Local CSD board reeks of incompetence.
After six months of knowledge of two massive
solar projects targeting Newberry Springs and Daggett, and despite knowing the damage
that the projects will cause the people and the community, the inept Newberry CSD
(Community Services District) has continued to fail in providing the leadership
to assemble a defense.
While members of the CSD board may argue that they are limited by
the lack of LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) powers given to them, the CSD
is the only locally elected body that Newberry Springs has that the community can
turn-to to represent and handle its local governmental needs.
LAFCO powers can be easily increased upon the CSD board's request.
With regards to the solar projects, an increase in power isn't even necessary!
The Newberry CSD is exceptionally fortunate to have a great defensive
ability against utility-scale solar in having readily available the
Kiewit Pacific trust funds. These are funds entrusted to the CSD board many
years ago to be utilized for the community's benefit. The funds are not the CSD's
funds. The funds belong to the community. The funds were not derived from
public money. Rather, they are private funds entrusted to the CSD to
distribute for the community's benefit.
Acting as trustee of the private funds, the CSD is not acting under
LAFCO, but as a separate trustee entity. The funds are outside of LAFCO's control and
have not been comingled with the public funds, but maintained in a separate account.
LAFCO does not need to be consulted over the use of the funds. And what greater
community benefit is there for the funds than to save the safety of the community?
The biggest board spoiler.
The biggest obstacle to releasing the funds has been CSD director
Larry Clark who owns and operates a local well drilling business. With
utility-scale solar development, there would be water wells to drill and profit from
drilling them. Director Clark wants the solar projects despite the damage to
In the first part of this year, Director Clark made a groundless
assertion. At a board meeting, he publicly argued that
not everyone in Newberry Springs might approve of the Kiewit Pacific funds being used
to protect the local community and that they might sue the CSD.
While apparently not knowing the law and the grounds for litigation
any better than Clark, board president Robert Springer, and fellow directors
Paula Deel and Victoria Paulson bought into it. They have since
appeared to have been struck with litigation fear and paralysis. This has been an
excellent example of why Newberry Springs cannot (and should not) govern itself.
The reality is that the CSD is far more likely to be sued repeatedly
should the solar sites be built. As people and homes in Newberry Springs are
damaged, the solar developers, the operators, the County, the CSD, and the current
individual board members will likely be all named together in each lawsuit for
allowing the damages.
The CSD board members have not acted properly in protecting the community
as they should have. Personal selfish biases and conflicts of interests, such as the Deel
cartel, have been previously alluded to and will weigh against the defendants.
The individual board members might be protected under state law
but will probably be initially named for deposition purposes in each arising lawsuit before
being cut loose. Legal expenses for them may not be fully covered.
Despite Director Clark's litigation comment being unfounded, it has
been very effective in neutralizing the board's willingness to defend Newberry Springs.
The Newberry CSD should have used a very small portion of the funds for expert
assistance in presenting CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) questions and comments
during the submittal Scoping period on the proposed Daggett solar project. Proper
expertise would likely have the County now addressing many additional questions and
violations of CEQA, County Code, and federal law in the development of the Daggett
project's Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
While directors Springer, Deel, and Paulsen have appeared paralyzed over
Clark's comments, only director Robert Shaw has understood the reality and he has
strongly advocated for the immediate release of the Kiewit Pacific funds to protect
More time wasted by the inept board.
The next Newberry CSD board meeting will be Tuesday,
June 26, 2018, at 6 P.M. While the proposed solar projects are the most significant
threats against Newberry Springs in years, the projects are not even listed on
the CSD's next agenda, so no meaningful and competent board action can be taken
Responsible opportunities in the past have been lost, however, for the
future, the Kiewit Pacific funds need to be allocated and to be ready to respond to the
County's release of the Daggett project's EIR if necessary.
When the EIR is released, only a very short time will be allowed to
respond to it and Newberry needs to be ready. That requires preplanning and professional
assistance with funds having been preauthorized for the purpose. So far, the CSD
board (with the exception of Robert Shaw) has demonstrated that they are irresponsible
and not up to the task of community leadership.