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
and a previous letter the
CSD sent to the Watermaster.
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
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?
When the posting of the meeting hit social media, Newberry
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.
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
(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
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
Further missing is the name of the sponsoring board member
for the special agenda item. So much secrecy in violation of the
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.
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