Digger - August 12, 2009
On June 24 the BWD board had yet another opportunity to reverse its incredibly selfish decision to rip-off ratepayers, most of whom can only dream of the platinum-plated free medical coverage directors casually bestowed upon themselves last December; and again they walked away. Although it was an action item on their agenda, four of the five directors - apparently fearing further embarrassment - callously refused to even discuss it. Only Director Rita Anderson had the courage and moral rectitude to deal with it honestly.
Also on the agenda were a number of spending items that, like the ill-gotten medical coverage, entail significant expense to ratepayers and obligate them for years to come without reasonable expectation of commensurate benefit. Those passed easily by the same four votes that squelched discussion of the Director's medical coverage.
Another agenda item was a resolution to impose a three minute time limit on members of the public addressing the board. Such limits are allowed by California's Open Meeting Law (Brown Act); but the question is whether the letter of the law should make a mockery of its spirit.
The Brown Act's Policy Declaration states: "public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."
Surely the right to remain informed and retain control includes a significant right to query decision makers within public agencies. That right is unnecessarily truncated and frustrated by the resolution being considered, which, in this case, has no rationale or justification except to stifle public discussion of the District's shenanigans and shield the Directors and General Manager from accountability for their often highly questionable and irresponsible actions.
Instead of desperately trying to keep their dirty laundry out of sight by progressively abridging the public's right to remain informed and retain control of an agency badly in need of adult supervision, Board members should heed Harry Truman's advice: "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."
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