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"Digger"

Re: BWD board medical benefits scam

Below are the two most recent versions of the BWD policy governing compensation for the board. Although the title of the policy indicates it covers both board members and BWD staff, there appears to be no mention of staff in the policy statement.

BWD Policy Statement: Compensation and Expense Reimbursement for Members of the Board and Staff; Amended June 25, 2003.

“Members of the Board are eligible for medical benefits through the Association of CA Water Agencies health insurance program. The District will pay the cost of the basic benefit for members. Members may participate in the vision and dental program by paying for them, and may also have a spouse and/or dependent children covered by paying the paying the premiums for them. (sic.)”

BWD Policy Statement: Compensation and Expense Reimbursement for Members of the Board and Staff; Amended December 17, 2008.

“Para 5. Members of the Board of Directors their dependents and Domestic Partners are eligible for Medical/Dental/Vision benefits through the Association of California Water Benefits for Members are 100% paid by the District. Members may elect to cover their spouse/dependent children/domestic partners by paying the same percentage of the insurance premiums required by employees.”

The June 25, 2003 version was in effect until the board "amended” it on December 17 2008. “Amended” is not, however, a fair description of what the board did. It is a gross understatement. They, in fact, completely rewrote it to be much more generous to themselves and much more expensive to ratepayers who must foot the bill. To say they “unanimously approved implementing an existing policy that will pay the entire cost of providing health insurance for themselves” and their dependents, as the Borrego Sun article did, is simply not accurate. They simply took it upon themselves to write a new policy that would provide them with much more generous benefits at a potential cost to ratepayers of approximately $125,000 per year. On the other hand, it is not surprising that the Sun reporter might have come away with a mistaken impression of exactly what was happening:

It is highly likely, therefore, that there was little or no discussion, which suggests that the board members either voted on something they knew nothing about or colluded in advance of the meeting – a clear violation of the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law. When the directors and the General Manager were questioned about this discrepancy in the 21 January meeting the only response was from Director Steven Smiley who claimed to have learned the details of the plan from information contained in the agenda pack, which he clearly could not have done since none was included. The rest of the directors and the GM provided no cogent response.
01.24.08

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