Dear Editor April 7
This community owes a true debt of gratitude to Director Bill Smallman for staying his course of honesty and integrity in the face of a 4 to 1 opposition by his fellow SLVWD board members.
Mr. Smallman’s perseverance to do what’s right for the rate payers is highly commendable and sadly rare in today’s political scene.
Thank you, Bill, for being there as our voice.
Mark Messimer, Felton
[Note: This letter was written prior to Monday’s decision not to appeal the Vierra case.]
As a former director of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, I am distressed by the recent furor over legal issues and fear that public attention is being distracted at a time when there are more significant problems to discuss.
To paraphrase a prominent politician, the Vierra Case is an inherited mess. The events in question happened before any of the present board members or myself were in office. The Holloway lawsuit was filed three days after the 2014 election, just after three long-serving directors were replaced by three new ones. At that same time, interviews were being held to hire a general manager. Brian Lee was chosen shortly afterward, but did not take office until January, 2015. It seems unfair to drag these folks down because of what took place on someone else’s watch.
It is important to remember that that Holloway’s suit consisted of two parts. The Political Fair Practices Act violation, the subject of this year’s decision, only involved ex-director Vierra.
The other allegations, based on Government Code 1090--a more Draconian law--were filed against the district as well. Because the SLVWD was a defendant, the matter was pursued. In April, 2016 the court dismissed the 1090 charges and, shortly afterward, imposed a judgment against Holloway. He immediately appealed the ruling; that case is still on the Court of Appeal calendar.
In my opinion, the recent ruling was based on a technicality. For what it’s worth, I think I would have reluctantly voted to let it stand. From where I sat, neither plaintiff or defendant showed any willingness to compromise or much concern for the financial burden on the district’s ratepayers. Holloway is an experienced litigant and surely knew that he was putting the district at risk for legal fees.
Although papers were filed to keep the district’s options open, it should be understood that any decision to pursue an appeal must be made by the board. Since the ruling singled out Vierra, I have doubts that as a non-defendant, the water district even had the proper standing to appeal.
One other point I’d like to clarify. The “Campus” project is a dead issue and rightly so. There is a spending freeze in place and, frankly, the district cannot afford to pursue it. I would fight any attempt to revive it. However, the problems it was intended to fix—the inadequacy of the 1880’s office building and the traffic problems resulting from our operations department--still need to be dealt with and this is why there is a plan for a needs assessment.
Randall Brown, Felton
There have been several comments about the unfair Lompico surcharge in recent editions of the Press Banner. I was one of those who strongly supported the merger and began to attend San Lorenzo Valley Water District meetings last year after seeing problems arise.
I was surprised at how little the current SLV water board and district manager knew about the Lompico merger and surcharge terms when we joined in June 2016. I think the previous management and board would have reduced, then removed the Lompico surcharge easily within months, recognizing terms and improvements.
More experienced directors would have used the success of the merger to good advantage, to show they are fair and trustworthy – important elements to retain public trust.
Voters in Lompico approved the merger agreement in good faith: The surcharge reduces when a specific debt is paid off, and goes away as certain improvements are made. These conditions have been met. Lompico operates as an ordinary zone of service in the water district – the goal of the merger, and a success story. That it was accomplished ahead of schedule should be cause for celebration.
Several of us from Lompico, former board members and from the Citizens Advisory Committee have been quietly trying for nearly a year to go through the administrative process to get this fixed.
The SLV Water District board has an opportunity this month to make this right.
Hold a public meeting at Zayante Firehouse, to reach out to the Lompico community. Welcome us, then vote unanimously to end the surcharge.
[After this was written, the water district board announced it would hold its April 20 meeting in Felton.]
Debra Loewen, Lompico
[From Facebook, written after Monday’s SLV Water District board decision to drop an appeal of the Terry Vierra case.]
Such a long ordeal to arrive at simple justice and obvious reality: No public funds to bail out a henchman for conflict of interest convictions.
Didn't need high powered star chamber meetings for this choice; ask any honest preschooler.
Timothy Bowden, Felton
San Lorenzo Valley Water District rate hike again – be ready.
The money spent to defend Terry VIerra could have paid for a new tank.
Again, waste of the ratepayers’ money, this money we the payers have entrusted the elected board to manage. The free knowledge given by the ratepayers who attend these meetings, and care, and have alerted the ratepayers time after time.
Please watch www.communitytv.org/watch/government-demand/ See for yourself the disinterested board, notes passed, ratepayers interrupted, their comments are correct. I am a 2014 water board candidate not given a job or money by Vierra.
Karen Brown, Brookdale
I was very disturbed with the letter the Press Banner printed by Rosemary Chalmers on March 31. To disagree and think the San Lorenzo Valley Water District board is on the wrong track is one thing. To call them imbeciles and idiots is another. I found it pretty rich that she is the same person who was adamant that Felton should stay under the controI of Cal Am and not get control of our own water. She sure seems to enjoy being able to abuse our local board members. That wouldn't be so easy with an international company running the show.
I attended the water district board meeting on April 3 regarding the pending lawsuit. While waiting outside the meeting room before the doors opened, I could tell that people were really upset and were not going to be diplomatic in how they felt.
It seems to be decorum that the board does not respond to insults and slurs on their character, but just listens and takes it. But if it was me sitting on the board Monday night, (who by the way, in case you've forgotten, are our neighbors, not the enemy) I would have told a good part of the audience what I thought of them, with the accompanying hand gestures, on my way out,
Alexis Krostue, Felton
Valley Woman’s Club member Lynn M. Kibbons letter on March 24 states that the club is a 501-C3 organization: “We are not political.” In the same letter she refers to their political concerns.
VWC is a political organization: a 1998 Valley Press article “Valley Woman’s Club: 20 years of activism.” “To those who didn’t know better, the name might conjure images of afternoon teas, of white gloves and manicured rose gardens. That was exactly the intent, says Nancy Macy, the club founding board president and still a diving force in the organization. ‘We wanted to mislead people into thinking we were benign,’ says Macy.”
The article further states, “The woman spoke or sat in on nearly every supervisor meeting for a time.”
I have a DVD of Nancy Macy representing the Valley Women’s Club at a county planning department meeting with former Supervisor Jeff Almquist – an illegal meeting violating the Separation of Powers Act. This is politics.
Valley Woman’s Club members campaigned for Eric Hammer, son of Mary Hammer, a Valley Women’s Club founder, during the 2012 Supervisor race: Knocking on doors, saying “We’re from the Valley Woman’s Club and we urge you to vote for Eric Hammer.”
From the Valley Woman’s Club minutes, Oct. 14, 2008, “Phone banking for Obama, Saturday 1-5 at Nancy G’s house. Thursday at 5 p.m. and Sunday 4-7 p.m. at Joni M’s house.” Also in these minutes: “Valley Woman’s Club board recommends ‘No’ on propositions 4 and 8. Beth will write a letter to the newspapers.”
Valley Woman’s Club devours tax dollars yearly through its tentacle organizations. Some members are handsomely paid, they are not all volunteers. The Valley Women’s Club is a political organization.
Denese Matthes, Boulder Creek