Amanda Rice, DeWayne Lee, Gail Robinette, Greg Sanders, Harry Farmer, Rev. Rod Richards, Tom Kirkey
My wife came home from church one morning and shared a simple question that struck a chord with her. It came from Reverend Rod Richards in a talk he had given that morning. The question – “How are we going to be?” I think about that a lot, and mentally apply it to the discussions I have with people who are asking us for their support.
Quick Recap (or “whaaaah, nobody listens to me!!!)
As I have mentioned before, I had submitted a list of questions crafted specifically for the challengers to CCSD Board who had declared and filed to be on the ballot. The goal was to gain insights into their top concerns, their depth of knowledge surrounding the major challenges we face as a community, their level of commitment to fully understand all of the moving parts that go into those issues, and their views on the pressures and provocations that members of the Board often face.
So – short story long – I got no responses. I followed up a few times with no results, but I’ve been able to catch up with some of the candidates in the parking lot of the Vet’s Hall.
This week I approached Dewayne Lee, who was manning a spot in the middle of the Farmer’s Market Candidate’s Row with Tom Kirkey, Harry Farmer and Amanda Rice to his right, and Greg Sanders and Gail Robinette to his left. (To all my theater friends, that is Stage Right and Stage Left, respectively.)
The conversation began much like my earlier conversation with Tom Kirkey. I introduced myself and set the stage, recapping the sent questions/no response/follow-up/no response events. Dewayne indicated that he was not unwilling to talk, and gave several reasons as to why he didn’t respond to my written questions. He said “you have already made up your mind” and there was no reason to respond, and that the questions I posed would require detailed knowledge that only someone already on the Board would possess.
(To the first reason – in an earlier post, where I outlined my process for evaluating candidates I wrote “I don’t see the value of changing horses just because you can.” You can read the line in context HERE. To the second –you can see the questions I posed HERE.)
We moved ahead with the conversation, and exchanged viewpoints on several of the details surrounding the EWS/SWF. We discussed some of the drivers around the need for a stable water supply, the process by which the current facility was selected and built, the costs – known and unknown around the plant’s continued operation, its use, and the long-term fiscal impact on Cambrians of decisions that have been made and will need to be made going forward.
After some fairly intense discussion, I replayed what I believed I heard in order to not misrepresent his positions and reasoning. I’ll summarize them here.
- He believes that the EIR should have been done before anything was built. For this reason he believes the current EIR process – review, identify environmental impact, take input, define remediation steps – is not proper.
- He believes that the CCSD Board and Staff did not act appropriately when the project transitioned from The Emergency Water Supply to the Sustainable Water Facility.
- He believes that any change from one to the other should be brought before the voters to decide on how the plant should be used.
- He believes the “flaws” in the current plant design – specifically the brine pond/evaporation method – should have been foreseen and that bad engineering decisions were made. He believes that the discharge process is spreading toxic mist across the area and encroaching on the adjacent State Park.
- He believes transitioning that brine pond to a water storage area is a good idea.
- He believes that the CCSD Board and Staff are not answering questions about the long-term costs of dealing with environmental impacts (and in particular the removal of “unrecoverable” waste from the treatment process.)
- He believes that the ad hoc committee process currently used does not give the public good insight and input into discussions and decisions that are made around critical issues. He believes that standing committees are a more appropriate way to get public involvement and oversight on Board decisions.
(note: both Dewayne and Andy Pickar, who joined us for part of the discussion, corrected my understanding of how ad hoc committees and standing committees work and differ.)
- He believes, based on his personal review, that the public financial reporting is inaccurate and that the Board is not reflecting the true state of the district’s finances.
- He believes that growth should be sensibly managed with all factors weighed before more building is allowed.
- He believes that the public abuse of the Board (accusations of corruption, fraud, incompetence, personal attacks…) has at times gotten out of hand and is unacceptable.
- He believes that he has the skills and experience to work positively with people of different viewpoints to get thing done.
There were a few more topics we discussed but I believe this list covers the most important ones we explored.
The candidate’s positions are theirs, and any questions about them should be directed to them. As I have said in previous postings, all of the candidates I have spoken with have invited the public to contact them directly if they want more information.
I’m looking forward to wrapping up my visits with the main candidates. Gail Robinette and I started a discussion that we hope to finish in the coming days. I’ve had a few failed attempts at conversation with Harry Farmer, so I don’t have anything more to add to his public comments at both forums and his published literature.
When I’m done perhaps I will have a better sense on how to answer the question “How are we going to be?”
Mike Lyons said:
Michael: I always enjoy your blog so much. Looking forward to your comments and impressions of the other candidates.
Michael Calderwood said:
Thanks, Mike! I’ve captured just about all of them (except Gail Robinette) in previous blog posts. You can find them by scrolling through the posts here :
Andy Pickar said:
Hi Michael, thanks for credit in this post, but not sure it’s deserved. Yes, I did comment that standing committees and ad hoc committees are subject to different rules with respect to the Brown Act (e.g., standing committees are required to publish agendas, allow for public comment, while such rules are less stringent for ad hoc committees). However, I don’t have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of the two approaches. At the last CCSD Forum and in this conversation, we heard Dewayne advocate for more standing committees. I wonder why.
Michael Calderwood said:
Hi Andy – you really did help with the discussion. My sense is that Dewayne, and to some extent other candidates (including Gail Robinette) do favor more standing committees for a few different reasons. For some, it expands the opportunity for public participation, adding expertise and viewpoints that might not be otherwise be engaged. Another perceived benefit might be more transparency – which we know is top of mind for many in the community. Off the top of my head, some of the downsides could be slower progress – more voices more opinions more “stuff” to work through so everyone feels like they contributed. I imagine that you, like me have experienced this type of thing in our business careers. The darker side is that it could be an opportunity to interject some deliberate roadblocks. A price we may not like, but it is a part of our democratic system. The possibilities of real, positive and creative solutions based on more voices/different voices/different thinking could be incredibly helpful. So – what do others think? Candidates?
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Dewayne Lee said:
“He believes, based on his personal review, that the public financial reporting is inaccurate and that the Board is not reflecting the true state of the district’s finances.”
I would like to correct this statement. Without an AUDIT I would NEVER say the reporting is not correct. I believe some of the current board members who think the finances of the CCSD are ‘just fine’ need to look at the August agenda which has the budget for 2016/2017.
Cash is projected to decrease during the year by $2,338,583 to a balance of $2,438,092 on June 30th,
2017. The budgeted areas that result in increases and decreases to cash are shown below.
FY 2016/17 NET BUDGETED CASH FLOW
NET ADDITIONS TO CASH:
WATER OPS NET 18,124
SWF CAPITAL COST RECOVERY 16,644
SANTA ROSA CREEK PROJECT 49,630
NET DEDUCTIONS FROM CASH:
SWF PLANT OPERATIONS (116,400)
SWF EIR MITIG/REG COAST DEV PERMIT (1,620,095)
PARK & RECREATION DEPT: PARK CONSTRUCTION (135,486)
WASTEWATER LOAN FROM GENERAL FUND (551,000)
FY 2016/17 NET BUDGETED CASH FLOW ($2,338,583)
So, my point is when you are spending more than you are taking in this is an area that needs attention! This is called ~ Deficit Spending ~ This is not the first year – see below:
FY ENDING GENERAL WATER WASTEWATER
JUNE 30th FUND FUND FUND TOTAL
FY 2006 $ 8,172,903 $ 1,290,772 $ 9,463,675
FY 2007 $ 5,561,428 $ 5,561,428
FY 2008 $ 4,658,444 $ 4,658,444
FY 2009 $ 4,237,597 $ 27,551 $ 4,265,148
FY 2010 $ 4,414,366 $ (157,726) $ 242,400 $ 4,499,040
FY 2011 $ 4,001,132 $ 39,341 $ 345,804 $ 4,386,277
FY 2012 $ 3,972,897 $ 231,027 $ 450,891 $ 4,654,815
FY 2013 $ 4,096,965 $ 236,601 $ 556,700 $ 4,890,266
FY 2014 $ 4,152,573 $ (577,613) $ 302,778 $ 3,877,738
FY 2015 $ 4,211,905 $ (1,652,586) $ (128,608) $ 2,430,711
This information came from the CCSD August agenda where you can see the entire budget.
Andy Pickar said:
Yes, Mr Lee, perpetual deficit spending is indeed not sustainable. We agree on that. But, have you asked the Board questions about this spending, or is your approach simply to point out problems without full understanding? In my experience, understanding the narrative behind the numbers can be illuminating. At the last CCSD forum, someone (you, perhaps) did point out the declining (and worrisome!) cash balance from FY2006 through the present. Mr Sanders offered a clear explanation that put district’s cash position into perspective: the district received a large one-time payment from Chevron and then paid for capital improvement projects as the expenses arose over several years. And here you are again casting the same aspersions.
Dewayne Lee said:
I just said look at the budget figures. They tell the story ~ The -$2,338,583 Deficit for the 22016/2017 budget doesn’t seem to have a “Capital” expenditure. Most of it is for SWF plant operations and EIR Mitig/reg coast dev permit.