Good old boys on OID: for whom the bell knells

Submitted: Sep 20, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

9-9-16

Modesto Bee

OID dysfunction aired in court papers

Gail Altieri, OID board member Joan Barnett Lee Modesto Bee file

Garth Stapley

http://www.modbee.com/news/local/oakdale/article101010062.html

 

OAKDALE --Irrigation board members Linda Santos and Gail Altieri got mixed up in a lawsuit against their agency because they felt their general manager and their attorney were hiding secrets from them, from the public and from a judge, the women said in new court documents.

Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell learned in late March that state water officials had nixed OID’s request for permission to sell elsewhere some water to be freed up from fallowing land, the papers say, but kept the news from OID customers and from Santos and Altieri, and continued misleading them in subsequent emails.

The women were stunned when, six weeks later, an attorney representing OID told a judge that the fallowing deal had fallen through, and were even more perplexed two days later when Knell told the board that the water indeed would soon be delivered.

So Santos and Altieri – elected in November by wide margins after promising more transparency – provided sworn statements used by plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the fallowing plan.

BOTH (WOMEN) SIGNED DECLARATIONS IN THE (FALLOWING) MATTER BECAUSE THEY KNEW THAT THE WATER WAS BEING TRANSFERRED AND THAT THE COURT WAS BEING MISLED BY OID. … THE COURT WAS TOLD THAT THE TRANSFER WAS DEAD ON MAY 4 WHEN IN FACT BEHIND THE SCENES OID AND MR. KNELL WERE ENGAGED IN A SHELL GAME.

Cort Wiegand, attorney for Linda Santos and Gail Altieri, in legal brief

Santos’ and Altieri’s “motivations were not to help the plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” a legal brief says. “(Their) motivation was to protect the integrity of the court system and to avoid being tarred by the misstatements made to the court.”

Some farmers recently launched an effort to recall Santos because she is guilty of “aiding and abetting OID’s opponents in a lawsuit,” among other allegations. In a response, Santos called the drive “a campaign of lies.”

The new documents paint a troubling picture of dysfunction at OID’s top level, suggesting that Knell and attorney Tim O’Laughlin collaborated on schemes to sell water to wealthy outsiders while hiding the ball from Santos, Altieri and farmers hoping to benefit from idling some of their land.

I WAS COMPLETELY UNAWARE THAT OID WAS ATTEMPTING TO DO INDIRECTLY WHAT THEY HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO DO DIRECTLY. I HAVE ONLY SUBSEQUENTLY LEARNED THAT OID ESSENTIALLY ABANDONED THE WATER IN QUESTION IN ORDER TO GET AROUND THE REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS, WHICH INCLUDE TIMELY APPLICATIONS AND POTENTIALLY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORTS.

Linda Santos and Gail Altieri, in court statements

OID “constituents are entitled to know what’s going on and they are entitled to know when the OID is participating in a shell game or a ruse,” Santos and Altieri said in court declarations filed Wednesday.

An OID board majority – Steve Webb, Herman Doornenbal and Gary Osmundson – saw the women’s participation in the case as treasonous and sued to keep them from closed-door strategy and voting on lawsuit matters. A judge in June agreed, and the recent briefings are part of Santos’ and Altieri’s effort to regain access to the private huddles.

The women also take exception with a memo from Knell in which he claimed to have informed the board in early April of a change in the fallowing plan. That’s a lie, Santos and Altieri say in the new papers.

“I have a duty to see that the courts are not misled by perjured or inaccurate information, which is why I signed the declaration,” both women wrote in new statements.

NEITHER WE AS BOARD MEMBERS NOR THE PUBLIC WERE INFORMED THAT THE (STATE) COULD NOT PROCESS THE WATER TRANSFER. THERE WAS NO EXPLANATION TO THE BOARD MEMBERS ON APRIL 5 AND THERE WAS NO VOTE ON THE MECHANISM BY WHICH OID WOULD ATTEMPT TO ACCOMPLISH THE WATER TRANSFER.

Linda Santos and Gail Altieri, in court statements

Santos and Altieri also “categorically deny” having divulged confidential information gleaned from a closed-door board session.

The women are protected by “strong whistleblower statutes” in California law, enacted to encourage government employees to uncover wrongdoing, their Modesto attorney, Cort Wiegand, said in a court brief.

“(They) were attempting to find out what had happened with regard to the water, and they were also attempting to make sure the court was not being misled,” the paper says.

I AM NOT AGAINST THE (FALLOWING) PROGRAM AND BELIEVE IF PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED, IT WOULD PROVE TO BE A BENEFIT TO THE OID AND THE AREA.

Linda Santos and Gail Altieri, in court statements

OID stands out among local water agencies in its history of selling river water elsewhere, having obtained more than $50 million in recent years.

The neighboring Modesto Irrigation District’s well-vetted proposal to sell water to San Francisco was abandoned in 2012 after months of public discussion and debate. In contrast, OID last fall inked a $5.75 million water sale with no public discussion or vote in Oakdale.

415Division 4 signatures needed to prompt an election to recall Linda Santos

1,231Division 1 signatures needed if detractors had targeted Gail Altieri

Santos said she believes she is being targeted for removal because critics need to gather 415 signatures in her district to prompt a recall election, while 1,231 signatures would be required in Altieri’s district, according to updated estimates from the Stanislaus County elections office.

Previous board members knew that state law required resizing of OID’s voting districts after the 2010 U.S. census but failed to take action until The Modesto Bee uncovered the foot-dragging in June 2015. Then-board members subsequently hired a firm to start the process, but no change has been proposed and Knell recently said it’s not a priority.


<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
<!--[endif]-->

 

| »

Good old boys on OID: for whom the bell knells

Submitted: Sep 20, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

9-9-16

Modesto Bee

OID dysfunction aired in court papers

 Read More »
| »

Dinosaurs mating: Peasants crushed underfoot

Submitted: Sep 19, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 ...The subsequent history of industrial societies does not justify complacency about their capacity to assure an equitable distribution of the fruits of increased productivity. The relationship between industrialism and democracy looks more and more tenuous and problematical. If we insist on a law of historical development, we might be justified in concluding that "societies based on large-unit production have a verifiable historical tendency to become increasingly ... hierarchical over time," in the wrods of Lawrence Goodwun. "Supporting evidence is so pervasive," Goodwyn adds, "that this may now be taken as law" --a "direct counter-premise to the idea of progress." -- Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics, Norton, p. 157.

 

 

 Read More »
| »

Loose Cheeks, September 18, 2016

Submitted: Sep 18, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Loose Cheeks 9-18-16

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT

Loose Cheeks: Hot Tips
By Lucas Smithereen
Loose Cheeks Senior Editor

Got a hot tip for Loose Cheeks? Call the Loose Cheeks hot-tip line: (000) CHE-EEKS. We’ll get back to you whenever.

 

 Read More »
| »

Over irrigation in a drought

Submitted: Sep 16, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “As you know, California is on the verge of disaster.. we are facing catastrophic water supply shortages – in other words, we are experiencing a regulatory drought.” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, Valley Voice, Sept. 15, 2016.

 

 Read More »
| »

Loose Cheeks, September 12, 2016

Submitted: Sep 12, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT

Loose Cheeks: Hot Tips
By Lucas Smithereen
Loose Cheeks Senior Editor

Got a hot tip for Loose Cheeks? Call the Loose Cheeks hot-tip line: (000) CHE-EEKS. We’ll get back to you whenever.

Loose Cheeks' intrepid reporter A.J. Gangle picked up this interesting tidbit in Mama McClatchy's local outlet the other day:

 Read More »
| »

A new California lifestyle

Submitted: Sep 09, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 
“We’re going to have to make the change about three times as fast as we’ve done so far,” said James Sweeney, director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University... Some business groups have already raised concerns. Allan Zaremberg, president of the state’s Chamber of Commerce, said the law doesn’t require “regulatory agencies to give any consideration to the impacts on our economy, disruptions in everyone's daily lives or the fact that California's population will grow.”

 Read More »
| »

Li'l Hitler does the Valley

Submitted: Sep 03, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 We imagine that everywhere in the nation Trump tramples, there are people who know something about their local world. These people are by no means their entire communities but, like us, they try to know where they are and are, therefore, appalled by the sheer magnitude of the lies and the hypocrisy the man spouts about their local world -- this wannabe Hitler born with a silver spoon stuck in one of his orifices. But he has local supporters and they, too, are people of the lie, people full of resentments and grudges wedged here and there about their persons--people with uneasy or hostile relations with their world. Li'l Hitler is feeding their fantasties of making the world totally secure for the total exploitation of man and nature for their profit and political supremacy.

 Read More »
| »

Where are they now?

Submitted: Aug 31, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Once they were dynamic young leaders of Merced County agriculture. Peter Koch was president of the county Farm Bureau, and he and his wife, Rochelle, founded and funded the Valley Land Alliance to "save farmland." VLA's main purpose these days is the constant promotion in its newsletter of a small number of farmer members. All references to the Koch family, however, have been expunged from its website since they sold their palatial residence, orchards and cow pens and left for the bucolic Willamette Valley in Oregon.

As we admire their latest agricultural venture, we can only say: "Skal, Dudes!"

 Read More »
| »

Oh, the Horror!

Submitted: Aug 30, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

California agriculture is a stroke of Gov. Jerry Brown's pen away from having to pay farmworkers overtime after 40 hours a week! Ag bigshots throughout the state are claiming that farmworkers will be the actual victims of this law because farmers will cut back on labor and cycle people out after 40 hours.

From the other side of their mouths, however, they have set up a terrific perpetual whine that there is a labor shortage in the fields due to immigration policies.

 Read More »
| »

More Articles-->

To manage site Login