By Karen Brainard
The fate of Director Christopher “Kit” Kesinger’s Division II seat on the Ramona Municipal Water District Board is in the hands of his constituents, say board members.
With Kesinger absent for his eighth consecutive meeting Aug. 27, the other four directors steered away, by a 4-0 vote,
from sending him a letter asking for his voluntary resignation after he indicated he would not do so. Kesinger requested he be allowed to vote on meeting items either remotely or by proxy.
That request was not granted at the Aug. 27 meeting as voting by proxy is not allowed under the Municipal Water Code and, although teleconferencing is permitted under the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, Director Rex Schildhouse said it would open the door to excessive requirements and costs.
Requirements under the Brown Act for teleconferencing from a remote location include posting an agenda at that location and making the spot accessible to the public for participation.
“I don’t think this is something we should even consider,” said Director George Foote.
The water board meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 2 p.m., a time that Kesinger, who works as a quality manager for Decco Castings in El Cajon, said is difficult for him to attend. Meetings were held at 4:30 p.m. when Kesinger was elected in November 2010, but in June 2012 the majority of the board voted to change the time to 2 p.m. In January, Kesinger said he had only been able to attend about 50 percent of the meetings due to the time change. Directors are paid $100 per meeting but only if they attend.
The board began discussing Kesinger’s meeting absence July 23 when he had not shown up in three months. On Aug. 13 the board directed President Darrell Beck to draft a letter asking for Kesinger’s resignation and place it on the Aug. 27 agenda for review.
“To me it appeared he abandoned his seat,” said Beck.
“Looking at the letter we have here is a moot point. We already have his answer,” he said, adding that the board can’t force Kesinger to resign or to attend meetings so the seat will be empty.
“I think this is a constituency problem,” said Zenovic, noting the public could recall him.
Zenovic said Kesinger’s election goals included recycled water and the board is moving down that path without him.
“If Division II wants to be represented, then Division II knows what it has to do,” he said.
Schildhouse asked Legal Counsel Brooke Miller with Best Best & Krieger about declaring his seat vacant. Miller said that can be done if Kesinger is not performing his duties but he could legally challenge it, which could become expensive for the district.
“I think we ought to have someone sitting here,” Schildhouse said.
“We’ve been doing fine with four members. I agree five would be nice,” responded Zenovic.
Schildhouse, who told the Sentinel that he is a fan of what and how Kesinger thinks, added during directors’ comments: “My goal is to get representation by the entire district. I think Division II should be represented by someone active.”