Director walks out — again
By Karen Brainard
Accusations and a heated exchange among some members of the Ramona Municipal Water District board resulted in one director walking out of the meeting — for the second consecutive meeting.
“This is getting to be repetitious,” said Director Rex Schildhouse as stood up after being stopped from proceeding with his director comments by Board President Darrell Beck and a ruling from legal counsel near the end of the March 11 meeting.
“I’d like to get this subject onto the subject of directors’ comments and not an attack against the rest of us, Mr. Schildhouse,” said Beck.
Schildhouse, however, claimed in his comments that he was the victim of an verbal attack by Beck and Director Joe Zenovic.
The discord began at the board’s Feb. 11 meeting when Schildhouse complained that his agenda request related to board policies was not on the agenda and said Beck and General Manager David Barnum made that call. Barnum said Schildhouse’s questions referred to material in a board policy known as Policy 1, and Schildhouse had received a copy.
At the Feb. 25 meeting Barnum included an agenda item asking whether the board wanted a Policy 1 workshop. That led to a statement rom Beck about the 1986-87 and 1990-91 county grand jury investigations into the water board due to conflicts of interest and violations. The first county grand jury report was the catalyst for Policy 1.
Schildhouse finds flaws with sections of Policy 1, pointing out what he believes are discrepancies and lack of detail or clarification.
n March 11 Schildhouse said the board has not allowed him to ask one question on the policy.
“As a result, I was subjected to a coordinated gang assault by Beck and the boys. Recall that no one even asked what the question was nor what the follow-on questions were,” he said.
Zenovic had called Schildhouse’s requests “a cry for help” at the Feb. 25 meeting, suggesting the director had not read or understood the Policy 1 material. Schildhouse claimed there was a synchronized attack against him, similar to one against Director Kit Kesinger, who has not attended a meeting since April 2013 because he cannot make the 2 p.m. meeting time. Meetings, held the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, were held at 4:30 p.m. when Kesinger was elected in 2010.
Throughout the March 11 meeting Schildhouse did not cast a vote on agenda items, but said “not voting” when called upon. With Kesinger absent, that leaves three of the five directors voting: Beck, Zenovic and George Foote.
Schildhouse submitted a letter to Beck during directors’ comments, saying he is resigning from all his responsibilities with the district other than his position as Division III director. The resignations include his office as board treasurer and membership on ad hoc subcommittees. Although he asked Beck to sign the letter, Beck sought opinion from legal counsel, adding, “I’ve let Mr. Schildhouse stand here and accuse me of lying, and I take that personally.”
Attorney Jim Gilpin with Best Best & Krieger LLP, said directors’ comments should be confined to business of the district and no action or discussion could take place on items raised in this portion of the meeting. He suggested all board members get a copy of Schildhouse’s letter to be reviewed at a subsequent meeting.
Schildhouse said he could not give his directors’ comments “because the president of the board doesn’t want to,” and left.
Beck then referred to an 11-page response from legal counsel as to whether Schildhouse was in violation because he sought opinion from legal counsel on Policy 1 matters, and suggested the board form an ad hoc committee on the issue. Beck said he would like to have Zenovic serve on the ad hoc committee with him.
Gilpin said that formation of an ad hoc committee should be presented at a subsequent meeting.
In action during the meeting, three directors gave authorization to purchase a replacement motor from Brithinee Electric Company of Colton for about $65,000, and a replacement pump from Hidden Valley Pump Systems for approximately $42,000 for the Poway Pump Station. Both purchases will come from the Water-Capital Replacement Projects fund.
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