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Incident and Brown Act not on LVMWD agenda; Residents call for 3 Resignations

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Synopsis

In their first board meeting since the construction incident, and the news of the Brown Act (open meeting law) violations, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District did not put either topic on the agenda to discuss at last night’s meeting. The president of Pacific Hydrotech, the District’s primary contractor for the tank, came to the meeting anyway to update the Board on what happened, and new safety regulations to put in place.

Three residents addressed the board, cited their take on the Board’s actions, history and track record to date — and each in their own way, called for the resignation of LVMWD Board members Charles Caspary, Lee Renger, and Glen Peterson.

In addition to LVMWD’s video archive of the meeting, available at http://lasvirgenesmwd.swagit.com/play/10152014-1035 — Resident comments begin at 19:24. Additionally, Agoura resident, Jan Gerstel, video recorded just the three public comments speakers. That video is available at http://youtu.be/vgfh1cRUjpM

Additional Details

At LVMWD’s regular board meeting last night, the first since the pipe incident at the tank project, and the first since the board of directors’ Brown Act violation (the open meeting laws) became public, a larger than normal group of residents attended the meeting. The Board had not put either the incident nor the Brown Act on the agenda.

With no agenda item to make comment on, the first speaker requesting to make open public comment was the president of the District’s primary contractor for the tank project, Pacific Hydrotech (PH). LVMWD did not hold PH’s president to public comment time limits, so he spoke for more than 15 minutes instead of the normally enforced 3-5 minutes.

Directors Polan started his comments to the contractor that “Obviously, hindsight is great, but in this case, we’re all talking about foresight.” His questions followed on with inquiries of additional detail, and comments about the “emotional” toll on the residents impacted by the incident. (The incident reports from the contractor nor the District report on the proximity to houses or residents, nor how close the incident was to causing serious injury, death, or property damage.)

Director Steinhardt commented on PH’s president about his personal compassion and expressed appreciation for that. He then questioned PH’s president about what disciplinary actions were taken on the workers involved, and why additional safety precautions were not in place. Steinhardt continued the community “got very upset about this” and suggested that in addition to PH coming to the board meeting, that “someone has to reach out to the community directly since this District is not trusted.”

Director Peterson’s comments were “I mean, I think mistakes happen. We all … Anyone who hasn’t made a mistake here in life, I’d like to know who they are. I think the mistake is -- and how you deal with it in your own company is your business not ours — I think you don’t get rid of someone who has made one mistake in life. But, if they continue to make the same mistake, you have a problem. I think the mistake was parking on the dam.” PH president said that unloading while on top of the dam won’t happen again, and gave details as to additional safety protocols for the future.

Three public speakers, to applause from the audience, spoke about the Board’s actions on the tank project incident, the lack of detail in the reports about the incident, the Brown Act violations (open meeting laws), and the lack of these items being on the Board’s agenda. All three speakers called for the resignation of Board Members Caspary, Renger, and Peterson.