock that Graham would bring this up…again.
President Mayes Reveals a Tiny Spine: During my public comment, I said, ” If they formed any committee to address in-house construction, I would seek others to come out against this project.”
Mayes spoke out, in rare form to reveal he does possess a spine, demanding I withdraw my “Threat.” Missing the opportunity to say, “That was not a threat but a promise,” I re-worded my statement to say, “I would not be able to support this sewer project.” This revision was acceptable to Mayes. (Later in the meeting, Director Hough once again wrongly chastised a citizen sitting in the audience but Mayes’ spine was no where to be found, as usual.)
HDWD Director Graham Tosses Daggers at David Peach: To my surprise as I sat in shock and awe…Graham used her Director comments to read several parts of a letter printed in the local newspaper written by David Peach. Peach wrote this letter as a private citizen, who also sits on the dais of the Big MAC, the Morongo Basin Public Advisory Commission appointed by 3rd District Supervisor, James Ramos. Graham continued to throw daggers at Peach for a good 12 minutes. She said Peach was disgusting to write such a letter without any proof. Graham was angry that a Ramos representative would speak out against another agency instead of “working together like Joshua Water Basin.” Peach Letter>LINK
I tried to maintain my composure while hiding my disappointment that Peach was receiving “12 minutes of Fame” thanks to Graham reading his letter out loud to the members of the audience AND to those who will watch this meeting being televised on cable TV. (Dang! Peach gets all the attention!) Graham was defending her letter to the Editor printed on Wednesday in response to Peach. Graham Letter>LINK
I expected to hear the “Thumper Quote” from Graham….however, she exclaimed she was going to write a letter directly to Supervisor Ramos asking that Peach be removed from the Board.
To be continued…heh.
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