Audience eyes were rolling.
The Newberry CSD's July 2018, board meeting was yet another wonderful
example of the local government's dysfunction.
Board members in attendance were President Robert Springer
and directors Paula Deel, Victoria Paulsen, and Larry Clark. Director
Robert Shaw was on medical leave.
Highlights of the meeting, including the acceptance of the
2018-2019 CSD Budget and a couple letter proposals, went smoothly.
The smoothness then sunk with a "Discussion/Possible Action" agenda item
sponsored by Director Paula Deel on whether the CSD can legally spend the CSD's
controlled Kiewit Pacific (KP) trust funds. Director Deel should be
applauded for placing the subject on the agenda.
The principle question was whether the KP funds could be
used in defending the community from the massive utility-scale solar proposals
that will seriously damage the community.
What is more important than
the community's continued existence?
Director Deel stated that she heard from a "couple" of residents
that they would rather have the funds spent on other community matters than solar,
but then, that leaves the open question of what community will be remaining if the
solar projects are built? Newberry Springs is expected to become a health hazard
zone if the solar projects are built that will prompt a gradual exodus of families.
Recent science has been discovered that supports the demise.
CSD Board is risking millions
of the community's value.
The CSD Board members are foolishly risking many millions of
dollars of Newberry Springs' approximate $180-million land
by their mismanagement delays. Worse yet, they are literally jeopardizing
the health and lives of the community residents being exposed to greatly increased
invisible airborne dust particles.
The KP funds are for the community, not the CSD.
From the audience, Ted Stimpfel stated that the funds technically
belong to the successful appellants from the legal settlement. Upon the
settlement, the appellants had to decide who would manage the funds. As the
CSD was a party to the settlement, the appellants (including the CSD) agreed to let
the CSD manage the funds for the appellants. Following the agreement, KP
directed the appellants' settlement funds to the CSD Board.
Ownership of the funds was not given to the CSD as the
CSD has very limited powers under which to distribute the funds. As the
appellants wanted to maximize the benefit from the funds, it was necessary not
to comingle the privately acquired funds with the CSD's general fund.
The CSD does not have any authority under LAFCO to manage
private funds that are not a part of the CSD. Therefore, the appellants
established an agreement whereby the elected CSD board members established
a separate account outside of the function of the CSD to manage the distribution
of the funds separately from that of the CSD operations. This was so that
the CSD's Board, acting as a separate entity, could manage the funds separately
and apart from their CSD's duties, obligations, and limitations under LAFCO.
The facts behind the KP funds are clear.
The facts and the intent behind the KP funds are clearly outlined
in the February 24, 2018, Community Alliance's
which provides links showing letters and evidence that the CSD itself sent
out a community survey listing a suggested
for the use of the funds and requesting from the public additional ideas.
The 21 ideas were derived from a CSD community workshop. Many of the CSD
suggestions are not authorized under LAFCO which illustrates that the
intended management and use of the funds extended far beyond the LAFCO
limitations, such would permit the use of the funds to protect Newberry
Springs from industrial solar development.
Board officials wearing different hats and performing
different functions are not unusual. The County of San Bernardino's
Board of Supervisors wears many different hats as they sit on different
boards and committees of numerous entities, each performing different
functions above and separate from the function of the Board of Supervisors.
Each entity operating under its own rules or non-rules.
President Robert Springer.
Ignoring the history of the origination of the trust
fund monies, CSD President Robert Springer argued strongly that the funds
are not part of a trust, citing a
Springer is correct that formal papers by the settling
appellants were not drawn up because nearly 14-years ago everyone was working
together and understood the intent and the end game. However, Springer's
spin that the funds are not part of a trust arrangement is dead wrong.
The letter that Springer references could only have been prepared based upon
the earlier agreement by all of the appellants that the CSD would
manage the settlement funds for them. That required a prior fiduciary
trust agreement between the appellants, written or oral.
If the funds were meant to be part of the CSD's general fund,
as Springer argues, why then were the funds segregated into a separate account?
Today, we only have to look at the existing papers of
nearly 14-years ago to recognize that the CSD took over the funds as a flexible
trust to distribute the funds in a legal manner that extended beyond the scope
of the CSD's authorized powers under LAFCO.
As the CSD under LAFCO does not have the power to
manage trust-type funds, the Board can not handle the funds except as a
The Board lacks professional business minded people.
Newberry Springs is in critical need of professional
assistance to properly address the hazardous advancement of utility-scale
solar impacting the community. Professional leadership when recognizing an
urgent need, finds remedies. The CSD Board is anything
but professional. Critical days (now many months) in properly fighting
the proposed solar intrusion have been lost (thanks to Springer, Deel,
Paulsen, and Clark).
At the last CSD meeting, President Springer was arguing
that he couldn't release the funds for use against solar because there
is no authority nor guidelines that would permit him. In essence,
he demonstrated that he is not a resolver of problems. He apparently
can not manage problems on his own without having structured guidelines in place
to tell him how to perform. His excuses are bureaucratic that build
walls, not bridges.
The solution to the KP matter is to simply accept
the funds as separate from the CSD and to allocate them. There
are no requirements nor guidelines necessary to follow in doing
that. It is brain-dead simple.
Director Paula Deel.
During the public podium time, Stimpfel referenced that
the Board's delay has been very costly to the community. Director
Paula Deel retorted that earlier in the year she questioned Stimpfel on the
amount of funds that he was suggesting. As a beginning amount, to solely
address the Daggett Scoping, Stimpfel estimated approximately two
thousand dollars to acquire some expert CEQA advice that would probably
include some research time and a draft letter from a Los Angeles based
CEQA specialist. Deel stated that she suggested to Stimpfel that
such a small amount might be acquired through a fundraiser without
involving the KP funds and that Stimpfel turned the idea down.
Actually, Deel's proposal was more complicated than
that. She didn't state that she also wanted Stimpfel to prepare
a business plan on the $2K proposal that would outline who, how, when, and
what benefits the funds would derive. The plan would be used to
help raise the funds.
Stimpfel turned Paula Deel's idea down because the notion
of the detailed business plan that Deel wanted for a simple consultation is
asinine. Furthermore, the community is in an emergency. The
community has available community funds to address it. The funds
should be immediately made available. Stimpfel has suspected that Deel
has been trying to save the KP funds for possible later diversion to NSEDA that
she and her husband controls.
People like Deel and Springer want to fiddle for a delay.
Meanwhile, Newberry Springs continues to decline under their leadership.
The CSD has once again voted to submit the KP fund question
to a legal counsel. A previous attempt had a lack of factual information
being submitted. This resulted in a questionable legal opinion.
Garbage in, garbage out. Hopefully, a better presentation of
facts will be submitted this time.