Finding Out What Your Board is Up To – When You are Excluded…and other tales from dark side.

Since being elected on Nov. 6, 2018, the Four Male Directors and the GM have made it clear that they have no intention of working with me. Further, it has become clear over the ensuing months, that the GM and the Four Culpable Directors have withheld a great deal of information from me and continue to do so. When outgoing Board President, Donald Forguson exclaimed “We have things in the works” during the November 30, 2018 meeting, many of us in the public were puzzled by the vague, nuanced comment. What was he talking about?

I have chronicled many of my difficulties in getting information from the GM in my blog and on posts through social media. GM Maupin does not respond to my emails and has not since February 2019. He refuses to answer questions during Board meetings and the Four Directors back up his refusal to answer questions in a public setting. In fact, the GM states emphatically that no one is allowed to ask questions and that the Directors are not allowed to answer questions either.

In fact, the only method by which I can obtain information is through filing a California Public Records Act (CRPA) request. Filing a CPRA is the only route to potentially getting answers to my questions and those answers are prepared and delivered by the NYWD attorney. I assume GM Maupin is feeding the “answers” to Churchwell White’s Barbara Brenner.

Rarely, do I actually receive information. The typical response to my CPRAs is: 1. Stall the request for 14 days; 2. Deliberately misunderstand my request and respond to a request I did not actually make; 3. Stall for an additional 30 days; 4. Finally, convey that the District does not retain the requested records. This is the typical order of responses; although in one case a response was stalled repeatedly for six months.

I obtain more information about NYWD and the agency’s “things in the works” from other agencies.

Here is an example: I made an identical request of Yuba Water Agency (YWA) and NYWD on June 6, 2019. I requested: ” Please provide me access to and copies of all communications and notes regarding communications between YWA and NYWD, relative to funding or potential funding for the Forbestown Ditch project planned to be undertaken by NYWD. This includes all communications whether that communication occurred via telephone, email or snail mail and meeting notes taken during communications. I am requesting this to cover April 2016 up to the present day. This would include any and all communications (including written letters delivered as either attachments to emails or via snail mail) signed by Donald Forguson, Eric Hansard and/or Jeff Maupin or anyone else representing or saying they represent NYWD and/or its board of directors.

I received a response from YWA consisting of 55 pages of records. I should have received identical records from NYWD as it was an identical request and both parties should have identical records regarding their mutual communications. I did not. I received 29 pages of records from NYWD, much of which was redacted and none of which matched what YWA provided. (None of YWA’s records contained redactions).

In April 2019, one topic Former Director Ferguson must have been alluding to at the Nov. 30, 2018 board meeting (“we have things in the works“) was finally made public. I learned that GM Maupin had demanded an audit of South Feather Water and Power Agency’s (SFWPA) books. I also learned that YWA was somehow connected to it. The big questions were HOW? and WHY?

On April 8, 2019, Rath Moseley, GM of SFWPA wrote to GM Maupin and the entire NYWD board asking for verification that a Dr. Lon House had been hired by NYWD to conduct an audit of SFWPA finances. Mr. Moseley had received an email from Dr. House demanding certain records including copies of all timesheets from SFWPA containing time billed to the Joint Facilities Operation Fund (JFOF) from which our two agencies’ mutual costs were paid.

I was astonished. How could a GM unilaterally and without direction from the Board, simply demand an audit of our business partner’s financial records? AND WHY would he do this? I immediately sent an email to GM Maupin and the NYWD attorney demanding an explanation for this action.

Receiving no response as usual, I filed a CPRA and demanded, among other things:

  1. Records documenting discussion by the District Board of Directors regarding auditing South Feather Water and Power Agency’s (“SFWPA”) books, the need for the audit, and the goal of the audit.
  2. Records documenting the signing of a resolution and authorization for the General Manager to hire two auditors and demand the SFWPA audit.

I also conducted a search to determine who Dr. Lon House is and what his qualifications were to conduct an audit. Dr. House is not qualified to conduct an audit. He is not an accountant nor a CPA. Dr. House is a corporate lobbyist specializing in Water and Energy. He primarily works for the California Rural Water Association and Yuba Water Agency and has a degree in water and energy.

On a side note: SFWPA did as requested and made copies of all timesheets going back to 2010 – almost 10 years’ worth of timesheets. SFWPA had those ready within three weeks of the request that had been sent in early April 2019 by Dr. House. NYWD paid for this to the tune of $2,025.00 (it is in the bills-paid board packet dated October 24, 2019). Mysteriously, those copied timesheets sat in the SFWPA office for four months and were never picked up by Dr. Lon House. Apparently GM Maupin finally picked them up but those timesheets were never examined by Dr. House.

I do not support an audit of SFWPA. I do not support hiring a lobbyist to do the work of a CPA. I do not support taking such a hostile stand with our business partner. I support none of this and am shocked, dismayed, and troubled by this entire charade.

Of particular note: Within the records YWA sent me on June 6, 2019 (provided above in this blog) was an agenda containing mention of an April 2, 2018 meeting between YWA and NYWD wherein YWA and NYWD discussed a demand to audit SFWPA books as YWA committed to providing: “funding or an auditor for NYWD to audit the South Feather payment to NYWD.”

This communication and notes of this discussion were not provided by NYWD.

You can read through the chronology I have provided above as a flipbook or you can download the public records using the link I have also provided.

I will summarize the documents here: the NYWD attorney was unable to provide records of any board discussion or decision to direct GM Maupin to demand an audit of SFWPA, despite Director Gary Hawthorn informing me that “we approved this prior to your arrival on the board“. Nor did she produce the document provided by YWA wherein an audit was apparently discussed between YWA and at least the NYWD GM in April 2018.

There is no public record of any discussion of an audit, the need for an audit, who originated the idea of an audit, nor any resolution conceived of, passed and/or signed by any NYWD board directing GM Maupin to demand an audit. The public was not made aware of nor involved in any aspect of this action.

According to NYWD attorney, Barbara Brenner: “..the District has determined that it has no records responsive …. Contracting an auditor is a discretionary decision within the General Manager’s authority“. I filed a new CPRA requesting all resolutions and discussions that gave GM Maupin the “discretionary authority” to contract an auditor without the Boards’ direction and involvement. Ms. Brenner ultimately sent me two documents that had nothing whatsoever to do with what I requested. She sent me her legal firm’s contract with NYWD and a copy of the 2005 agreement between NYWD and SFWPA. Neither document has any bearing on the GM’s authority to hire an auditor and demand an audit of our business partner without the involvement and direction of the NYWD board.

  1. According to NYWD attorney and GM, there are no records of any board decision to demand and conduct an audit of SFWPA.
  2. According to Director Gary Hawthorn, the previous board approved of this decision to conduct an audit.
  3. At no time, did the Four Culpable Directors nor the GM nor the NYWD attorney inform me of this major financial decision.

The only way that Numbers 1 and 2 above can both be true, is if the current Four Culpable Directors and the GM are conducting the Board’s business behind closed doors.

What else is happening behind closed doors? What else do I not know about?

Feedback is always welcome!

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