Dissension on water board leaves unanswered questions

With two of the five directors absent ­— Rex Schildhouse and Kit Kesinger — Ramona Municipal Water District board has just enough for a quorum at its March 25 meeting. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
With two of the five directors absent ­— Rex Schildhouse and Kit Kesinger — Ramona Municipal Water District board has just enough for a quorum at its March 25 meeting. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

Only three directors attended the March 25 Ramona Municipal Water District Board meeting, which just constituted a quorum, raising questions about what will happen at future meetings.

Director Rex Schildhouse, who walked out of the previous two meetings after disagreements with other board members, did not attend. Director Kit Kesinger has not attended a meeting since April 23, 2013.

“If I can’t get items on the agenda and can’t speak freely, why am I there?” Schildhouse told the

Sentinel

on March 26.

Schildhouse, who said he has not been treated fairly at recent board meetings, finds flaws with the district’s board Policy 1. He sought to address the board policy at meetings but was told he did not follow proper procedure for topic discussion. Schildhouse, who represents Division 3, also wants to see the meetings, which start at 2 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, changed to the early evening so more members of the public can attend.

He said he will attend board meetings that have agenda items he believes necessitate his vote, such as rate changes. Noting that agendas are posted on the district website the Thursday before each meeting, Schildhouse said he will decide whether to attend a meeting after viewing the agenda.

“If it strikes as attendance is necessary, I will be there,” he said.

Otherwise, the director said, “I’m not going to open myself to another attack.”

Kesinger, who said in January 2013 that he had only been able to make about 50 percent of the meetings because of his job, told the Sentinel in an email that he is seeking to change the meetings to 7 p.m. The meeting start time was changed from 4:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in June 2012 by a majority of the board. Kesinger was elected to a four-year term in November 2010.

According to Kesinger, he is starting a committee for an RMWD ballot initiative for the November election that would require board meetings be held at 7 p.m.

Kesinger said many residents cannot attend 2 p.m. meetings without income loss or possibly risking their jobs, adding, “I’m not different from many other Ramona citizens who work down the hill to support their families. It’s no coincidence that all three of that board majority are either retired or part of the Ramona business community, so they do not work outside of Ramona.”

At the start of last Tuesday’s meeting, former RMWD director Everett “Red” Hager addressed the board about the two vacant seats, asking what options are available to fill them. Hager said he wanted to deliver a report to the San Diego Country Estates Board meeting that evening. Schildhouse’s division includes portions of the Estates.

Darrell Beck, board president, responded that he could not answer questions during the public speaker portion of the meeting but could talk to Hager after the meeting.

Beck told the

Sentinel

the next day that he did not speak with Hager about the matter and he is not sure what the board can do. He referred to his request that the April 8 meeting agenda include consideration to form an ad hoc subcommittee to review Policy 1.

“It’s obvious that we’ve got to do something to resolve the problem,” he said. “Right now we’re down to three board members and that’s a quorum.” If one of those three is absent, the board cannot take action, he added.

Except for representing Division 3 on the board, Schildhouse has resigned from all other roles with the water district, such as board treasurer and any ad hoc subcommittees. Schildhouse said he has turned in his key card to the district office and his mailbox key “to minimize the appearance that I have inappropriate access to RMWD in any shape or form.” He declined to elaborate on that comment.

   
-

Comments

Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules