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The Question

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.

The Talk

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.

The Interpretation

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.

As always…

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.

Final Thoughts

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?”