Newberry CSD Board's
Arrogance Upsets
Minimal Water Producers !

    Newberry residents attend a Special Meeting of the CSD where they received few satisfying answers.

Posted: June 11, 2019

CSD stifles transparency.

    Newberry Springs began June with yet more secrecy and moral corruption from the Newberry Community Services District.

    Despite a Newberry CSD monthly General Meeting held less than 3-days earlier, General Manager Jodi Howard on Friday, May 31, 2019, published a required 72-hour notice of a special board meeting for Monday, June 3rd.  Such notices being posted over a weekend can be expected to pass unnoticed.

    The notice revealed a Monday closed session meeting scheduled regarding a "Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing Litigation City of Barstow, et. al., v. City of Adelanto, et. al.,"  The notice cited Government Code Section 54956.9(a) as the authority for the closed session.

    This caught Newberry residents by surprise.  As most local residents know, Barstow v. Adelanto represents the on-going litigation regarding the Adjudication of the water rights held in the Silver Valley by the 'Stipulators.'  So, what was this meeting about?

    The Newberry CSD's website for the special board meeting only included the agenda and a previous letter the CSD sent to the Watermaster.

Johnson Motion.

    On June 26, 2019, the water adjudicating Superior Court in Riverside, California, is expected to reduce the water pumping allowance of the Stipulators in the Baja Sub-area to 30%.  But, why is the CSD involved at this time?  Does it have anything to do with support for a Motion being promoted before the court by Jim & Ellen Johnson of Newberry Springs that the minimal water producers find very troublesome?

    The 'Johnson Motion' (4.2MB PDF file) is a motion going before Judge Craig G. Reimer suggesting a number of ideas be considered by the court.  Some minimal producers strongly feel that some elements of the Motion favor the heavy pumpers while penalizing the non-stipulating minimal producers.

CSD General Manager blunders public notice.

    Due to the General Manager, Jodi Howard, posting a poorly written description of the meeting, which appears to have violated the Brown Act by inadequately describing the meeting's purpose, the community was left anxious as to the reason for the meeting.  Was the secretiveness intentional?  Why a late, weekend posting?  Why wasn't this discussed less than 3-days earlier at the public General Meeting?  Was the Paula Deel cartel trying to pull yet another fast-one?

CSD unprepared.

    When the posting of the meeting hit social media, Newberry was buzzing!

    As community residents started showing up for the special meeting, it became apparent that the Newberry CSD board and General Manager Jodi Howard wasn't prepared nor expecting any public attendance.  No chairs were set-up, no podium, no mike, zip zero preparation.

    After some very quick scurring, seats were made available as residents streamed in.

The meeting.

    As the meeting started, the public had a comment period prior to the scheduled closed session.  Activist Ted Stimpfel started by questioning the purpose of the meeting and questioning the legality of it.

    The Chair stated that the closed session was to possibly interview an attorney for employment on representing the CSD on the CSD's water ramp down.  When questioned whether the Johnson Motion before the Riverside Superior Court had anything to do with the closed session, the response was not definitive.

    A closed session for the hiring of an attorney is not qualified under the California Government Code (Subsection (a)) that General Manager, Jodi Howard, cited in her public notice.  This made a closed session likely illegal.  The wrong code that Howard published requires "based on advice of its legal counsel."  A CSD counsel advisement didn't exist at the time because there was no existing counsel, which apparently made any closed session illegal under Howard's published code.

    The CSD board was caught off-guard by the public excitement that their supposedly secret meeting generated.  Despite not justifying their closed session under Government Code Section 54956.9(a), which was clearly read to them from the podium, the CSD board, comprising of Chairman Robert Springer, and directors Paula Deel, Vickie Paulsen, Jack Unger, and Larry Clark ignored the Brown Act requirements and arrogantly convened to closed session.

    Upon returning 41-minutes later, Chairman Springer announced that the board had hired attorney Jeffery Allen Morris with the law firm of Devaney, Pate, Morris & Cameron.  When questioned by a member of the audience at what cost, Springer stated that he didn't know.  How responsive is, we have hired an expensive attorney and we don't know what his fee is?

More lack of transparency!

    Upon returning from a closed session, a board's action is normally announced and the individual board member's vote given.  How the board individually voted remains a secret and hidden from the published unofficial Minutes of the meeting.  CSD board transparency?

    Also unaccounted in the Minutes are lengthy public comments before the Board, all of which were in opposition to the board's action.

    Further missing is the name of the sponsoring board member for the special agenda item.  So much secrecy in violation of the Brown Act.


    The CSD board's alleged concern is that the CSD was originally allotted 23-acre-feet of water.  Under the Adjudication, the CSD as a volunteered Stipulator will only have 6.9-acre-feet with the expected 30% upcoming ramp down judgment.

    As the ramp down has been stated to be the cause for the new legal hiring, Ted Stimpfel questioned the board if the CSD had tried to purchase more water rights or had simply asked community members to donate a water allocation.

      Water rights in the Silver Valley go for as little as $500 per acre-foot and water rights are often transferred between parties for free.  Either one of these is cheaper than hiring a law firm.

    Robert Springer replied that the CSD had done neither.

    As the ramp down represents only a few acre-feet of a possible deficit for the CSD's need, the large expense of hiring an attorney to fight a probable losing cause before the Court seems plain stupid, especially since the court has previously ruled against favoritism.  So, the CSD will likely receive nothing for its money.

    Although not substantiated at this time, it is reported that Newberry Fire has access to free State water for its fire trucks at their fire station from the adjacent Newberry Springs Elementary School.

Does the Johnson Motion require an attorney?

    One suspicion that is held by some residents is that the special meeting was held to support the Johnson Motion which was submitted to the Court without an attorney.  Rumor is floating that the Motion may require an attorney before the Court will consider the Motion.

    It will be interesting to see if under Jeffery Morris the Johnson Motion acquires representation.  There has been a friendly relationship between Paula Deel and Ellen Johnson for many years.  This is one of the scenarios being floated to possibly explain the CSD board's sudden special meeting.

    When the CSD keeps its activities secret, Newberrian imaginations will expand.

Culture of Secrecy.

    For some people, being elected to the board appears to be an ego trip.  It is about them and not the community.  The board has been repeatedly requested to audio record meetings at a minimum.  Elsewhere, such as at the Lucerne Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) meetings, all meetings are video taped and quickly posted to YouTube.  With today's technology, it is easy to directly live stream meetings via Wifi directly to the Internet.

    The Newberry CSD has shamefully continued to resist open transparency, continuing to operate in the dark even without outdated audio recordings.  Undesirables operate in the dark.

Newberry Springs related past news blogs:
Newberry's leadership is crashing! - 5/1/19
Newberry CSD embezzles community funds. - 4/16/19
Newberry Springs is in serious trouble. - 3/29/19
CSD Continues To Jeopardize Community. - 3/24/19
County planning deadly dust upon High Desert. - 2/10/19
Newberry Springs January 2019 update. - 1/28/19
CSD considers pay increase. - 1/19/19
Newberry Springs' true poverty. - 1/1/19
Rational thinking was a no-show. - 7/27/18
Painful 7-months of CSD inaction. - 7/22/18
Newberry CSD Board exposing themselves. - 6/25/18
Newberry CSD remains paralyzed. - 6/24/18
Newberry families may move for health reasons. - 3/26/18
CSD Board's mismanagement may lead to deaths. - 3/11/18
Newberry CSD struggles with solar development. - 3/2/18
Newberry CSD's inaction threatens community. - 2/24/18
Communities collaborating for protection. - 2/11/18
Newberry CSD falls short against solar opposition. - 2/4/18

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